Art is…

All art is political. All art is philosophical. All art has a message Scott Derrickson

Just because art — whether it comes in the form of a painting, a photograph, a sculpture, a piece of music, a film or a novel — is meant to be enjoyed by the viewer/reader, it doesn’t mean it can’t be political, philosophical or carry a message at the same time.

The photographs that I’ve created may be pretty and even interesting. But my choice in photographic subject matter is deliberate. How I shoot it is deliberate. What is omitted from an image is deliberate.

The same can be said about my fiction writing. My choice of writing in the first or third person, my choice in story setting, my choice in topics to tackle are deliberate. Who my characters are, are deliberate. Everything in my storytelling is consciously and subconsciously deliberate.

The decision to be deliberate comes from an accumulation of life experiences, my morality, and a reaction to and manifestation of what I consider to be fundamentally important to me.

Art is a reaction to the world that surrounds the artist. Creativity stems from the relationship a person has with the world he or she functions in. Art is not separate from the rest of the world. Art is not created in a vacuum. It is a reflection, a reaction to the world.

So when entertainers, actors, filmmakers, writers and artists are told to go back to what they do best and keep their noses out of politics by those who have very compartmentalized ideas of what artists and entertainers should be, the hair on the back of my neck stands up.

It is complete bullshit to tell a particular group of people that their opinion is unwanted, that they’re not capable of wading into politics and current affairs. An invisible hierarchy is at work here. Those who go into the arts are not as smart or intelligent as a business person, an academic or a politician. Or maybe the artist is seen as being more vacuous, vapid or flighty. Head in the clouds instead of feet on the ground. Classism. Right brain folks vs. left brain folks.

Anyway, there goes the idea of having a healthy discussion. Down the fucking toilet.

As an artist, everything I’ve created visually or in the written word is a reaction to the time in which it was being created. My work is a reflection of my mindset during that period of time. It is a reflection of the music, the people and the visuals in other mediums that have inspired the stories I have told so far.

My personal politics and philosophies are in my work. Sometimes it’s blatant, most times it’s subtle. But it’s there. You can ignore it but you can’t hide from it. You can’t hide from me.

So, yes, all art is political. All art is philosophical. All art has a message.

Only four days in

The first time I read the phrase “alternative facts” was yesterday morning as I scrolled through Facebook to see my American friends raging at that term. It soon became clear who uttered those words and that the ongoing process of gaslighting susceptible Americans and the rest of the world, for that matter, continues unabated.

Merriam-Webster (the dictionary folks) stepped in to explain on their Twitter account that “a fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality.”

There is nothing objective about Trump’s reality. People who still have their sanity know this. Unfortunately, the blackhole, that is Trump’s reality, is trying earnestly to suck everyone into it.

But I’m failing to understand why there was a spike in people googling the word “fact.” Was it because they honestly didn’t know that the word meant? Come on, folks. You’re smarter than that. Or am I giving you too much credit? Was it because they knew what the word meant but needed confirmation that “alternative facts” is indeed another way of saying “lies”?

There are a lot of alternatives… alternative music, alternative medicine, alternative lifestyle, etc. “Alternative facts” shouldn’t be thrown in with that lot like it’s perfectly normal to use that phrase.

Since Trump was inaugurated as the United States’ 45th president on Friday, there has not been one fucking boring minute. Claims that he had a bigger inauguration turnout than Obama’s inauguration is laughable. His attempts to take attention away from the Women’s Marches that took place around the world on Saturday by accusing the media of being dishonest in their coverage of him and obsessing over inaugural attendance numbers was a balloon waiting to be popped. And boy, there were plenty of folks carrying pins. Just browse around Twitter and you’ll find the pin holders. Now, with “alternative facts,” the internet has exploded with that inane term. Mockery abound. And you know the pin holders are still looking for things to pop. Trump guarantees them the fun.

Sure, he’s now four days into the presidency. But any wistful ideas of him or his administration relenting on spewing alternative facts regarding his presidency won’t come to fruition. He set the tone on Day 1 with his inaugural speech. And that will be the tone he keeps until his last day in the Oval Office, whatever that date may be.

The phrase ‘keep calm and carry on’ comes to mind. But I think I have to add something to it… Keep calm and carry on but keep an eye on that person who says he wants to make America great again. Because we could be one thin-skinned presidential tantrum away from oblivion.

Well, that was interesting

To describe last week’s American presidential election as interesting is an understatement.

As a Canadian watching all of this unfold after having spent a number of days in Mexico, this all seems surreal to me. Those who exercised their right to vote had their say and Donald Trump won — a person with no political background whatsoever and a string of bankruptcies as part of his business resumé.

