Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Life in Faded Green and Rusty Black

I wish you were here to tell me what is important.

There goes a set of cups,
a carpet,
a curtain,
a candelabra,
a ceramic cat,
a spotless new coffee pot on the big blurry heap
of things that are just things.

A lifetime of things.
Some to be nothings,
some to be somethings.
Ugly things, pretty things,
cheap things, expensive things,
whose price tag is printed in your secret language
and written with dust and fingerprints;
with tears and private smiles.

I wish you were here to tell me what is important.

Is it the chair with a missing button?
Is it the chipped plates with flower prints?
Did you run your fingertips over the surface and feel like home,
or did your partner pick them up against your will?
Did you hide your treasures at the back of the cupboard,
or are they unwanted things stashed out of sight?

One thing on the heap,
one thing in my pocket.
It's like a morbid game show.
"Step up on the stage!
Guess, out of these hundred objects
which one your loved one's ghost would haunt!
Speak up!
Lean closer to the microphone, please."

I wish you were here to tell me what is important.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Locking your Door - About Asking What She Was Wearing

I can't come up with a good way to formulate an introductory question... let's try with;
When a woman is asked what she was wearing, the night she was raped, can that be equated with a house owner being asked if he locked the door the night his house was cleaned out?

Don't shoot me down, all questions are allowed to be asked! Now let's see.

Crazy people exist in all areas and groups of life. I'm fairly sure that if you looked closer at the group "fairly sensible people", you'd find some crazies there too. Thus, in the group "men", we're bound to find a decent amount of crazies. (We're using the term loosely here.) These crazies are likely to, when presented with means and opportunity, do things the rest of us find uncivilized, offensive, or outright inhuman, like rape or murder people, or steal everything not bolted down.

When a crime is committed, in our current society we assume "reasonable" precautions have been made by the injured party. Did you call the knife-wielding drunk guy an ugly ass motherfucker? Did you lock your doors and keep your pure gold ingots in a vault?

Ideally, we would all be prancing around in a conflict-free world, where the worst violence ever recorded is soccer players elbowing each other in the nose when the referee isn't looking. A place where people don't lock their doors, never wield knives or call each other anything, and can pole dance around the flag pole naked for all anyone cares. Surprisingly, we aren't.

Society is made from agreements, silent or outspoken. An agreement to not rob or murder each other, because it makes life better for everyone. I pay tax so that your mother can live somewhere when she gets old, because when my mother gets old, she'll need somewhere to live too. Some things are easy to check. Is person A paying tax? Yes, check. Some things are very difficult. Is person A hiding a 13yo child in their basement, taken from the next town over? Uhm, probably not, but who really knows? Has person A raped someone, will they, or would they if presented with an opportunity? Eeeehh.

So what does the law say. Person X lives in a neighborhood plagued by thefts and vandalism. They frequently leave their house unlocked and have no security systems. One day they return to all their possessions gone and their dog kicked to death. Law says it's still theft, and whatever else the law says about kicking other people's dogs to death. Although person X probably won't get their insurance, if they had any, the thieves and dog-kickers will, if caught, get their punishment regardless. Entering someone else's home and taking their things is still illegal, even if the door is unlocked. How about leaving your possessions in a public area? Person X takes their stereo system, puts it in the front yard, and goes inside to sleep. In the morning the stereo is gone. Say the thieves are caught. Will they still be convicted of theft? How about if the stereo system is left in a public parking lot?

The law may say this or that, but public opinion may say that the fool who left his door unlocked only has himself to blame. So the public blaming women for wearing this or that doesn't really surprise me, and maybe that's the price to be paid. Self-righteous masses are dumb as shit. The law however, is a different question. The law would still be obliged to help the dude get his things back and punish the thieves, and similarly, rapists must be pursued with the same prejudice regardless what anyone was wearing. Right?

I feel it could be argued that a person carries their private space with them, as in, a person's body is counted as their house or their apartment in terms of rights. In that sense, for rape, you can either argue that the stereo can never be in a public parking lot, or you can argue that if you go to a public parking lot at night dressed in... actually I don't know if it matter what you're dressed in, at a public parking lot at night, even a SWAT stamp on your back might not keep you safe. But I get sidetracked. If you stand there, in the dark, alone, is the stereo in your house or in the parking lot? That's where I feel the question lies. Do we put a certain degree of responsibility on regular citizens to avoid crime, and how does that apply to rape?

