It’s been over a month ago since I last posted. I feel I’ve let myself down. No, not you, my lovely readers – me! I mean, you’re really great and all, but it’s only been during lockdown that I’ve ever had a string of posts behind me, more or less regular. I let that habit slide this last month, out of uncertainty that I had anything interesting to say.
Here in Tunisia we were coming out of lockdown and what could I add to that? It’s great to see people without masks, going about their lives, happily spending money, being with friends, hanging out at the beach… something my home country cannot manage these days at all.
The signature danger of populist governments is the way they degrade state institutions, leaving countries less able to cope with crises.
I’ve been a bit down, in fact. But my art is worth pursuing, no matter the delays or the reasons I pull back. I’m beholden to Iris Murdoch for reminding me that we’re all storytellers, even if our source material isn’t rocket rides to the moon or even work trips to Liberia or South Sudan.
When we return home and “tell our day,” we are artfully shaping material into story form…. as word-users we all exist in a literary atmosphere, we live and breathe literature, we are all literary artists, we are constantly employing language to make interesting forms out of experience which perhaps originally seemed dull or incoherent. How far reshaping involves offences against truth is a problem any artist must face. A deep motive for making literature or art of any sort is the desire to defeat the formlessness of the world and cheer oneself up by constructing forms out of what might otherwise seem a mass of senseless rubble.
It’s also true that I’ve been busier at work. That’s good news. Slowly things are opening up again, and I’m grateful. I’m as scattered as if we were still in lockdown, as if there was still no real hurry. But we’re moving on, again. It’s tenuous, because more outbreaks are sure to come – even to lovely, careful Tunisia – but we’ve got to keep moving on, living, not fearing.
And that, for me, means writing. This week I attended a class on the Courage to Create – given by @elizabethderby – and I remembered what writing means to me. It’s my imperfectly gorgeous gift to the world.
A lot to think about
The Black Lives Matter protests have been much on my mind. I listened to two podcasts from Resmaa Menakem (one from 10% Happier and one from On Being) and we white people have a long way to go – but it’s up to us. And there is no ‘try,’ there is only do or do not. We need to talk regularly about this issue among ourselves, take steps publicly to make change, and be honest about our own failings.
Among my white friends and family, I’ve got to ask: can you look at the world the same these days? Do more cynical, sad, and frustrating thoughts about where we are and how not far we’ve come bother you? If so, join me. I want to set up a practice group. I don’t know what I’m doing but we’ll learn together. We need to challenge ourselves to un-make the racism we participate in. You know how to reach me.
This article (Tea, Biscuits, and Empire: The Long Con of Britishness) made me laugh and think, which is an awesome combination. It also links me both to my family’s origin in the damp but powerful little islands off the coast of Europe, and tests my knee-jerk assumptions about what an English accent means. Here’s a quote to whet your appetite:
“White innocence makes a delicious story, and none of its beneficiaries wants to hear about how that particular sausage gets made.”
Like, don’t interrupt me
I love this TikTok. It’s actually the only one I’ve ever copied here, and I could count on one hand the TikToks I’ve even viewed. But this one is worth a listen. Cheers to the young woman who has thought about this and put it together so we could all hear it.