I liked this one both for the stillness and peace in the composition – and also for the way that all the fast growing buds everywhere prove with certainty that it won’t look that peaceful for long.
In fact, a wild colourful chaos of beauty is about to erupt from all sides at once.
Which makes me think of one of my favourite quotes about acting, which always felt to me as if it also applies to a whole lot of art and human effort. “An actor moves always from a stillness.”
Ever since I heard that (so sorry I cannot precisely attribute it, though it sure sounds like a fragment from Stanislavsky, or a later development) I have watched performances ranging from Toshiro Mifune in Kurosawa masterpieces, to Cate Blanchette working for Jim Jarmusch, and seen the principle working powerfully, in as many different ways as there are great actors.
Not quite the same as contrasting intensities on a picture plane, but absolutely establishing a nothing, against which a fascinating something can happen.
So then I find myself wondering – do we still do stillness anymore? Do we still allow ourselves the peace to think carefully, but without urgency and purpose?
Do we still take time for simple non-judgemental warmth and witness, without also hoping to find something of utility for a never-ending battle or struggle?
And from that – can we stay on course reliably, without that compassion beat? (which though already under stress, was still a normal part of life, up until pocket computer mass addiction)
This entire century has been marked by non stop insane war and lying. To support those twin projects (and make no mistake – this relentless racist mass murder is what we as a collective west have made our primary investment, rather than working seriously on climate, which would have done much to earn the gratitude of the world), a great deal of what was good and or hopeful about our shared aspiration has been distorted depressed or destroyed outright.
There is no talk about growing the middle class anymore, let far alone working class dignity. Our hopes have been so thoroughly bashed down at this point, that instead, the working class are now seen almost as privileged homeless (Dickensian cruelties are again commonplace, just like our rationalizations).
Does anyone remember that factory and retail workers used to be able to buy houses and give their kids stability and safety? That was no unicorn – that was pretty normal, and not so terribly long ago. But crisis upon crisis hurts our memories and awareness. (Hint: Bezos is way scarier than Musk)
A steady diet of fear and anger cannot serve loving purposes. Simple as.
Democracy is about assembling purposeful majorities, so that policies win the kind of broad support to stick around long enough to actually work. Limited work weeks, overtime pay, safety standards, and for many universal healthcare, were all won by huge chaotic popular fronts of diverse groups of organized citizens. Then as now, that means noticing that almost everyone is now completely f@cked, except a tiny group of system-corrupting rich people who want us to fight each other endlessly and leave them alone while they carve up and kill the world and us for fun and profit.
It still shocks many that they were even able to relaunch this scarcity. So far, we’re all falling for it.
We now routinely shout down principle, fairness, curiosity, openness and learning (all powers of citizen assembly to resist and organize against institutional inhumanity) in favour of bullshit tribalism. Politics as sports, and for nothing but catharsis. Problem is – there aren’t any spectacular ‘goodies’ here. The world is not in jeopardy because of “people who don’t care” – as obnoxious huckster advertisers would have us believe. People who think themselves virtuous because they speak piously cause just as much damage, their cellphones still enslave kids in the Congo, and their cars still support the ongoing bombing of poor and desperate Yemen. Words aren’t action.
Likewise, society isn’t falling apart because radicals are failing to support our key institutions properly – every last one of us, conservative radical and all points in between have been playing a psychotic Peter Pan game of denial and blame shifting for generations. No one wants to be the sucker who pays first.
Thing is – somebody actually does have to be the square, the duty bound adult who will recognize necessity above ego, shovel the shit and pay the taxes.
So far, our great western plan (for about a half a century) has been that those responsible somebodies will be our grandkids, and their whole lives will be nothing but endless shit and shovels – and then we do a dumb who-me shrug.
So why the heck are we pretending there is a good team here? Seriously. Relative aesthetics of excuses for madness is just not a moral standard of competition.
We are instead all teams of people who have some specific cares and compassions, but on the bigger matters, would rather talk than act responsibly to save their own grandkids. Seems to me that shared psychosis like that (and perhaps even shared compassion for the brutality which brings us to that point, and the long slow patient path we must take to escape it) is actually a great basis to start building post-tribalism in which compassionate majorities can again demand restraint of the new aristocracy, and with it, citizen advance.
Heck, we can even enjoy one last fun competitive tribalist game on the way out.
Which ever team is still whining “we aren’t the ones screwing up, it’s all them” longest – wins the historical prize of champion of stupidity murder and generational damage!
It has been bleak winter in Democracy for far too long. But spring always hopes afresh. We all know we aren’t really this dumb and helpless (though sadly, we really are acting that crazy, in this highly overstressed moment).
Time to rediscover the stillness from which powerful compassionate action can spring.
No one but us to do this (nor, as best I can tell, is there any greater meaning, purpose, challenge and fun left, on this whole thrillingly blessed and heartbreakingly demented earth).