Murmurs and Antagonisms

Orthodoxy via Heresy

Category: Untitled

God Cried First: Thoughts on SELMA

[Critiques are welcome. Just thoughts I had right after seeing the movie last night.]

I don’t cry during movies. It’s not my type of coping with the feelings and experiences in a film. But I cried twice tonight. And it wasn’t just because the images on screen were moving— though they were. It’s more than that. It’s knowing that we’re not past the past, that my brothers and sisters of color are still fighting. And maybe they’re fighting me. And maybe they’re more broadly fighting the dominance of whiteness that has over run this country. In fact, there’s no maybe’s about it—they are. Tonight I saw the film “Selma” for free (theater chain let students in for free). And tonight I saw art. Art that spoke. Art that silenced.

The entire time in the theater I knew factually what was going to happen, at least to Dr. King. But it was no less pressing and beautiful to watch nonviolent (potentially the most violent) action happening on screen. So many thoughts are flooding my mind right now, too many to track and catch and tie down meaningfully…

I don’t think I should try to tie them down. I should just write. And as I write I think and think and think of what else to say. And there’s nothing. As my friend stated on Twitter: “‘Selma’ is singular,” and I think he’s right. Of the films nominated for Best Picture only two make sense to me : “Selma” and “Boyhood”. “Boyhood” only because it’s so artfully done and is a masterpiece of cinema and what slow film making can do. But “Selma”…”Selma”, I hadn’t even heard of it till about three weeks before it came out, and I normally keep up on films. It came out of nowhere. And of course I read reviews and all were correct on their praise.

But something hit home during the movie. Something beautiful seemed to click for me, or I guess, something’s been clicking for a year or so and sealed itself (more) firmly. For a year I’ve been trying to unlearn my ties to whiteness, I’ve desired to center black persons and bodies. And I know I’ve failed and messed up. But “Selma” made me realize something beautiful (a lot of beautiful things actually). During the final sequence when you have Dr. King and a whole army of beautiful souls singing freedom and smiling and walking proudly, the camera frame centers them, focuses on them, emphasizes them. They are the center. And I think it clicked for me that to take seriously the centering of black bodies I need to take seriously history. I need to take seriously what Laverne Cox so beautifully called, “The practice of freedom.” To do that I, we, need to take very seriously what Du Bois said:

“Actively we have woven ourselves with the very warp and woof of this nation,—we fought their battles, shared their sorrow, mingled our blood with theirs, and generation after generation have pleaded with a headstrong, careless people to despise not Justice, Mercy, and Truth, lest the nation be smitten with a curse. Our song, our toil, our cheer, and warning have been given to this nation in blood-brotherhood. Are not these gifts worth giving? Is not this work and striving? Would America have been America without her Negro people?”

Du Bois is right. And that’s what the movie reminded me of. Not my struggle. Not my song. Not my cheer, and not my blood. Martin Luther King Jr’s., blood, Malcolm X’s blood, and the thousands hung from trees and posts in the South. Their blood, their suffering, their toil, that’s what brought America to where it is. They are the heart of America, literally. I think I truly believe that now. I think I finally in some way see it now. I see more clearly what Du Bois was saying through this movie. As Dr. King (the character) says early on in response to a grandfather mourning the death of his grandson at the hands of police, “I know this…God cried first.” God cried first for Trayvon, for Michael Brown, for John Crawford III, for Tamir Rice, for Eric Garner, for Islan Nettles. God cried first for these bodies. God cried first. And I see humanity more truly, more beautifully than before. I left the movie in awe of the actors, actresses, director and screenwriter(s), everyone involved in the film. But I left humbled. I am part of “Jim Crow under a bald eagle,” whether I like it or not.

“Selma” is vital to the American consciousness I think. It makes black bodies matter to white people who only payed lip service previously. It made them matter more to me and I hope I haven’t just paid lip service. It’s odd and wonderful what a film can do to you. I think it made me more human. And I think it’s a reminder that God cried first. God always cries first when a black body is torn from this world by white supremacy, by the white supremacy I am embedded in.

cheese breath, meaning of?

even my breath tastes wrong a mix

ture of swiss cheese bites and what i

imagine the smell of people must taste like,

and i hate it.

i hate it with such a burning passion but

hate is too soft of a strong word to de—

scribe

—that’s what my body is, a scribe. writ

large into a word i’d rather be written onto. cause

all i got are words on loop through skull

can’t help but wonder am i insane. then i

recall what my body functions as, a call to

dead (maybe resurrected) god(s) who i know not

how to know, a scribe written by beings or

that by which i write about being in world. but

my breath still tastes wrong and i wonder what

that could mean.

