In Praise of Rage
When it is the fuel for creativity, when it engenders necessary transformation, anger can be a force of good.
I am watching what is going on with the OWS movement with a proud smile. When I pondered in posts earlier this year if we Americans were ever going to get around to raising our fists and affecting real change, back when the Arab Spring was blooming, I honestly never thought I would see it reach this point. It’s wonderful to behold, inspiring.
True, OWS still lacks focus, but it is starting to happen. The internet commercial for the movement shows a coalescing of consensus. What we should see soon is the emergence of leaders who can articulate the will of the people and negotiate on their behalf. If not, the movement will die on the vine. I fervently hope not.
OWS completely swamps the Tea Party. They’re no more than a storm in a tea cup compared to what is going on around the world and its potential to affect true reform.
As Thomas Jefferson said, every generation needs its revolution. I was way too young to have been part of the social upheaval of the sixties, but I was raised on its lore and ideology by those who were a part of it. Up until now, I had imagined that in my lifetime it would just be more of the same old, with America afloat on a sea of complacency and ennui, content to look at ourselves in the mirror like the narcissistic queen in Snow White, except we never wait for the mirror to answer. We simply declare ourselves the fairest, regardless of evidence to the contrary. And if you don’t like it, you can move to Europe. See how you like that!
To maintain the status quo as it is, to “suck it up, America” and uphold the 53% slave class, to encourage the mass narcissistic delusion that we are the best is at this point un-American. If the 53% are happy in the salt mines supporting what is effectively a totalitarian state governed from Wall Street, then it is they who should move to a country with a more conformist mentality. To China? No, too cushy, too rich, too many jobs. Myanmar? No: food’s too good, plus nice beaches, etc. North Korea. Yeah, go the fuck to North Korea, you three-job-working twat, I don’t care if you’re a veteran of our unjust wars, you’re still a twat.
The New York Times yesterday was questioning whether OWS can survive long without a strong leader. I agree. It is reaching critical mass, a messiah needs to step forward very soon, and I believe he is rousing himself for a run at it.
I nominate Eliot Spitzer, of course, because as I’ve stated in a much earlier post when I reviewed Client 9 and The Inside Job, which if you haven’t seen them are mandatory viewing to get an overview of what happened to Spitzer and why this OWS movement is more important than it knows. If Spitzer’s already been nominated somewhere online, then I second or third that nomination.
Don’t worry, dear protestors, Spitzer will articulate your demands, and he knows exactly what to do, to whom. He is the only one who really knows where the bones are buried and who actually has an intelligent, cohesive plan he’s been stewing for years since those venal old vultures on Wall Street and in Albany brought him down with the hooker scandal. Had America been continental Europe—not Britain, for sure, from whence we get our hypocritical attitude toward sex—Eliot Spitzer would be our president by now. And I’ll bet that in a parallel universe where he wasn’t busted and did succeed in reining in the financial industry in time to stop what happened, and went on to win the presidential election in ’08, we aren’t mired in nearly as much shit was we’re in right now.
The reason I think Spitzer might grab this OWS thing is he’s starting to get vocal about it. He’s probably adopting a wait-and-see stance, or maybe I’m just rainmaking, as my friend Charlie Graeber said the other day. The problem will be the porn/prostitution-hating feminist liberal faction, but fuck them—we’re all products of an x-rated act. They should be careful or they’ll end up sounding like the wailing chorus in that almost forgotten minor Greek tragedy about Michelle and Marcia, The Bachmannae.
The Big Bust we have experienced in recent years is the opposite side of The Big Bang, in a yin yang way: it is the zombies of complacent conformity finally devouring the fruits radical creation brought about by the 60s. In the Hindu creation myth, which once you remove the eight-armed blue deities makes more and more sense the further science delves into the true nature of existence, it is a perpetual cycle of creation and destruction. Revolution is the fulcrum at which the two forces meet and creation obliterates stagnation and decay. At a certain critical mass of the OWS movement, change will be inevitable. Spitzer is saying it has happened already.
Likewise, order, as well as conformity to that order, will have to be restored at some point so that society can continue to function. This is why, at the end of the day, while intellectually appealing, pure anarchy is not just bullshit, it’s impossible. And why OWS need credible, responsible leaders soon.
As an artist, I know viscerally that creative rage is as wonderful as it is painful. In the few moments when I wonder if I’m being too outrageous or subversive in the pages—this blog was, after all, intended to bring in clients, but its commercial aspirations have long since been put to the side—I just have to pick up the book I’m currently reading, The Brothers Karamazov.
Dostoevsky has a fantastic sense of humor that is still fresh today, a century and a half later and despite a rather stilted 1920’s translation, but he is also clearly writing from an outraged point of view. However, he is clever enough to know that relentless, raw vitriol is tedious, not sustainable over so many pages, a lesson Ayn Rand might have studied and applied to her own gazillion-page diatribes, which is why he has universal appeal and she’s just read by Americans. (No, I do not believe that the world is headed in the direction Rand predicted in Atlas Shrugged, even though all signs might indicate it. On the contrary.)
In the Bros K., Dostoevsky is pissed off about a bunch of issues and polemics that still flummox us today: the ridiculousness of religion (yet it’s still taken so seriously, and the ignorant do seem to need it to get through the day, so where’s our compassion?); what to do about gross social inequality, when the majority of people are blissfully ignorant and seem to prefer the serf’s mentality even after emancipation; if you disregard all “moral,” or more precisely societal obligations, what do you do about your fucked-up family?
When I embark on a major project, as I am about to now, I feel this rage rise within me. It literally rises from the adrenaline in my stomach into my upper chest and throat. My dreams become intense and vivid, full of feral, anxious symbols about cutting hair I don’t have, thievery, eating raw meat, betrayals that don’t really happen in waking life, murder. This is the Mr. Hyde aspect of my muse, I suppose, who properly speaking should be male if I’m gay, but I’ll keep her female for the sake of tradition.
More often than not, my muse feels just the way she is portrayed in classical art: a beguiling, gentle, playful, exciting traveling companion. But every three months or so, when the bigger, more demanding projects roll around, she turns into the ravenous, bestial goddess Kali, a being so black she is portrayed in icons as blue. If we were doing male muse comparisons, Apollo’s lover Hyacinthus transforms himself from a jovial blond jock to a blinded Samson pushing down the pillars of the temple that keep me balanced day to day.
Two things happen when the Kali avatar rises within me: I have the urge to drown the beast with intoxicants and debauchery, usually just binge drinking and cigarettes, but sometimes with things that are more varied; and I become fixated on the shortcomings of my current romantic interest/partner, to the extent I want out of the relationship. If I find myself stuck in a mental grind about the romantic part, a skipping record that really will jeopardize the relationship, I try to make myself aware that the real issue is creative rage, and I’ll do my best to leave the guy alone until I’ve completed the task at hand… which doesn’t mean he isn’t actually being a total douchebag fuckhead, but I’m just able to deal with him more evenly when I’m not in the grasp of the monster muse.
There is no doubt that the end product from the wrathful Kali muse is superior to the one dashed off merrily by the playful Hyacinthus. So to all those out there in the trenches fomenting real change, and to those of us supporting them on the sidelines in the boonies with commentaries, suggestions and manifestos: