I’ve been re-reading Poetics of Resistance by Jeff Conant this tour and it’s even more incredible in the post Arab Spring / OWS reality we live in than when I first attempted in a couple years back.
It combines some of my favorite and thought-provoking subjects to basically assert that the 90’s Zapatista insurgency in Mexico was the first “postmodernist uprising” and studies how they were able to lift a lot of the mythology and symbolism of their indigenous Mexican heritage to gain awareness and sympathy from the Western world.
There’s an absolute treasure trove of (almost prophetic) material that directly relates to the anti-corporate political struggle we have found ourselves in recently. I also appreciate the optimisitic tone that runs throughout that differentiates it very much from other similar material that (rightly) condemns the ills of late capitalism + corporatism.
It’s got me thinking very much about the important role that artists, musicians, storytellers, local businesses, and neighborhoods have in collectively shaping national discourse and how it is a shame that so much of what we do tends to either help or be silenced by groups/companies/publications bigger than us that are working solely off of a profit motive. It’s also a shame that as artists we too often use the soapbox given to us solely to self-promote (and worse! self-brand) instead of creating a scene outside of ourselves and networking with other like-minded folks across the globe.
Don’t get me wrong, these are huge, complicated issues that can’t be solved by bumper-sticker slogans and dubious charities, but in my recent travels I keep finding the most vibrant and inspiring spaces exist outside the norms set by the “culture-defining” voices who have enough money to make their voices ring deafeningly from one coast to another. It exist outside of decades of market psychology aimed at making you buy or eat or think something that may not be in your best interest.
I met so many people who were selectively deaf to the national conversations buzzing frivolously about and instead focused their energy on creating a more livable community in their own neighborhoods and backyards.
The letters D I Y have been overused to the point of almost being meaningless to me but so many of the places I went through last month reinvigorated my feeling that the more alienated we feel from our own communities and the more we just use the pre-existing systems and chains so conveniently right in front of us the more life just feels like a chore. How tragic to be disconnected from our own neighbors, from our own public space!
Riding your bike an extra mile to support a business you love or making a showpaper to highlight alternative happenings around your town or to turn your front room into an art gallery once a month may not seem like a revolutionary act, but I’m more convinced than ever that it is small actions like that added up and multiplied by thousands that makes real change both politically and culturally. It tells the story relevant to you and your city instead of echoing some focus-tested language that has nothing to do with your life.
Please excuse me if I sound like a self righteous twerp! I’m still working on all of these things too!
jordan lee of mutual benefit recently began a more personal tumblr, slowly filling with sounds and ideas of which he finds fascinating. we find him fascinating, and want to share these words.