Any day now, I'm going to re-title this blog. It doesn't have a damn thing to do with New Mexico Arts. It's about all the weird shit in my head....
In the summer of 1990, I met a young busker playing music on the streets of Ireland. I followed him around for a bit and saw the kind of Ireland that stays with me 'til this day. Recently, Colin tracked me down on Myspace and wrote me a note. He's got an EP out and about 7000 friends on myspace. Here is my reply to him:
It's taken a bit of time for me to get 'round to writing back to you, and it has less to do with a lack of time to do it in than with a thought about how honest I might actually be. And yet, as a shadow out of time, such as you are, and from a place that I often dream about, it seems that to speak the truth is the only way to go about it.
I became a writer, as I so longed to be back then - I've even written a bit of a book, though I often refer to it as "the demo" rather than the real deal. It was humbly published by yours truly just a few year ago, 2003 or so, when I realized that I might go my whole life without having one if I didn't publish one myself. It was called "The Collapse of Time: Confessions of a Quantum Humanist." Send us an address and I'd be happy to send you a copy.
Let's see - I became a journalist, mostly an arts journalist, initially with a focus on music (imagine) and eventually, as now, with a focus on the so-called "fine arts" of painting and sculpture and such. In the middle nineties, as you know, the web "happened" and I got involved, eventually reporting on Internet business things for a number of national publications. That portion of my life has recently re-surfaced with a commission to ghost-write a book on Search Engine Optimization, or, as I tell most friends, "I've been hired to write a book that you will never read," though secretly I'm rather pleased about it. It will be keeping me busy for most of this summer...
However...since 9/11/2001....I am so at odds with the country in which I live. Any notion that America was a good place - a notion, I'll have you know, that was crashed to death by my short time in Ireland in 1990 - is now pretty much gone completely. I have become one of those sad old lefties that hangs on to the hope that people will get hip to just how fucking stupid the President is, (and Tony Blair for following him, but that's another matter) but I know for a fact...I know for a fact that fascism is really just a natural tendency in people, and if given the free reign to exercise those tendencies, they'll do it...reason, my friend, and higher ideals are like fairy tales that people attempt to live by, but when the dykes are broken, the water floods in and people seem to feel perfectly justified in creating tyranny for the sake of security and safety.
Now - both fortunately and unfortunately, I am actually one of those Americans that has a Way Out. In the past five years, I've watched countless numbers of friends, acquaintances and colleagues do whatever they can to emigrate elsewhere. Most of these folks are brilliant minds - they're now being brilliant in the EU, Australia, Central and South America - anywhere they can get away from the more or less zero-sum equation - "You're either with us or against us" - of living in the United States. And that mentality, sadly, isn't limited to the White House - it is, quite simply, everywhere. Just tonight I saw a movie about a high school in Albuquerque (sixty miles from where I live) where the *poetry* teacher was fired because a student wrote a poem against the war. He sued. He settled out of court for $200K - it hardly matters what he got, what he lost and what the school lost was immeasurable...
Go look if you like:
In any case...as I said, I am lucky to "have a way out." I am a citizen of Ireland, though outside of that month in Ireland in 1990, I've never exercised it. After what I saw there, I've been afraid to return - there's something really quite monumental about wanting to leave your country, particularly, I think, as an American, when you're told your whole life that everyone wants to come here. Friends are aghast when I tell them I have an Irish passport, most can't believe I'm still here, and yet there has been something that has been keeping me here, perhaps guilt or a refusal to believe that America is now a place that is really held hostage by these horrible fascists and their narrow-minded reality tunnels.
Nevertheless, I *need* to return, I've come to realize, if only to see what the EU has become and if it makes more sense than what my nation has turned into. I joke with people that my life would be rendered meaningless without a government to loathe - and yet, I wonder what *that* would be like...I have a group I'm involved with where we speculate about how illnesses are treated in nations where governments are involved in helping people to pay for them (go see "Sicko" if you have a chance) and a part of me wants to know if the great humanity that I saw in people in Ireland, back when I was but a child, is still there or if it was all a part of a fanciful imagination.
So. That has what has kept me from writing sooner. A fanciful imagination that isn't, sadly, limited to me - the idea that the notions of democracy and freedom that we've had rammed down our throat isn't just a little bit saner somewhere else. Like where you are. In Ireland, which everyone claims is such a radically wonderful place now, but which I've felt is so very far away in this strange and terrible country called America.
Don't get me wrong - I have a nice life for a person who lives in books and notebooks. But it's limited in ways by the people who make the laws and decide on the rules of the public millieu. And it is not sane. And it certainly isn't very progressive or life-affirming either.
I'm writing a story for a newspaper now on the Indian Market - art made by the indigenous folk of this region. Those people and that art uplifts me because it's so much older than this country. I do get asked on occasion why I "don't know my songs or my dances," meaning the life of my ancestors. That's all there where you are - perhaps at some point I'll actually get to go back, go "home" for a bit to see if any of what I long for, when I think of Ireland, is there or if it's all a bit of a chimera that I've made up in order to imagine that there's someplace just a bit saner than the USA.