Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Paint a picture, write a poem!

Some days, it just gets to you...you know?

I'm talking about the doom and dread that pervades the subconscious of those of us who are managing to survive without too much trouble.

For much of the world, the perils of existential examination are moot: when you're picking through a garbage dump outside of Calcutta for your dinner, you're probably not inclined to ponder the larger meaning of life. But for those of us blessed (and I do mean blessed) with having, through the accident of Fate, been brought into a kinder and gentler version of the world, the menace of moral and existential introspection loom. To be sure, we do what we can to avoid it, with our televisions and computers and Ipods and name-your-distractions. But sometimes, perhaps when some defective person, unable to stave off despair, gets drunk and drives his car into a power line, the lights flicker off, the television screen goes dead, and we are stuck in our homes, blindly groping for something to grab onto and avoid falling into the abyss. We sense the monster lurking in the darkness.

Because, whether or not each of us has the courage to face it, the fact remains that these mortal coils through which we view this particular aspect of the Great Creation will eventually falter, breakdown, and cease functioning altogether. It's true individually, and it's true in the larger, collective sense.

You know it, don't you? Deep in your heart, you know it. And it sears like cold iron. It's not just that each of us is destined to die, but that civilization, society, indeed, the entire human species cannot last forever.

In its infinite mercy, the Great Whatever endowed us with a mere one-dimensional perception of time. We cannot foresee the end. We can only sense that it is out there, looming. And it is natural to be afraid. Not afraid for ourselves, individually, but afraid for those whom we love, and for the things we've created.

Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation may recall perhaps, the episode, entitled "The Inner Light," in which Captain Jean-Luc Piccard finds himself in a dream world that is facing environmental catastrophe. The people on this doomed planet ultimately realize that their time as a race is coming to an end. They endeavor to pool their resources and work together to create a space probe containing information about their culture and their people, a commemoration of themselves, which they launch in the hopes that someone somewhere will find it, unlock its secrets, and remember this long lost people.

When I have the courage to face it (maybe "courage" isn't the right word, I don't know), my heart breaks for this beautiful, hateful, vulgar, gentle, noble, virtuous, and infinitely-complex thing we call humanity. In my heart, I know we cannot be saved.

But we can leave something behind, can't we? We can put down a marker for some who-knows-what in some far-flung who-knows-where that we were here, and that we were, in our virtuous and horrible and noble and fallible way, beautiful. Can't we?

In the end, if there is anything we can leave behind that will relate what we are or were, I believe it is our art. So, let me urge you: For all our sakes, paint a picture! Write a poem! Shout out our "mighty YOP!" Don't do it for yourselves; do it for all of us. Our art can be our legacy, our "probe" into the Great Beyond.

In that way, we can live on.


Ridwan said...

I hear you brother Dade. There are the days that call for another view of our humanity.

I am not much of an artist but I promise to write even more hey.

Your call-out gives me hope ... we can't but live with hope against despair.

Peace to you,


Did you happen to see this report on McCain and the Dine-Navajo?

"The ACSA challenges Senator McCain on his legislative history of Human Rights Violations: "a Skeleton in his closet: UNFIT to hold public office!"

See it here:

Shus li said...


You have touched on something that has only been whispering into my subconsciousness for a short while: They mass hysteria of the fear of individual and global obliteration.

One reaction humans seem to use to deny their own mortality is to dominate and/or kill other humans and species. This, I think, is what Derrick Jensen refers to as the "death urge" of the present dominant culture.

I heard a brilliant statement on KBOO one morning a few months ago, the same one you seem to make here: "The opposite of war is NOT peace. The opposite of war is ART."

That may be true because it takes a different focus than idle worry or dread to create art.

We humans are rising to a higher consciousness. The internet is facilitating that by allowing us to exchange thoughts with each other now. Thoughts are the intellectual part of us, but what I believe we will carry with us beyond this life experience are spiritual qualities, like love, kindness...art can help us develop those qualities.

Thanks for this food for thought for today.