Saturday, January 01, 2011
NEW YEAR'S DAY, 2011
Nothing has changed, of course. The tipping of the planet has already shifted. It’s time to begin fertilizing the plants again. The cats and I are a little older. My diabetes diet is working fine and the eye doctor found no progression of damage except possibly it’s about time to begin glaucoma drops -- maybe. I’ve discovered how to buy glasses online which means $40 instead of $400. My computer probs turn out to be mostly in the old telephone infrastructure of Valier Internet which can’t support the bandwidth demand. A new wireless service is arriving and it’s cheaper and one doesn’t need a telephone. Those are changes.
Tim Barrus is still alive, a LACK of change that overjoys me! Writing with a partner is not for everyone, but it has been a giant gain in power and discernment for me. Not that he critiques what I write or that I write anything like he writes, but that we can share the inner experience in some way. Writers used to dream of agents or editors who would understand them and encourage them, but those days are gone. Maybe most definitively when the image of Maxwell Perkins rescuing Thomas Wolfe was replaced by Raymond Carver’s editor savaging Raymond’s text, totally changing what he wrote so that now no one knows what his reputation should be. He’s famous for writing spare -- but now we discover he was stripped.
The money crash that hit so many, the publishing crash (not just the big publishing houses but also the bookstores, the distributors, the reviewers, the justification for academic tenure, all called into question and diminished), the huge political shifts -- some things were predicted but no one believed in them. And then the “good” shifts: health care, Indian reimbursement for centuries of government embezzlement of their trust funds. And the shifts that were mocked because they were misnamed: global weather change, the classification of the object formerly called “Pluto.” (Not “Prince” -- that’s a different sort of orbit.) The changes in social ideas: marriage fading, nuclear families going back to the old extended family, small houses, slow food, electric cars, green everything. Much of it is recognizably a circling back.
And everywhere the minute saturation of water tables with molecules unnatural, invented, sold to cure things that might not need to be cured, forcing developmental changes that affect the brain (autism, Alzheimer's) or sex organs or just the subtle web of vascular tensions that keep a body growing and breathing. Pandemics are revealed to be syndemics: diabetes because of cheap food, AIDS because of big pharma manipulation of meds and religious refusal to allow preventive measures, poverty because of -- well, it’s convenient. Populations falling in some countries, rising uncomfortably in other countries, and migrating between countries -- not always legally. Are you whimpering yet? The Bang might come anyway. It’s 2011. Do you know where the bomb-grade uranium is?
The real change -- as always -- is not in the cosmos but in our capacity to perceive and understand it. Now we can see moons around planets around suns we never knew before. We can see atoms in molecules and how they move, the very dance of life, the core of creation.
Religion must accommodate all this, some ideas working much better than others. There are losers and winners but the hierarchies are empty. Inclusion is a given, gates are useless, resurrection is unnecessary because each of us is woven into everything else and the only possibility is transformation -- the change that changes everything all the time. It’s a post-modern idea so it’s only fair that now post-modernism is changing -- we can’t quite tell what’s next yet.
Writing is no longer the same. “Dog” need not be translated when one can supply the very dog, jumping and barking. And then morph it before your very eyes into a cat. What is grammar when the “words” are images? What is a nation when I can sit here talking to three countries at once? (That’s a part-for-the-whole figure of speech -- I’m actually emailing individuals in three countries. Consult my blog map for who's reading.)
What is family or even sex in an era of fertilization in a petri dish, ejaculation as the squeeze of a syringe, gestation in a rented womb, birth by surgery, rearing by two men whose sperm might or might not have been used (mingled or separately), with sibs not related by blood, home-schooled, sent into a world that might or might not have an economic path for them to follow. What will be their Gestalt? What roots will they cherish? What will their teddy bears look like?
The nations, so recently invented and delineated and fought over, may now be giving way in two directions: divisions separating over ecology (you can’t have my water) or over philosophy (“you must live strictly with harsh punishment” or “individuality must overrule group”) at the same time that international corporations set their own agendas and escape all restraint from nations through secrecy and defiance.
How can we educate anyone for what is to come if the only thing they have learned is how to stay numb, how to hide, how to game the system? (That last might be useful if you can figure out which system to game.) What ARE the sources of happiness, anyway? Having everything you want?
Happiness, like health, is a matter of calibration, the small reciprocities, the singing within, guiding itself between narrative and poetry -- the line along the bursts. Mine works. I see no reason to change even though I’m changing. For now, it can wash over me, swirl around me. It is the strategy of the prairie grass and works until the plow comes. It always will. Or maybe fire.