Everything is Political — Art.

Look, I don’t want to make everything about politics, but, as we used to say a few decades ago, everything is political.
 
It matters that amid all this crap that you stay engaged with creation and art.
 
Last Friday, I purposefully skipped The Installation. I still haven’t watched that speech, and never will.
 
Instead, I went back to MY safest space, which is art, and by being engaged with that, affirmed its power and hoped-for eventual permanent triumph over anti-human values.
 
I bookended this pivotal weekend with art.
 
Friday night I learned about two new artists, and heard and saw performed some of the most strikingly fresh music I’ve heard in a while:
 
https://clintonpattersonmusic.bandcamp.com
 
https://kidiband.bandcamp.com/releases
 
And last night, Monday, as part of the Monday Evening Concert series, the mounting of three of Julius Eastman’s pieces.
 
And I swear, nothing gives me more energy and power to fight the fuckers of regression and dismay and the champions of the death-drive than music and art and bodies in creative motion, carving out an aesthetically inclusive, morally righteous, maximally just space.
 
It IS political.
 
Fight. Stay active. Call. Protest. Listen. Support your sisters and brothers whose lives and bodies are more imperiled than your own.
 
But don’t forget about art and creation. It is one of our mightiest pillars. Support it. Spend some of your money on it. Support foundations and grass roots arts groups. Support arts education for children and especially children in underserved communities. Support arts education for the incarcerated. Go to your local museums. Participate in free happenings.
 
Before there was a country, there was the voice and the drum.

News Analysis ®

Post Women’s March.

You know what I especially appreciate about yesterday? That within less than 24 hours of the inauguration, in a span of time in which the Unnameable should have enjoyed the uninfringed glow of victory, he and his mission were stripped of that; displaced from the top of every page and from the head of every news story; displaced and replaced by a picture of a maximally plural and inclusive vision of this country and the world.

Put it another way: he and the GOP were denied their golden optic. Their balls were barely done and all of a sudden, millions of ordinary Americans wrested the spotlight away from them and amplified that spotlight a hundred times.

Put it another way: their first morning waking up in power, and they’re already playing defense.

Desperate, angry, dissembling defense.

That’s a powerful message.

And it burned their ass.

Bigly.

Artists: time to work.

This a call out to the artists. The writers, the performers, the musicians, the observers, the chroniclers, the dancers, the choreographers, the singers, the voices, those who must create: I want to have a serious, sustained conversation about our calling.
 
Let me re-post Toni Morrison’s famous paragraph:
 
“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
 
We need to go to work.
 
So we’re doing the first order stuff: calling, donating, showing up, writing, calling again, faxing, engaging, resisting however we can, provoking advertisers to blacklist Breitbart, boycotting, marching, etc.
 
The next round is organizing in a more substantial way. I’m not sure what that will look like yet, and it’s not my strong suite.
 
What is my strong suite is creative work.
 
And a whole bunch of you have the same or even better strengths.
 
We have resources. We have skills. We have a LOT of skills. Rare, important, difficult-to-master skills, and we have the confidence to deploy them at will.
 
How can we begin to link our skills and ideas and creative fervor with those who possess other gifts and insights and skills, and work together to create a movement? How can we enlist our skills in the service of producing change, provoking thought, provoking reflection, reconsideration; provoking empathy where empathy is lacking, caring for others where caring is lacking? Changing the conversation. Reframing the discourse. Destroying existing perceptual frames; help to begin chipping away at existing power structures, and building new, more fair, more just, more civil structures which respect and hold as equally human those of us who have the least as those of us who have the most? 
We have studios. We have media apparatus of every conceivable, technical variety. We write well. We type fast. We compose with grace. We edit with precision. We know how to do lots of basic, technical resource management. We organize information well. We understand modes of perception, aesthetics, style, form, content, formats, clear communication, and complication and difficulty where necessary. We understand signs, symbols, metaphors, interpretation, meaning. We have discipline, can work very long, tedious hours. We know how to deliver. We know how to meet deadlines. We are not intimidated by massive projects. We understand vision and how to translate that in to work.

What can we do on our own? What can we do in small groups? How do we enlarge a creative culture which recognizes common cause even without coordination?

What can we do to work with other agents of change from completely different backgrounds, with completely different skills? How can we work together?

I’m not talking about abstract ideas. I’m talking about concrete work.

What the products of that work will be is up to us.

But I have to do something more than what I’m doing, and art is what I’m good at.

If you’re reading this, and you feel this, then let’s start with this question: how can we help?

Thus begins the work.