Power looms….

NOTE: This is an archived site. EVERYTHING here is very dated. Articles — all — are written now and then for highly select readers, for particular purposes. Not knowing proper context can be puzzling or misleading, even off-putting. So… please not read anything here which has not been recommended to you. What’s below is UNEDITED. This is only a first draft. Tailor-made for a select group at 277 Taylor Street “half way to the stars,” in Tony Bennett’s San Francisco.

Power looms….
Dedicated to the 1811 weavers of wildness and their passionate counterparts today
by Your Ox

“Only a people serving an apprenticeship to nature can be trusted with machines.” — Herbert Read

Respecting the quote above, I would say that today only people serving an apprenticeship to art can be trusted where power looms.

I was just looking at at photo of Sarah Bernhardt and Mrs. Patrick Campbell enacting a scene from Pelleas and Melisande in a 1904 production of Maurice Maeterlinck’s play. When the play premiered on 17 May 1893 at the Bouffes-Parisiens it had to strike audience as the antithesis of Scribe-like, Sardou-like French realism at the time. Shocking, so so very different from what Shaw called Sardoodledum. Somewhat like the shock Bernhardt herself must have experienced in 1915 when she had to have her leg amputated? I don’t know. But her loss was in the same year that the great poet Blaise Cendrars was forced to have his arm removed, courtesy of WWI trenches.

WWI, now there’s something that provided a good many shocks.


San Francisco’s Cutting Ball Theatre is putting on a production of right now of Rob Melrose’s Pelleas and Melisande. I hear it’s quite good, with a truly fresh translation; reviews are through the roof! I wrote to the powers that be in the Cutting Ball realm recently, hoping to hear back ASAP. I did receive a response from one higher up, someone who said that they would like to be Governor of California, and that if they were the first thing they’d do would be to repeal Prop 13.

Great start, but… why did I hear back from only one soul among the many who work at Cutting Ball? Theirs was better than the zero response I received from El Teatro Campesino last week, but still… why aren’t citizens more intrigued by my offer to address our collective crises from a fresh angle? Cynicism? Apathy? Resignation? Ignorance? Atomization? Simply too busy trying to survive on a daily basis and too much in fear to even consider something beyond the blinders? Maybe it’s a matter of He’s a nutcase from nowhere, or (the inappropriate for now) My art is enough syndrome. I don’t know. But I do wish that that individual at CB who did express interest will reply to my immediate reply, that there will be follow through dialogue.

For although a literal repeal of Prop 13 would require the cooperation of many legislators, the same thing that I’m sure he’s aiming at could be accomplished in other ways — the essence of Prop 13s injustice rescinded, for all practical purposes — whether or not he actually secured the Sacred Seat in Sacramento, the gubernatorial office. How? Well, answering that requires a rendezvous one-on-one, for anyone interested.

In the meantime, I can tell you that there are tons of UNILATERAL ACTIONS which any decent governor could take that would transform life ‘cross the board for one and all in California, without so much as discussion with the gangster politicians, or the professional legislators, all — almost to a one — self-serving careerists.

Why did I begin this blah blah with the Divine Sarah? Why did I drag in Henry Miller’s Swiss/French hero, amputation, theatrical shocks and the abomination of WWI? I would also like the opportunity to elaborate on all of that — There is a method to my madness! — courtesy of an in person invitation… wherein I would travel to San Francisco, perhaps, to meet with one or more Cutting Ball cutting edgers.

But I can tell you this right now: Power looms… for the taking at the moment. Following a new paradigm, the average artist, citizen — Call yourself whatever you like! — can seize significant reins of power. And that is exactly what must be done. Some additional control of our fate along fresh lines must be attempted immediately… or we will sink further and further away from the day when we can save our legs, wave our arms, bathe our children, enjoy the air we breathe, the water we bathe in. It is no longer 1904. All the world really must be made into a stage of sorts, with healthy-minded stage managers at the helm. ['Supermen' need not apply, healthy women and children and decent fellows with pancake makeup and marvelous masks loom in the wings.]

When I say seize significant reins of power, I mean a legal and nonviolent affair (with wonderful dramatic flair). So, please, don’t let me lose you on those counts.

Reading Kirkpatrick Sale’s Rebels Against the Future, I am reminded of the power looms which the Luddites destroyed in their wake, in their response to horrid conditions that were first cousins to the amputated limbs of Bernhardt and Cendrars and the horrific waste of humanity in the trenches. Conditions which exist on a greater scale today.

I was at Martin Luther King’s Riverside Church speech on April 4, 1967. And I am much too in tune with the senselessness of violence to advocate along those lines. Besides, I hold a paradigm for change in my head, in my hands… which has not been tried before. One which could create a watershed in history without any violence whatsoever. Through art. Via theatrical art played out in dramatic fashion in real life settings… which would go a long way toward injecting some real life into our present deadening routines.

A great sense of power wells up within me, but I need to have at least a discussion with someone in private to take my next steps, to wave my arms at others. Meaning, I cannot do much alone.

I need weavers weary of our momentum. Wanting a society — willing to will it — where the well-being of workers and their work, the salubrity of family and community matter much. Where the world is… a wonder.

Power lives where power looms lovely. In poetic solidarity. Not in prose, the rose unrising around me, within us all.

DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE LOTS OF TIME TO SPARE. I had wanted to place this at the top:

“It may very well be that ‘those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it’, but if that’s the case we must also acknowledge that those who are too enamored of ‘history’s lessons‘ are likely to lock themselves between parameters which do not permit anything but prosaic approaches to protest, unpoetic approaches to change, precluding fresh paradigms for felt-difficulties, challenges. [Pause.] But don’t quote me.” — Oscar Wilde speaking to the author in a dream of 21 November, 2011. [An approximate transcription, the author having had to scramble for a pen at his bedside, upon waking at 3am.]