Monday, February 18, 2008

On occasion, I gotta wonder what the hell it is I'm doing, and what possesses me to try to get beyond what I am and what I do on a daily basis. I'm Jewish, I'm a woman, I'm Mom, I blog, I have artistic tendencies (and yes, I know that word is gonna be read waaay too quickly as "autistic". Quit skimming, people.), I sing, I teach on occasion, and there are a myriad of other things that make me me.

Problem is, I think total immersion in this thing called the blogosphere is tapping me a tad too much into the hive mind, sometimes. It can be kind of daunting when it all seems to have been done. It's why there are folks who become journalists, I guess. See It Now (hee!). Investigate. Question. Observe. Get the five "W"s in there right from the very beginning so that people know where you're coming from. Eyes and ears and not much in between: let the readers put that in themselves. Analysis? Maybe as the story develops. Whatever.
A great European master miniaturist and another great master artist are walking through a Frank meadow discussing virtuosity and art. As they stroll, a forest comes into view before them. The more expert of the two says to the other: "Painting in the new style demands such talent that if you depicted one of the trees in this forest, a man who looked upon that painting could come here, and if he so desired, correctly select that tree from among the others."

I thank Allah that I, the humble tree before you, have not been drawn with such intent. And not because I fear that if I'd been thus depicted all the dogs in Istanbul would assume I was a real tree and piss on me: I don't want to be a tree, I want to be its meaning.*
We jump up and down so much these days about the new. Most of us crave that new perspective, that originality. A makeover, whether physical, intellectual, or otherwise, is a must. Move on to the next story, the latest thing, the "it" to be with, the absolutely fabulous, the out-of-this-world. In the process, many, many things get left behind.

Oh, damn. That's not a new thing I just wrote. There go the readers...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm going through one of those times when I've lost the meaning for all the detailed trees. FEMA finally gets around to the fact that their trailers are slowly killing people who have already had something die inside of 'em from having their homes seriously damaged or destroyed and it's supposed to be news. Two idiots masquerading as leaders who were shown wielding assault weapons as though they were playthings for the kiddies are given a pass by the paper that published their foolhardiness in the first place. The city gives the NBA a $7,000 pass over five days to use a public space as a private party locale and some of the rest of us peons are disgruntled at the whoremongering discount ("Book it for the little guy's bar mitzvah!" my father says in jest, both of us knowing the city will give us no such price if we do decide to declare that on that thirteenth birthday of his, "the little guy is now a man" in Jackson Square). Marketers have been targeting me as the gatekeeper to my son as a potential consumer almost since before his birth (which now makes me want to kill my television and throw away any and all toys in my house that have to do with supposedly benign cartoon characters, Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network [which reminds me that I oughta give the Bloo pencil topper to Maitri], and many, many other horrific corporate brands out there). The elementary, middle, and high school-aged kids with revenge on their brains and access to guns seem to have graduated and are taking their tendencies to our college campuses - and damned if we're still somehow helpless in the face of it all. A drug and alcohol addled badass Jewish girl singer gets five Grammys and I try to make sense of it all (and I'm not alone). Folks are going berzerk for Barack while I still feel like the person who takes the caution about the coming of the Messiah very seriously: "If you are planting a tree and the Messiah comes, finish planting the tree, then go and greet the Messiah." And yes, I know that this man is no moshiach, but when people have been down for so long and a fellow (or a lady, for that matter) arises who is able to shoulder the hopes of those people as effortlessly as Obama seems to, well...Barack, man, don't pull a Shabbetai Zvi on this country if and/or when you get to the highest office in the land, or I'll go medieval on your ass.

Gee, are you overwhelmed yet? I know I am.

AshMo said to me once, concerning the tree quote, that "it had better be one hell of a tree".

Consider that the tree ain't a tree, but its meaning... in a different sense. A metaphor, if you will. A plea that, just because a so-called single savior has appeared, it doesn't automatically give you the excuse to suddenly neglect your work. To leave your communities behind. To sever all your connections. To kiss your roots goodbye. Responsibility nurtures that tree.

Fine, most of us want to grow beyond our roots. It's forgetting that that's where we came from that gets us into messes like the one the rebuilding of New Orleans is embroiled in right now. A balance must be maintained somehow. We ultimately can't use illicit (or even some prescription) drugs or alcohol to get ourselves right in the long term (though it might be a hell of a lot of fun). Corporate consumerism isn't going to help our kids become smarter - they will simply become slaves to the brands and disconnect from the people around them. No one person holds our salvation in the palm of his/her hand, except maybe ourselves.

And, yeah, it's all been done. But a good amount of it still works. Sometimes reinvention is just another way of seeing value in the same ol' same ol'.

Or maybe a tree is just a frickin' tree.

My brain is fried.

*My Name Is Red, Orhan Pamuk


Maitri said...

My Name Is Red is a great book.

Word to the wise: Stop analyzing blogging and just blog. Who're you doing this for anyway?

As for content and originality, that is a plus. Remember, however, that there is momentum in numbers, too. Just because you didn't get to it first isn't important. That it meams something to you and that you are willing to share it with those who care to read is.

Blog like no one's watching. It always works.

Nola ( said...

Most excellent post (as usual). You keep it real, and that, my friend is rather unique.

Charlotte aka TM said...

You do a great job, sweetie. My only suggestion to you (or any blogger) is be aware of saying the same thing on the same day/week as other bloggers in the Nolasphere. It does get redundant. Sometimes it looks like only we are reading each others blogs and linking to each others blogs. I think it's a good thing to branch out and reach out and link to non-Nola blogs or Nola blogs not on the listserv.

Other perspectives are fodder for creative thinking.

Having said all that crapola, I truly think you have a unique perspective and, certainly, an eloquent voice. Get out of your comfort zone a bit. You are good enough. And, doggone it, people like you. :)

Ashley said...

Only problem with me taking Charlotte's advice about reading non-NOLA blogs is that I don't give a damn about anything happening anywhere else but NOLA. Others write about the tragedy of how a traffic light was put up where a stop sign once sufficed because a city councilperson knows somebody on the street.

Screw that. We're fighting for our lives.

Charlotte aka TM said...

Ashley, that is so short-sighted. My experience is that there are many people out there who love NoLA and want to help. "Man is not an island"....and all that.

I understand your point of view but I don't agree with it...anymore.

Humans fighting for their lives is not unique to NoLa.

Sophmom said...

What Maitri said.