divergence from dreams

If you’re watching the “Divergent” trailers and you replace the word “divergent” with “special,” the appeal of every big YA property is pretty much summed up — though it’s unusual that the metaphor is so thinly veiled. And now that I have your attention(ha!), I can write about something that matters more to me.

Most people have dreams, and while some people never work at actualizing them in any long-term sense, it’s surreal when you see people who do give up on them. I feel cheap for even writing “dreams,” with shows like “The X-Factor” having made that term even glossier than the old Disney trope. Those dreams seem to require some combination of luck and specialness, or lucky specialness. We all have them at some point, but the more realistic kind of dream, in which perseverance and skill can get us to some better way of living, often requires a bit more luck than we’d like to think.

Never mind that some dreams depend on how much you can fit into some template, and that, if you don’t, you have to reconcile with such. It’s hard to time to develop much of anything without some kind of inspiration; it’s a luxury, for sure, and the conditions that are conducive to such are more support than some people have.  I suppose sometimes working at one’s dreams feels like you’re one of those donkeys with a carrot on a stick extended just beyond your reach — except you’re a bit more self-aware.

It’s hard to be self-actualized when the world doesn’t really work with you a whole lot. I once listened to someone talk about the art that people who had (and often were considered) nothing created, in contrast to a privileged calls for a need for this or that to properly do anything. The point was clear, but there was no consideration for just how more appreciated the privileged perspective would obviously be on their own venues. And the new venues — they’re often a popularity contest.

It’s unfair that you have to work with a world that often doesn’t work with you, but the gap that you fill as you do so makes for something with a lot more substance/heart. I’m not going to conclude this with some super optimistic bent, because it can be harder to maintain any real sense of heart when you’re not privileged. (And yet, often the privileged just manage a semblance.) All I can do is tip my hat that you keep making the world a better place to be, working at your dreams or not, just by being in it.  I hope that you can keep producing art, though, and that we find ourselves laughing at those “Divergent” commercials and then laughing a little harder when we see that someone else gets how funny they can be.

Confessions of a Borg Drone – Shedding My #liberalwhitelogic

Originally posted on incarnationalrelational:

Seven_of_Nine

Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager – Former Borg Drone.

Here’s the thing about The Borg (and if you’re not a Star Trek fan or a sci-fi geek and you don’t get the reference, here’s a link to a nice little précis) which I have lately been pondering on – they are a pretty decent parallel for Liberal White Logic.

Liberal White Logic has many sects and many schisms within those many sects – in the secular variety there is Conservative Liberal White Logic (sometimes self-referred to as ‘compassionateConservatism‘); there is ‘Liberal’ Liberal White Logic; there is Feminist Liberal White Logic; there is Social Justice Liberal White Logic.  You get it in religion too – the Everything-Should-be-Nice-for-Everyone-Have-Cake-and-a-cup-of-Tea-Anglican-Liberal-White-Logic is the one I am most familiar with of course (and I’m really am going to have to find a shorter name for that).

Whatever the superficial differences, certain key traits mark out Liberal…

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double-edged sword

Thinking too much is a double-edged sword.  Wait, aren’t all swords double-edged?  I’m no expert, but … never mind.  You see, thinking too much.

Understanding the world is vital, but thinking too much about its unfairness and myriad of hardships  — not a great time.  And yet, if you think awareness is the point of being conscious, that’s just par for the course.  A double-edged sword — though qualities do seem to have more depth the thoughtful way.  That would probably be a silver lining.

Get thee behind me, Cupid

R. Pinero art

R. Pinero art

Almost time for Valentine’s Day again, which means it’ll be hard to avoid all the wuv: the schmaltzy stuff of destiny as portrayed in movies like a well-timed “Winter’s Tale.”  In such epic tales of romance, love is the virtuous domain of a dreamer — a handsome dreamer who dares to love a woman in the prime of her beauty!

And you thought there were no noble dreams left.

Truthfully, those of us plugged into most cultures have been influenced to have a similar dream, with the same flimsy sensibilities.  Cupid would have us happily fluttering around a glowing light, oblivious to anything else — until that light doesn’t quite glow the way it used to.  Any love worth celebrating isn’t so fickle or shallow.

So if you haven’t bought into wuv, maybe being single on Valentine’s Day is kinda sorta noble.  Or at least, knowing you shouldn’t care if you happen to be.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Tuning in to tune out

Original illustration by Robert Pinero.

