I seriously ask myself, why do I bother to make art when there will be no humans on this planet in another generation?
New York Magazine
I seriously ask myself, why do I bother to make art when there will be no humans on this planet in another generation?
New York Magazine
I keep reading comments about protests, where peeps blame everything they don’t like, everything they think excessive, violent… on ‘anarchists.’
When they know nothing about actual anarchists, but what the enemies of actual anarchists have always said about them.
There is a rich history of a very diverse stream of anarchist ideologies.
It can be complicated. For me, it’s complicated only in the doing… which is always actions and decisions made with others.
No gods, no leaders… no representatives” … Nehil de nobis sin nobis… nothing about US… without us. We are capable of taking care of ourselves, and one another, without hierarchy, without institutionally mandated leaders.
I am an anarchist.
That is my manifesto. Read it well, read it with care, turn it and turn it, cause everything is in it.
As for how we get there?
Solidarity, Love, Imagination, RESISTANCE!
Burn the flag for 4th of July!
The USA is NOT North Korea. So why, one might ask, why–and what is the point of burning an American flag on the 4th of July?
The neoliberal, capitalist police state have developed a different strategy for control than the totalizing states like North Korea, the GDR before the fall of the Berlin wail, or the USSR in its worst periods. It’s, obviously, highly selective in its oppression, by class and race, but the harsher realities and more visible suppression imposed on blacks and other semi-marginalized people, are a prime instrument of control of ‘favored’ classes.
This lesson is always clear: ‘this is what will happen to you if you take it on yourselves to exercise the rights you believe you have. Like … read the comments.
You know how they go: “If he’d not made eye contact with the cop! If she’d not asked for a warrant! If they’d just let the cops do what they…. ”
And after that, It doesn’t take many arrested, beat up flag burners, to create a powerful incentive to restraint, from acting on this perfectly legal act of free speech, an act, the only harm of which, is to cast doubt on oppressors and annoy their unthinking, patriotic supporters. Or any other act of legal dissent–it gets people thinking–even people like me, who don’t give no FUCKS… “is this an action (however legal), I’m ready right now to take on the several years of legal wrangling, post arrest–that will justify the disruption?
So burning a flag–involves a kind of legal triage. A totally legal act! But one, living in 2017 America, one has to weigh the significant consequences.
There are people now facing charges that could bring up to 70 years in prison, for begin swept up in a cop kettle at the J20 inauguration protests. Some, caught as observers, who had no part of the actions; some were street medics, there to treat and give medical aid to ANY who needed it, some were journalists–doing their constitutionally guaranteed duty.
Nope. This is not North Korea… but look how it works out. Look how effective it is in silencing dissenters. Those who might otherwise bring to light the horrific, violence being perpetrated across the planet on those we would exploit… and in push come to shove, exterminate! On those calling to account our rape of the environment, and those demanding that we stop our drive to pump gasses into our atmosphere–that will end human life on this planet!
So don’t think, cause I can burn that fucking flag–and you a million others do the same, that this is sign of how much better ‘we’ are…
Cause “we” aren’t. “We” are the ultimate machinery of Money and Death.
The interface between making art, and making a living, is the most politically charged area in the life of any artist. This is where the artist engages most directly with the monster of capitalism and Empire, both as a maker of art, and as a citizen of the human community. I don’t understand why so many artists are so reluctant to seriously engage with the problems we face in this arena. This is something I’ve been thinking about — for years, and yet, the most typical response I get from working artists: on commodification of our work, on how to live by our art, of the corrupting influence of investor driven gallery gatekeepers–is a curt dismissal, as though I were an impertinent 12 year old. “I need to make a living–what am I supposed to do?” But of course, never asked as a serious question.
And of course, I have no answer. No one person does, because it’s not the kind of question that any individual can answer alone. —Artists have to figure out–together–how to control the outcome of our work–or we will be controlled and used to the ends which the Empire of Money and Death sees fit.
