Fiction doesn't have a monopoly on magic, since reality itself is magical in so many ways. Traditional nonfiction deals in mundanities, but the best Creative Nonfiction (CNF) can jolt us out of our anaesthetised existences and reconnect us with the magic of reality. It can make us fall in love with the world again. CNF is many things to many people, but for me it's an exercise in re-enchantment.
We've never been so spoilt for images as we are now online, but what becomes of "older, more artisanal images" in such a context? The art of painting, for one, already ceded some of its power when photography was invented; what more now in the present era? Surely painterly images retain a special force, if only for those who remain open to them, and who haven't become aesthetically anaesthetised by our excessively visual culture. Can scrolling through an Instagram feed compare with strolling through an art gallery? Can the cheapened digital images available at a swipe or click be any kind of substitute for directly experiencing an artwork offline and in the flesh?
In the context of rising authoritarianism, not all of us can pretend to be innocent and play the victim. While most twentieth century dictators came to power by force, the Trumps and Dutertes of the present era are being installed through free and popular elections. The question that Baruch Spinoza asked a few hundred years ago remains sadly relevant today: "Why is it that the masses stubbornly fight for their servitude as though it were their liberation?"
Just getting to the exhibition had been interesting in itself. We accidentally caught the wrong connecting train and ended up at a station slightly further away from where we needed to be, but were happy to walk the extra distance. As we emerged from underground and set off in the direction of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, we were stopped in our tracks by the distant rumblings of a crowd. We couldn't yet see it, but knew it wasn't a rowdy sports crowd or a crowd of revellers. No, this was a sound I knew well from my activist past. Sure enough, we could see as we got closer that it was a political rally of some sort. My soul stirred a little, and again when we got close enough to realise what they were protesting about: the Muslim and refugee bans had just been imposed in the US, and Australia's hardline policy on refugees was scarcely any better.
I've kept a number of blogs over the years, but with each of them, I'd changed as a person and writer to such a point that it felt like my earlier blog-posts no longer represented me. My solution was to just shut them down. This is the blog I'm hoping will stick, or rather, the one I intend to make stick. And if my political or philosophical viewpoints shift, or I end up feeling a little embarrassed about my earlier posts, so be it! My earlier work may not represent who I am at present, but they do reflect who I was in the past, and that's fine. We change through time, and what we call the "self" is really just a collection or succession of selves.
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