Wednesday, October 19, 2011

'Show Me You Love Me'

As an observer and someone whose politics have always been moderate while leaning to the left, these are some observations I have made about the occupy movement and other issues.

I became a writer because I was raised in an environment where the discussions on everything never stopped. The kitchen tables and living rooms that I was brought up around were a continued conversation that seemingly had no end. My only complaint as to being raised this way was that sometimes the discussions reached fever pitches of emotion, turning them into screaming matches that simply wore people out. I was amazed however, that my mother, four aunts, and assorted friends, would rest up, and begin the discussions all over again. Books, typewriters, theatre, poetry, and exhaustive letter writing (when my aunts were apart) where the natural order of the day. The men, however, were archaic. Picture these five women, (mother and aunts) raised in an environment of cowboys, farmers, loggers, and alcoholics, fueled by copious amounts of reading and literature, and you have the makings of a family that has a firm understanding of drama. Stacks of books permeated our apartments, trailers, and sometimes even summer camps, and the reading and writing never stopped. This hybrid of language mixed with a primitive action of life was where I learned the subject matter of my plays and writing. It's also why it makes them difficult to produce or be produced, because my plays are formed from this strange hybrid of language and primitive action. However, it is what I know. All of us, are some kind of hybrid of our experience mixed with language formed within. Sometimes the language has been activated by experience, and sometimes it’s a product of education, or an intellectual formation of meaning. The strongest manifestation of our vocabulary, however, is the language that has been activated by experience. This is the language we know the best.

I really believe that our access to social networking is an important and wonderful thing, because even if people are not reading literature or participating in the arts for a language graft, people are at least writing things and sharing their thoughts in public. Ten minutes on Facebook, and I can experience an array of thoughts, feelings, and passions. I can laugh at someone's sense of humor. I can see something posted that is from the mind of someone else, and how it links to the person that posted it. Its like that commercial that used to be on the radio touting that— the language in which we speak is a reflection of a our soul or personality. I think its true, and although we've all experienced some mindless and self absorbed rhetoric on Facebook such as what a person just ate, I'm still encouraged by all of it.

In this latest movement of protest, social networking is becoming an important tool, linking us together for common concerns. Those who are not able to physically be at a protest can express themselves by posting something or writing a few words. There is a massive energy right now moving across the social networking sites, and it's powerful. Language, expression, power.

For most of my life, I think I've been a person who can easily move through and understand the language someone is speaking. As a teacher of theatre, I always taught that the two obvious forms of communicating were non-verbal and language, the strongest of the two being the action of communication, or the non-verbal kind, show me you love me don't just say it. I have been reminded of this every day while directing this play, that language activates movement, or often the other way around, that movement, or psychological gesture, can create a powerful language, movement, and action. It's great having the playwright present in rehearsal, because so often my interpretation of the language as a director can have a much different meaning for me than the playwright's intention. Sometimes, however, this difference of interpretation can work for a play, but more often than not, the playwright's intention is the best working form. Over the years, I've also noticed that the best plays in my estimation, are plays where the language is activated by action. A conversation between two people sitting in chairs across from each other tends to be more of an intellectual exercise than a conversation that is going on when a boat is sinking. One is activated by the truth of the circumstance and conflict, and one is activated by intellectual stimulus. Growing up in my home, the people having these conversations were up on their feet and activated. The language was infused with finger pointing, door slamming, sometimes pushing, and face to face confrontation, all mixed with a language that had come from classical novels, journalism, and poetry. Every day was a new play to experience, conflict and action were just a normal part of the events.

