“Nobody gives you power. Real power is something you take.” – Jock Ewing
And here we are, The Year We Make Contact. Sir Arthur C. Clarke authored the wonderful sophomore work in the 2001: A Space Odyssey series, positing that 2010 would be the year humans and extra-terrestrial life finally go on a date and make out. It would only happen after millennia of silence, and furthermore after nine or so years of knowledge that other life was there.
Everyone I know was heaving sighs of relief for the New Decade in these final days of the week. Everyone seems to have had an aperitif of optimism. “It’s gonna be a good year,” resonates as the status-update du semaine in the digital social networks. An African-American president who needs to grow a set, a theatrical Transportation Security Administration acting as jester on their own assembled stage, and the continued deterioration of social culture, equanimity and equality… one can only hope that the existential DJ is ready to throw this turntable into reverse for an extended set.
Two-thousand and nine definitely felt like a moment of wiping dust off the record. In the headlines, the Gosselin family and tween-movie trilogies took priority over human rights and innocent civilian atrocities a continent away; an aging and decrepit right-wing political party soapboxing bimbos and inciting fear, hatred, and discrimination amongst their base; we finished the year by witnessing the relegation of underwear to prohibited travel items (now joining toothpaste, shampoo, iPods, sneakers, and a soon-to-be-named further list of items created in America no longer allowed in America…)
High fructose corn syrup is still permissible, however. It is really going to suck for Corporate America when terrorists figure out how to use sugar packets on a plane to blow shit up.
Two-thousand and nine was not a year of art.
It was a hard year. A year of confusion, misdirection, misguidance, failed leaderships, circuitous redundancy, excess, excess, excess… It was a year of minimal cooking, minimal meditation, non-existent reductivism, bike accidents, lost sleep, lost minds…. it was a year of wandering in a dark vineyard with too much noble rot. Everything was so cloying, it was saccharine.
But, 2009 was also a work of art. It was a combine. It was trash from a dumpster fused onto a well-gessoed structure. It was trash refined. It was an amalgamation of cacophonous pebbles and stones strewn through budget cement. It was the exact form of a hard, jagged conglomeration.
We are all a little sphere within this universe. Our sphere has been elongated a bit, shaped into human form, disabled ever so slightly by gravity in an effort to keep us together. And our spheres sit on a sphere. We roll around this larger marble, to and fro… some of us knock vigorously into other spheres, smashing them out of our circles and elsewhere. Some of us are better at flicking than others. This is typical of all actions we know available us. Many of us, aged into adulthood, cannot even handle the effort of sustenance. Many of us, indoctrinated into a capitalist timeline, wait with baited breath to see the final count of the yearly till so we can calculate our takes. Whose sphere is larger? Whose is more important?
If the conglomeration was murky, at least the shards of glassy sand in the composition retained their minimal clarity. There was insight in 2009.
Truth still remains to be the only freedom on Earth. While collective truth continues to elude us (mass media is the new disco… escape your troubles and be mesmerized by the flashing lights,) personal truth persists as the way to fortify ones sphere.
Art is my truth.
The truth is hard to accept, too. Mortality is a martini best served dirty. It has taken a lot of salt to reach acceptance of that drink.
Our premonitions of the future, a place in time that has never existed, poison our present. Drips of the never-ether anesthetize so much that we lose sight of where we are, as we further erase that which we came from. Presence is power, and no one keeps you there but yourself.
I have received slack-ad-naseaum for my enamor with Dallas, the Eighties prime-time soap opera, from the same people who favor dive bar philosophies. But, like any source of knowledge or life, one learns to drink the clear water and avoid the algae.
Whomever wrote the line perfectly tailored for Jock Ewing’s character experienced a moment of brilliance, consciously or not. Power is not, never has been, and never will be free. It is never given. It may be presented, but to hold power changes the character of the object. Power is from within… political, religious, creatively… apolitical, nonthesitically, destructively.
For me, the greatest irony of 2009 was the final slap in face. The best part of 2009 was the final four hours. A mostly unplanned (or, an excessively overplanned, some may say) haphazard and impromptu get-together that countered all my personal intentions for “celebration.” My conviction was to embrace the lameness that I had been feeling during the last week of the year. Having been sick seven of the last nine previous days, there was little fuel left to stimulate any sort of excitement for the encroaching newness… just an excitement that once the haggard house guest that was 2009 was finally leaving and one could throw open the windows and air out the stench left behind.
In the final four hours, the communion of all the elements of my recent life came together and met. Those with me weren’t privy to the chapter finished just moments prior to their arrival; the knife had been removed already, and while the wound was throbbing loudly, there was little blood to clean up.
In the painful, final moment of clarity that 2009 had to offer… any offering in this life is truly a gift from somewhere else, how we unwrap it is up to us… confirmation was offered like Seder. Eat of this and celebrate. Death, in the ever-presence, walks among us all.