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Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

13 hours yesterday. 29 dead.

You don’t have to be a psychic to see that this was coming.

No, any thinking, feeling person with a lick of sense and their eyes open could see this.

Let’s see, we have:

A nation that was built on immigration based on the lure of opportunity, religious and political freedom for all.

An almost unlimited access to every known type of firearm, protected by a wealthy lobby ( propped up in recent years by an influx of foreign money) that seeks to sell more and more weapons with even fewer restrictions. They have bought the silence of lawmakers for decades.

A growing white supremacy movement that, according to the FBI in a report from over a decade ago, has infiltrated local law enforcement agencies throughout the nation. The vast majority of acts of domestic terrorism in this country come from white supremacists.

An economy that is becoming more and more unbalanced. Wage growth for the lower and middle classes has been sluggish at best while there has been tremendous increase in wealth for the the higher end. The poor are getting poorer and the rich getting richer.

An online social media culture that allows people to live in insular bubbles that allow their worst inclination to fester unabated. It is a world often filled with paranoia, conspiracy and unfettered hatred.

A president** who uses the rhetoric of racism on a level never seen in this nation. I believe, based on thirty plus years of evidence, that he is racist but it doesn’t matter at this point. Either he is a racist or he isn’t and is using racism as a divisive political tool to maintain power. Both are equally repugnant and evil as well as being disqualifying for him as the leader of this nation.

He uses racism that plays to the sense of grievance that resides in much of the less affluent, less educated white population of his base, putting the blame for the shortcomings in these people’s lives squarely on the shoulders of “the others.” The way they see it, they are poor because every job that should be their’s is being stolen by an immigrant. They’re afraid because they believe black people want to rob and assault them while murderous latino gangs run wild on every street. They see every person of Middle Eastern descent as seeking to destroy the white nation they love so that sharia law can be established here. White opioid abusers in poor states are victims in their eyes who need help while black drug users in cities are criminals who deserve severe legal punishment.

I am going to leave it right there. I could go on but what does it do? Yesterday, we had 29 dead in two separate shootings in El Paso and Dayton within 13 hours. Unsurprisingly, the El Paso shooter is linked with white supremacy. Don’t know about the Dayton assailant yet. Though in body armor, he was killed by the police within a minute of the beginning of his killing spree. Yet, with a military style weapon, he still managed to kill 9 people in that short time.

I’d like to be optimistic here but I am afraid that we’re in for a lot more of this, folks. These young white males who feel they are somehow being screwed over by “the others” and are entitled to lash out at the world with violence are not going away anytime soon. They have the weapons, they have someone to blame, they have a community online that endorses their hatred, and they have a person at the helm of the most powerful country in the world who will never speak out against them, someone who will actually seek to rationalize away their deadly actions so that the blood doesn’t show on his tiny, spray tanned hands.

I wish I had answers. I do know that there are none on the horizon so long as we keep electing spineless, amoral slugs who only seek to help their biggest donors and themselves. We want courage and boldness in our leaders but when it is shown, we often seek to destroy those people because if they succeed, we might have to actually address the problems we face. So we settle for the mindless twats we have and the downward spiral they have enabled.

At some point, it has to come to a reckoning. What will it take before we rise up and demand a different outcome?

So, here’s my song for this Sunday. Fitting the day, it is I See a Darkness from Bonnie “Prince” Billy. I have played Johnny Cash’s cover of this song here before but the original feels right today.

On a dark day, I have no more thoughts and prayers to share. I used them up long ago.

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There is just way too much to do this morning as I am finishing up work on my upcoming July show at the West End Gallery. But even though my time is spent on this work, the events taking place in this country occupy my mind a lot of this time. I am not going to go into it at this point but I wanted to share a video that speaks to it in a way.

It is from one of my favorites, the ultra talented Rhiannon Giddens, and was produced in the aftermath of the Charleston, SC church shooting in which 9 church members were murdered. It’s probably hard to remember, there have been so many mass shootings in the years since that we barely notice anymore when only 3 or 4 or 5 people are killed.

The song is Cry No More and the words at the top appear at the end of the video. They serve as a powerful reminder that we get what we put up with and that to be silent is to accept this status quo. All the tears in the world accomplish nothing unless they are followed with a powerful and unified voice.

So, cry no more. Know your history. Know your mind. Speak up. Be loud.

 

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Hmm…

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An honest man always values earning honor over wealth.

-Rembrandt

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This is as true today as it was 350 years ago in Rembrandt’s time. Acts of honor seem rarer and definitely less valued in this modern world.

Just saying.

Much to do so I am off to work now.

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The artist performs only one part of the creative process. The onlooker completes it, and it is the onlooker who has the last word.

Marcel Duchamp

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I can’t say I have always fully appreciated or understood all of the work of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968). The French born artist is best known for his Nude Descending a Staircase #2 (above) which was the center of the fabled and highly influential Armory Show of 1913. The Cubist painting was considered a shocking departure from the norm, breaking the human form and its motion into abstracted blocks and lines. For an art world that was still basically reeling from the push of Impressionism against traditional academic style painting, it seemed like a gateway to total chaos.

