In The Vein of Baring A Soul

Let me tell you a little about why I am no longer a cynic.

Let me tell you a little about why I am no longer a cynic. It’s actually pretty simple.

I am not the judges who see corruption walk through their courtrooms. I am not the police or the prison guards who are in a constant state of fight/flight. I am not the women and men who fight the wars. I am not the journalists who investigate injustice. I am not the women who feel trapped. I am not the men who love the women who left. I am not the children who cannot leave.

I’m simply a girl. A woman who has loved and lost and left and fought.

I don’t fight anymore. I set down my weapons and my armor. I am just a girl, a human with the capacity for all the flaws and all the miracles that exist in the universe.

I’m a girl who believes that light and dark exist equally.

Love is real. And that’s enough for me.

I send love to all of those still fighting.

Why Art?

To truly enjoy art, we must participate in it.

Thinking about art and how it seems to be our only refuge in this massive cluster fuck collision of free speech and capitalism.

What information do we see or seek out on a daily basis? Basic news (politics, business, wars, fuck ups, crime, tragedies) and analysis or opinion of basic news. We also have information about the latest research, innovation, stories that boost our faith in humanity, cat Vines and flashmob links, science discoveries, technology love and hate, religious debates, rants, make-up how-tos, tabloid television, entertainment.

Make a typo in your search bar and you’ll find all sorts of crazy shit we seek: what do rich people buy, how can I be sure/happy/rich, why do we dream, why do people cheat, I thought it was just me, I thought hurricane season was…

We seem to be seeking out a reflection of ourselves, even if it’s a tiny or fleeting glimpse. But the immediacy and superficial nature of interaction online seems to be kicking art’s fucking ass.

Poor art. It was once the most sought after chance to spot a glimmer of ourselves. Why has this changed? Have we become more shallow by seeking out aesthetic reflections only instead of the long forgotten thrill of coming across a reflection of our souls? Or is there just too much easily accessible competition these days?

Does art not speak to the latest generations? Are they too cool (literally) for art? Has art out-ironiczied itself? Artistic license means I get to use ironic as a verb. Look it up in the Essential Artist’s Hand Guide, revised edition 205,758, Jan 2013.

Novels, poetry, paintings, sculpture, Van fucking Gough, music, movies and comedy routines that have a point, a message, a glimpse of a soul. A cathartic release. Laughter is as important a release as crying, screaming and orgasm.

Why does art exist? Why do most artists pour our hearts and souls out through whichever medium we have been blessed with? Money? BAHAHA! No. As mentioned above, art is not currently enjoying an era of great financial abundance. In fact, many mediums have never or very rarely brought most artists any financial abundance. We bare our souls (sometimes in greatly protected ways) so that you may glimpse a sliver of a reflection of your own soul.

On some level, we know or want to believe that our souls are similar. We want to see that reflected back to us, too.

And hallelujah that there are artist out there who have been able to reflect souls on a great and approachable scale, giving us novels and movies and music that have influence – actual influence – on popular culture.

Maybe the newest generations have outgrown a desire to explore art because they do not understand the need for subtleties when baring our souls. Maybe the only way to teach these generations to read us is by becoming dauntless in the terrifying act of revealing our souls. Successful art to me is any art that has authentically captured a glimmer of a soul.

Artists may well be the last to fully let go of the fear of standing naked in the ring because this fear has been driven into us over lifetimes and we walk the edge daily. But should we drop metaphor? No way. Metaphor can be so beautiful, and is actually itself an important metaphor for how we perceive and process life. If metaphor is important, how do we invite audiences in? How do we affect the disconnect?

To truly enjoy art, we must participate in it. We must be willing to get lost in a story or a moment while at the same time reflecting on how this makes us feel. And what it means that we feel the way we do when we read or hear or see a certain thing.

To catch an authentic glimmer of a soul, we must bring ourselves into the ring with the artists. This may sound scary, but it’s a private thing. The beauty of art is that we can step into the ring with the artist without needing to reveal ourselves to anyone but ourselves. My hope is that we haven’t, as a society, become so numb to our feelings that we are too afraid to take the risk of revealing ourselves to ourselves.

