You Could Move On This Moment
The Blogosphere's gone twitchy with this whole who-said/who-didn't-say thing. It's spattering everywhere, and it's going to be a long time before people forgive one another for what they're saying, if they do. I would have been happy if that woman in Tennessee had simply amended her post and said, "Oops. Sorry. Didn't realize these words could be viewed that way." That's it, done. It's too late now, and former allies aren't going to trust one another anymore.
Now might be a good time for everyone to go out for flan and calm down. Go ahead! Don't worry, I'll be here when you get back. Go on, take your keys and go have some yummy custardy goodness. Mmmm. I'll wait.
...tap tap tap...
...feelings...nothing more than feelings....trying to forget my...
Hey! Feeling better? That's great. I'd like to try something and I hope you're up for an experiment. Without some shitty team-building retreat that eats your weekend and destroys your personal boundaries, let's try to trust one another. I'll go first.
In 1995, an associate professor at the unnamed university where I work asked me to read his book, which I did. It was an arid treatment of Soviet history in Eastern Europe and I struggled to push a bookmark through it until one night I sat up in bed, howling. Morgan thought I was having a seizure because we had a loft bed and it was just fractions of seconds before this moment came to its comedic conclusion: I smacked my head on the ceiling. This did not stop me from reading a passage out loud about The Great Soviet Encyclopedia's framing of history. Morgan agreed the words written in anger were accidentally hilarious. The following year of my life was devoted to a giant collaborative art piece called Redshow / Mytholodeon Black Wheel. It almost killed me, but it was good work, totally worth every bit of me - and all of Morgan - I subsequently lost. In writing PIC, I think of bits and pieces of Redshow I'd like to reference but that'd get us nowhere - until now. The people who collaborated on this tiny section have given me permission to print this and Siobhan made a beautiful page. I'm going to trust you now. This tiny section is about history and boredom, and our refusal to bear witness to the things for which we are responsible.
Trials of the Century.
In the stage version, I played FP, and I will never forget the abject despair I felt on my hands and knees, shouting people...people...people...PEOPLE! because that character's assessment of the situation was beneath notice. If you're a straight, white male, you should try this sometime: pick any opinion you hold, picture yourself on your hands and knees, and imagine yourself surrounded by people who refuse to hear what you say. That'll wreck your whole day. Some people are forced into coping mechanisms like Stockholm Syndrome or like battered women come to see themselves as being to blame. Some people remain more emotionally intact, and they fight back. Apprehending this is the beginning of empathy. First, imagine yourself in a situation. Then, imagine people who are not you in that situation. The outcomes won't be the same. After the pictures of Abu Gharaib were discovered, the most pronounced differences I heard in converation were between people who could imagine captivity and imprisonment and people bone-solid-certain that brutal indignity could not be visited upon them. In all likelihood, the people in those photos probably felt pretty secure right up until they found themselves there. And this opens up a whole new view to what people are, inside.
It couldn't be simpler, and it couldn't be more complex. Ah, fuck. It's human.
It's worth noting that Mr. Krancberg was an elegant gentleman who had suffered greatly under Soviet occupation. He read an early version of the Redshow script. "It would take," he said, shaking with rage, "a real writer to do what you've undertaken." He never spoke to me again. I didn't take it personally and I didn't blame him. By way of contrast, I recenlty wrote three pieces that felt and continue to feel like solid, beautiful writing for someone who sniffed disdainfully and turned up his nose, as if I'd painted a tryptich and we should argue about brushstrokes. To come to a point - finally - though as an artist I am not my work and my work is not me, when you as a reader reject my work on a personal basis you reject me. That's just the way it is. This is the paradox of the Blogosphere. Readers, writers and commenters don't just reject one another's theses, they grab knives and reach for jugulars, after which a simple edit job doesn't cut it. What's happening out there is really personal. And there's one more thing, also from Redshow: "Feelings are facts, man."
It doesn't take a genius to see where we're headed, or that even the magic words "I'm sorry" uttered by hundreds of people at once will leave hundreds of people watching each for signs of remorse and recidivism. So, I've trusted you with a bit of my work. You can trust me, too, you know. I won't always be right, but we can always get flan.