12″ x 9″ Watercolor, pen & ink. Mood piece Blue & Gray
It’s difficult for a person to hear themselves when they’re depressed. That’s why listening is more effective than any advice you might give, and why telling them you love them, or how much they are valued–only makes things worse.
In being heard, in being listened too, it becomes possible to hear one’s own voice–to hear, as others hear, the deprecating voices… and recognize what they are saying as distortions of the truth. It’s how we find our own way back.
The deprecating voices are external images of self that we have assimilated. No external voice will lead us out of their traps, because it’s our susceptibility to them that caught us in those webs, and to find freedom again to breath on our own, resistance has to rise from the depths of our own being. No one can do it for us, and no one else can show us how.
Keep that in mind when you offer reassurance, and are refused. The refusal is not a symptom of the malady.
Listen! Listen with such depth of attention that the person you would help, hears in their refusal, their own assertion of a will-to-health, and the means to restoration of their freedom
I think there is an analogy here to what we have to do to free ourselves from oppressive social forces.
No one ‘out there’ can save us. No Moses can come to lead us out of Pharos’s Egypt. There are no ready-made maps or instruction books or revolutionary plans. The first step, always–the beginning we need to return to, endlessly–by turning to one another, in such intensity, with such attention, such listening, that we will hear, and summon together, the creative power that has always been there: the power to create a new world–a world worthy of the struggle it will take to build it.
zoom close view, to 7×11″ Watercolor
“In our times, an artist is defined as someone who has a vision: someone with visions and rhythms that form a separate inner world: someone who can manifest this world on the outside; someone who can create a new, an exemplary, their own world through imagination and creative force; someone whose ideas leave their inner being like Pallas Athena left Jupiter’s head; someone who then, like an Italian trader of plaster figures, packs the result in a basket and hawks it in the “the other world,” ordinary reality, where they sell the figures of their dreams and sacred desires to the goblins and caricatures of their artistic mind, all the while advertising, calculating, haggling, arguing, cheating. This is the contemporary artist’s mixture of detachment and participation.
But mine is another: I want to use reality to create; I want art to be the process of imaginative and communal social transformation, rather than the expression of individual yearning.”
Gustav Landauer, REVOLUTION and Other Writings: A Political Reader. Edited and translated by Gabriel Kuhn. PM Press.
I changed the masculine, personal pronouns.
I was probably 22 or 23 when I read the essay on Landauer, in Martin Buber’s Paths in Utopia; it would be hard to imagine how any, indirect meeting with any thinker, could have a more powerful, influence, than the ideas in that essay had for me—over the course of whole life. Three years later, I was living in a commune—where expenses were covered, each according our means. Though it would be 45 years before, my involvement with Occupy Philly, led to the next experiment in communal living, I never gave up my search for a means to realize my ideas on communal living, and this time—I’m sure there was something of Landaur’s ideas of art and revolution, what freed me, to return to what I had been doing when I read that essay: making art.
I only last week bought a copy of this book, and in reading it, began to discover how much—from such minimal acquaintance–the seeds Landauer had planted, have meant to me over the years. The perplexity I feel, and have expressed in posts on this blog and elsewhere, on how survive as an artist in this capitalist wilderness–and as a revolutionary–without losing one’s freedom to create, or submitting to slavery of the market–I didn’t learn from Landauer, but, as in the above quote, I find, this too, I share with him—if from another side, as an artist.
Revolution is an act of imagination
Revolution is action.
Revolution takes place in the present. Now, and now, and now, or never. There can be no waiting
for the “right conditions.”
Revolution is an ever present necessity.
Revolution is every act of the imagination, made real in every present moment.
Solidarity, Love, Imagination, RESISTANCE!
Imagination as a Way of Knowing
“What,” it will be Questioned, “When the Sun rises, do you not see a round Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea?” O no no, I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”
“I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight: I look thro it & not with it.”—William Blake from “The Last Judgment”
“I know of no other Christianity and of no other Gospel than the liberty of both body & mind to exercise the Divine Art of Imagination” (Jerusalem, 77).
Newton by William Blake
It may seem odd to begin discussing Imagination as a way of knowing by presenting a copy of William Blake’s Newton. Isaac Newton is shown sitting at the bottom of the sea, naked and crouched on…
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