“Today, as restless as ever….” vs. RESIGNATION

“Today, as restless as ever….” vs. RESIGNATION
by Ox… rushing out an unedited first draft

“True Creativity…It’s not so much what you get on the canvas, but how you feel after really painting.” — from http://www.brunijazzart.com/Bio,%20BRUNI%205-25-05.html

I won’t go so far as to say that it doesn’t matter what one accomplishes on the mundane canvass of the world, but I will confirm the thrust of Bruni’s statement. And in that beautiful light, let us acknowledge that it’s very important how activists feel after reeling from the punches of the powers that be.

One of Bruni’s favorites in the jazz world, Miles Davis, loved boxing. Well, when I was a kid I wanted to be a boxing manager. I had lots of 8×10 glossy photos framed in my bedroom, and two of them were favorites of Miles’, Sugar Ray Robinson and Archie Moore. When those guys got conked they came back hard.

Not so with activists. These days the powers that be are running rings around highly committed demonstrators and all part-time concerned citizens who are voicing protest against our horrid momentum. The whole kit and caboodle — no matter whether someone is marching in circles with placards, signing petitions, getting their heads bashed in at the barricades and getting arrested, or simply going on a hunger strike or participating in a candlelight vigil (after dutifully writing to their rep or local editor) — are not returning to the ring ringing with resolve to make a difference.

Oh, they might be feeding the hungry daily, or organizing events ’round the clock, but after getting clocked by the powers that be… well, with each and every blow they’re blown out of the waters further and further from believing that they can make a difference. I’m not talking about citizens stopping believing that their contributions are meaningful or important. Rather, I’m specifically addressing their deepest feelings about the Big Picture.

On that level one and all are as resigned to some negative scenario as the most blatant quietist. Meaning, at 3 o’clock in the morning, when one is truly in touch with one’s soul, they all will admit that they don’t believe we can bounce back.

People are fighting the good fight in tiny corners, yes. But they are atomized, not really getting with others ‘cross the board on any macroscopic plane on an ongoing basis. They’re not at war with the powers that be with the conviction that they can prevail. They’ve reduced themselves to maintaining things, doing the humane thing in a small pond. The ocean’s too big for them these days. Too far gone. Using the analogy with boxing, they’re resigned to only go the distance, survive long enough to be able to say they weren’t knocked out cold.

This leaves me cold, this attitude which now dominates.

And I fancy that in Bruni’s little gallery we can stir up the necessary creative juices to turn things around.

Kid Gavilan, Mr. Bolo punch, told me when I was only ten-years-old at his training camp: “I am not Welterweight Champion because of nothing, Richard. I never give up.” It was broken, halting — hard-to-understand — English, but the Kid made the effort for me to understand. It was important to him, important enough to push the envelope with his language. And I felt it, and have kept it close to my heart for a very long time.

The punch line here is that Raphael Lemkin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raphael_Lemkin told me the exact same thing when I was fifteen. And James Baldwin, joking at Small’s Paradise one intimate evening of great import, repeated it too a few years later. That’s more than serendipity to me.

Now I’m sensing that Bruni feels the same way. And I’m feeling my obligation coming around, wanting to put someone or something down for the count.

Update as of 9:30am PST: This biz about never giving up has zero to do with simply fighting the good fight. That must be underscored, for it is too easily misunderstood. I am talking about having something to offer which follows a fresh paradigm for fighting, something which evolved partly as a function of not giving up; an approach with makes unprecedented use of what I call visceral appeals. Fail. Fail again. Fail again better, Beckett’s mantra, is germane here. Those who are truly focused on making a difference, not just feeling good about themselves, not only in the battle to be in a spotlight, or to benefit personally, have a shot at actually making inroads, advances which will not be rolled back, that will create the necessary watershed in history which Mother Earth, all the arts and all living creatures cry out for at this juncture. The Challenge, as I said to Mark Gray last night (Bruni’s colleague), is not about the usual suspects. The opposition… corrupt career politicians, incompetent agencies and corporations and their first cousins are not what we must focus on at first, not exclusively certainly. Rather, it is the apathy, resignation, cynicism, ignorance, habit and atomization of the general public. From a new angle. That’s where I come in. That’s what I have to offer. And whether or not anyone embraces my particular plan of action is neither here nor there. Bottom line, what I’m interested in is a discussion of options, unrushed with ample time set aside for in-depth exploration*. Post haste.

*Over the last eight plus years I’ve had a handful of individuals give me such time; that’s out of 11,000 plus contacts. None of those few, however, ever took part in any follow-up communications… which were, in each of those cases, crucial for a true testing of the waters. In essence, I’m only asking — from a generation on the run — what’s essential to do justice to any fresh idea.