I am extremely concerned with a pattern I´ve noticed in contemporary film, some books, and retrospectively in poetry, which is always ahead of everything else.
If you read my Huckabees post, you´ll hear me talking about the lack of a man-man connection, that is to say that we are islands etc. It´s been expressed in any number of forms, be it sociology, philosophy, poetry, or music. But it´s different now, and I don´t know if my duende style is going to cut it right now. I don´t even know if my book is going to cut it, because my task is enormous (you can´t know this task. Let´s just say I´m taking on Leviathan).
Man is biologically strapped to any number of horrible desires, but the biological feature of man that is most potent is simply the construction of his mind. If we could briefly imagine as many forms that a mind might take in alternative worlds, we can see more clearly our own minds. A mind could be shared. A mind could be telepathic. A sentient being could feel anothers feelings.
Although it is often the social organism that ultimately nourishes his body, man can barely fathom his own participation in this construct. We can look at this in a variety of ways, from sociological points of view to more avant garde ideas like Actor Network Theory, which states that every man is an agent, and every agent whether human or non-human is simply reacting to one another. I don´t buy into this, because I´ve recently seen an incredible contemporary dance and I can see that man is not an agent. The key here is that the social organism is not concrete in the sense that man can feel what another feels, or that a man has a social consciousness. There are social interactions, and these have all been well explored, but these interactions and combinations are largely creations of the mind, as memes pass from brain to brain etc. Although various social constructs have necessary commonalities, the variety we see through the ages tells us that the mind, the individual mind, decides on a one-by-one basis the shape and form of our world.
The problem is that our choices have been off-key for as long as know our own history. It is sad that we barely know our own history, and it´s sad that of the billions of people that have already died since we started swaggering out of the jungle are completely forgotten, though celebrated.
Then came the machine. Systems. What Mumford and Ellul called "technique" or "tecnics." And now we are faced with terrible times. Our technology has allowed for larger populations, and any economic downscaling we might do (if it happened to solve a problem, which we are incapable of doing anyway) is rendered impossible by the number of dead, starved people we would have. Although anything is possible, our ability to construct a social organism capable of equality across ridiculous political borders is not to be trusted. We´ve got destructive bombs, bad religions, and we are actively seeking (the US, here) someone to start a new arms race. Oh god, we´ve gotten ourselves into a pickle.
And where is this going? The point is that artists are desperately trying to make a connection with you. They are trying to bridge this gap, and they are throwing aside better art, better narrative techniques, other ideas, all the alternatives to simply touch you. Few artists are commenting about this movement to connect with the audience on new levels, and I hope I´m the first to really notice this movement. It is widescale, and it is everywhere. Especially in film.
I think the act of trying to make a connection is in itself the most important feature of this. If the artist actually makes the connection, what would they tell you? Would they tell you the secret of life? Would they give you the formula for eternal life?
I think, if we interpret this (screw stanley fish)(and maybe the duende of these artists defies self-interpretation) correctly, it is to say that artists are sensing that it is the gap between us that needs to be bridged in order to, essentially, save the world.
The gap has always been there, but I don´t think it was identified as the primary reason for our fuck ups until recently. To prove that this has not been an entirely universal feature of poetry, if you look towards the higher romantics (shelley, keats, wordsworth, coleridge, blake, byron), they aren´t going out of their way to connect with you. They are going out of their way to connect with Albion, eternal man, inspiration-wind-nature, but they aren´t defying their own narrative impulses to get to you. They are, in fact, celebrating individuality and imagination (I think that imagination is about the only way we can really connect).
Unfortunately, I don´t have time to make a complete excavation of modern cinema, art, dance, music, or books, but if you watch for this, just watch what artists are doing to connect with you. In cinema, a recent example of this is lady of the lake - the entire film is constructed to reach out and touch a specifically American audience - the consequences of not touching are exactly as I have pointed out - and you can see that the director is really, really trying to connect (although stiffly, almost academically).
Now, I think it´s quite obvious that our lack of connection is really at the center of this debacle. The fact that there are people starving in Africa, being slaughtered in a variety of places across the earth tell you that we are incapable of connecting to each other. Now, if you were yourself and a starving African at the same time, would you be starving? If you could feel it everytime somebody died of starvation, or died as blood was spurting from ruptured artery and dripping from the pieces of shrapnel lodged in your abdominal cavity, would we have a war?
The effect of a lack of connection is really like those new beds you can see advertised where the person on the left can jump up and down but the person on the right can´t feel a thing, and is able to sleep while you try to pull the knife from your belly.
I´m not going to start conjuring up solutions here. I try to connect with people, and sometimes there is some magic and sometimes there isn´t. I´m not sure what a person should do when they find a piece of magic. I think we ought to touch more, and then when people notice each other, when someone gaits into your life and your auras are having conversations and you are connecting (man is not completely biological), you should touch.
Good god, we should be touching! I don´t know what else we can do but try to touch each other. If we just started touching.
I´m not sure what the hell I´m doing. I´ve got some duende, I´ve got something special and people have been simultaneously telling me that I´ve got something special and that I´m not living up to my potential for a long time now, and I´ve recognized this pattern, and I am in the know. I´m trying to get to this with my story, but my story isn´t really getting where it should be getting. Maybe I need to write non-fiction?
I´ll tell you, I want to pick you up, whoever you are, and take you with me. I want to show you the source of my powers, take you into my spirit and show you why it is that you need to start touching people. I want to show you how it is that I am able to touch people. I want to show you how it is that I encompass everything, that I am a bird watcher, a prostitute, an office man, a boss, a tattoo artist, a poet, a universe, and that inside of you there is the whole world. But I´m not Walt Whitman.
And so I put my head down, look into my lap, and wish you luck.