Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Future

Here is my grandson Max again. I haven't posted a picture of him since he was born. You can see that he is a jolly little boy now. He is a great little boy at 17 months. He loves books, he loves to play. He loves music. He loves people.
So I am thinking about his future. Will he only have electronic books to read, will he have to read the news only online, will he have a small electric car to drive.
As I read the news that says "has the recovery started?" "Obama suggests 50 mph in ten years"
as I receive organic foods in plastic containers, and keep on driving my car, I wonder why we aren't getting it. We can't recover back to what we did or my grandson and everyone else won't even have a planet to live on. I feel as though I am living in an alternate reality. Do the people working for plastic industries have grandchildren, do car manufacturers have grandchildren? Why aren't we talking about tiny vehicles like the parking people drive, why aren't we just totally getting completely a new perspective.
We can't recover back to building more sprawl, on the road suspended.

Then there is a family on my block who has lived here for about forty years. They lost their house because of a 20,ooo dollar loan. It was auctioned for 120,000. bought by a developer, who is remodelling and will get probably 450,000 for it. Is this recovery? I call it inhumanity and greed.

And then there is the scandal of health care. In the one year I had insurance I saw the way the doctors were milking the system scandalously requiring unnecessary tests etc.

I am teaching my favorite subject, Art and Politics in the 1930s. at the moment, the subject of my previous book ( ten years ago). At that time artists worked in collectives encouraging each other to represent the problems with capitalism, with racism, with health care, with poverty.
Where are those artists now when we need them to re -imagine our planet completely. Where are those artists putting pressure on the government to completely change directions.
Where is imagination going? A strange article in the New York Times yesterday talked about artists "hard times loosens creativity" . Apparently lack of sales is encouraging artists to think more creatively. That was the way the colletives started in the 1930s, no sales, so they could do what they wanted, and what they wanted was to address the problems of the world.
I hope that happens again!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

We Shall Remain

This PBS series in five parts is trying hard to tell us a new history, American history from the Native American perspective, as in they were friendly, smart, brave and strong and we wiped them out because we were stronger, ruthless, perfidious, and really really greedy. It includes a lot of re creations, Indian languages, history that is unfamiliar. It only has photographs when it gets to Geronimo, the fourth and best of the series so far. At least it pointed out that Geronimo really ruined his whole tribe and they don't love him for it. Also that he was not even a chief at all, really a renegade. But the best part was the instant switch on the part of whites from fearing Geronimo to making him into a hero of the lost wild West.
This week is Wounded Knee.
The big problem is that they have left out the communal character of Indian culture, the importance of women, the role of shared resources rather than ownership of the land. Very brief references are made to selling their land, but no explanation of the fact that that is an alien concept in Native cultures. Also, the important role of women is ignored completely, This is great man history with Native male chiefs as stars. Is it that we can't take too much at once, women and Indians? Community sharing and social cooperation?
There are many Indian cultural consultants, but still it is the same old PBS formula and the same old American History formula.
The Wounded Knee segment was by far the best! It covered the gap from late ninteenth century to the present, with references to the damage of the boarding schools, and the urbanization policies, then the radical coming together of Indians from all over the US at Wounded Knee with amazing footage. No re creations here. Interviews with participants ( men and women) many of whom are well known now. Of course the present chapter is different again, but the revival of Indian cultures certainly started at Wounded Knee.
They are making huge comebacks. The website for the exhibition does talk about that and the image above is from that discusssion called "Native Now". The website has a lot of interesting information, but still no discussion of women or alternative perspectives on the earth, like the fact that natives are the primary ecologists of our history.