January

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2017 opened with a thick fog enveloping my little city.

I stood on the balcony with my mother, the surrounding apartments oddly quiet and dim.  We burnt away the excesses of 2016 on little slips of paper, then grabbed each other’s arms as we heard a distant firework, jumping in unison and shouting, “We made it!”

For all our mutual dread of the coming year, we shared an unspoken understanding it would be ungrateful not to greet it properly.

I didn’t predict the election, but perhaps my body did: having spent the preceding months enveloped in hives and increasingly mysterious physical dysfunctions.  I avoided the news November 8, thanks to the luxury of voting early and a loathing of media spectacles.  But I did hear a dog across the street, which has never made its presence known before or since, howling miserably and incessantly through the early hours of the morning.   I had strange dreams and woke with a pang of uncertainty.

I have ridden the media merry-go-round many times since then, always getting off somewhere further from understanding.  The most urgent stories were the innumerate flaws and vulnerabilities of voting machines, and the suppression of voters and recounts, but these headlines weren’t for sale.

alarm-clock

First stage of grief: Denial. The most persistent forms emanate from the left, which decided it is some sort of moral act to deny racism and sexism in their compatriots, damn the evidence.  There is an odd sanctimony with which these pronouncements are issued, while accusing other urban liberals of having thrown the election solely through the powers of their luminous urbanity. David Roberts nicely summed up reality:

“Somehow, vouchsafing the innocence of white people takes precedence over holding them responsible or protecting those who will suffer as a result of their choices. …. If you can elect an authoritarian who ran on racial resentment and have the nation’s elites respond with gushing displays of empathy … you may be white.”

I am awed by those who were able to  counter this global disaster, as began unfolding immediately on November 9, with such incisive writing.  For myself, the election only made me more prolific in crying.  Having so many of my worst fears come true in swift succession rather stunted the nicer parts of my imagination.

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By the end of the year I was too sick to go outside and the arrival of my mother appeared salvific in nature, some small, hardy figure to boil bones and rub my head and make the world seem less insufferable.  I can’t quite fathom that the earth holds both her spirit as well as the president elect’s. But reality being irrational, and overrun with vile men, it is his voice that fills the airwaves.

So in this age of vile men and their unceasing propaganda, I have resolved this January to be as accurate as possible with words. Including:

The GOP: A domestic terrorist organization.  Which has imbedded itself into the American government from the cellular to national level, through illegal means, in order to cipher public wealth to the global elite.

Living with fear of losing/being unable to afford healthcare: Terrorism.

Defunding Planned Parenthood: Terrorism.

Debt: Terrorism.

Poverty: Terrorism.

American elections: Public spectacles, controlled by party interests and intentionally corruptible machinery, with unverifiable results.

The media: What media?

If not now, when will it ever be time to tell the truth?  Perhaps accuracy won’t stop the known world from burning down: But it at least saves us the indignity of our last words being, “Is that smoke?”  As the left determines to be nicer and talk less about racism, and the right becomes more racist and organized, and my body burns with hives and unknowns, truth—however bitter—feels at least palliative.

This may be a year of unpleasant truths, if you can find them. And a time of heroism and intuition, for those who can stand it.

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Image 1: from Art Gallery ErgsArt on flickr

Image 2: from Etienne Mahler on flickr

Image 3: from page 64 of A Crown of Flowers, being poems and pictures collected from the pages of The Girl’s Own Paper edited by C. Peters, 1883, via British Library on flickr

Image 4: from page 127 of Winter Pictures by poet and artist [Selections in verse from various authors] With engravings by Edward Whymper, 1881, via British Library on flickr