Saturday, May 14, 2011
One of the cool things about being on a social media is that you don't have to keep pushing the refresh button or timing out your internet to know when blogger is down-- all of your tweeples will tell you, and you can think two things:
1. Darn--I've actually got scheduled time to post and
2. Good--because I'm totally, ferociously pissed at the state of the world right now, and this way I don't have to get all fucking worked up because the world is made of idiots and they all seem to have a microphone or a political degree.
The fact that I think those things simultaneously pretty much sums up the emotional weirdness that is me on any given day, I guess.
Its just that I've read 1984--many times. And the thing that always strikes me about 1984 is how insidious all of Big Brother's tactics truly are. One of Winston Smith's first acts is to write in his diary 2+2=4--it seems a simple enough thing, but the fact is, his government is constantly asking him to believe that simple, common sense shit is not true. In the book, Winston's job is to go back into historical archives and destroy anything that contradicts what his government is doing now, and the thing that really pisses me off right now is that we don't seem to need anyone to do that for us-- as a country, we're perfectly capable of developing collective amnesia about really important shit like human rights and what we know about the world and, well hell, stuff that our government did yesterday, without even the help of someone to erase our memories for us.
It seems that every where I turn on the news, there is some proof that our world does not recognize some things that I've always taken as fundamental--examples?
Literature and the arts are a support system for human life--we are human, therefore we create. A civilization is marked by it's books, poetry, and art, and NOT BY it's copious production of bullshit laws and political rhetoric. The people who teach us to interpret literature, or how to decipher information or how to understand what has gone on in the past are teaching us to understand our own basic humanity and we CAN NOT afford to abuse these people to the point where they can no longer do their jobs. The people who create art--and to me, art is something that resonates deeply, not something that can be picked up as a soundbite and interpreted out of context for years to come--have the right to defend themselves and to create. The people who understand art are NECESSARY to teach the rest of us.
It seems really simple, doesn't it? Really really basic. We are human, therefore we need to believe in literature.
But we're so stupid. The first things to hit the fires in any fascist regime are books of poetry--every fucking time--and no one ever seems to notice that we're slitting our collective spiritual wrists when we do it.
What am I angry at?
I'm angry at Librarians being grilled IN A COURT OF LAW to defend their jobs. I'm angry at looking at my son's school newspaper and seeing, front page, a job about teacher layoffs, and knowing that it's happening all over the state--and all over the fucking country. I'm angry that a rapper who, for the most part, stands for peace and dreams, is used as a political focal point for people who don't seem to understand how to interpret poetry at all, much less why it's important that we honor it.
I'm angry at the news, in general--and trust me people, I am so generally clueless about the state of the world on any given day that if any sort of trend catches MY attention, it's got to be some sort of pop cultural planetoid, just buzzing around the earth smacking people off the face of it.
It seems so simple, so very basic. Literature and art define us. Writers and artists and scientists survive. The people who persecute them are never more than dust. Everyone remembers Ovid-- no one remembers the name of the guy who banished him for perversion (and because, rumor has it, Ovid slept with the guy's wife.)
It seems so simple, so very basic. Learning to understand things like literature, art, and history allows a civilization to realize the best of itself. Suppressing this knowledge allows stupid, greedy people to stay in power. And, unfortunately, if stupid, greedy people hold any sort of power whatsoever, the first thing they're going to go after is the literature, the art, and the history.
It's basic mathematics--it's the reason we pour billions upon billions into savings and loan bailouts, tax breaks for bazillionaires, and weapons that can destroy our planet many, many times over without a way under heaven to defend ourselves, but Librarians have to answer to a city prosecutor for why their job is important to their communities and teachers who have been teaching at the same school for years NEVER know if they'll be back the next year, and any singer, songwriter, or poet who voices dissent is automatically labeled 'a subversive element' and disgraced.
And it all happens so subtly. In our case, it started ten years ago, with people in fear. People in fear (as Hitler, FDR, and Rasputin all knew,) will follow nearly any orders to feel safer. Capitalizing on people in fear is as easy as pretending fear does not exist. And that's how it started, this complete disregard for free speech, for education, for any way to lead us out of ignorance. At the beginning, when we saw the first signs (*cough* homeland security *cough*) it was no more than simply being respectful of the government--we were afraid and the government was trying to protect people. It was easy to overlook the fact that we couldn't say certain things or couldn't THINK certain things or couldn't express compassion for certain people or that we were letting ignorance and prejudice rule our decisions. (For those of you who know 1984--Ignorance is Strength= OUR ignorance is the government's strength. Just sayin'.) And we never ever thought that this culture of paranoia would come to this.