This post hasn't progressed any thinking, the entire space went just to explain the question, but honestly I just started thinking about it so there's a lot of thinking left to do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Free Speech of Art

I'm going to write more in what I'm calling "Chain of Thought" style, where I'm bringing up a subject I've been thinking about, and just let the writing process crystallize as I type. Meaning I will have come further (hopefully) by the end of the post, and you can see my path through my reasoning.

Here's our initial question: Should Art depict real life, or should it promote new, different, and/or "better" ideas?

Easy answer: both. Not necessarily at once. But in a non-offensive way, while provocative is fine. It depends on how it's done. If it's done with good form and common sense. Okay, maybe it wasn't that easy.

My problem with this question is the same as the Free Speech ideal. If I truly, madly, deeply hate person X, then telling everyone how terrible this person is, while not lying, is theoretically perfectly fine. Lying is not okay, but everyone's got bad sides, bad days, mistakes and skeletons in their closets. Where does the line go then for invasion of privacy? Where does my rights to free speech end, and his/her right to her own person begin?

(If marketing is everything, and it often is in our modern world, then bad publicity is still publicity, so should X just shut up about it? It's perhaps a bit bad mannered to speak ill of other people, but it's basically an entire business these days so we can't expect younger generations to be more restrained than we are(n't) now. Anyone working with information and marketing knows how powerful just a suggestive seed is, when well planted. And what's seen can't be unseen.)

I have seen people argue that Art should strive for a higher ideal, most recently a reader complained at a graphic novel aimed at teenagers and young adults that it begins with a young woman waking up after sleeping with a man she's just met. The writer argued that that's reality, the reality these teenagers are already living in.

I have seen people argue that Art should depict reality, be grounded in situations people can recognize and relate to, that if it's too esoteric and abstract it has no value, it's just paint splatter. David Lynch comes to mind. And the depiction of Dali in Midnight in Paris when he's obsessed with rhinoceroses.

And I've struggled with a story I want to write, which touches on pedophilia. I have written about rape and murder, torture, incest, genocide, the list goes on, and to me personally pedophilia is just another subject on the long list of complications life can include, crassly seen. But that is another discussion. My problem lies in that the subject is so stigmatized that I'm afraid even to write about it alone in my room. This should not be true for any subject, of any type, for any person. If something is hidden away and not spoken about, we can't make democratic decisions about it. Even writing this, I'm worried that if/when anyone reads it they'll judge me as a person writing about these things not having experienced any of them, but this is how we learn, by communicating, exploring, discussing. This is how we become a more enlightened, understanding, nonjudgmental, progressive people.

So do I believe Art should have no boundaries? If someone wants to paint a vagina on a square in Germany, that's fine, if someone wants to hang paintings with beaten women on their living room walls that's fine, if I want racial slurs on my wedding invitations that's fine.

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: in a perfect world, none of these things would be offensive. Eccentric, perhaps, but not offensive. The problem with them lies in the context. We live in a time when certain parts of the body are supposed to be private, when violence against women is a societal problem in I think every culture on the planet, and where race have been used as an excuse for horrific acts past and present.

I sense a circle argument. If Art is judged as offensive because of it's context, then we can't separate it from that context, and thus all Art, whether it's created as depicting reality or not, will be interpreted as commenting on reality. As in, Art is forcefully made both into the opposing sides of "depicting reality" and "promoting a future". The drawing of a young woman having sex with a stranger is only offensive if it's interpreted as both. And even if we're drawing table spoons, incest rape is going to associate back to humans and reality and future, and there we are.

(Can we as humans create Art that has nothing to do with either humans or the world around us? That seems impossible to me. By laws of... I don't know what to call them, logic maybe, anything a human thinks could probably be called a human concern.)

We have voided our original question. The new question is, censor vs. TFS (Totally Free Speech). Except that's not a question, it's an interstellar nuclear war.

I will return on this topic. In the meantime, if anyone at any time would like to drop me a trait, any trait, or preference, or anything at all about themselves or another person, and have me write up two very short texts, one promoting this trait or thing as the best thing ever, the other trying to prove that it's trash and terrible and should possibly be made illegal, feel free. It's a fun exercise for me, and a chance to get praised and insulted at once for you. Be warned, I will take your request as consent for me to say any whichever terrible things with no holdback and no trigger warnings :P

Have fun out there peops.