Perhaps it was the notoriety from  this show and the effects of World War I that pushed Duchamp even more away from the art establishment of that era. His work became more and more provocative, as he became associated with the Dada movement which rejected all the norms of traditional art. You may know his 1917 sculpture, Fountain, which was a urinal signed with the pseudonym R. Mutt. Shocking the world at the time, it is considered a Dada masterpiece and one of the most influential works of the 20th century.

The thing I find interesting is that after the late 1920’s, Duchamp, still a relatively young man, more or less gave up the making of art and focused on playing chess. He viewed the game as more pure than art in that it was beyond commercialization. He did little art making in the time until his death in 1968.

But while Duchamp, with his contrarian nature, remains an enigmatic character for me, I do heartily agree with his words above. Art is not completely in the making of it. It is the viewer and the impression of the work that they carry with them that completes the artwork. Regardless of how or why the artist created the work, it is the impression that the work makes on the viewer that matters. A deeply personal piece that is that is beautifully crafted may not have the same impact as one that is rough and crudely executed.

That remains the last word of the viewer and what the see and feel in the work.

And that will always be a mysterious and sometimes confounding thing that is beyond the control of the artist.

 

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Loving Truth

Blaise Pascal Death Mask

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Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.

–Blaise Pascal

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We live in a time of falsehoods. It is a time where some choose to deny the obvious truth and instead believe the desired lie.

Their opinion, their own sense of belief, has more value to them than all the mountains of truth and evidence that could be stacked against them.

How do you change such people? How do you make them see truth where they see only falsehoods?

You don’t change them.

You can’t change them.

You can only maintain a love for truth and continue to shine a light on it.

Then you must use that truth to defeat those who believe in the current false reality.

No persuasion will ever convert these people.

It must be defeat. Complete and devastating defeat.

A defeat so absolute that some will, in time, begin to understand how far they had veered off the path of truth and reality.

Some will never see the truth and will forever see themselves forever as victims.

Victims of a conspiracy. Victims of circumstance.

Always victims.

How this defeat comes about, well, that is yet to be determined.

But defeat must come.

Sounds harsh, I know.

And in the end, it may turn out to be harsh.

But to let truth be obscured by falsehood, to accept and live in a world completely based on lies, would prove to be far more severe and brutal.

The truth must continue to be loved and spoken.

Truth must prevail.

Amen.

Thus ends today’s sermonette.

Thanks for letting me vent and special thanks to French mathematician, theologian and general brainiac Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) for today’s quote and all of his various and many contributions to truth and the betterment of mankind.

 

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‘Nuff Said

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“he had nothing to say and he said it”

― Ambrose Bierce

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Take that any way you wish. But for those of you who endured that tortuous hour or so last night, you know what I am talking about.

‘Nuff said.

And just to make this post worthwhile, Ambrose Bierce may be one of the greatest American writers that that is unfamiliar to most of us. He was a renowned journalist, prolific short story writer– his An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is considered one of the best ever American short stories–and a pioneer in the genre of horror writing. His The Devil’s Dictionary is one of the classics of humor. He disappeared in Mexico around 1913-14 while traveling as an observing journalist with Pancho Villa’s rebel forces. Pretty fascinating character that is worth the time to look into a bit further.

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“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

― Winston Churchill

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I saw an idiot* on television yesterday say, “The buck stops with everybody.”

Inspiring stuff. A new chapter in Profiles in Courage.

But, even though this pains me to say, the moron* was right.

Well, right in a way, not in the instance of which he was speaking, where he was trying to relieve himself of all responsibility for the particular situation in which he finds himself. No, the fool* is the primary bearer of the responsibility for that.

I am saying the buck stops with us all right now. We have allowed and enabled this whole ugly situation to take place. We have willingly given a looter a flamethrower and we are now witnessing how much damage can be done as he flees the scene.

And he* is very much a looter.  Think about it.

A looter comes riding in on a wave of chaos and confusion, grabbing whatever he can as he runs through the mayhem. He thrives on the bedlam taking place around him because his only concern, his only focus, is on himself alone. He carelessly pushes people aside to get where and what he wants. Not a bit of care for the damage being done or the losses suffered from his actions. Not a single thought for those hurt as he tramples through.

And when it looks like the authorities are closing in, the looter* uses his flamethrower and sows even more confusion. When the whole city is ablaze, you focus on putting out the fire. The looter* focuses only on moving himself to safety.

It is now time for us all to understand that this is our responsibility to end this chaos, to extinguish the fires and take the flamethrower out of the tiny hands of the looter*. We must make our presence felt and our voices heard. Hit the phones and keyboards. Take to the streets and do it now. We can’t depend on anyone else doing it for us.

It is our responsibility.

If we want to continue to be considered a great nation, this is the price we must now pay. Because as Winston Churchill states above, responsibility is the price for greatness.

Or as a reality TV show nitwit* once said, “The buck stops with everybody.”

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