Politics. I try to stay away from politics (it pulls me down further than I already am), but it’s a part of being creative, politics infects everything you do. Sometimes my motivation to write things stems from the politics in literature, film, or television. It’s everywhere around me. I think on the forces within media that might provoke my daughter into thinking unrealistic things about her body. I think on the forces within the education system that reinforce my son’s disenfranchisement with the way autism is treated under a “special needs” umbrella.
I think a lot.
Lately I’ve been reading communist and socialist manifestos (OH HI NSA!). Guattari, Deleuze, and Debord have been looping through my head too like little worms gorging on fresh meat (and for some reason, they feast even stronger as I look Python). I don’t affiliate with any ideology at the moment. Nothing has been proven to work. I mostly read, render, discuss when I’m confident enough to navigate the topic socially. This morning I found myself defending my city, Toronto, purely out of emotion, while my friend lambasted the politics that are brining Toronto to the lowest of low. I felt his rant was like people coming to my house and throwing rocks at it. It’s ok, though because it’s how worldwide media has treated our city because of Rob Ford.
Meh. We take it, but we soldier on. We complain about the weather, the lack of city funding, the lack of resources, and everything really. We are in the rut.
Then I had an email argument with a gentlemen about the pluses and minuses of uncreative writing. They wanted me to create more because they said they loved my poetry. They asked why I was wasting my time rewriting and retyping existing texts, “Why not focus on recreating them?” Why use a typewriter when a computer is so convenient?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to defend my uncreative process more than its output. I write a lot of poetry. I rarely publish it (publishing is a difficult world to navigate, but when I do it’s great). However, even putting stuff up here online has been rare because I’ve never been in a big hurry to. The uncreative process has been meatier and instills a great element of the new for me right now. I’m hardly evangelical about it (even though it might seem like it), because I am still writing reviews, still writing poetry, still putting output that is mine. The retype and the rewrite is my own work of someone else’s words. Before the printing press monks used to scribe and it was considered good work. Scribers were pretty educated back in the day and learned a lot about literature and politics because of their work. I like to think of myself as a Joycean monk (he’d probably hate that said that). Somehow the retype has unstuck my own creative rut and that’s why I keep doing it.
The rut. This is how I feel the world is right now. We’re stuck in a place of meaningless limbo where the word “selfie” is a thing (dude, it’s a photo, wtf is a selfie?), and we argue about how we criticize things. Are we so dedicated to homogenous responses that we fail to even provoke the provokers? Are we so dedicated to the box that we fail to read those who think outside of it?
As he was watching old Dr. Who, my son said to me this morning,”The world goes around in circles, mom. It’s like we do things and then when it’s over, we have to relive yesterday because we need to feel good again. That’s nostalgia.”
My son is 12 and his biggest interests are Dr. Who, Minecraft, and occasionally spitting out gems like that as if he invented philosophy (he’ll also drink a giant carton of milk like a juice box).
On top of all the political reading I’ve been doing, I’ve focused a lot on 80s futurism. I’ll image google like crazy some days trying to capture how we felt about the future in the 80s. I’m living in that future imagined in the design and clothing seen in the films back then. Kubrick got it all wrong for 2001 and, but the design would totally hold up right now as both futuristic and nostalgic. The subversive sense of Kubrick design was as if he was provoking us to imagine and to make those dreams solid. Alas, I have no Clockwork Orange egg chairs because they’re too expensive, but I totally would if I could.
Here’s what I’m thinking, as we get nostalgic and rework for now the 80s/90s future for modern-day fashions (yeah big pant 90s are back), it’s nothing new. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (Hi, I rewrite and retype novels.). However, I find it a symptom of the rut we can’t get out of: We are on a continuous loop because we can’t imagine changing the status quo. Sure we talk about revolution, but where are the poets (Bolaño? Levertov?)? Where are the thought-provoking statements that makes us ponder the now for the future? Are they busy still arguing about how best to rebel? Are they busy trying to keep the standards of living that they’re afraid to throw it all out and start anew?
Before re-committing to being a writer again, I just read everything in my path. I’d observe and found myself even more frightened of the bigness of the world. There is no career path out there where nepotism and elitism (about who you know, not just what you know), isn’t a part of the career path. I just can’t do it. I’m not competitive. I don’t play favourites and I don’t want to be a favourite. I like doing what I do. I write, even though I barely make any money at it, and I’m lucky because I have a supportive partner. It’s not the path I had aimed to make for myself. My goal of living independently and supporting myself doing what I love, is farther on the horizon than it ever was now. My partner’s financial support is supported in turn by my own care of the home and the children. But my mind is free. I can write, provoke, and follow my own crazy path because of it. BUT things need to change. I don’t want my daughter to depend on anyone else for her own freedom.
We live in a world of the political circle jerk. It infiltrates careers, film, literature, and all realms of creativity. So what can we do? I don’t know, maybe stay out of it? Maybe provoke from the sidelines? Try not to contribute to the circle jerk. Break it. Publish with small presses and make yourself heard through the free world of the internet? I really don’t care. I just know that the world got so fast that we went way past post-modernism and find ourselves at the brink of post-futurism and the world doesn’t know it. These are supposed to be the best of times with flying cars, floating buildings, regenerated forests, and abolishing the term of “normal” because no such thing ever existed.
We need a revolution. We need the poets to stop listening to the critiques and let them criticize. Negative and positive, bring it on (I relish writing both good and bad reviews). Let them excel at their commentary, for it challenges us. In turn, we will provoke, make new things, and buy ourselves some egg-shaped chairs. Do whatever it is you do and do it well, but contribute something new to the discussion, incite, rework, and question. We need to write about flying cars again. We need to write on computers and remember that they’re basically digital typewriters.
You and I are concepts with the capacity to reinvent themselves. I am Duchamp’s urinal. I am Dali’s melting clock. I am a word without the letter “e.,” I am a concept and the concept is too busy existing that she forgot she needed to speak.
P.S. Speaking of thinking outside that perpetually solid box, RIP Mike Vraney: http://boingboing.net/2014/01/03/mike-vraney-founder-of-someth.html
P.S.S. The Self-Abolition of the Poet https://jacket2.org/commentary/self-abolition-poet