Friday, December 19, 2014
Imagination Shall Make Us Free!
In a Facebook post, Nyle Fort, wrote of the difficulty of seeing past the neoliberal simulacra to find what is real. Maybe it helps to see this, not as binary opposites, but different *kinds* of real. In the way a fictional character is real, *as* a fictional character– which nonetheless has real generative effects.
The spectacle, too, is real, but a reality whose generative effects impair both thought and perception in such a way that we cannot see past the simulacra, or imagine, while in its thrall, another kind of reality. That suggests to me, that the way to another reality–one we can inhabit in the fullness of our human being–is not like breaking through a curtain to something that lies there, already existing, on the other side, but in the very power of imagination on which the illusion depends, that our hope lies in knowing that that power is immeasurably greater than what has been drawn on by the oppressive system holding us hostage. Like in the Faerie Queene–the flames surrounding Busirane’s castle, real enough to burn Scudamore–because he believes they are the wrong kind of real, a reality over which he has no power, while Britomart walks through them unscathed. It’s our collective belief in the simulacra that makes it ‘real’ — that is, gives it power to generate effects–in that way, challenging collective beliefs is the very essence of the work of the imagination.
We do not dance as relief from fighting oppression; we dance, because out of the dance, come the flames of passion that will burn the citadels of our oppressors. We do not sing or paint or rap or create stories to escape from one illusion to another–but TO IMAGINE THE REAL WE DESIRE, THAT WE MIGHT CREATE IT AND MAKE IT SO!
If some great flash of understanding were to come over the whole population of the earth — if however billion humans there are on the planet now–were suddenly to see as clearly as Greta Thunberg what we are facing in the not at all distant future–hundreds of millions would drop what they were doing, leave their jobs, leave their studies and schools, abandon their cars, take up crutches and walkers and stream out of hospitals and nursing homes… take to the streets–not to demonstrate, but to charge the corporate masters–the climate deniers, their political servants– accepting whatever horrendous losses their defenders might unleash, swarming over them, destroying them utterly… in the slim hope that a remnant might survive to begin again…
… it would be their rule and custom, if they should succeed, that anyone who mentioned the word ‘profit,’ who ever again should seek to gain advantage over their neighbor, they would be set upon and torn to pieces and fed to rats as a warning.
That’s what I imagine, when I try to think what a just response to this crisis would look like.
That would be a just end to capitalism.
I’m fine with political art. We need it. But that’s still basing its value on use–on the use that is made of it, and not for itself, which is how this fucked up culture judges everything and deprives everything, human lives not the least, of any value but how they can be used, or what can be got from it.
Art that is USELESS is also revolutionary, not because of what it represents, but because it witnesses to the reality of inherent value, of value that can’t be reduced to any exchange.
I love art with a powerful revolutionary messages, and respect those who make it. But please don’t dismiss the not so obvious revolutionary power of holding to a belief in inherent value, autonomous from all else… as we must hold human life as of value, apart from all the ways it can be put to use.
This is not how most humans, for most of our existence on this planet lived. This is a capitalist disease! And nowhere has it advanced to the deadly level that we see in the USA.
I’m in a desperate situation. Not sure I will be in a place I will want to choose to remain alive in another 3 weeks.
Tryin to think beyond my personal problems here–why is this happening? Asking this, so it’s about more than me.
Goin through this–desperate to find a place to live, a place where I don’t have to give up what keeps me alive–making art–makes me think, if I had money, I’d buy a big house, low rent or free for a communal core, with extra rooms and lottsa soffa space, so people coming to actions from out of town, or comrades passing through, or people in need of emergency shelter would have a place.
We need those kinda communal shelters. Something I’ve had on my mind for more than more than 50 years. In 1970 we bought a big fixer upper in Powelton, group of us–with one person putting up most of the initial money. Should be places like that all over the city. It is STUPID and WASTEFUL and socially destructive, the way we live in isolated units now. It takes learning new habits, new values, but makes so much more sense.
More than 50 years later, I’m haunted by some needless deaths in an apt house I was living in–old people without family alone in their flats. Most deadly for older people as they lose their health. A person alone in an apt, without family or friends, is in a place as unhealthy for mental health as solitary confinement. We put people–with disabilities, the very elderly–in Capitalist Solitary!
It’s so unnecessary! We don’t have to choose to live like this! We can change how we arrange our common lives–this is something in our power. We don’t have to wait for the revolution! We can BE that part of the revolution!
This is a concern of lifetime for me… a ‘concern’ the way older Quakers used the word. Does anyone care or think about this? How we could actually DO something to change how we live together–with profound consequences that would echo through the whole economic political social universe!
How many hundred thousand houses in Philly? If 5% of them went communal, most, if not all, of our les sans toit, would no longer be living on the street. And for those in need of more intense medical and psychological care, that same kind of housing, with people with training and skills needed to deal with those problems, would be able to take even THEM in. This is like, Street Medic Ethos–raised to the level most street medics actually would aspire to.
We need to think seriously about organizing on THIS level–on how we live–on learning to live together, caring for one another, in the world we want to make happen.
Remains of medical station after cop raid at ICE, 8th and Cherry.
the 2011 Occupy camps were an open mass movement, a premature revolutionary experiment that wasn’t able to deal with how unprepared so many were who came into the camps. They had collapsed and outlived their service weeks before they were taken down by cops. But failures are how we learn.
When I first heard that there was going to be an attempt to ‘occupy’ the ICE facility, I was skeptical. Heraclitus had a pretty good rule of thumb for radical action: can’t step into the same river twice “Don’t Try to Repeat the Same Thing”
But from the beginning, it was clear that what’s become the end Pars occupy city hall camp (a single action in a larger coalition) learned some valuable lessons, whether from 2011 or from wiser young heads) — It only superficially resembles the 2011 Occupies. Contributing to this, is the deep, organizing that preceded it–diverse groups many that had been working independently, but were prepared for cooperative, intersectional action when the right occasion appeared.
Micro-organizing is the essential prerequisite for the success of any mass movement. Never despair because you are few! You are NOT FEW!
Re, recent Supremes decision.
We maybe need to think of different ways of configuring unions. The ruling was pretty specific in addressing existing trade union laws. But the existing legal protections also constrict how and what unions can be. We got these laws with bloody wars–and the definitions of what those laws protected, and what unions were, with them.
This is a new era… time to forget the laws and unions as we’ve let them be defined, and begin the fight all over, for a new and way more inclusive kind of union. Trade unions are archaic. There no reason to mourn their demise. We can do better!
No one could have greater regard for the value, and necessary autonomy of creative work, than me, but art doesn’t exist outside of political reality, and an artist, of whatever medium, who disregards how their work is employed, will be themselves complicit in the uses to which their work is put.
Yes, I’m thinking about the musicians in the Philadelphia Orchestra–who go to Israel to bath in the blood of murdered Palestinian children.
This is so terribly troubling for me, because I hold the music they serve, and all of the arts, in such high regard.
Because they have refused to accept their own agency, and allowed the machinery of economic “necessity” to determine what they will, and will not do, they defile the art they are devoted to, and themselves with it.
Better there be no Great Philharmonic. Better they ply their trade busking on the street. Better shut down the monstrous Kimmel Center–temple of money and poisoner of art and artists. The more money it takes the make a work of art, or performance, the greater the pollution.
In this world, the best artists will perform for the people, make their art from trash on the street.
Capitalism defiles everything
Nothing can remain Sacred in this world, until we cleanse it of the disease of Capitalism.