This is a quote from the earliest message to Tim Barrus that I archived.
"Another Blackfeet kid was murdered yesterday -- throat cut. Probably
another kid. Lots of romantic violence-loving talk among the kids:
vengeance, respect, city-ghetto stuff. This dead boy was 17 and had
just graduated from an alternative high school. He was a singer and
about to audition for American Idol. This stuff is so painful that
those who care are happy to escape into raging offensive insults.
"So -- a movie about Caravaggio maybe?"
That was July 14, 2007. Much has changed since then. Tim’s original Cinematheque group in particular. Some are dead. Some are adults now and launched on successful lives with partners they’ve kept all this time, though they always protested that they couldn’t make relationships last. Tim’s impending death turned out to be only more shamanic visits to the brink, followed by hard-won recovery. His and my relationship has morphed some -- it was a hard blow when he said he didn’t want to write anymore because I so loved writing with him. I was suspended for a while. It’s lonesome to write without him, but at least we’re still friends. And I still know what I know.
Society has changed in unexpected ways. More than fifty percent of the citizens of the USA are NOT white. Native Americans have sued the US government and won millions in reparation for trust crookedness. More than fifty percent of the citizens in a recent poll said they would vote for an atheist for President. No one expected the smash hit best seller of the year to be written by a mommy about sado-masochistic practices. No one expected the health care bill to pass. No one is confident that we’re actually recovered from the worldwide economic collapse, which has meant the reduction and cancellation of so many social programs. Starvation still stalks the continents.
The smallest, weakest, most damaged, most atypical people are the first to go. HIV-AIDS pandemic has gone on and on and on in spite of the drugs that keep people alive, if miserable. The terror and paranoia of it is crusted over a bit, but not when Tim’s around. There is a new self-diagnosis kit about to go on the market, much like a pregnancy test, and that might change some patterns. A person could demand safe sex predicated on an HIV test right then and there. Although much of the concern over safe sex, like the concern about pregnancy, is due to Fucker’s Remorse the next day. Especially if combined with a hangover. Where’s the backup solution for HIV equivalent to prevention of implantation of the ovum? They say there is one. The Repubs will probably want to make it illegal.
GLBTQ has had a strong enough lobby and has raised enough consciousness that many, especially the young, are beginning to see sexuality as far beyond a binary male/female economic proposition. Rather it appears to be a negotiable sort of relationship between two or more people. Those who lived through the great unloosening of the Seventies are asking, where were we when we pulled back from this? What scared us? Oh, yeah. HIV-AIDS, of course. Are we still scared? Probably ought to be. But there is another Satanic phenomenon: the existence of so many “extra” kids on the planet that are unwanted, unmissed, unguarded -- trafficked, tortured and mutilated. As a society, we seem divided between those who don’t believe it and those who make movies about it, exploiting all the horrible possibilities in graphic detail.
Some of the damage to the real-life kids who are pressed into sexual slavery is clear: infections, trauma, bodily malfunctions. Some of it cannot be seen because it is in the brain and nervous system. Guts are part of that system and the gut is directly involved in anal sex with little boys. Aside from tearing the fragile intestinal wall and confusing the molecular signals sent through serotonin and similar molecular feedback loops, the gut biota that we are just learning about can be devastated. Very little research on that. Anal things come from behind, they are “dirty;” they are considered private, out of control; they won’t move traffic or they shoot out liquid misery. You’re not supposed to talk about that stuff, though doctors are now experimenting with “fecal transplants” in case something like antibiotics (“against life”) have wiped out your friendly internal zoo.
The brain has been part of it all the time, though we don’t just think about right-brain/left-brain anymore and not just the divided cerebrum. The brain is stacked on the spine, racked along with little auxiliary parts, wrapped in membranes, and pushed by evolution from bottom to top and then towards the front which is why we have foreheads --because of the latest stuff that bulges behind them. But the later parts develop out of the earlier parts and remain in lively communication. Once you read the work of Antonio Damasio, everything is different.
As well as a new appreciation of the additive complexity of brain parts, including the conversion of some of them to new uses, we’ve learned that brains are living, morphing, renewing, editing, rewriting parts of the body. We know that thinking is not some mysterious aura, but -- not quite like a computer -- a series of sorting centers, memory banks, and creation stations that can either get things wrong, or find some inspired way to do a workaround -- and fast.
What this equipment can do in the brain of a tender child still trying to figure out a world that assaults and cripples him, is pretty much unknown. How to guide his brain back to function that will keep that boy’s identity and allow him to live in a better world is even more unknown. We’ll never find out without making the effort.
Most people, seeing a boy with big eyes, a tender mouth and a colt’s forelock falling in his face, will assume that providing clean clothes, a safe bed, good food and a skateboard will return him to being like all the other boys. NOT. Something has to reach into that brain to change it and it probably will not be psychotherapy for a lot of reasons. (One, cost; two, it’s not fun; three; it’s low prestige. Psychotherapy is a high prestige occupation.)
What’s left? Art. Art can change the brain and redeem the heart. Art can create a language and make a map. Art won’t make a Normal, but art can make a place for the Un-Normal. So why are we so willing to eliminate it from the schools? Oh, well, these boys aren’t in school anyway. They’re in the streets. Making art. Hard to stop them. Is that spray can empty? Have you ever tried livestock markers? Look at this great stuff I found in a dumpster.