Friday morning inspiration

Amidst the crass consumerism, blatant chauvinism, and explicit violence that characterize much of pop culture, here is an instance of contemporary art that encourages us to cultivate new ways of relating to one another.

Although you don’t see it much on major labels, big networks, or mainstream media outlets, there is no shortage today of what Deleuze and Guattari might term “rhizomatic, deterritorializing” art.  In other words, art that encourages us to defy the simplistic categorizations (i.e. man/woman, black/white, rich/poor, self/other) through which most of pop culture proceeds.  It’s a shame that these forms of expression don’t get more attention, as they often speak on a level that the most sophisticated of talking heads and academics are unable to: both understanding the lived realities of younger generations and approaching these realities (not as natural or inevitable, but) as contingent outcomes that can be molded in unknown directions through emerging ways of thinking and new forms of acting.

At a protest over the recent Arizona immigration decision, a young woman stood up and recited some verses that blew the crowd away. The poem spoke of a man approaching a woman and asking for “her digits.”  The woman immediately assumes he means her phone number and flirtatiously begins to give it to him, when this basic interpersonal interaction takes on a new dynamic.  The woman does a double-take, sees the man’s uniform, and recognizes his real desired end.  What had seemed a mutual dialogue between two human-beings is now a bureaucratic, coercive endeavor of a highly unequal nature.  What had seemed an innocent question now takes the form of an interrogation.  He is an INS agent asking for her social security number.

This young woman is not famous or even well-known, and yet she pointed out the lived injustices of a complex socioeconomic structure far better than most academics could, and was heard by a broader audience than most journal articles ever will be.  With many struggling to cope with the potentially tragic impacts of the exclusionary law, she demonstrated that there remains reason to be inspired.


~ by iamtomjoad on May 14, 2010.

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