Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"My parallel universe"

I've joked in the past on this space about how, to whatever extent and in whatever situations I can, I like to use the art forms I know and the skills I've developed over 40+ years to create "my parallel universe"--a place in which participation, community, generosity, the integration of right thinking and right livelihood (two spokes of the Eightfold Path), and creativity can not only exist but flourish. As the great music educator Christopher Small said, "for the duration of their improvised performances, musicians in the traditions bring into being, for that duration, the ideal universe in which they wish to exist." It's a place where no animals suffer, where all are welcome, where the afflicted are comforted and the excessively-comfortable are afflicted, and in which--not least significantly--"the poets drink for free."

The other night, at the end of what will be the first inaugural VMC barn-dance, at the local Yoga studio and coffee shop, the self-described "redneck Rasta" owner, whose day job is as an addictions counselor and suicide-hotline supervisor, said "well, I'm just an energy pimp. And a tavern keeper." I laughed and said "yeah, in my parallel universe." But as I thought about it, I realized it's a pretty profound, cut-to-the-chase definition of what we artists and teaching artists do: we raise the energy, invoke the loas, inspire the divine, channel the creative spirit, re-knit the ravelled sleeve of community. There's a reason that blacksmiths are regarded as sorcerers in West Africa, poets as magicians in the West of Ireland, shamans and healers and writers and preachers throughout the 40,000 years of vernacular culture. There's a reason religious fundamentalists and oligarchic dictators hate us, and repress us, and tear out our tongues and cut off our hands and call us wastrels and "takers".

They fear what we make, and do, and create, and teach. And how we remind our communities of the infinite capacity of sentient beings for transcendence.

They fear us.

They should.

1 comment:

Roger Landes said...