for our future, for our art

We need to remember that we have no right to tell others what to do with their art, with their voice. During the final stretch of this [adjectives withheld] election, I saw magazines and brands and celebrities and artists speaking out. It was amazing to see them voicing their support because they have purchasers of their goods or their art or their performance at stake. And, usually, following posts endorsing a woman candidate for president, this woman saw a slew of comments attempting to silence them, telling them in different ways, in many ways, to shut up; telling them that their opinions are not wanted, that they should stick to tasks supposedly assigned to them (such as entertaining the masses with their movies or fashion or books or something else the consumer wanted to consume), and that being exposed to their thoughts is not one of the reasons they are being “followed” on social media by these people who want to be the ones to determine who does and does not get to make public their opinion (or have freedom of speech. Basically if you’re a public figure of any kind—except a politician [or not, as in the president-elect’s case. my head hurts: the irony here is astounding.]—, these people think you’ve lost that most basic of rights.). When you kill freedom of speech, democracy dies.

We need to remember that it is every person’s and every artist’s responsibility to use their voice for what matters. It is their responsibility to use the platform they have to speak up for continued progress. Know the courage it takes to do that. Know that the speaker is likely aware of the fury that suppressors of free speech will unleash. Know that they are familiar with the possibility that they might lose “fans” because of this. But they do it anyway. They speak for themselves and they speak for those who cannot, for those whose voices will not be heard, for those who don’t have a voice. They speak because the issues confronting us are important. Because our lives depend on it. Because our future and the future of humanity depends on it.

In social media, the way it has grown, the mini celebs that have come from it, many of us, most of us, have such a platform that we can use in whichever way we choose. It is a matter of choice. And we cannot take that away from anyone, person or brand or company.
Those who are against it might watch fewer movies, buy fewer books or magazines or paintings or clothes. But to the ones expressing their thoughts and support and opinions it matters more that they take a stand, that they pick a side. Because that is of value to them, that means something to them. You can read into it—if you know how (and many people I know astonishingly don’t)—and you can understand something about values, about courage. And, it is possible, you might even understand something about art.

I am tremendously hopeful when I see those who know they have something to lose by being vocal against hate, against racism, against misogyny doing it anyway. It tells me that, at least to some, there is more than just popularity and money at the heart of all this. That there are in this world responsible artists (many writers, actors, musicians, singers, fashion designers, artists of all kinds were, are, with Hillary Clinton), and even companies, who have been given an audience for their voice by us, the public, the people who form their following, and they are using that voice. That, friends, is what a voice is for. That is what our voice is for. And we have no right to silence it.

Always remember the truth in what Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

 

[you are the medium] 

It has been happening lately that when I try to find an answer to a subjective question, instead of looking in the outside world (which feels hopelessly insufficient), I start to write about it and tend to find exactly what I’m hunting. Maybe it’s the inner wisdom we can tap into if only we try, if only we listen, if only we pay attention. The process is not without some pain but you’ll find the pain is a tiny price to pay.

***

A longish while ago i was on a train when out spilled a little poem about killing the king and the queen who live layers & layers below the flesh. I read it often, realising over and over again that sometimes the words for which you’re searching outside, words that you hope will speak to your soul, are patiently simmering within, waiting for you to give them shape.

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[in truth]

To Eros:

you burn us

—Sappho

In truth, I smolder and burn down my heart. It has been on fire too often.
I destroy myself in a slip dress. I’m buried in dirt. I dug too deep.
It is annihilation all over again. Familiar wounds blaze. I step out. I walk away.

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cummings sept 3

on this day 54 years ago left human existence to illuminate other unlit realms with his distinguished inextinguishable spark E. E. Cummings who lives forever (or “beyond the clock”) in the heart of every person his magical poems touch. who knows how many worlds he has kindled with his words. who knows how many entire universes would not exist without his poems.

o mercurius

I cannot write. I am so scattered that I cannot collect my pieces long enough to be coherent. Maybe there is something in that. Like drops of mercury, for a longish moment, it seems as if I have it, it is in my grip, i see it whole. I start to pour it into a vial and it spills and disintegrates again into such small spheres that I cannot gather them all. I cannot. It is lost. I cannot write enough. Will it never be enough or will I never know when it’s enough? The drop has fallen and shattered into minute wholenesses. I don’t know where it is and I want it. I want every little particle. And so go on my days and so they end.

unstillness

Sometimes so much happens at the same time that everything seems to go still. Or maybe just you do. Things people said gnaw at you and you know those things will consume you if you let them. So you ignore them. When you think about it you try to convince yourself that their intentions were not all bad, that maybe they came from a perfectly good place. But there’s a part of you that doubts. And it is that part that is loud and hungry. So what do you do? You pay no attention to it, try to drown out its voice with other sounds, hoping that if you ignore it, it will be silent, calm down, go away. But that’s never really how it works, is it?

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Sometimes you have to fence off a place inside yourself where you can safely keep the thoughts, desires, plans, dreams that are precious to you. And you have to be sure that you don’t put them in the midst of people who you already know are unable to comprehend them in the way that they are meant to be. They have shown it to you in the past. They have proved that your words land nowhere when you speak to them. The pieces of yourself contained in those words fall down a gaping abyss and you feel a little twinge when that happens, like you gave away something you shouldn’t have, something you should have held close to your chest and babied a bit because it was not ready to be mishandled just yet. Those people don’t know what to do with it. They don’t know how to connect to that part of you in which they don’t see their own reflection. And they have no other way of connecting, of relating. And you can’t teach them. Who knows if even you are any good at it, and if you are then who knows if you’re any good at teaching it? And how do you teach something that the other person doesn’t even know they need to learn? And when did it become your job to help them learn it? Isn’t your energy best reserved for other things, the things that make your heart soar and make you smile and sigh in contentment? And that you don’t get from others. That’s within you. Safeguard those precious pieces of yourself. Don’t let them be touched by those who don’t understand their importance to you, in your life. And if, because you’re only human, you do let them, take them back, though it be an effort, and polish them again, showing them the love and care that you know they deserve. Give them back their life within you and they’ll do the same for you.