Winter 2018

 

“Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death--ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.” - James Baldwin

I recently spoke with an elder named Francoise. She told me that decades ago, massive slugs were common during the Bay's version of winter... slugs hanging from trees, slugs scaling sidewalks. She began to note their absence some years before the drought, and soon it seemed they could not be found anywhere. She mourned their disappearance alongside that of the honeybee.

Fog and rain have returned to the Bay, and we are beginning to see slugs again. This is important: slugs, themselves, can work as harbingers of a stable ecosystem.

Like the noble slug, we must be stubborn.
Hope is often the purview of privilege.
Stubbornness lasts.

Many times in the preceding year I have asked myself about the role of the artist: what good can art really do when fascism, xenophobia, and fear-mongering take the national stage? Doubt and reflection are unpleasant and often vital.

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The idea which has sustained me of late:

Culture is aspirational.

I have found sorrow in the perceived helplessness of being an artist during a time when being an attorney may well do more tangible good... and then I remember the importance of dreams. Culture guides. An enculturated human-being has a default setting: a collection of reflexive, automatic modalities.

While it seems obvious to 'say' out loud, it bears conscious acknowledgment: culture is the foundation of a functional social contract. (A contract which, at scale, is altogether too easy to dissolve.) When we have only data, culture is the thing which orients our values—the thing which dictates what data is prioritized, how it is applied, how it is interpreted, and who benefits from its use.

We must build a culture worthy of its most vulnerable inhabitants.

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In 2017 I interacted with the Internet as a quiet space: I was largely absent on Facebook and Twitter. I kept my online activity oriented toward helping build stable, kind communities both in person and online.

In a similar spirit and in response to requests I've received over time, we are considering creating a platform on Patreon or drip. There will be an announcement in the appropriate channels once this coheres - probably in the Spring.

We are gearing up to begin live-streaming art on the dedicated Twitch channel.

I joined a writing group. I feel keenly that I have no idea what I'm doing, which is marvelous.

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Just as it is important to make time for art, it is important too (and sanity-keeping) to make time for things which are not art... and so I've picked up typewriter repair as a hobby. It was unintentional: I bought a typewriter, and it was broken, so I opened it up and repaired it. I found it incredibly rewarding. I've done two of them now. I plan to keep the Hermes 3000 (1958) and find a new home for the Hermes Rocket . I love the Rocket, but the typeface is cursive which is not ideal for OCR.

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Be strong. Remember that kindness is strength.

In life, art and abject stubbornness,

ER