First–acknowledge the problem. Then, pledge to work together to applying ourselves to find cracks in the walls where we can expand and live. We cannot continue to be artists under capitalism. Because, under capitalism, we will only be permitted to do what supports capitalism–that is, no longer artists, but technicians of the machine, and entertainers, distracting the masses.
Such freedom as we have, arises out of the generative power of imagination and dreams, which change the shape of our interactive world to make room for us to act out decisions made before we are aware we have made them. Everything in this movement is indirection. We are able to choose to follow a path, only as we are able to imagine it into existence. These are words which describe how that feels to me.
In the morning, I think–I’ve come to the end of what I budgeted for wine this month. I think I’ll not buy any more until the next Social Security deposit–or until I sell another painting, but by some time in the afternoon, this resolve undergoes a change, I can feel it happen: I will finish a painting I like, and want a glass of wine for a reward. I begin to prepare dinner, and think, how good it would be to have a glass of wine with this marinara–and I go to the wine & spirit store, and buy that nice, inexpensive Tisdale Pinot Noir that I like.
What is an addiction, but our body partnering with the source of the addiction to hinder our ability to imagine ourselves without it, as in mourning the loss of one we have deeply loved, we are for a time–even for a lifetime–unable to imagine our lives without them? Imagination is of the body, our body inescapably hooked into the world.
I can, to some degree, give myself to imagining–but always indirectly, by doing something else. Writing a poem, making a painting, the making, what I am doing– choosing pigments and brushing color on the canvas–becomes that ‘something else,’ as I work. When this happens, when I finish–what I’ve made becomes a wonderment, something I had not known I had imagined until it is there before me. The opposite of perfectly completing a task I’ve planned out from the beginning–unless the planning, all along, has itself been the foil. If the painting doesn’t surprise me when I finish it–it feels like a failure. I feel like a failure. As though I had betrayed a job I’d been entrusted do.
“Free will,” as most commonly expressed, is an illusion. I think most of us, most of the time, are but instruments of the machines we have made and set in motion to act in our place, and those who appear to have the most power, are the least free, unconscious servants of the Machinery of Money and Death.
What will free us from this addiction?
There’s an invaluable lesson we can learn from the history of black people in this country. Counter to many distopic movies–which play on the assumption that need, and scarcity of resources will set people against one another. An idea planted as a seed of capitalist ideology–by the elite’s fear of the people, fear of real democracy.But if we look a their history, we see how black people, survived by mutual aid, preserving what what was possible to preserve, and so much more– creating a new culture, new music, new art. A history that refutes that dytopic fear. The Lord of Flies fear.If there is violence in impoverished neighborhoods now, it’s not scarcity, but excess that is to blame–the seductive promise of excess wealth and power, the omnipresent propaganda absorbed by living in and under a consumer capitalist driven ideology.Poor people learn how to take care of one another–or they die.The greater the wealth, the more that ability deteriorates. The billionaire elites are damaged–and damaged in ways that puts human survival itself at risk. The disposition that motivates mutual care, is lost. Excess corrupts… and at some point, corrupts absolutely. John Woolman understood this. Few have understood it better.I’m not setting up an argument for the virtue of poverty. That’s not the conclusion I draw. But I am making an argument for the corrosive power of excess, where some have more than they need, and many have less. We have enough food and material wealth to house and feed every person on the planet–and much more. The problem is, and has been since the first neolithic farmers cultivated grains and rice, that could be stored and accumulated, and did not need to be consumed as it was harvested, how to use the excess… other than providing the means for kings and priests and war lords to rule over the lives of others… invariably, over the ones who produced the excess.The problem didn’t begin with capitalism. Capitalism systematized and automated and dehumanized the machinery that had been at work since the first cities in China, the Indus valley, the fertile crescent.What starting me thinking about this, was watching a neighbor caring for an invalid aunt and grandmother.We are good at this, we humans. It isn’t scarcity that is destroying us, but excess… and how to deal with that without destroying those deep rooted communal habits we are so good at creating. Inequality is the symptom… a symptom that itself can destroy us. But there’s a deeper cause. Something we have never been able to learn.I think that the anarchists… some of them, began to get this.I think that’s our way to the future… if we’re to have one.
