This winter I embarked on a journey into audio media— a podcast to be precise. The idea happened one night when James and I were leafing through a stack of vintage magazines, finding outlandish ad copy or headlines, and reading them aloud, trying not to laugh.
Some of the content of course is meant to be provocative, for example in magazines like Hush Hush, The Lowdown, or Suppressed. But much of the most surprising copy can be found in the advertisements, which are true barometers of the culture of an era.
Today the weather suits the mood here in NY; grey and rainy; cold. I can barely think; can hardly process last night’s results. A friend of mine wrote this morning—
“The reign of media is over. It has to be. There are more important things to do. I will find ways to monitor the plans and actions of the new government that don’t involve glitz and ratings, that aren’t about hairdos and cheap wonder. The 24-hour news cycle can only be a downward spiral when people in the aggregate want mostly drama and reassurance by turns. We were seeking idols. There are no idols but false ones. That’s how this happened. In part.”
The phrase ‘cheap wonder’ has the ring of truth. This has been an election cycle whose every moment was shaped by what we may call contemporary American Culture, perhaps our shabbiest export, but a glittering one. It has been treated like a game, a reality show of us v. them, and The Establishment, including the Media, persisted in and perpetrated the belief that what we think of as Reason would win the day— treated it as a foregone conclusion, and condescendingly so. Perhaps we all (on the left) did to some extent. Foolish when one considers how widespread anti-intellectual and anti-diversity sentiment really is.
Our country in distress, and in lieu of dialing 911, in lieu of triage, We the People texted and tweeted our divided votes for the contestants that remained on the bloodied stage.
The true nature of the outcome (vague at best right now, policy-wise, campaign-promise-wise) has perhaps been little thought of by many voters— winning was the goal. The upset by a Washington ‘outsider’ of American Politics as we’ve come to know them was the goal. And for now, this has been achieved, however marginally.
As a proponent of progressive politics who lives in in New York City, in Brooklyn— I am harshly reminded again of what a gentle and reasoned, diverse and thoughtful bubble I live in within these United States. But a bubble nonetheless. There was hubris in the assumption that Trump simply could not be a credible threat, and that’s a bitter pill.
It’s been a seething thing, this whole contentious race; between Trump and the GOP; between Bernie and Hillary; between Hillary and Trump. A seething, anguished game of grenade-tossing between two very different Americas. Both of which, broadly speaking, perhaps ultimately want quite similar things in the day to day sense— in what they want for their families and loved ones; in what they want for the future of their children. A longing for some time that did not feel like the ground was ever threatening to fall away from beneath our feet, fictional as it may be.
But the differences— idealogical; large and wavering like heat off summer pavement, yet unmistakable— the differences are the field on which every battle is fought. Fear took the form of hatred and grabbed the wheel somewhere during the cycle, and wouldn’t give it back. We are all victims of it, now, winners and losers.
This is America’s Brexit. This is real. Now we must hope the sentiment proves true, that his supporters have ‘taken him seriously, but not literally.’
There is so much work to be done now, as ever. Perhaps more than ever.
Gonna get a little political, just for a minute, because it’s important, damnit.
The election is still months away, I realize, but the smallish faction of Bernie-or-Bust people out there being loud has gone too far, considering at this point they are going against their beloved Bernie.
Look, I’ve been a great fan of Mr Sanders for years, since long before his run for presidency seemed possible. I voted for him in the Primaries. But through the unbelievability of the American public, Trump is now not only the Republican candidate— Nate Silver has crunched the numbers and he’s a viable candidate. Terrifying.
So, can we cease and desist the in-fighting until after the Democratic party’s candidate — Hillary— has been unequivocally voted into the White House? Please?
Remember: Supreme Court justice tenures last far longer than four to eight years.
Here is the latest in my “Don’t See Don’t Speak” (or the Red Hand of Shut It) series— something more topical in response to the tragic and avoidable events of last week. Please feel free to share this widely and repost (as is).
Below are some progress scans of the pencilling. One again, I forgot to do process while painting.
Layers of pencil beginning with HB and working up to 2B then 4B (softer, darker shades from the medium grey HB) using woodless pencils and workable fixative in between to avoid smudges and to compound the layers. Same basic technique with the watercolor.
This sort of thing has become more and more expected or anticipated over the decades I’ve been alive. When I was a child, seasons followed the patterns that the picture books laid out. Less and less every decade though, and the intervals grow shorter.
Change is the engine on which the universe runs, a well-oiled machine that only feels chaotic on account of our minute perspective. We know fuckall when it comes to the big picture, in which we are specks on a speck amid a countless array of whirling specks. Sure, we know some things— and more and more on a bell curve, it’s true.
But that rate at which new knowledge or empirical truths are folded into How We Live is depressingly slow. The fact that so many Americans deny Climate Change is one of many proofs, and it’s become dangerous that the economy is put before ecology at this point. Emperor’s clothes and all that.
We seek and find or impose patterns; have learned how to be human in increasingly complex fashions over epochs; follow a thread because we have history and we need what’s familiar. Footsteps follow footsteps. Even when it doesn’t work, doesn’t improve anything, or makes things worse. Change is difficult for living beings on this planet.
Think: humans have repeatedly embarked on war and genocide on account of fear and/or hatred of the unfamiliar; perceived danger; the other.
We are short-sighted, and in our fear and comfort-seeking wreak long-lasting damage for short-term results. This statement is a vector that can be applied at any scale without losing integrity. Try it. A few minutes or a few hundred years, doesn’t matter. We are, collectively, a wounded animal, cornered.
And we’re still terrified of the edge of the world where the ocean falls away forever, endlessly.