November 8, 2008 to get to the other side…
i’m off to korea in a few days… for lim inza’s seoul marginal theater festival 2008. i’ll be there for two weeks and not as a performer. simply as an observer.
this will be the first time i have ever traveled alone. it’s kind of a frightening prospect. i’m taking a couple of cameras, video and film, and a small field recorder with me. it’ll be interesting to only have my own head to bounce things off of.
right now i’m kind of scared. not by my trip. my trip is necessitated by that which i’m nervous of, namely, this smooth transition of power. or perhaps i should call it a smooth transition in narrative.
we have a new guy in the seat of highest public office in my country. i’m sure you know who i’m alluding to. the night they announced that he’d been granted the reigns people poured out into the streets in so many cities. dancing and cheering. drinking and blowing things up. that’s us. that’s what we do. we’re americans. it’s good.
for the last few days since that event so many people, including my banal self, have been expressing the same sentiment. seeing people smile again in such great numbers was beautiful. striking. humbling.and infectious.
it even got to me. now, i love a good street party, but as my friend 9 was saying only tonight over glasses, healthy glasses, of whiskey, “it was so weird to be surrounded by all those smiling happy people. i’d gotten used to only feeling that kind of bonding at protests and riots.” and i had to agree with her.
the last time i can remember that kind of bacchanalian emo-overflux i was with the marching band in new york to say ‘eff-u’ to the republicans four years ago. we swamped a deserted area in the city with two other marching bands and we all went to jail. for days. and it sucked.
i have always believed that the endpoint of any successful revolt, revolution or uprising should be the party. and not just the drunken melee, but the real party. you know, all that peace and justice and respect stuff leading to a land and a lifetime of joy and fulfillment. where the pain you feel isn’t from a truncheon upside your nay saying head or finding out who got shot in the eye with a rubber bullet or the back with a steel jacketed one. the reason we should be making all these demands is to find some happiness in the day to day. all the time. world without end. amen and forever.
so the gathering in the streets on election night. some woman grabbed my hand and yelled, “yes we did!” and it was intense, man. so very spiritual and overwhelming. sitting in a car for a moment with my friend sruti and she said, “when i found out that he’d won it felt like i should be making out with someone…” god. it’s so weird to hear people say all the things that are perpetually playing in your own heart.
for forever i felt that i was alone in thinking these things. such hubris. and maybe that’s why i’ve fallen from such great heights so many times. it’s just a shock to hear it spoken by so many people out loud your own post-philosophical mantras.
but it’s wonderful. and it makes me realize why i keep my art-mouth shut so much now a days. because it’s becoming evident to everyone how this shit should be going down.
but here’s my concern. a philosophy professor i was hanging out with in the spring of this year told me that he’d already prepared a zine with obama’s face on it. the title of the pamphlet is, “the face of the new enemy.” and it doesn’t matter how much you love the man or his principles or his story. it’s true.
obama’s just taken on the mantle. the crown. this is the office that truly waves the velvet glove. nothing changes that. the office is metonymic, a synedoche, for all the brutal policies that issue forth from our country to the rest of the world. remember that. he’s your man, but he’s also a policy himself now. he is an image and a representation. old school critical thinking on my part to be sure… true though.
i will give him his first 100 days and then some. because in spite of his being terribly conservative by my reckoning i want to see him promote the slow move of this juggernaut back to something a little less ugly and frightening.
i wanted to be gone from this country for a while after the election. cast my vote and bail, say, on the night of the fourth be on a plane to korea. not come back until after the furor over the fuhrer was spent. i didn’t think i could handle the gloating of the ‘bamites over those other people. but it hasn’t been so bad.
i forget sometimes that i’m surrounded, by choice, by groups of people who are aware that this changes very little. yes we have a wonderful new story to write thanks to all this marvelous hope that’s floating around, but we also have a lot to do still. it’s so good to know that the people i run with aren’t allowing a small thing like an election to interfere with their plans for social restructuring.
i think it doesn’t really matter to some of us who wins that boring race. there’s always so much to be done. and people want to talk about how the left shouldn’t put all it’s energy into running this candidate and defeating that one as if there is such a thing as the ‘left.’ the left as it was once understood no longer exists. when clinton (either) can be referred to as a liberal it’s time to put the term away.
the left is no longer monolithic and it never was. the left is constructed of so many small and autonomous groups doing what they feel is necessitated by circumstance. and the circumstances have barely changed. and they will remain more or less the same set of suspect circumstances up and through january the 20th when they ride the motorcade through the streets of dc.
does anyone remember what happened four years ago when george junior had his second little moment in the limelight? people came to dc in droves to protest. to riot. to ruin the day for the old fool and his cronies. and folks went nuts. banners and loud speakers and eggs. and none of it really made the news.
i met these two ladies from chicago the day after the election who’d just flown in to seattle. they told me about the street party there. and about throwing up on the plane ride. my kind of people. they told me that they had already bought tickets to dc for the inauguration. they want to do that whole dancing on public land with a drink in your hand thing again. i can’t blame them. i suspect they will not be alone. i would not be surprised if a lot of people go to dc just to party the bush away. and i hope rice and powell cry as they pack their bags singing, ‘free at last/free at last/lord god almighty/i’m free at last”
not that you should ever trust those motherfuckers again.