Original illustration by Robert Pinero.

Commercials for a certain top of the line brand of headphones are my latest pet peeve.  Leave it to some of the most manufactured personas in music to capitalize on escapism by branding their product as its most vital “option” . . . And okay, while that is essentially what all branding is about, it’s always sad when something that used to be not so branded becomes heavily so.  Sad as watching as it happen to a cow’s butt (and I don’t even like cows).   There had to have been a time when sneakers were just sneakers.  Some brands were known for their relative quality, and some weren’t.  But then advertisers linked sneakers to professional athletes and their “god-like” quality of being victorious¸ and then, in the period after that, to fashion.  The wardrobe-matching potential of footwear and anything electronic/portable have obviously been a boon to their respective brands.

So the appeal of headphones is no longer just about music; it’s about music in the context of being surrounded by people, either to drown them out, or so they can notice the status-marker you have that happens to play music.

Lately I’ve had more sympathy for people who keep their heads glued to head- or smart phones in between everything — except for people who do such behind the wheel or while trying to cross the busiest of crosswalks.  If you’re not lucky, society hasn’t made getting to and from anything easy.  There’s less breathing room, less of everything, and the world asks more of you to get that.  (Always worth noting that note less of everything exists because of someone else’s greed.)

I was talking the other day to someone who suggested that, without smart phones, one would be actively trying to avoid making eye contact if you weren’t in a place you felt comfortable.  Some people are oddities wherever they go, and avoiding the awkward social component of that has to be appealing.  One of the reasons we listen to music, in the first place, is because it can make the world feels like it’s not such a mess … except for jazz, which some people maybe like because it’s a “brilliant” mess.  Yeesh, I say.

Anyway, if you’ve got headphones on, maybe you’re tuning in to something that makes the world seem less uphill.  Of course, people are also — and perhaps more frequently — trying to stay in tune with the latest flickering idol of a non-existent attention span, or validate their stupider tendencies.

Now they’ve got headphones perfect for the person who wants the world to be in sync with his or her own usually loud and abrasive soundtrack.  ‘Cause while someone may be disenfranchised from the things that society says really matter, one can loudly play music that suggests he or she is some kind of big wheel.

Ah, headphones, keeping you distracted from life — and depending on the brands you like, another stylish component of the image of the multi-media show that is “life” itself.

Always tense, but reasonably so

For about as long as I can remember, at least a little fear of people has been woven into the fabric of every backdrop.  If I started to think the world was welcoming as a kid, a bully would quickly emerge with the shadow of a giant.  There was no space a bully couldn’t get to, and I suppose the place they most get to is one’s head.  Your places with a lot of people that aren’t considered the typical definition of scenic — long-term residents either try to live around the natural result of a lack of elbow room/resources, or they become part of the problems that, outside of these places, defines them entirely.  Make this space one full of dark-skinned people of color, and it is typically deemed to be quite scary, a land of bullies, by people whom consider themselves in sync with a “natural” notion of what is picturesque and peaceful.

Lots of people want to live in a world where they’ve minimized the presence of people whom are somehow as scary-looking as they are bad, but that notion is at the expense of anything remotely fair  — and it’s certainly at the expense of people whom happen to be “scary-looking.”  I’m sure some people don’t care, because these are scary-looking people we’re talking about.  “And **** ‘em.”  Right?  Well, the last six months or so has seen the tragic slayings of a few people looking for help while happening to be black (And these were just the ones with a relatively high profile).  The kind of paranoia and rampantly internalized fear that often leads to these events is what’s really scary.  Can you imagine being lost and needing to ask for help in a place where you looked “scary”?  Your confusion, your reaching out to someone else for help, somehow warped into something “monstrous.”

If one were lost, one would reasonably feel a certain level of fear, too.  It’s strange to think such a fear can misconstrued, but it’s hardly surprising.  While some level of fear is a boon in a world full of myriad possibilities, it seems like there’s so many people so existentially lost they’re always afraid of anything that doesn’t share the hallmarks of the funhouse mirrors making them look otherwise.

Fear, quite simply, keeps us on our toes, wards off from potential dangers.  We have the kind wrought via personal experiences and, more often it sometimes seems, stereotypes from the twisted strain that is most media (yes, even the one you like that’s the good one).  How much of a reign is one giving these forces in one’s head when someone else is doing wrong by just looking like those bullies?

