Thursday, February 13
afternoon, rewritten a few days later
My own reasons for having said little, except in passing, about the any-day-now war are not Brent's, but there are days I understand the feeling. In a way that I'm still working out, I still disagree with his conclusions.
Webloggers, journallers, the guy wearing a t-shirt that says "NOT MY PRESIDENT", people with Bush-Cheney bumper stickers and little flags on plastic sticks fluttering insanely in the slipstreams of their Chrysler Town & Country minivans, self-appointed guardians of peace arguing in coffeeshops, and I - the truth is, we mostly don't know what is really going on. If we pretend otherwise, we are at best lying to ourselves and at worst to everyone who might believe us.
But what if we didn't pretend we knew the whole truth, and what if we acknowledged that we make decisions anyway based on all kinds of things that don't always make sense, and what if we never accepted the lie that someone else really does know it all and it would be best just to go along for the ride?
Maybe that's the only distinction I claim between myself and the rest; that I'm willing to admit that I don't know in any final sense - and no longer willing to be completely silenced, or cede my right to learn more to anyone's political alignment or ideology.
But I read a lot of strong anti-war blog entries today, and I was slapped in the face by a statement Wil Wheaton wrote on his journal: "We are marching directly into a war, though there is massive public resistance to it." ...
Let's examine Wil's claim. Most Americans support the war, as of February 9th (so say the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Wall Street Journal). Is that support cautious? Yes, as it should be. But the Bush administration is not exactly alone in its opinion on this.
This is a true statement, but it is not an examination, let alone a refutation, of Wil's claim. For reasonable values of "massive", there is a massive public resistance to a war with Iraq. Whatever its motives, coherence, or organization, it exists. By the same token, if Wil's implying that the whole of the American public doesn't want a war, he's wrong. People raising both points are largely talking past one another.
There is an eternal tendency among those who write or speak about public things to invoke the will of the people; to assume that the people, who ever they really mean by that, share their beliefs, and that this justifies and lends force to those beliefs.
Well, bullshit. They don't, and it doesn't.
I'm through saying "we". I am not the government of the United States of America. I am not the American People, the anti-war movement, the 18-25 demographic, the Church, the Fans, Academia, Science, the Arts, the Right Wing or the Left.
Yes, what I'm going to say here in the coming days might be masturbatory. Why pretend otherwise? I'm not contributing one iota to a public debate, if such a thing is really going on. Nothing that I say will measurably influence the exercise of power. This may be part of a public forum, but it is mostly something else. It is mostly something I write a little because I want to, and a few of my friends read because they are my friends.
That's the point. If I'm not just faking clever, then this is a small way to speak when something more than silence is called for, even if what I say carries no further than you, reading this right now. Isn't that enough to make a start?
And now I'm done with meta-commentary.
Sitting here, I'm looking
at an angle out across the gray bartop
watching cars slip in trafficlight modulated streams
past the front-door glass.
Over there, two guitars and a djembe
rattle twang and patter.
I think of all the people
I would rather be with right now than here,
the indifferent and the hopeful and the concerned,
and string these words together in my head.
Later, I'm not expecting anything transcendant
maybe that's not the word for what I get,
You need to hear Patrice Pike.
Maybe because she has an amazing voice,
and some words that are worthy of it.
Maybe because she does that funky mouth-jam thing,
But surely because they drove all day from Austin,
and because she sang like that anyway
for fifteen people at midnight
between a Wednesday and a Thursday in Lincoln, Nebraska.