". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Not Only Bankruptcy of a Party and A Regime and A Nation, But The End of A Political Era

In our national history that was brought in by Reagan. His election meant the end of activist government on behalf of the people that reached back to FDR. His inaugural address announced that goverment was not the answer to anything, but that private, corporate initiative was the answer to everything.

It took 30 years, but with the CriminalGangOfCronies galloping to the Apocalypse as fast as they could pillage, loot and destroy, this regressive, elitist perspective has bankrupted any semblence of the integrity of that belief. That political ideology never had any integrity for anyone who paid the least bit of attention to what they did, even more than what they said. The ideological rhetoric was always a smoke and mirrors distraction to distract from the looting, pillaging, corruption and cronyism, the establishment of an inpenatrable elite that live from the exploitation of everyone else and the earth we all share.

There's been a lot of negative commentary about Elizabeth Alexender as poet and for the poem she read yesterday. First, it's maybe an impossible assignment, a poem for the inauguration of new POTUS, particularly when you are following a speechmaker of such oratorical power as Obama. However, maybe there was something in that poem that the critics are still not able to hear, still mired in the world view of the bankrupt neoCONS, whether the critics realize it or not. Look at the poet's choice of words to include her poem for such an historical occasion:

[ ".... Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road . . . ." ]

There are the words, 'darning,' 'repair,' 'dirt,' 'bus.' "Someone is trying to make music somewhere with ...." and she lists actual musical instruments, not a digital simulation of what music used to be.

We have at least three generations now who have grown up in an entirely disposable culture. What do we know of sewing on buttons, sewing a hem, darning a sock? We know nothing of taking a bus, much less of walking to get somewhere we want to be -- we have always been driven. *

It is time we learned to repair again, not throw away. There is nowhere left to dispose of our disposables. It is time to repair, refurbish, make do, renew, to make things that are useful, functional and of lasting value. It is time to stop calling people who actually produce things, make things work, make an economy grow and move, "Suckers," while we believe that we are exceptions to their lives because we are going to become billionaires by the time we're 30 by extracting the meat from the economy by playing with zeros and ones in our sweet corner office.

Or, as you might hear in New Orleans:


* My background and training was an exception to this, which is maybe why I applaud the plain song of the poem was saying, while the critics did not. I still sew on buttons and darn my beloved winter wool knee sox. Living n NYC, a premiere walking city, I walk in the way I walked and rode my bicycle while growing up in the country.


Premium T. said...

This was a wonderful and appropriate poem for the event. In spite of the criticism. I can't imagine being faced with a two-fold assignment such as this: writing the inauguration poem, and then reciting/reading it in front of the world. Bravo to Elizabeth Alexander for her unflinching attention to accessible language, and her clear and straightforward delivery.

Premium T. said...

And...I sewed on a button just this week to one of Citizen K.'s shirts!

Foxessa said...

I was wondering what your reaction had been to the poem, so thanks for posting!

I do kinda wish that poets would stop reading in the way they'e been reading for decades now when doing public readings. She managed to hold that annoying projection down to the most minimum. So I liked it for that too.

A toast to us sewers-on of buttons! I sewed one on Vaquero's favorite jacket. He learned a long time ago that there was no problem in asking me to sew on a button -- AS LONG AS HE HAD THE BUTTON, which meant it really was a good idea to alert me to the situation before the button came off, which he'd surely either not notice or lose.

Love, C.