Friday, July 22, 2011

Revolutionary Diary

[Last night we had our first study group for Grace Lee Boggs's new book, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Action for the 21st Century. It was an extremely productive session, bursting with ideas and questions. As an accompaniment to the discussion, I will blog a bit between meetings.]

In the 21st century we will no longer be defined by work. There simply are not enough jobs to go around, and few resources left to exploit to grow our economy to create more jobs. What does this mean as we try to get our physical needs met? How do we survive without a paycheck? GLB emphasizes that marginalization brings liberation. Can we be liberated from our jobs and still live?

God knows millions in America are in deadening, stressful, energy-draining jobs. Are all jobs by definition hegemonic? What about unpaid jobs? GLB continually asks "what does it mean to be human?" Part of being human, I think, is contributing to the common good through labor, whether growing food, raising children, making baskets, building shelter, creating art .... Can we fulfill such responsibilities of being human without oppression or hegemony? This takes sensitivity, an inner drive, seeing the big picture, trust... what else?

How do we proceed through our daily responsibilities while engaging in the revolutionary struggle? For instance, I have to order tshirts today for Riverwest Yogashala members. Why do I need to do this and how does this strengthen or detract from the necessary revolution?
- I contracted with members of RY that they would receive a member shirt. This is a gesture of thanks and exchange for supporting us.
- Why is membership encouraged? To help RY pay for its free and reduced classes and make yoga accessible to all.
- I'm ordering organic cotton shirts from a local print shop. Is even growing organic cotton harmful to the environment? What is the toll on the land? Where is it grown and what are the conditions for workers? How are the shirts produced and by whom? How do the shirts arrive here? What is involved in the printing process and how does it affect the workers and the environment? Finally, do any of our members really need another shirt?
- As GLB says, we need to grow our souls. Is this shirt more soulful because it has a Sanskrit excerpt from Patanjali's yoga sutras? Does this make it a work of art? Are some works of art more useful for the revolution than others?

On another matter, I am sitting at my laptop this morning, blogging, instead of doing pranayama. I am using fossil fuel to charge my computer. My laptop contains precious metals which are causing wars in the Congo and elsewhere. Is the internet inherently oppressive and corrupt because it depends on commerce, is exploitive and addictive, and violates privacy? Does blogging accomplish anything for the revolution?

So you see where I am going.... Please contribute your thoughts here or in person at our next meeting, 28 July, at People's Books, 2122 E Locust, 7pm. Discussing Intro and Chapter 1 next week.


Kiara said...

i def think some works of art are more useful for the revolution than others b/c majority of artworks are in fact only interested in expressing ideas that re-affirm biases, stereotypes, and prejudices. no matter how beautiful they may be or are considered "self-contemplative," "ground breaking," "spiritual," or "truth-seeking," if a work of art doesn't contribute to widen one's boundary of thoughts, i think it bears no relationship to the revolution.

peggy hong said...

the difficulty is that everyone responds on a different vibration. ie what i may think is trite or obvious or abstract or intellectual may be extremely powerful to someone else. so i cannot judge an effective piece of art, only the recipient can. as a creator of art for the revolution, i can only respond to my own needs and appetites to grow my own soul. however, do artists think of themselves this way--as movers and shakers of the revolution? artists like most people have been co-opted by money and privilege. so their work often reinforces the values of privilege, as you point out.

Kiara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kiara said...

what is the significance of the powerfulness of a work of art? one may experience the Truth, God, or the Univerise through a work of art. so ? does this mean that the work of art has successfully demonstrated the Truth? What is the Truth anyway? i think the powerfulness of a work of art is easily dismissable if it puts the recipient in the states of "awe"-ness and fails to get her/him out of it.