Today, Friday, June 24, when Roe v. Wade died an untimely and grotesque death. The Supreme Court, the “law of the land,” what a mockery. My god, has it come to this? Yes, it has. It is.
How can we so amazingly destroy ourselves ? What is wrong with us? Our curiosity drives us to unravel the inside of an atom and our madness uses the knowledge to destroy the planet, mad enough to bring it all to a horrifying end?
I think of Dylan’s Masters of War.
My god how rapidly our world approaches the brink.
I’ve written a play that deals with the insanity of so-called civilized society. We’re done an initial readthrough and are planning a full full production for early this fall.
Also planning a talk on James Joyce’s Ulysses along with actors reading excerpts from the work in celebrating of the Joyce’s incredible work. It will air on Bloomsday June 16 at 7PM.
So we keep on doing what keeps the heart going during these incredibly stressful times.
Ricia was a wonderful friend. It was a pleasure to work with her husband Bill to create this video of her show at Newfane’s Moore Library this November.
I take a small dose of reality by reading the paper for a few minutes in the morning with my coffee and muffin.
Today’s news was the UN’s report on climate change.
Oh, and, if that weren’t enough there was the article on how the US thinks Russia may be attacking CIA agents and diplomats (there’s a difference?) in Havana, with illness somehow done via microwaves.
I definitely felt I’d overdosed on reality and I attempted, unsuccessfully, to escape to a jigsaw puzzle.
Is our species hell-bent on its own destruction?
Who the hell left us humans in charge of the planet?
We are quick to apply the “Turing Test” from computer science — that something could be created so brilliantly complex that, without a strand of DNA, it could pass for human. We jump to the conclusion that it’s plausible to attribute conscious to electronic things with simulated skin— the sci-fi trope that such a thing could emulate sexuality, perhaps even the full range of human feelings.
Many find this a frightening prospect…which is why it works so well as a plot device.
But matter does not become conscious on account of its complexity. We don’t consider a cuckoo clock with intricate gears to be more conscious than a sundial. Moving from mechanical to electronic changes nothing. We don’t think our digital clock knows what time it is, even if the clock is infinitely more complicated than, say, a phone charger. No amount of complexity, no skill at mimicking make a conscious being.
A perfectly decent person who is an actor can convincingly play a vicious murderer.
This sci-fi trope can be unnerving because it seems there’s nothing that separates a being that exists and feels from one that only simulates experiencing.
It’s perhaps another indicator of the fragility of our sense of our humanity that can feel so tenuous in this tremulous time.
Sometimes I think the world’s leadership has seen too many sci-fi movies and are bent on transforming this world into their version of totalitarian triumphalism.
Sci-fi can never match scaring us as much as reality can.
In addition to all the terrible blow of the pandemic and its handling, the separation of artist from audience is a form of damage that the human spirit finds hard to bear. Yes, thankfully, new modes of artistic communication emerge. But it is not a simple matter.
To put it a different and perhaps more scary way, the struggle of art to express itself and for us to express ourselves through art, to satisfy our own need to creatively communicate, is being suffocated not only by the pandemic, but by our culture giving up on itself.
Theater, music, dance, painting, sculpture, literature, poetry and every other human creative endeavor are there to challenge, to open the mind, when it is so much easier to just not bother. Why open a book? Why act in or go to a play? Learn an instrument, join a band? So much easier to let one’s pod take over a la The Body Snatchers and let creative energies fade.
And to exist in more than the creator’s ego, there must be an audience, a community of those who appreciate what the creator strives to do.
And here is the great struggle for us in the pandemic. Not just to exist but to do something that satisfies the soul. For most artists that means doing something that affects someone else, that moves the other, the unites people through the act of creation.
We let go of this too easily. We take its loss too lightly.
Many, many artists, at the same time as fighting for their health and economic survival, suffering these days. Many find outlets, moments of expression and sharing. We must find more.
…in order to breath
Not easy these days
…don’t be deceived by fear mongers or by confidence that everything will be okay because of over-confidence. VOTE! It’s more crucial now than ever!
Stop the assault on democracy: VOTE!
So now the show is done. Amazing to me that it was possible to do this. Actors + music + images all live on YouTube. So many friends saw it.
It’s using the level of technology that’s out there free at this moment, or nearly free. Not perfect technology and quite frustrating at times. Especially given that everyone’s coming into the Zoom from computers with varying levels of camera and sound quality and ease of use.
All in all, it’s extremely satisfying to have done it. Most of the “readers” did wonderfully well. There were some very moving performances.
And now, what? Well Bloomsday next year, that’s for sure . And with luck we’ll be able to do it in the Hooker-Dunham with a live audience!
The tape of the show is on YouTube and will be on BCTV: https://youtu.be/vXvnd4zkWOM
BLOOMSDAY 2020 is all set for Live-Streaming to YouTube!
In true James Joycean tradition, in a struggle to contend with the new normal – or at least what’s normal as of this post, BLOOMSDAY in BRATTLEBORO happening this Tuesday, June 16, from 7 to 9 PM (the live-stream will start at 6:45 for the “audience” to get comfortable. Snacks are advised.
The show is not intended for children, Young children will simply not understand it all, but it does contain sexual content.
It has been an amazing experience to put this together. 16 actors all zooming from all sizes and shapes of internet devices in from their homes, adding a little music and some images, and pumping it over to a Live-stream on YouTube has been a wild but exciting ride.
We’re only a few days away. Lots of people have signed up wanting to see it.
If your seeing this and are curious about the show, the Hooker-Dunham Theater’s website will have the latest information on accessing it. It’s entirely free.
So go to www.HookerDunham.org to get info or get to the link to the Live-Stream!
The pandemic, as the word is meant to connote, affects everyone. It is universal, but is not even. It affects the poor, the imprisoned, the aged in nursing homes, pregnant women, and on and on, very different from those who are, relatively speaking, insulated: by class, by race, by where they are in the world at this moment.
Some things have happened for those fortunate enough not to be crushed by the disease or the fallout from it, that are actually new and worth thinking about.
Art in particular changes. The museums, galleries and theaters of all sizes are closed in most of the world. There is an evenness that I think nearly all artists feel: We need each other. Art is a relationship between creator and audience, despite the way artists may try to separate themselves from the their audience, thumb their noses, say “I don’t care what you think.”
Yet without the audience the artist creates in a vacuum and communicates to a vacuum.
So we find novel ways . Our need to communicate our creative spirit finds new routes of expression, new avenues to sharing.
There was a group that used to get together just to laugh. One person started laughing and soon everyone did. What if we all laugh together at 5PM EVERY WEDNESDAY?
Maybe the contagion of laughter could break through our contagion of isolation and dread!
After the first shock of what has already happened around the world and what is too soon going to happen nearer and nearer to ourselves and friends and family dear to us, there is the realization that this is going to be a long haul.
It quickly became a cliché the 9-11 “changed everything,” and indeed in was a truism that proved to be true and now no one can doubt that this pandemic changes everything.
As a person deeply involved in local theater – running the Hooker-Dunham and planning a big Bloomsday event scheduled for June 16 – I feel the rug pulled from under me.
I know how much worse it is for so many people, so it’s hard to let oneself feel the pain of one’s own loss, but it is a loss all the same.
So while the losses are worse for some than others, for all of us, are deeply personal. The sense of suspended animation, of life-interrupted is with all of us now.