So, today is Friday, and on Fridays I post a round-up of art or writing that mattered to me over the past week. Over the years, many people have told me they find my lists comforting, and today I'm thinking about what it means to offer comfort in times of unrest.
I think that a bit of comfort or solace or respite can provide us with the space we need to continue on and do what needs doing. And some of the things I share, I hope can help engender compassion for those who need it, and that that compassion can help make change.
But I also know that turning toward comfort can be a way of turning away from that which is uncomfortable, of closing our eyes and hearts to the suffering of others. It can dilute the urgency we feel to make necessary changes. It can enable complicity.
So, all of this is on my mind right now, as I'm preparing to share this week's list. I do want to celebrate and share the things that have mattered to me, and I do want to help comfort the afflicted, to help make the world a little better. But I am yet concerned about the idea that in some way I might be helping people feel comfortable with the status quo. I'm not sure what my responsibility is, ultimately.
I hope that in sharing things that made me think or feel, I am doing something useful. And when I do something harmful, I hope to have the opportunity to learn and grow and do better, and I hope that I remember to take that opportunity if it's given to me.
In any case, it is Friday, and here are some things that mattered to me recently:
- Sasha Steensen's poem "My Body, A Barometer." Especially, today, the lines "Sometimes it is ok to be afraid / & necessary."
- The images in Catherine Panebianco's series "No Memory is Ever Alone" layer past and present together in a way that feels to me very much like the way I experience memory.
- Troy Jollimore's poem "Marvelous Things without Number," which is about impermanence and trying to hold onto things that are ungraspable, but which also pays such close attention to details which are, in fact, marvelous.
- Maggie Smith's piece "Ghost Story," which is about divorce, and afterlife—or, rather, it is about life, after. I think, too, it is about the way longing and becoming can happen at once.
- Shing Yin Khor's comic "Of Mufflers and Men" makes a metaphor out of a certain kind of roadside Americana, in a way that feels wonderfully affirming.
- Finally, Scene On Radio's latest episode is about the myth of journalistic objectivity, something that is always relevant and certainly remains relevant as we watch how events in Minnesota and elsewhere are reported.
- As an addendum, this seems a very good time to revisit Scene On Radio's excellent second season, about the history of American racism and how it continues to play out today.
As always, this is just a portion of what mattered to me recently. If you are safe and comfortable today, I hope you will take some time to help those who are not.
Thank you, and take care.