Friday, September 2, 2011

A Note on Creation and Destruction.

I'm a guilty pseudo-punk. Intellectually, I despise the forces of modern slavery (corporate rule, sanctioned addictions, etc.) and the subliminal traps we as humans are born into. Concretely, I pretty much don't do a damn thing about it. I think a lot about changing that. A lot. I think about art's role in revolution and change, and I think about the creative power of community, and I think about the uses of current modes and tools in the fight for better ways of living for everyone. I think about the "I" versus the "we" and I think about creativity versus destruction. But I think. Part of the problem with that is that it doesn't even get to the physical, visceral "talk" point with other people. I just sit on it. Mull it over. Get angry. Post an article. Complain with friends about the obvious things through well-thought-through Facebook comments. And then let it recede, nestling into the little pacifist blankets in my brain to sleep until next month.

I mean, look at this, what I'm doing right now. I'm writing on a blog which a dozen people read but I don't update enough to expect them to, into the continuous self-purging noise of the internet, for what? A release? I guess that must be what it is. I have a hard time talking with people but I can be eloquent in text.  However, the obsessive attachment with non-physical, non-verbal interactions that riddles the globe and my generation especially is ruining the very spirit of life, empathy and real communication that is so key to actually changing anything for better. Yes, outrage spread by angry consumers can get demeaning shirts off the shelves, and can generate conversation about the horrible things that are being publicized all over our culture, but what about the things that are only experienced in reality? At the end of the day, the Western world is hooked into twisted machines of continuous insatiability while the third world uses water they shit in (and the wealthy dump toxins in) to make their food and wash their clothes. When it comes down to it, our culture is eating itself and we can't even really fathom what it's like to struggle in the way that people trying to survive actually struggle.

Living the way we do causes a lot of anger and repression. We are one psycho bunch of people. More than half (I'd be willing to bet at least 3/4) of us have some sort of psychological issue or mental disorder. We're grossly unhappy, and many of us, especially the young ones, react in almost a knee-jerk fashion. We want to destroy what's making us unhappy. Many of us are smart enough to know, even just in fragments, what is responsible for pushing in on all sides (other than our own selves, of course). We know it's that boss who won't let you take a break on your job because you don't smoke, that logo that keeps insisting you won't be able to live without an iPhone once you get it, that movie that reiterates exactly how a woman and a man should act and present themselves. But it's bigger than that. We just lash out at the small stuff. Sneer at the Apple employee. Tell people how awful the movies and how fake the actors are. Hold a deep contempt for all the smokers who stand outside and talk about things you couldn't care less about. Maybe we sometimes take direct action. Spraypaint the crap out of a billboard. Spit in our boss's face with the final straw. Egg the producers. Destroy. Even if it's well-prepared for and thought out, it's still knee-jerk.

One of the concepts I dealt with a lot in art school was destruction as a form of creation, and vice versa.  Burning a house fertilizes the soil, etc. Destruction brings renewal. It's something I definitely agree with, generally. In fact, I'm sick of making art that just adds more stuff to this miasma. As much as new images seem constantly needed (especially on such an image-heavy environment the world is in now), the value of the image is a far, far cry from the value of genuine experience, and the ecological impact of artistic materials (including computers, production, and more, not just paint and canvas) weighs out the value of that image, to me. The spraypaint that was used to "subvertize" is horrible for the Earth and for our health. The eggs used to pummel the bigwigs were taken from probably abused chickens, a total waste of unrealized life. That window you smashed cut up the feet of a little boy walking through the street in his sandals. Using bad destruction as symbolism is dangerous too. You want to smash your TV? Go ahead. The chemicals in there will make people sick and kill plants and curious animals. This kind of "destroy" mentality is counter-active.

The emphasis needs to shift from selfish anger to active responsibility. The same goals can be accomplished, but through means that benefit or at least stabilize the people, animals, plants and geography around. Yeah, it might take more time, it might mean scratching ideas that would make more sense because they "work with the concept more aesthetically". But ultimately, we have to ask ourselves what is more important; the individualistic triumph of cleverness, or the ethical, communal triumph of intelligence. It's a weird place for us to come from. Considering we are continually told to be ourselves, screw the crowd, and that everyone is out to get us, it's hard to think of others as our allies. But I think it's high time we do that. Not by following the masses, but by seeking out genuine companionship, responsible ways of creation, and honest, open dialogue.

Cynicism ain't gonna get us very far. In fact, I believe that's the biggest problem with the portion of the youth who can actualize change. We gotta stop smashing our Stratocaster on the stage floor and start putting it in the hands of a thirsty young girl. It will make far more difference. In a spectacle that proclaims as its mission, "MORE, MORE, MORE!", we need to become the louder voice, screaming, "WE CAN DO BETTER!" What is better than more? I'm not sure, but I know some things that go into it. We're sick with an absurd hunger and the doctor's telling us there's no reason to change our diet. He doesn't even acknowledge the tapeworm comfortably inside. We have to tell him we know it's there. We have to become the doctors, the teachers, the students, the explorers, the crafters, the farmers, the builders, the ambassadors and councils that determine our own well-being. I know I've got a long way to go. I'm writing a blog post that I'll post on my Facebook wall in hopes that someone reads and comments. But I swear, I want to make a change. I want to try to engage people in conversation. I want to learn what people have to offer, no matter what their background. I'm just so sick of all this... stuff. I want to experience reality, or at least the quasi-reality we're offered, to see what transformation needs to happen, through creative, responsible destruction and construction. I don't like being so cynical, as easy as it is. Anyone else?

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