Thursday, July 21, 2016

Getting Small

The problem with goals and projects is getting them finished. I am great with beginnings, but endings are harder. I have a new vision before the old one is over, and still-necessary tasks loom at me large and dark, guilting me, filling up my calendar with to-do lists, causing a rash! Interestingly, getting older has not changed this.

When I am in this state of nitty gritty, when I must focus and refocus on the end of a project in order to finish it, I am small. My peripheral vision narrows to nothing and I do not dream. I barely talk to myself. I rely on ritual to get me from one place where I need to be to another where I follow a different thread, and I spend a great deal of energy and watchfulness keeping my head down. It is a constant correction, to wrestle my vision back to the task, restraining it, not letting it fly off toward the vibration of some new and intoxicating thought.  In this condition, any vibration will do as I am living completely without captivation, and the rush of creativity I crave must be diligently ignored. I am bored and boring and shallow, while I try to concentrate on my feet. It must be done.  Feet move me forward, one step at a time. And this too shall, with diligence, become at last a shining artifact of the past.

The thing is, each time I forget that I have been here before, in this nitty gritty place, and that I devised a prescription long ago.  It is the way of time that we forget between, as dreams are real so are thoughts. Between mitigates the memory. Each time it is like I have to think it all through again, not remembering I could look in my diaries, not remembering the previous sartoris, forgetting I know what will help me. 

Then the light comes on, and I feel a joy and relief that I have already considered the situation, that I know what will see me through to the end. And a little proud of myself that this time I remembered before the long restriction is over, instead of only after it has ended. Progress (perhaps longevity?). I  have a flat spot on my forehead – again.

This blasted attention to final details, the details that get the project over the hill, is a physical thing - and it takes physical help.  My remembered prescription for joy in these lowland marshes is MUSIC.  Stick it in my ears, blow it off the walls, surround myself as much as I can. And watch me get small:)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dark Goddess Review: "The Company You Keep"

Like most of us who went to Washington to protest the Vietnam War, I was a grain of sand in the huge waves of peace that we thought we were, gliding over the dunes of outmoded tradition and the rocks of aggression and retribution to land each time a little further up the beach, toward a better world. Not too many of us imagined a more military metaphor, as footsoldiers in the march toward freedom, but some did, and all of us knew someone who knew someone who did, and the choice to take up arms for the cause was real, if a little far-fetched.

2012's The Company You Keep is a mature thriller about some who did, enlisted in the cause. Jim Grant is a respected elder lawyer whose Weather Underground past is ferreted out by a young and naive reporter who has not a clue what damage his scoop will wreak. The FBI never forgets, as Susan Sarandon's portrayal of Sharon Solarz so convincingly illustrates. Based on the real-life 1999 arrest and conviction of Kathleen Ann Soliah, for her 1970s participation in a bank robbery and murder with the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), Sarandon's character is not remorseful about the decisions she made so long ago, refusing to forget the context. In a similar vein, Robert Redford's Jim Grant (alias Nick Sloan) has lived a serious life without regrets or fanciful illusions about youthful indiscretions. When he discovers that he is about to be outed, he embarks with his 11 year-old daughter on a complicated plan to keep her safe while he stays one step ahead of the feds (and the reporter) to unearth an unlikely alibi for the crime of which he was accused so many years before. 

The plot is complicated and eccentric, the cast is as star-studded as it gets, and while there is no happily ever after, there is at least resolution. Critics in the US were not as enthusiastic as in Europe, but all agreed that this movie was underplayed and subtle, perhaps romantic about the political idealism, but never sentimental. 

Except in documentaries, I have not in all these years heard anything so truthful about those violent years as The Company You Keep. Common culture has rewritten the Vietnam War so the US was not the loser, allowing once again the rise and adulation of military force and the bootjacked interference with sovereignty, both public and private, that this enables. The concerns of an entire generation have been trivialized as a hippie "fringe" movement that was too self-indulgent to be taken seriously. And the ultimate cynicism of arming and re-arming an increasingly misinformed and diseducated population, filling the tills of the arms makers while disabling any kind of meaningful citizen dissatisfaction with the rape of their country, has been sheer genius. (Damn, I nearly called the NRA lackeys there - difficult to not let it creep up on ya'.)

And so this film made me cry. I recommend it to all who remember.