As I've been listening to the nation's dialogue, I'm distressed at the increasing gap between the use of language and it's meaning even though we are all speaking English. I can listen to people in the media speaking and see what's happening in our country, and I'm becoming strangely convinced that there is indeed, a language of revolution biting the air, mixed with the action that is now taking place in the form of protests. There is a not so subtle fear rising from the right, almost subconscious in nature, fueled by people who are taking action in the form of these protests. Action will always be a stronger language than rhetoric, even though people make courageous attempts to lesson its virility with intellectual and ideological expression. The hostility that is rising from the right, the rich and the powerful, and the politicians who are in fear of losing their comfortable meal ticket, are attempting to patronize its importance by using what they perceive as a superior ideology and elevated language. This is the news, and its really old news. Action will always infuse language with a more powerful meaning, even though the vocabulary may be of a simpler form. The middle class of this country are men and women who have had to physically find form with language, and it's powerful. I always try to listen to both sides of the argument, and I have to tell you, as a person who I think has always had a pretty moderate and fair ability to listen to both sides, I'm becoming not only incensed by what I am hearing, but am finding it more difficult to be forgiving and fair concerning my country men and women who are speaking in an elitist and capitalistic language. As someone who has always been listening, I really believe the gap has so increased between the classes, I don't know if it can ever come back short of some kind of real revolution.

I'm really not finished writing about this, but need to get some things done before rehearsal tonight. I do feel moved, however, to join in the protest, and I believe there are many others who are on the cusp of joining this cause. I've always thought myself reasonable in regard to the political system, or at least fair, but I'm expressing to you, if I'm angry about this, there are many others whose anger and willingness to engage are out there, and if you keep it up, we will be joining you.


Gerry said...

Coming from the working class where even if the men homesteaded land or acquired ranch property some other way they expected to do much of the physical work themselves, I never trusted any situation where people tended to use 'education' or any other means to control other people besides hard work. I was taught to work mostly by the men in the family since my father had no sons, so I soon learned the difference between good bosses who knew how to work themselves and would work right along with you and bad ones who would expect you to do all the hard work as your boss while they did next to nothing. These kind of men in the community usually ended up so deep in debt their children inherited nothing. So a hard working father and grandfather in my case left healthy inheritances to their descendents as could be expected. But I do believe that the ambitious hard working people can always outdo the lazy ones hoping to get out of work while still making fortunes, if they pay attention.
I would say that the protest movements are made up of both kinds of people, the hard working and those who are not reasonable about how much the world owes them. Some people who are so disabled they can no longer work at their jobs or professions will still find work to do that gives back, but others will become so idle that it is hard to believe they can do and accomplish so little in a day.
There are some rich people and people in charge who are very hard workers and if you followed them around all day, they would tend to lay everybody in the shade. So we always have to go back to analyzing the makeup of whatever groups of people we are protesting or doubting. I think people are protesting some disturbing trends that have been happening where people with power in corporations, banks, etc, have taken advantage of people who have to depend on them. So we have to find ways to protest these actions as loudly as we can. I think every person knows how involved they are in activities that defraud people. We have always had the problem of how to check these people.
I think every person who seeks to inspire others with genuine selflessness and concern for their fellow man is helping by being role models in how to do this. I think a 'real revolution' might be a threat to try to overturn our way of government. I would fear say a leftist engendered revolution the violence of which we have seen decimate other countries, causing millions of deaths from revolutionaries turned murderers, so I am keeping a watchful eye on where these 'revolutionary' ideas emanate from.

Gerry said...

I wanted to note that I got the chance to watch Oliver Stone's documentary called South of the Border today, in which he visits a number of South American leaders including Chavez of Venezuela. He points out that Chavez is accused of being a dictator but has in fact been through 13 elections in Venezuela, so he came to power with a legitimate mandate from the people. I think if anybody wants to know more about these kind of leaders, coming out of rebellion by the very poor, you might call it the revolution of the 99% against the privileged class of 1%. One of the most impressive of these leaders was the first native Indian to be elected the president of any of these countries. A great many ideas were discussed by all of them as led by questions from Oliver Stone about what changes they were trying to bring about. I also recommend reading about Stalin's regime or Krushchev's both of which could be called 'murder incorporated' to see how a revolution can become a blood bath, a reason to proceed with caution to the revolution.