And to the artists, I say fuck the labels, fuck the fear. Let’s all make more art. Let’s make enough art to choke The Internet (or at least bog parts of it down). Maybe in this way, we will redefine what it means to be a rebel.

The Greatest Gift Of The Internet

Privacy is an illusion.

I’ll often hear people born earlier than 1993 say, Thank God there was no FaceBook when I was a teenager. Or, more accurately, I often see people post this on their social media space. They look back at the embarrassing things they did as teenagers, comparing it to the embarrassing things teenagers do now, and can only see one difference: back then, there was no photo evidence to post for the world to see.

There’s no doubt that technology, The Internet especially, has changed the way we interact. Face time is an application now more than a real thing and texting is an intimacy afforded to close friends while acquaintances are relegated to minimal interaction on whichever social media sites we frequent.

Because we spend so much time online, intimacy has become way easier to avoid altogether in any form, and the social skills of most young people are declining year after year. If you are a cafe blogger, you will get your social practice ordering lattes and maybe, maybe awkwardly flirting with the barista.

But there has to be some redeeming qualities of a technology that has so completely changed the way we live our lives. I’ve heard some. Access to information, of course, is the most frequently celebrated. And I’ve heard that it connects small town kids with culture and a wider group of possible peers. I also remember watching a Ted Talk about the fact that our brains are actually changing how they operate thanks to the extra space and energy we have because we don’t store facts or images anymore (though, in truth, I think this was presented as a bad thing). I’m sure you’ve heard other redeeming qualities.

In my mind, the way we perceive privacy and the necessary changes that will come after will be the greatest gift of The Internet.

When I was growing up, privacy was a given and a necessity in society. Something we were all entitled to as a human right until we did anything shameful. But as far as I can tell, we had a few concepts tangled together and sideways. Now that there are so many of us online who willingly share details about our life, we are changing the idea of privacy itself. Some are shocked and appalled that anyone would willingly share anything about themselves online where anyone can see it. Those people have bought into the myth of privacy.

See, I believe that privacy is an illusion. There is no privacy. What we’ve termed privacy for so long is actually a word that represents the concept of being respectful of others’ boundaries. In the fifties, for example, privacy meant that all of your neighbors knew the sordid details of your husband’s affair, but wouldn’t dare bring it up in your company. Privacy never actually meant that you could hide certain things about yourself.

The more judgment and anger and blame and people who are unaware of their own limits or weaknesses there is out there in the world, the more we feel a need to protect ourselves by not sharing. And there are hateful, cruel people out there who, because of their own insecurities or mental illnesses, are more than happy to use anything you share about yourself to humiliate you in some way or another. Which is why you’d want to share with some and not others, or to only share non-intimate details with the world. But we never could control who knew what about our lives. Only those with no friends, no parents, no family, no teachers, no partners, no co-workers – nobody – would be safe from tongue slips or hateful gossip or spiteful rumors. Not one single person, short of using some seriously disgusting and well-honed manipulation techniques, can control what people think about him or her.

This concept of privacy was underscored by the promise of being shamed by neighbors and family if you did something that was considered unsavory. Shame is one of the antiquated ways in which groups of people keep others in check.

But communities don’t work that way anymore. And shame is not an effective means of controlling anyone who has fortified him or herself with self love.

And now, the resilient sharers of the online world are showing us a new way. We can share and not give a fuck what other people think. We can create boundaries – yes, boundaries online! – about who is allowed to comment on our space and what kind of comments we will allow. And these resilient sharers are growing in numbers. Soon, the norm will be sharing. And leaping even further into the future, one day, seeing humans through compassionate eyes will be the norm. (I’m not giving any technology credit for that wave – it’s all humans.) And when that day comes, there will be no more need to be private or to cling to an antiquated idea of privacy, because shame will not be the norm. The norm will be to call out or shut down those who cling to shaming and blaming.

The Internet is calling us to take back the responsibility of sharing ourselves in our own voices and of creating boundaries to keep ourselves safe and healthy. Even more exciting, online we have a chance to practice enforcing these boundaries all the time. And writing online can be a catalyst to knowing ourselves better – at least knowing what we will and will not accept from others.

Maybe it’s exactly what we needed to bring an end to a time when our social skills were there – ya, we met face to face – but also lacking in a few key areas.