The lack of a political resumé doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is how he became president-elect — making voters go against their own best interests by instilling fear and loathing through xenophobia and misogyny. Once you instill fear into a group of people, nothing else matters to them. Detailed economic, environmental, health care, and infrastructure policies don’t matter. All that is lost under the noisy and persistent rattling of fear, unless you ignore the racist rhetoric and focus on the what the candidate’s position is on the economy et al.

I know not everyone who voted for Trump are racists. They voted because after years of governing by the Democrats, they didn’t see an improvement in their way of life or it was made worse via job losses resulting from the country’s participation in the global markets. They voted for him on his campaign promises that rang true to them. They wanted something different. They had enough of the Democrats. They didn’t want another Clinton in the White House.

Some supporters have downplayed his incendiary remarks about his perception of women and anybody who didn’t have white skin. But downplaying those remarks gives the impression of condoning racism and misogyny. Rightly or wrongly, that is the perception and it’s a tough cross to bear.

While I can understand they preferred Trump’s stance on the economy et al., I don’t know how they can brush aside the racist and misogynistic remarks he has made since he threw his hat into the political ring. There are people who say that was all talk and that will change once he occupies the Oval Office. He will be more presidential. That is either naivety or denial talking.

I am a person who believes that character supersedes anything a person may bring to a job. If I was American, I would have never voted for Trump. It would have went against everything I fundamentally believe in. I cannot believe there are that many willing to overlook Trump’s character. He is normalizing racism. He is normalizing misogyny. He is normalizing the idea that a white person is fundamentally better and more entitled than a non-white. In the hierarchy of Trump’s version of humanity, white man is top dog.

In some cultures, white is a colour associated with death. Don’t even get me started with the KKK.

By ignoring the damage that will be done with the rise of racism and the inevitable pushback against women’s reproductive rights and the LGBTQ community, is it worth having Trump as president? Only those who voted for him can answer that.

For those who voted for Trump because of his economic platform and promises and not because of his racist rhetoric, you have to look out for your fellow human beings — the ones who will be targeted in hate crimes, the ones who will be yelled at, screamed at and told to go back from the country they originally came from. Normalizing hate is not a solution to anything. Hate only destroys including those who are doing the hating.

I’ve read and heard some of my American friends discuss on Facebook the fact they’ve had to unfriend people because of the election results. The people they had to unfriend had become verbally abusive in their defence of Trump, instead of having a real discussion about what comes next for the country. I’ve read some of the remarks. Not cool. Politics can be divisive and they have never been more divisive than this past presidential campaign/election.

Intelligent discourse can be had but maybe not right now. For a lot of people, a Trump presidency is a hard pill to swallow. There is still mourning and grieving over the results of the election. But there is also mobilization by those who are protesting the elections results. Protests, not riots. Not yet. Hopefully, it will never arrive to that.

For those protesting, I hope they actually voted as opposed to being a group of people who didn’t exercise their right to vote and just want to be shit disturbers. Which brings me to something I discovered in the last couple of days. Apparently, over 46% of eligible voters didn’t vote in the presidential election. So, in reality, only one-quarter of eligible voters gave Trump the presidency. Does that sound right to anyone? Was it apathy or protesting the fact they refuse to vote for either candidate? A good mix of both, I suspect.

Voter apathy isn’t confined to the United States. Any country where its citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, faces the problem of voter apathy. But this is all hindsight and analytical navel-gazing now… unless there is a way to use this information to fight apathy and get people to participate instead of having them do nothing because they believe the status quo will never change. Well, doing nothing and not caring could land you in a shitload of trouble you might not be able to handle. If that happens, please don’t play the victim. Every choice or non-choice, every decision or non-decision you make belongs to you regardless of the outcome.

I was speaking to someone from Apple support over the weekend. I was having an issue with my iPhone. Anyway, he was helping me sort something out and we got to talking and I discovered he was from Louisiana. He had a sweet Southern accent. He spoke about recently visiting his grandmother’s place out in the country which is located near a body of water and how beautiful and quiet everything was under the stars. The sounds of nature. It sounded beautiful.

Near the end of our conversation, knowing I was calling from Canada, he apologized for the events of the past week. He disclosed that he is non-white. I asked him how it was going. He said it was still business as usual. There was a slight tone of uncertainty in his voice. He probably didn’t know how to explain the election results to me when he was still trying to make sense of it himself. I wanted to reach out to him and give him a hug. I told him the world would be watching America closely.

He said if things started to get rougher than he could handle, he had relatives in Seattle and would move there. He wants to think better of his fellow Americans. But he also has to think about his own safety. He has to acknowledge the idea of people being more openly hostile to his presence in the community. He talked about visiting British Columbia if he moved to Seattle. I told him he would love visiting the province.

And I wished him well.