There are two things most dangerous: apathy and stagnation. For me? The former leads to the latter. It’s a cycle of violence I’ve always struggled to overcome. It’s like when I’m gourd dancing with my family, and I’m trying to predict by cadence and rhythm the switching of the beat so I can anticipate the appropriate next move–a move which keeps me in sync with my community but ultimately with my choices.
When I watch movies, I tend to watch independents. Sometimes I’ll watch the Hollywood independents, if it looks like they’re only going to modestly apply structuralism. I like to think I’m savvy. I don’t want to feel like I’m a monkey watching for bananas, which Hollywood has turned into a science. If you don’t know how structuralism has put your brain on repeat for the last five decades, hit me up on the comments below and I’ll explain. This post is for Hollywood’s newest charity: Save the Rich!
The fangs of a snake might seem to overpower the fangs of a spider, and on the surface it can appear as though the match is uneven. But we can’t forget the impulsiveness of the snake and the patience of the spider. And we must remember a black widow sits nicely on the tongue of a viper. Its patience is beyond the fast acting poison in its bite.
“There’s not much culture in this writing,” I’ve heard students say when critiquing student work or reading the novel of a Native author. Or they’ll say, “It looks like the main character is having an identity crisis,” and it can sound dismissive, but there’s something we have to understand about most Natives: We move deep into the center of culture and back to the periphery like an ocean in symbiosis with the moon.
One of my favorite lines in The Crow is when Eric (Brandon Lee) has T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly) duct taped to the drivers seat of his car, as its filled with explosives and aimed at a pier leading toward a harbor. T-Bird can’t believe Eric has come back to life as The Crow and as he struggles through whimpers he says, “Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is.”
I said it before. The last grade I completed was the sixth grade. Then later in life I went on to obtain a Master’s Degree. I think a lot of it had to do with riding waves. Not in the ocean. I’ve never been daring enough to take on those types of challenges. But riding waves of opportunity. Sometimes I look back and it’s interesting to see how it all lined up and came to fruition, as though in symmetry, like musical notes being plucked from the strings of a guitar. In time and rhythm it can make a beautiful song.
Getting bogged down in the muck is an artist’s nightmare. You’ve done the initial work. Maybe you painted the paintings, recorded the songs, or wrote the novels, and then you have to take the creation and offer it to world. Just when you thought you were done. There’s a million more hurdles.
So I’m walking through a bookstore in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico and I’m reading blurbs. I’m not going to blast any artists. That’s not what I’m about. We all come from a different set of experiences. But why are mainstream book publisher publishing the same narrative over and over and over and over? These blurbs seeming lay out different storylines, but when you look at the macro’s macro you start to see a pattern.
I was in grad school when a professor asked, “What metaphor would you use to describe how power structures stay intact?” We were studying Faucoult and had come to his explanation of how individuals give up their power to others, with his example of a moving ship and how everyone does their part to keep the ship moving forward and are in fear of what would happen if the ship stopped moving. I agree with Faucoult’s analogy. It makes sense in most situations. In a modern context though, I’m thinking more along the lines of interstates.
How to hear? Not to listen, like saying “You need to pay attention,” but instead how we create consistency in our voice as artists. How do we hear voice? How do we recognize what is uniquely our own? Is one obstacle. Then the next. How do we reproduce it again and again?
That’s how far back we’re about to go. I’m going to use a simile only a certain generation will understand. Remember tapes? It kind of sounds odd to say now. Tapes. Sounds like a prehistoric infection. If my kids overheard me ask someone if they “had tapes” when they were a teenager, they would think it was an STD. Like an old school slang term for gonorrhea. But I digress, as usual. I’m about to rewind my tape and take young and old back to my days as an introverted neophyte surviving on southern sweet tea and tapes.
So what do you do when a character is powerless? The first thing I tend to do when I’m looking to solve problems in my storylines is to turn to my immediate surroundings. For some reason, and I’m not sure where I got this from (possibly through reflection in the early mornings as I sip my coffee), I started to realize or assume or maybe just consider that all dynamics of story or narratives are in constant mimesis, so…if there is something missing in my story or novel (as is the case now) I start to look for signs and solutions in my daily interactions—in my immediate. I believe I’ll see the same thing, conceptually, happen at some point in the day if I just pay attention.