Are you an emigrant? Breakthrough for the week of 11/10/2018

Power of memory shines through in Bill T. Jones’ impressive ‘Analogy Trilogy.’

MARK SWED, MUSIC CRITIC for the LA Times

“The sun has an appointment with the moon.” That is how a Jewish Belgian teenager, Dora Amelan, described her world turned upside down by the invasion by Nazi Germany in 1940. It is also, in one way or another, the essence of displacement felt by emigrants, for whom memories of one world remain in constant arbitration with those of another. Though often a prescription for success, forgetfulness isn’t always an option. Ghosts get in the way.

I realized last night – after looking up lyrics to Spancil Hill, a lament by an Irish immigrant for his Homeland, that Time is an abyss that cannot ever be crossed. There is no going back. I long for my homeland, for the West in 1985, for belief that working together, “we” could protect the land; for living in Shady Acres and walking the surrounding intact forest, not just walking it, but being with it; for the old stores, the old streets, the old bars; the ease with which I could drive and walk in downtown Flagstaff; for desert trips on empty roads; for the sacred mountains being free from fake snow made from reclaimed water by the local ski resort – which is owned by predators from out of town; for believing that if we worked hard enough, we could save the Peaks. Perhaps more than anything, I miss believing that my writing could protect, inspire; could touch people’s hearts and minds.

That which separates me – and perhaps many others –  from the past homeland is an airless and madly cluttered abyss, a Nowhere which is Everywhere, an emptiness filled with the nattering of infinite signals, of flesh gone cold as a corpse and touch reduced to a click. There is more than one mechanism for becoming an emigrant: one can be forced out of one’s homeland; one can leave because the homeland has become toxic – or one can continue to live in a homeland transformed by greed – greed in its many forms. An intact forest is reduced to old growth stumps, broken bird-nests and the foundations of big houses; a unique small town street, with its boarded-up window bars, Mexican restaurants in which the salsa will burn the skin off your lips, second hand record and tape stores is efficiently reduced to fake “dive” bars, work-out studios and  wildly expensive hipster restaurant clones serving innumerable fussy versions of kale. And community? Community? Decency? Decency? I leave you to answer that.

How are you a refugee by removal? Your turn…

Here is Lynette Sheppard on Barbara Lewicki’s altered doorways (10/21/2018 Breakthrough)

Selkie
Jenna walked through the doorway,  then  through another doorway, and yet another. When she walked through the last one, she spied a figure facedown on the pale sand. Her nurse brain shifted into overdrive and she rushed to what she already thought of as “the patient”. She turned it over for it was unclear if the being was he or she or they. It’s long brown tresses were wet and she brushed the hair off its face.
“Hey, are you okay?”
She shook it. Slowly, its eyes opened and it blinked.
It blinked again. Jenna was lost in those eyes. Millenia might have come and gone. She forgot what she was doing.
Jenna squinched her own eyes shut for a moment, then reopened them. Silky brown fur covered the patient. It was beaded with droplets of water that scattered tiny rainbows around the room. She took a deep breath, inhaling salt and kelp.
She knelt and touched it’s fur, wondering how she could have mistaken it for human.
“A seal?” she thought. “But how, why? Here in the desert?”
The creature moaned and she skittered back so quickly, she nearly blacked out. She put her head between her knees until the room quit spinning.
She opened her eyes and stood up. Jesus, the heat must have really gotten to her. Thank god she had drifted into the air conditioned Canyon Road gallery. Just a touch of heatstroke.
She focused on the painting in front of her. Pastel doorways led one into another. She laughed and brushed a shaky hand over her forehead, as she scanned the empty gallery. She peered at the tiny plaque next to the piece.
“Portals,” she read. “By James Selkie.”
The painting hung slightly askew and Jenna reached out to straighten it, then jerked back as if stung. It was wet.

Cin Norris:

It’s a full moon night at the ruins. The media has played up this night, not just the autumnal equinox, not just a full moon, but a super duper full blood blue cheese moon or whatever the fuck they say. It’s bright and it’s beautiful and, like all its phases, a little bit tricky. There are high clouds passing through at tremendous speeds, they seem determined to be somewhere on time. A by-product of their white rabbit haste is the moving darkness their shadows cast over the pueblo. Dimly reflected light flickers in a window opening, resembling a peering face until the scudding clouds banish it. The moonlight touches then releases a corner near a doorway far away, raising the shade of some ancestor who believes there is still work to be done. These ruins are perilous at night, worse when the light is so uncertain. It’s an even trade, sense of safety for a chance to look through the darkened lens of an autumn double full blood fudge sundae moon and try to understand where the hell we went wrong.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a full moon night at the ruins. The media has played up this night, not just the autumnal equinox, not just a full moon, but a super duper full blood blue cheese moon or whatever the fuck they say. It’s bright and it’s beautiful and, like all its phases, a little bit tricky. There are high clouds passing through at tremendous speeds, they seem determined to be somewhere on time. A by-product of their white rabbit haste is the moving darkness their shadows cast over the pueblo. Dimly reflected light flickers in a window opening, resembling a peering face until the scudding clouds banish it. The moonlight touches then releases a corner near a doorway far away, raising the shade of some ancestor who believes there is still work to be done. These ruins are perilous at night, worse when the light is so uncertain. It’s an even trade, sense of safety for a chance to look through the darkened lens of an autumn double full blood fudge sundae moon and try to understand where the hell we went wrong.  —Cin Norris

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