Yes, a candidate for president can mock a disabled person during his campaign and win the presidency, it happened.
I took his mocking, bully arm gestures, like a bad and ugly impersonation of Ian Curtis of Joy Division personally (more on Ian Curtis and epilepsy in the future).
Ian Curtis was personal, about himself, with his audience, creating with what he had to deal with. He had grand mal seizures. His "epilepsy dance" was interpreted as defiance, punk, anarchical, and communal when in reality loss of control is the opposite of breaking down the systems of control around you. He killed himself as the result of his depression as it all caved in around him, as he lost control.
What keeps an artist working when the outside world is ugly ?
We have never had such a profoundly delusional president. The people closest to him appear to be opportunistic and amplifying their reach though they used to be on the fringes of belief systems that used to be too nihilistic, now they are popular.
Artists feel the atmosphere but unlike other activists, the revolution begins within. Gloria Steinem writes in her book Revolution from Within : A Book of Self Esteem about this exactly ( more on this book and its relevance to democracy in a future post ).
Any relief comes from esthetics.
When moving in last week I laid eyes on, and in many cases lifted, every item I own. In clear bins are organized samples of materials, cast parts, art supplies. All very colorful and tactile. In my first experiment with making something in the new studio I gathered together some of these materials, put on a blindfold and felt my way to an arrangement. I used touch and belief. All of the heavy lifting was done. I was experimenting with the great unknown.
I'm not bragging but I did know he would win. I was in Greene County, NY most of the summer where my new studio is, and our house, and we swam at the very cool public pool in Athens, NY almost everyday. We got to know our little town better because of it. Greene County was and I presume still is, T land. He got inside their minds. The fervor was palpable and silent. A horrible combination.
It is oddly beautiful here if you have tolerance for strange combinations like I do. I grew up in a place like this and I understand the people, somewhat. Only somewhat. What I don't understand is the rigidity (what purpose?) and that's why moving to NYC in 1989 was so liberating. The fluidity and acceptance of hybridity was exhilarating in all of the diversity of the big city. Now, at 58, I deeply desire the spaciousness and quiet here. The trade off is I have been called a "citidiot" by the code inspector, for instance, for purchasing a 1780 house (only idiots from NY buy old houses) . I find it hard to express to people who have lived here their whole life that I come from here and get the customs, I just needed to be around other artists, a multitude of points of view in order to grow.
Yesterday, there was a big snow here in Athens. A 14" white cake on top of every outdoor surface is adding to the brilliance and quiet. I did yoga facing the sun in the bright open second story of my new studio for the first time this morning and took a hot bath in the slipper tub immediately after. Dreams come true.
The bliss lasted an hour and a half.
Then the pall drifted down over my experience of the world again with the daily dramatic news, the angry people giving their time to rage against it, the lies and the danger. Dread. Where to go to protest? Resist! What do I do with this?
This is what I have come up with so far:
I purchased a dilapidated 1860 house three feet from our 1780 house in Athens, NY a few years ago in order to make it my art studio.
Two years later I've just moved the pared down contents of my previous studio in to an airy, open plan two story space that takes in to consideration some needs that have been waiting to be addressed my whole life.
I need quietude, open space to stretch, be alone and rest when I want to, as well as do my art work.
I also just simply love to re-design broken down spaces. I could start another one today.
It makes me wonder, is this what I really love? Transformation?
I have been thinking non stop since the summer, as the renovation was in full swing and the presidential campaign was raging, about living in a state between opposites. The renovation was a path toward something hopeful and the presidential campaign made me feel hounded by dread. The renovation of the studio space was taking shape as the predatory lies ripped the country apart.
Here we are, early February and I've just moved in. The studio is light and beautiful and full of potential. Equally real, he won and everyone I know feels like hell and is frightened, furious, protesting, and weary within two and a half weeks of a presidency.
As one person, do I have the ability to transform anything right now? Certainly not alone, I never did. My new space will be more communal, political, not the full on solitude I imagined. I created an empty space open enough to be possible for what is necessary. All to be discovered.