If someone “scary” gives you the stink eye, or if they make a rude comment, I know that’s not fun and that it can easily set a harsh tone.  But your not-joyful day should not be the ultimate signifier of someone else’s worth as a human being.  Someone being a jerk or terse hardly makes them someone who would do harm to one’s person, but just looking a certain way can result in those attitudes being interpreted much differently.  There’s a cultural conditioning to be afraid of violence from scary people — often easily chalked up to people of color.  One should certainly be wary of certain kinds of behaviors and looks, but in order to even be an effective judge of these in people, shouldn’t one be able to talk and listen to others who happen to not look quite so much like them?   Or, at least, such seems like it’d be quite vital to discerning humanity beyond people we’re conditioned to have an inclination for.

Here’s what some people in diverse areas do every day.  They keep their guard up¸right up until the actions of a person they find scary is or isn’t detrimental.  Guard up around all kinds of potential dangers, including a kind of violence that’s more likely to be inflicted on someone else who is a person of color.  So much violence results from some imagined slight that’s amplified by how insecure someone else is, and such a mindset often seems to regard these imagined slights even more when they’re from someone that’s not supposed to be “better” than them.   So people of color have to fear generally messed up human beings, generally messed up human beings who can see a bit more of themselves in them,  and being seen as scary when they’re in the wrong place and perhaps look like they’re having a bad day, or just look like a certain way at all.

One of the many reasons people in some loosely classifiable groups have a short life expectancy is because they live in the thick of it — of good and bad, from all sides.  There’s no strain to wring out the easiest or the “best” of this or that for them.  On top of such, it particularly wears one down — always trying to be strong enough to both discern danger and still be human.  But people still do it.

In honor of today

Lida Husik talked about Martin Luther King Jr. in my 2011 interview with her: “The American travesty that hurts me the most is the Black Experience.  I’m not a do-gooder, or politically active, besides voting, and being vegan. I don’t protest things or write my congressperson.  But I was six years old when Dr. Martin Luther King was murdered. I remember that day and how it felt like a wound piercing my heart.  So this was what the grown-ups got up to.   The heart of a child never gets used to constant disappointment in adults. I grew up in Washington, DC, in the white sector, although later in jr. high and high school black kids were bussed in from other parts of the city, so I was exposed to that other culture thoroughly—and in the seventies as well, a different world.  You couldn’t see the math problem on the board through the sea of afros.  The black kids were loud, angry, and funny; they sang and danced in the halls and popped gum.  There was Kool and the Gang, Earth, Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, Parliament.  The hits were sung with gusto.  We little white kids tapped our Lawrence Welk toes hopefully along to the beat.  The black kids had a different way of speaking, mellifluous and abbreviated, full of mysterious code words that cracked them up.  We were meek and pale and tongue-tied, and turned even whiter next to them.  Most of our teachers were black, too.  They were warm and funny and had life experience in their faces.  The white teachers seemed shriveled and boring and nasal.

Art by Robert Pinero. Words by Lida Husik.

“Flash forward to the eighties and nineties and this godforsaken decade.  I am enraged by ‘gentrification’, the very word is so offensive, as if a bunch of ‘gents’ in ascots gallantly swoop in, take off their top hats, and say, ‘Sorry old chaps, we must have use of your neighborhood, but look, there’s a perfectly good crime-ridden suburb for you to move to, and we’ll just turn your old mammy church into a hipster wine bar’; and this has happened everywhere.  The old black grandmas can’t afford the property taxes; if there are government programs that could help they aren’t told about them, etc etc.  Now, I’m not saying that blacks are good and whites are bad; that would be stupid.  The black community has disappointed me too.  I don’t like the anti-gay bias.  I wish there was more of the old-time values instead of the hopelessness and violence, but that’s also just economics.  Mainly though, I’m so sick of how ignorant and selfish some white Americans are.  Just how ignorant of history do you have to be not to appreciate the great moment Obama’s nomination was?  How could you look at one second of footage of the sixties German Shepherd attacks and fire hoses, wielded by government employees, and not grasp that incredibly emotional opportunity for justice?  How could you not vote for Obama and call yourself a Christian?  Well, the hypocrisy never ceases to amaze.”

http://davidmzs.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/lida-husik-interview/