Spring Flowers in the Ruins of the Prison State. 15 x 22cm. Pen & Ink, watercolor
View in my virtual gallery, http://www.Art-by-Willard.com
This is a model of how to do it: find the cracks in the crumbling capitalist wall and fill them.
Think about how it would change the world, if we were to understand, and treat, music, dance, poetry, the arts, not as cost-deficit sidelines, to be cut from schools to make way for serious subjects, but as the reason and purpose for everything else we do!
We need to raise food, because we need food to give us pleasure, and to make art! We need shelter and housing, so we have places we can make music. We need medicine, to stay healthy so we can dance and make poetry!
Make life for pleasure, for deep pleasure, and it will change the world.
(#433 Acrylic on canvas Dance!)
Walking thoughts… ideas come to mind, walking here and there and back: to the el, the wine store, to the Fresh Grocer. Sometimes they kick off something that comes back to me. A couple days ago, I was thinking about artists—not ART, artists. About making a living (or at least, paying for art materials), in a capitalist system, when one is a confirmed, convicted, solidarity-convinced anti-capitalist. And it occurred to me, that one could look at the problems through the lens of class—that the structures and machinery of class reproduce themselves on particular strata, and this seemed particularly helpful to me in understanding what artists deal with.
The connecting point in these thoughts, was meritocracy—how, because class is not like castes, frozen across generations for all time, but somewhat permeable, it’s easy to ignore how class, in itself, is as unchanging as an South Asian caste system. That individuals are able to climb the ladder, does nothing to overthrow the range of beliefs that justify class inequalities for those who benefit from them, or to offer serious challenge to the ideologies that use those beliefs.
What beliefs? The ‘natural’ superiority of men… (white men), is way up there at the top: patriarchy and Euro-Anglo-American racism–used to excuse, what otherwise would make what capitalism, colonialism, slavery, have done, and continue to do, to the mass humanity, intolerable. What does that have to do with, meritocracy? With art? With the capitalist class system?
Capitalism creates, maintains, and perpetuates inequality. All the way back to the Adam Smith, this has been acknowledged, and because it so flies in the face of the most minimally developed sense of justice, is addressed in all the ideological variants that would defend and promote capitalism. For Adam Smith—it was the Invisible Hand, which, (grossly misused since) would correct the worst abuses, and prevent capitalism from becoming what it has, in face, become. But nothing has been more useful, or done greater violence, the social Darwinism and eugenics. Here was the perfect foil, the perfect answer, to justify belief in the inferiority of the masses, and if an individual here and there, rose up and proved themselves superior to their birth—the genetic mythology perfectly accounted for it, and supported those who would protect the superior races and individuals, while justifying their suppression, and attempts to control, or better, if they proved less than useful and docile–eradicate the untermenchen.
How perfectly the Art World recapitulates this! With its gallery to investor pipeline, a gatekeeper system, meant to identify the Elite, and (hopefully) erase from memory, if not from life itself all the outsiders! Women! Blacks! Colonials! A Patriarchal system (where are the women from how many generations past?) Where are non-Euro artists and their work, but as appropriated by the (even if late-acknowledged) Masters? There is such thing, as ART, let alone, an “Art WORLD!” … if it is not as varied and multiple as there are worlds and peoples! If it doesn’t crash through and DESTROY the gatekeepers and their system!
Those were my walking thoughts… how, I asked myself. .how is it possible, for anyone who calls THEMSELVES an artist—to accept this system? To define their idea of ‘success’ by it’s terms? To not throw themselves into the struggle to create—to IMAGINE… as artists do.. a new and better world?