It's like my house--I keep cleaning my living room but I also keep accumulating crap. The longer I live, the more kids I have, the more crap we have, and even though the living room gets 'cleaned', every day, my idea of what 'clean' is changes, and my living room grows smaller and smaller and smaller, until the kids move out, we have a fire sale, and everything must go. So we keep wanted to clean up our country, but we've accumulated so very many problems, and so very many things we are afraid of losing-- jobs, material possessions, privacy, freedom, citizenship, that we can hardly move for fear of what our fellow citizens may do to us for not supporting some of the actions of a rabid few.
Zomg. It really is 1984. (Which is a shame-- I always thought if the world was going to become a soulless void I'd prefer Brave New World--at least people in that book were getting laid, right?) And just like in 1984, when the hope relied on the proles--the ignorant 85% of the population who was actually being oppressed--the proles were easily distracted with shiny baubles. The PROLES got to have porn and alcohol and pop culture--and political buzzwords were waved in front of their faces where they would allow kneejerk emotional reactions to drag them anywhere the government wanted them to go. Uhm, can anyone say cuts to Planned Parenthood and Gay Marriage? Because I certainly see how these subjects are used on a daily basis to distract us from $20,000,000,000 in cuts to education in the last three years. (Yes--THAT many zeroes. I had to look at that number twice to be certain.) See-- the top 1% of the top 5% are good at their job. You can bet your ass that the people in charge of blocking reproduction rights and civil rights are getting a twofold benefit here-- the first one is that, hey! They have more absolute power--over women's bodies, over people's hearts--and don't tell me that doesn't give them a fucking charge or they wouldn't be doing what they're doing. The other one is that people are so busy discussing whether or not to dick with the rights of terrified seventeen year olds or puzzled lovers trying to make a commitment, they don't see other things like the fact that these same people are absolutely ensuring that our children are wallowing in ignorance and this segment of the government LIKES it that way.
I'm sorry. I'm bitter--I freely admit it. But there's a reason I don't watch the news. There's a reason I don't get political often. I frequently say that my emotional immaturity keeps me young, and I'm starting to realize that the unhappy teenager screaming "That's not fair!" is frequently at the forefront of my psyche. It's just that, having dealt with a couple of those, I know that I've made it a practice to explain why these things exist--I always hated adults who just said, "Life's not fair, live with it!" And I'm finding that having the top 1% of the 5% gloating over the fact that life's not fair except to THEM is NOT working as the all purpose panacea that maybe they think it should. One of the things that I've realized from the ADHD research we've done in our household is that my brain actually strangled it's own authority figure when I was born--I'm obviously not going to be all excited about the 1% of the 5% telling me what to do or how to think or that ignorance really does equal strength or freedom is slavery or don't even get me started on war is peace.
So I don't know how to wrap this up, and maybe that's the problem. I know that pretty much anyone reading this is the choir and probably tuned out the person preaching to them about five paragraphs ago. We do what we can--we vote, we live as free and enlightened a life within the proscription of our society as we possibly can, and we continue to push ourselves to look beyond what is obvious and try to see what is true. The people reading this blog believe in the arts and human expression and education--and we do everything we can to espouse that. I guess the problem is, while you all seem to be my world, it just feels like outside my world there is ignorance and chaos and people who think that shouting in your face is an exercise in political science and not bullying. And maybe that word right there is my problem.
Bullies. Somehow, the world has allowed itself to be bullied into this shameful state of affairs. We've all seen the movies--the only way to deal with bullies is to punch them in the nose, right? But it's going to take a whole lot of us punching that bully in the nose--and remember, the guy punching the bully in the nose always risks breaking his wrist. To many of us are carrying too many burdens to lose that good right (or left) hand.
But that doesn't mean we're ever going to acknowledge that what's happening to the world is right. We still haven't lost the fundamental right to shout to the heavens that 2 + 2 does NOT EQUAL 5 MOTHERFUCKERS! Let's make sure we still keep that one, okay? Otherwise we're going to have to break more than our wrists to fix the state of the world.