Psyche’s Politics

70  bar steady  29.87  0mph NE  dew-point 62   Summer, cloudy

Full Thunder Moon

In Kavalier and Clay, the book by Michael Chabon I referenced a few days ago, the author often talked about art and artists.  At one point he referred to the “…necessary self-betrayal of the artist.”  This was one of those phrases that slipped right under my mental fingernail and caused some pain.  I knew what he meant.

Writing is of no value if the writer plays it safe, stays inside the lines, never transgresses boundaries.  Coloring in what other people have defined as the picture on the page adds nothing to the human experience.  When our frailties or our biases or our inner logic are on display the skin limits of self get pushed aside and others can get a peek.

I read an interesting definition of art as a person turned inside out.

A flurry of domestic activity yesterday.  Though all of the budget watching, bank going, grocery shopping activities undergird our daily lives, still, they leave me feeling as if little got done.  I’m suspicious of this as male acculturation, that is, the chores do not count as masculine work, but even this suspicion does not cross out the emotional response.  This quote from a few days ago sums it up:

“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices — just recognize them.” – Edward R. Murrow

The recovering alcoholic never leaves my side.  The recovering racist struggles on a regular basis with instant opinions formed on the basis of skin color or accent.  The let down after a day of domestic work reveals the sexist role divisions imprinted deep in my own psyche.  Kate also points out that I always drive.  Too true.

Recovering may sound like a dodge or an excuse, but it is not.  The often derided politically correct comes from those of us willing to engage in the inner struggle with the cultural assumptions we have inherited.  What recovering admits is that acculturation is forever, just like addiction.  There will, in other words, always be parts of me that diminish cooking, cleaning, balancing the checkbook as unworthy of my time.  This in spite of the many times and the many ways in which I have learned this is not true.  There will always be parts of me that attach secondary characteristics to skin color or age or sex.  There will always be parts of me that trade on the unearned advantage I get from being white, male and American.

My responsibility as a conscious adult lies in owning up to who and what I am, then choosing a different response.  I may not be responsible for the sexist acculturation I received growing up, but I am responsible for the choices I make when it raises its head.

This willingness to throw one’s self into struggle, not for a day or a week, but a lifetime infects the people effected by the creative turmoil of the 60’s and 70’s.   Certainly others of other times, too, but the immersion in those days when the old ways were no longer viable, but the new ways had not yet arrived created a mass of people who came to question their basic assumptions about reality; question assumptions about realities so intimate as the nature of love, the immediate reaction to another, so often unquestioned.  This struggle brought politics to the bedroom as well as the boardroom, to the kitchen counter as well as the lunch counter, to the front room as well as the class room.

There is bravery here, foolishness, too; but, it is the foolishness of the wise fool, willing to risk self for the sake of the other.

This entry was posted in Art and Culture, Memories, Politics, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.