Another friend asked me why we didn't hand out flyers at our Boxing Day AnthropoScene or ask people, "What are you doing to create the extinction crisis we face?"
I got really irritated with both of them and I'm still irritated.
Regarding handing out flyers and asking people point blank... seriously? Ya, the reason I have diligently used my naked, VULNERABLE self/body as an expressive/artistic/political statement for MORE THAN 10 YEARS of HEAVY LIFTING is because I haven't thought about flyers or asking people pointed questions.
The decision to intervene, to trouble, to create—dare I say it?!—discomfort is purposeful.
|Portrait of me by Elemental.
But it's worse than that! We're a culture of avoiding discomfort at all costs.
And, hypocrite that I am—because who cannot be a hypocrite in this culture?—like pretty much all of my cultural criticism, I am also criticizing and implicating myself. I have said many times and I'll say it again: I'm teaching what I need to learn.
I know that the work I've done in the Human Body Project and the new AnthropoScene Collective isn't easy to parse.
It's more like a poke in the psyche for the people who come upon it. Yes, it creates discomfort. I dunno, is discomfort worse than facing mass extinction? A fate that is decidedly closer with President-of-the-Petrostate Trump's inauguration.
Just because our society's emotional/neurological systems haven't evolved to FEEL the PAIN and seriousness of the ongoing situation so that in most cases NO AMOUNT of logic will penetrate... I'M supposed to figure out a surefire way of reaching people?!
And I'M supposed to know the best system to replace it with?!
This is what I know and have been expressing in my personal/political art practice for more than 10 years: we don't understand or deal with VULNERABILITY.
Because in this ego-based culture, in this culture built on millennia of domination and violence, our understanding of vulnerability is suppressed pre-verbally.
(From my personal perspective of doing DECADES of self-study and therapies to heal, I have come to understand my own PTSD-like nervous system symptoms as something that happened at birth. Simply put, my extremely sensitive baby being couldn't believe I had landed in such a cruel, unloving, DISCONNECTED place and my extremely sensitive 55-year-old being still can't. Ya, ya, people are basically kind but are emotionally damaged, etc. I'm on board with that. That's the whole point.)
We are all walking around in various states of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). To cope, we learn to suppress our vulnerability. This suppression of vulnerability is especially socialized and internalized by masculine beings.
So conversations about climate change, mass extinction and the end of capitalism as an idea that functions for the good of most people—incredibly challenging conversations—are impossible to have when one-upmanship is the norm.
And impossible to have when one-upmanship (a nicer word for domination and violence) created the situation in the first place. Hence thinkers such as Audre Lorde: "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house."
The choices the American people had for electing a leader were mistress-of-realpolitik Hillary Clinton (status quo, or, arguably, worse) and an INSANE PERSON addicted to one-upmanship. The system—and many people—allowed the insane person to win.
The current structures of English and most dominant languages, as well as dominant institutional structures for governance, "trade," education, etc. do not allow for us to have the kind of conversations we need to have AND have created the situation we are in.
As I explained to the friend who asked me what structures I would replace the current house of cards with, that's not my job! I'm the thin edge of the wedge already!
Do the visuals help? The thin edge of the wedge people are taxed in a way that most people couldn't possibly comprehend. We're up front chip-chip-chipping away, creating the space for movement and change.
Like the tip of any wooden doorstop, we are beaten and battered but, at least in my case, still in service.
Not only that, "be the change" has been my purpose from the beginning. To own and hold vulnerability, to share vulnerability, I do work that is exactly the opposite of comfortable.
And, not only that!! To offer a space to be vulnerable and show up vulnerably is exactly what we need to have honest and NECESSARY conversations.
As I explained to both of my friends, after doing this for more than 10 years, my work is about due diligence. I show up and do the work. I don't get money. I don't get jobs. I am not generally befriended or welcomed by art or theatre people. Academics don't get it. I am CONSTANTLY coming up against criticism and judgment, my own and others; or worse, indifference. There are moments of fun when I'm actually out there but far more moments of difficulty (MENTAL ILLNESS/processing shit-type stuff) behind the scenes. I got Stage 4 cancer for fuck's sake.
DUE FUCKING DILIGENCE. I hereby honour myself.
As my friend suggested I ask: what are you doing to prevent the mass extinction crisis in which we find ourselves?
I try not to rant but so be it.
The next AnthropoScene will take place in solidarity with the Million Women's March on January 21, 1pm, in Centennial Square, Victoria, BC.