Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Doesn't Anybody Notice That Our Knuckles Are Turning Blue?"

Even though it was my business to do so for some years, I never gave a shit about the Oscars or any of those other awards shows. Tonight, I'm looking forward to the Oscars. Why? Seeking cheap escape, that's why. I'm like one of those Depression-era women clutching her nickels to buy a ticket to go see that "My Forgotten Man" number one more time.

The New Yorker rundown is the only one telling the truth about the sorry nominees this year.

Speaking of telling the truth, YOU HAVE TO read this. That's a joke around the Cougar household, because certain relatives are a little on the controlling side, constantly telling me I HAVE TO go to an expensive restaurant or resort or watch this year's pretentious hit show or similar thing I don't want to do and can't afford. (All I ever want to do is groove, lie in bed, and write poetry, fuckers.)

Unfortunately, the full essay is available only by subscription. The free bloggers on this guy's site are tearing it up, on topics ranging from the dangers of space junk to investigative reporting on Navy testing off the Oregon coast, and you can read them for free, but there's a big chunk of prose you get only through subscription. I can't believe I'm shilling for this dude, AGAIN, since I've got my differences with him on several levels, but this taste will maybe show why reading this just made me jump up and walk around the room. Yeah, it's ironic, the not-buying-it woman saying pay for this, but I do buy art, books (carefully), I do still buy the privilege of seeing performance.

It's been years since I got screamingly sick of being told I was supposed to help the world by spending money I don't have on crap I don't need; similar time frame for being disgusted at myself for working in advertising (even for nonprofits). But I'm also very trapped; there are certain things I've signed up for and can't creep out of now. I've been clearing little honest and adventurous and true spaces for myself around the corners, just through being crafty and creative, but it takes such an enormous amount of energy. It's like I've been staying up late and using odd hours when no one is watching to dig an escape tunnel out of a prison, and now I wonder how many people are going to show up wanting to use it, and they're all welcome, but here I am not even knowing if it goes anywhere.

And I'm claustrophobic. But all I can do is keep digging.

Anyway, here's the Eric Francis that you HAVE TO read:

"Yet what is really driving all this consumer debt? Is it the need to conform? Are we covering some deep insecurity? Are we consuming because we have issues about our ability to create? A consumer-based economy is clearly the result of the feeling that we're not creative people. Compared to vacations in the Bahamas, art supplies and musical instruments are cheap. Most of what we consume either has nothing to do with creating; or it could, if we applied the imagination to make it so. But that takes, well, imagination, and the boldness to use it. Learning to play the guitar takes practice.

Yet as most creative people will tell you, it's difficult to make a living based on what you make. Most of us don't actually purchase the work of craftspeople, artisans or artists; we purchase manufactured items -- and all artists know it because most of us have to do something else to put food on the table. And often when art is purchased, it is done as an investment by the purchaser rather than for its own sake. The value goes up when the artist dies. I jokingly tell talented young artists not to accept payment in heroin. I learned this from an art dealer.

"...Besides showing up as sex-phobia, our emotional problems are congealing around money and specifically debt. Americans consume mindlessly, and it long ago turned into a full-blown habit. Admittedly, we are pushed to consume on a nonstop basis by the most expensive educational campaign in history -- advertising.

Addiction is an inappropriate response to an emotional issue, and it is often hidden from view (veiled, like the 8th house). We have accessed debt at unimaginable amounts to finance this addiction. As a culture, we utilize our brainpower to rationalize our behavior rather than use it to recognize and define the problems underlying our addiction; or to turn our energy toward creation. The act of thinking has been co-opted in the service of our addictions. We feed our imagination titillation and fantasy to the point of total distraction. We shun the use of our creativity for problem solving, for pleasure, for beauty.

Why do we do this? Here are some questions we might ponder, provided this week by my friend Kelly after she looked at the chart:

-- What are the emotional issues that are underlying our addiction? What are we avoiding? Why is any loss so difficult to deal with?

-- What price are we willing to pay before we recognize that emotional processing should be part of our daily rituals, just like brushing our teeth, or eating? It is part of the maintenance of living.

-- Why are we holding onto our paradigm of reality even when it is clear to any rational being that it is self-destructing? Doesn't anybody notice that our knuckles are turning blue?"

Photo:, telling the truth about business and getting ripped off for a decade.

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