On Being a Bad Writer

I like to think I have some level of skill when it comes to writing when, in all likelihood, that thought is no more than some sort of delusional desire. Everyone thinks they write well. Or, at least, wants to hear that they write well. For myself, I finally accepted the fact that when I do write it is often an incoherent mess.

Related: I have moments where I write well but most times I write at a level close to mediocrity.

I dream of publication in a high and mighty magazine at some point in the future. But, for now at least, I maintain a blog with a lame background and full of my less than disciplined thoughts on sundry topics. And I write at a mediocre level. That’s okay, though. Mostly it’s okay because I want to get better. The problem of bettering oneself when it comes to writing is finding out what one wants to write about.

Best advice: write about what interests you. Worst advice: write about what you know.

One exercises the mind, the other limits exploration. The idea of finding a niche limits the wannabe writer more than any arbitrary rules of language can. I have no niche. Sure, this blog is filled with truncated thoughts on philosophy and theology, filled with endless poems in which I try to be the next e.e. cummings, filled to the brim with half thought out words. Always present is the demand that I find a niche, a topic, a theme, a genre, to dedicate my time to. I find this ever present demand to be the cause of weariness and too much thought. Think too much on what to write and I never write, always happens without fail. So, for now, I accept that maybe I need to simply sit down and use words to describe what’s happening within my world, as mundane and boring as that may be. And I sure as hell need to start to live within the world and not sit in but separate for the sake of art. Not that my writing is anything close to artistic.

I’m a mediocre writer. So are you, most likely. Embrace it.

 

oh.

tiny incisions grace full and screaming

at ever(y) word that which comes out

wrongly put. words hurting causing innocent

ones bloodshed and memory eternal of

pain and roughshod paths walked formerly

of those who knew and died knowing

pain. wisdom words spoken always without

ceasing God ward. whatever God ward speech

likes to look like. Amen

words made holy unware

empty the words
enter the stomach
exit through by
the internal pathway into
the soul. by the by the
end of beginnings is the
beginning of ends and no
longer do words
said in jest or anger
frighten me. i can sit
under the wrath of people
inhuman and worldly
religious. i can sit and
sympathize with their
meaningful inanities. nice
people scare me more
than cruel decency in
times of trouble. words
mean stuff mean things mean
to mean something mean to
me. though sensitive i
may be i least have
a soul(less) heart.

Untitled

Here, now, sit I forever 

and ever. Amen. World without 
end nor beginning. As I eat
I eat with trembling hands-
lack of food or liquids or something
other and distant and something?- either
or I eat a new life. Life without end
it speaks as I chew. 

On Fundamentalism

There are fundamentalists [connotation] and then there are fundamentalists [denotation]. The fear of being labeled a fundamentalist [connotation] only perpetuates the illusion that some people are not bigoted or fundamentalist. When, in fact, all are fundamentalists because all have specific fundamentals to which they think we should return. Thus, to label someone a fundamentalist [connotation] is to accept that you implicitly have fundamentals to which you would like to return but cannot because that fundamentalist [connotation] is stopping you. It’s all a vicious cycle. Thus, the only difference between the connotation and the denotation is that of method and approach.

Untitled n. 4

Walk into the sunlight
watching the car

pulling into the driveway
across from you. Observe

and watch and learn
as the woman clambers

out. Breasts singing as
they go up and down

with each breath. Observe
and cross the line. In

the soul everything goes
a-flutter. Something is

happening, occurring
and stirring.

Untitled n. 3

See the sky, see the pavement
wet and moist. Pleasantries exchanged
between the rain and the dirt. So
my imagining goes. Smell the birds
and smell the sounds they make.
Fresh, aren’t they? Biting in a good way.

Untitled n. 2

Flick the lighter and watch as the sparks give rise to flame. The flame moves fluidly, from blue to yellow, left to right, back and forth, always in motion. Feel the warmth on the hand. Feel it as it moves from warmth to pain. Then let go and the flame dies a sudden death. Put thumb to the metal roller and feel the skin sear and seemingly melt, only to be left with a tingling feeling, one of pain and humor. Flick the lighter again again again.