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Monday, October 7, 2013

HANGING ON TO POWER

 
 
arshile gorky

This has been a good day for laughing at myself. The emotional and mental turmoil of this week past has disturbed my inner peace, my quiet, like jumping off a diving board and doing a cannonball to make water rumble to the other end of the pool and splash on everybody around the pool. This is days later, half a week, and I'm still charged to the nerve endings. It's like I can feel the lines of nerves in the body. The experience with law enforcement leaves me feeling powerless, and that causes in turn the reaction: I'm not giving my power away. It's the Brer Rabbit in me. Some time ago in childhood I saw the Disney feature-length cartoon, Song of the South. The story of Brer Rabbit became my childhood identity. "You can do anything, but please don't throw me in the briar patch." The characters being mean to him took it to be a good idea of what to do with Brer Rabbit. They threw him in the briar patch and he hopped about dancing and singing, "I was born in a briar patch," happy to be home. Even in the Navy where I was never what they called "squared away," my theme song was, I was born in a briar patch. Squared away was an identity I could not accept for myself. In that time, the time between Korean War and Vietnam War, the term "Gung Ho" was relatively new from the Korean War era. Gung Ho meant squared away and inspired to be the best you can be. I was never gung ho either. It was an insult to tell somebody he was gung ho.
 
arshile gorky
 
It is in my horoscope and I see it throughout my life that I react when expected to adhere to false values. I've been careful not to make too much of an issue about hypocrisy in others, it's such a subtle expression it runs through everybody at one time or another. I cannot say I've never been hypocritical. I don't recall, because I never noticed. It's not something we notice in ourselves so easily. I've been careful about the use of the word, because it is so overused by the self-righteous of religious or political belief systems, which are about the same thing anymore. Often hypocrisy a word used to point blame without much attention to the word's meaning. The only way I've found I can live without entertaining false values in the way we are now is to stay at home, certainly never get involved in money dealings. I was told once not many years ago I was a fool for not paying attention to the stock market. I laughed within. I've known too many people who let the stock market rule their mental and emotional life each day. The only time Wall Street matters to me is when they rip off the entire middle class of their retirement savings. What happens then? Wall Street stripped the middle class of its resources and got a pat on the back, well done. I refuse to partake of that world. I saw too many Recessions in the Eisenhower years to endear me to corporations. I vowed to myself in teenage years never to work for a corporation or a factory of any sort.

arshile gorky
 
In the last year of college several corporations sent recruiters to offer jobs to graduates. I didn't go anywhere near them, didn't want them to see me. This was late 1960s. I'd already been through my military obligation (the draft) for being born male in a warrior society. I was ten times the rebel I was before going into the very core of fascism, military. As I see fascism push American democracy aside, it flares my flame of rage deep within. When I feel it clutching my heart and squeezing down on it, I pull back telling myself it's not worth an emotional reaction. I'm powerless against it. It is what the corporate takeover of our government and legal system has given us in the name of freedom and liberty. The best I can do about it is ignore it and live my life.



Not any of those people care anything about me but what money they can get out of me. So why do I care about them? I can't care about them. They work for corporate power that has destroyed the democracy of my country and it's legal system. I can't prevent it, because it's already done. Therefore, I make so little money, and have all my life, that none can be taken away. I have no problem of people hanging onto me because they think my money will rub off. No one rubs up against me for my influence. I have none. That's how I designed it from the beginning. Here, in the time of looking back, I see it has served me well all the way along. It has kept superficial people away. I don't have to avoid them.
 
arshile gorky
 
Just before I started this writing, I was looking for a song by Nina Hagen on YouTube, clicked and the cursor was on a trailer for a movie, Twelve Years a Slave. Early in it, one slave said to a new slave to the plantation, "If you want to survive, do and say as little as possible." That rang my bell. Sound counsel. The recent NSA findings released by whistleblower Snowden confirm it just like in slavery days, we have to watch what we do and say. Some pigs are more equal than others. People who have perceived power are jealous of that power. It can slip away too easily. The power they have is the power of people who give them their own power. I will not give a politician or a corporate exec my power. This brought up a funny memory. One day some people were standing around my mailbox waiting for another car of people to arrive toward a walk to the waterfalls. A man maybe ten years my junior, expensive car, expensive casual clothes, country club sticker on the car. He spoke. We talked briefly. He told me he had once played football for the KC Chiefs. He looked for that excitement in my eyes of being impressed that he had actually been on television and played football. Hot dang. I wished he hadn't said it; I could not summon even a fake version of being impressed. I saw that's what I was called upon to do, to stroke him and give him my power. I had to fess up and tell him I don't watch tv. He would not have been impressed if I had told him I used to paint houses.
 
arshile gorky
 
It cannot be said that I'm becoming an intractable old turd, because I have been for many a year. It's my nature. I like it. I shop locally as much as possible, trying not to need or want anything that can't be found locally. By giving my power, I mean when I feel my heart get involved, that clutching feeling in the heart of commitment. It also means giving someone else authority over my decisions by influence. Sending money to a cause is one way of giving our power. When it comes to giving charity money, I prefer local again. There was a time I sent a little bit of money from time to time to some animal saving outfit based in DC. I got to thinking about the expense of their offices, paying all their employees, my little bit maybe pays for a hundred stamps on fundraising envelopes. That's spread too thin for me. I'd rather give to the local food closet. None of it is skimmed off by bureaucracy. And Alleghany BROC, where every cent given works toward the intended purpose. Because of distaste for corporate chicanery, I keep my power at home as much as possible. I like to save it for my life. I cannot give what little money power I have to politicians or religionists. It has to be something practical that works in the world of people in my home county. Everyplace in the world has people who need help. Why would I send money to help Ugandan orphans when plenty of people in my home county need help? I'm so sympathetic with the Ugandan orphans I realize how helpless I am to help. The same in Sudan, Namibia, Indonesia; every place in the world has heart-wrenching issues people are dealing with. I can't go over there. But I can do a little bit at home for the people of my world. This way I'm not frivolous with my power, in my way of seeing.

self portrait
arshile gorky
 
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