Posts Tagged ‘social stratification’

Hey fellow Word warriors.

Strange days around these parts. The final edition of the ZENspeak publication has arrived. This self publishing foray has been a trip. At first, I didn’t know what to think of self publishing. I am of the generation that thought, crazy though it may be, the artist was paid for his work, not the other way around. But in this age where everything is turned into a racket, it was silly to think that something as potentially commercial as writing, would be safe for long from the evil clutches of American marketing. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe it will give volume to millions of voices that had otherwise never been heard. I thought self publishing could dilute the credibility of art, letting any Joe with a couple hundred dollars available, loose on the art scene. I thought the only people it really empowered were those with access to money. Thus the impoverished, were where they have always been, left in silence. I thought money would come to dictate art. But then I thought, that’s how things already are. I thought a lot of things. But here I am, self publishing. Maybe I thought wrong. I tell you what dear reader, in the last six months I’ve learned: editing, publishing, promoting, digital photography, editing digital video, and developing and publishing a web site. And of all of it, I can honestly say none is more daunting than the book’s formatting. Don’t say I didn’t warn you aspiring hacks.

The 5 edition of the ZENspeak spoken word features 4 poems including: HyperREALity Of The INNER City; The Magic Show; And She Says She Wants Darkness; Gothic America

HyperREALity Of The INNER City is the result of a prose/poetry hybrid I’ve been developing for years. This is nothing groundbreaking. Many have attempted this before me, arguably, Arthur Rimbaud to the best effect. Usually, this style has a phonic ring to it that enables the reader to identify the poetry embedded within it. I wanted to strip away all such poetic devices; no alliteration, consonance, half-false-full rhymes, anything that gives the piece poetic characteristics. But it can’t be read as straight prose either. I want the reader to feel this discord. It just doesn’t fit. It’s strange. The subject deals with the O.G.s of the inner cities. O.G. is an extravagant term. They are just bums that have been bumming for decades and have achieved a certain type of “hood fame” for basically just surviving fiend-dom. These old timers believe they are privy to a certain esoteric knowledge. That the youngsters just don’t know the secrets of the game the way that those that came before them knew the secrets of the game. But those secrets wind up being no more than lies and death, and they don’t come cheap.

The Magic Show rewords every bad relationship I’ve ever had the unfortunate luck of getting involved in. A particular one came to mind while penning this piece. It started out pleasant enough, with a girl who thought I was the cat’s meow. I always did these magic tricks for her. She’d go nuts for them and always try to get me to tell her how I did them. After a few months of tricks, I broke down and taught her the in/s and out/s of my magic. She never wanted to see any of those tricks again. She seemed mad, once she found out how simple the tricks were, and that there was a time when I had tricked her into believing in them. After we broke up, the whole relationship and how it turned out, seemed to be reflected by that lesson in magic. At first, it’s all sparks and intrigue; but, in the end, we fall for a trick, and once we know the trick, the magic is gone, never to be regained. I don’t stick to form and rhyme schemes very often. Show and Darkness are two of my better examples of such.

And She Says She Wants Darkness has been traveling with me for years. It has always been one of my favorites, but I never could find it a proper home. It was too short to stand on its own. When the ZENspeak book came along, I found a perfect fit. Darkness was born of a time that I was reading a lot of Milton and Plath. Milton’s blank verse was definitely rubbing off on me and Plath was a monstrous influence on me. When I read Plath, I feel as if I’ve been reduced to a child psychologically. She throws me into a world of boys and girls and daddies and mommies and everything seems normal on the surface, but there is a terrible distress bubbling under the surface. Darkness is a brief account of a girl that has a pretty uptown life, but she also has a second life, a darker life, a second face that no one from the uptown area has ever seen her wear.

Gothic America comes from my constant entanglement with the romantic literary movement. I wanted to illustrate the romanticism of the United States. Most Americans suffer from a romantic-self-aggrandizing. We believe that we are everything good that is holding this evil world together. That it is up to us to save the world. To give the world freedom. Even while we are destroying it. It’s not just that. Walk up to someone and ask them what they are. Bet they don’t say that they are American. You may hear, “I’m Italian, or German, or Dutch,” but you won’t hear, “Why silly sir, I am an American!” We blame our heritage for little quirks like our temper, or our inclination to gossip. Ever hear, “I just can’t control my anger, you know I’m Irish.” We remain connected to our cultures, but in a way that doesn’t require much leg work. We don’t practice the rituals and traditions that come along with a culture. We have a romantic sense of what it means to be German or Irish. All of this brought me to the funeral of Percy Shelley. To those that don’t know, Percy had drowned out at sea. Back then, a body found at sea was quarantined, not to leave the beach for the possibility of contagions. A small group of Percy’s inner circle collected on the beach, to burn his already decomposing body. This resulted in a story that has been dramatized to an effect that would make any true romantic proud. Some accounts tell us that Trelawny plucked Percy’s heart from the ashes of this raging fire and wrapped it in Percy’s poem Adonais. The heart, and its clever wrapping, were later to be sealed in Percy’s sarcophagus. The detail that his heart was wrapped in his poem, Adonais, is not wasted on those with even a cursory knowledge of Shelley’s work. Percy wrote Adonais as a tribute to the then, recently deceased John Keats. Keat’s tragic passing at such an early age, deeply affected Percy. Beautiful this symbolism may be, the real account differs slightly. By the time Trelawny reached for Percy’s heart, the organ was carbonized ash. The heart was not buried nor enshrined in a tomb, but was ultimately entrusted to Mary Shelley, who eventually passed the morbid keepsake to her and Percy’s son. With all this said, I thought of America, how she seems to be dying, and who can really face the reality of this. Who will light the great pyre for her? Where are our prophetic romantics now?

…and if you get a chance check out the ZENspeak book. There’s a twenty page preview floating around.

So what do you want to do with your life?

When people ask this, it’s not for a vague idealistic answer like, I want to help the poor, the sick, the kids, or anything of that sort. They want to know what you plan on doing for money in order to survive. The socially acceptable answer is not supposed to be one that is worse than the state you are currently surviving in. Nothing like a drug addict or a bum will suffice. This is a question that begs an answer of grandiose proportion. President, astronaut, firefighter, are all safe and standard answers.

I had the terrible misfortune of being burdened with an unfortunate affliction that bordered on becoming a curse in a world dictated by material wealth.

When I was asked what I wanted to do with my life, I would respond with great dignity that I wanted to write. When you tell someone you want to be a writer, successful novelists like King or Koontz probably pop into his/her mind. I suppose that was the standard that I too was trying to achieve when I still thought like a child. Few people really think about what it takes to become a writer until it knocks them on their ass a couple of times. You do hear a story or two about overnight success every now and again. Some lady, somewhere –while washing laundry perhaps– has an epiphany. Somehow she whips from reverie an idea for a trilogy of novels. She suddenly decides to try her hand at writing books. She then has the inconceivable serendipity of publishing her book to coincide with the empty production schedule of a major Hollywood studio that is looking to produce a film with the same type of theme as the book this lady just finished. But stories like this are few.

The life of a writer is a tortured one, accompanied by poverty for many of us. We don’t write to make Oprah’s book of the month. We write because it gives us a purpose beyond slaving at a menial position in order to barely get by. We write because it is the only hope we have left to escape this trap. We write because it makes us feel different. It makes us feel like we know some secret that others don’t. We write because the alternative is inconceivable.

We write because we have to.

Human beings deserve so much more than working their whole lives away just to make other people rich. The industrial age has somehow managed to redefine the parameters of slavery. Slave owners of old were responsible for the welfare of their slaves. They had to clothe them. Feed them. Make sure they were healthy enough to work. The slave owners have now switched their titles to corporate heads and bankers. This is the new age of aristocracy. Sustained by sweat shops and factories. Not much has changed since the emancipation except that the slaves now have to take care of themselves. This still benefits the ruling class because they own everything that people have to provide for their families. They pay the proletariat as little as possible and orchestrate a system that perpetually promotes products the workers can’t afford, nor can they live without. So begins the credit debacle. This shackles people with debt. They can’t gamble on things like their dreams anymore.

The media dangles celebrities before us to give us a false sense of hope. We worship star athletes, for when we see them run we see freedom.  Success has convoluted the entire thought process. If our art doesn’t make millions of dollars in revenue then it is not worth expressing and should be abandoned. We can no longer afford to buy into this thinking. We are losing our most original voices in the liberal arts. They are being traded for a repetitive drone that is being mass manufactured and distributed globally.

You are beautiful because you are different; not because you are the same. Don’t ever let anyone convince you that what you have to say isn’t important. The hell with the mainstream. Everyone deserves a space in this world to claim for their self. But hey, I’ve often been accused of being an unrealistic idealist.

Writing is by the individual, for the individual. At least it should be. The metaphysical nature of writing exists to expose the profoundness of being that is found in the world around us. Writing is art. Art is the manipulation of associative symbols that reflect how we interpret the world around us. The first artistic endeavors of the human species concentrated on presentating these symbols in the most primal forms. All of this has little to do with financial success. Do not let money dictate your divine nature. Think of all the great artists that died poor. Think of the great loss the world would’ve suffered if they’d just given up.

Get back to your roots. Live your life for you. And hey, if you wind up living in a cardboard box, at least you were an original spirit as the divine energy intended you to be. I’ll live my life standing for what I believe before I’ll spend the entirety of my existence crawling on my knees for the scraps left by whatever powers may be.

And if people don’t like it; well, at least I will be me instead of pretending to be them.

“The Art we look at is made by only a select few. A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit and decide the success of Art. Only a few hundred people in the world have any real say. When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires…”  – Banksy