December 6, 2015

Under the good intentions, the beach

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Sexism and racism in art
I now feel these are the questions
I will spend the rest of my life debating
as Raymond Boisjoly tweeted:
“...as if art was more important than
our responsibility to one another”
I have never particularly liked to argue
because I’ve never particularly
thought I was right
but like anyone I can easily be
pulled into an argument
especially on the internet
and then what
am I learning something?
I want to remain open
to listen, but the tone of the arguments
so often makes me feel
like arguing instead of listening
(not even talking about fascists or
trolls, but about complex, genuine,
distressing disagreements)
people generally don’t change so much
will anything I say
change anything you think
or vice versa, how or why?
I have been accused
of letting guilt run away with me
but what would it be like
to live in a more just world
and what is the correct
attitude to take us there
when I’m doing my best to
understand your argument
to listen, to be open
but all I really feel is disagreement
there is very little in my daily experience
that gives me any real sense of possibility
yet I know I must keep feeling
possibility regardless
regardless of our differences
regardless of my despair
I don’t want to get too lost
in the details
whether this work of art is sexist
or that one is racist
if you respectfully disagree we
can respectfully disagree
I don’t want to spend all my time
attacking works that ethically suck
would instead prefer to spend my time
praising works that are ethically
and artistically glorious
when something is sexist or racist
we have to speak out against it
loudly and clearly
even with the possibility that later
we might see other aspects
how to speak out yet avoid
these endless, go nowhere debates
stay off the internet
what is my opinion worth
so much less than my actions
I do so few actions
apart from making art
and I believe in art less than ever
but strangely, almost against my will,
I still somehow believe
all of this I write
from the bottom of a depression
which might not even be a depression
an alienation, a loneliness
a never-been-able-to-have-close-friends
an internet addiction
that has in some sense converted me
so I now see so much more racism and sexism
in art and in the world
and I thought I saw so much before
before the internet
when I was also lonely and alienated
my loneliness and alienation
also forms of luxury and privilege
the really fucked up thing about me
is I can always walk away
I never get that attached
this must be a defense mechanism
and how do we argue
without letting our defense mechanisms
carry us away
and how to make people feel structural inequality
how to make people feel structural inequality
how to feel structural inequality
fully and violently, so it would completely wrench my gut
gut me to the core of my privilege
gut me towards action
this isn’t a real poem
just some thoughts in the shape of a poem
when people are being killed in the streets
dying from lack of resources
in stupidly profitable wars
killed by their loved ones
we need poems of pure rage
this one is not
I do feel rage
don’t know if I have any right to it
can feel how I take up too much space
but not how to share the meager resources
our racist and sexist world grants me
I am starting to make attempts
through these attempts I begin to see
just how hard it is, how it doesn’t just work
everything in my life and work
an endless trial and error
the definition of praxis
and these attempts draw me into further debates
as I try to understand
why people say the things they do
if we could all replace our childhoods
with something more open
more generous
if I could snap my fingers
and capitalism would be gone
replaced with something
more caring and more hopeful
what kind of debates would we have then
what would they feel like
who would they be for
who would we be



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