Monday, March 25, 2013

Writing from what you know

I mean, is there anything more toxic within the culture these days than all those people who speak from what they don't know? Watch Sean Hannity for a great example. Of course, a lot of TV news and punditry is just personalities reading scripts on a teleprompter written for them.

They are saying things they do not know.

Or listen to those Sunday morning political shows (I don't anymore, can't, my soul finally rebelled). My Ayn Rand Sen. Ron Johnson is a great example, too. I can still be stunned by someone who apparently has no real understanding of economics trying to yell down a Pulitzer Prize winning economist like Paul Krugman. You don't have to agree with Krugman all the time in order to appreciate how smart he is, but if you are going to engage him in debate, at least know your stuff, right?

Yup, few things more toxic than listening to people speak like confident, strident, experts on things about which they know so little. Wayne LaPierre of the NRA is another great example. Sometimes I gasp at the factually errant things he declares with such practiced righteous anger. What's worse: that he does this, or that the political culture takes his point of view seriously, as part of the "balance" in the debate?

Climate change - don't even get me started on that one.

With that in mind, I was intrigued by this article in the NY Times yesterday: Outside the Citadel, Social Practice Art Is Intended to Nurture. It's about a rising expression in the art world in which art is deeply engaged in the world - not just art for the sake of art, but art embedded in the struggles of humans for dignity, expression, social change, and social transformation, often at a fiercely local level (though with potential repercussions far beyond).
"Known primarily as social practice, its practitioners freely blur the lines among object making, performance, political activism, community organizing, environmentalism and investigative journalism, creating a deeply participatory art that often flourishes outside the gallery and museum system. And in so doing, they push an old question — 'Why is it art?' — as close to the breaking point as contemporary art ever has."
Part of the answer to that question, why is it art, is simple - it is art because it is art: that's the answer. It emerges from the human experience like food from organic gardening, like dreams in the night that simply appear, like air in our lungs or blood in our veins. It is something we need to do to live.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Edges - where things meet

I found myself in the pre-dawn dark this morning thinking about edges. I picked up my pencil and the journal I keep nearby for those moments of inspiration you don't want to lose, and I started writing:
In this one leaf
here at the edge where the pavement
meets grasses, meets wildflowers
and fallen branches
near the water's edge,
a story -
how can I decipher it?
It wanted to be a poem, so I kept writing, and it kept coming, and now it exists, inviting more work, reshaping, edges between lines and words, punctuation marks and spaces...

Edges - where one thing meets another.