The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, July 09, 2007

Monday Morning Thoughts

Here’s a link to an article concerning Valerie Plame’s employment history at the CIA—and the fact that it was covert.

Please, please, someone tell me that somewhere out on the blogosphere, SOMEONE on the Right published this information. Anyone? Because I am terribly afraid that politics is trumping national security on this. That the very people who claim to care about the welfare of our country and Constitution are, instead, protecting Bush and his cronies. I cannot avoid the belief that Bush commuted Libby’s sentence not because it was “too harsh” (in which case he could have reduced it to, say, six months) but because Libby had sworn to keep his mouth closed only so long as he avoided actual jail time.

Please. Didn’t SOMEONE publish this? The disinformation machine has been running 24/7. All I’ve seen from the right is a unanimous “she wasn’t covert.” This is just a lie. Bald and dangerous. This is heart-breaking, it really is.
Saw “Pirates of the Carribean” III over the weekend. It was actually a lot better than the second one, and fun, but way too busy, and obsessed with special effects at the expense of plot.


And they have Chow Yun Fat lusting after Keira Knightly. He kisses her at one point. Immeditately, what flashed through my mind was “miscegenation alert! This man is dead!” and within sixty seconds, he was.

Disgusting how predictable this crap is.
The tension of the last year (waiting for papers to get signed over at Searchlight) has been killer, and is showing up in my morning meditations, as well as (what feels like) immune system suppression. This would be a REALLY bad time to back off of the inner work, although my external goals are pulling at me ferociously.

The strangest thing. The more you need to meditate, to journal, to do the internal stuff, the more the external world will collaborate to convince you you don’t need to do it. All of the inner voices will rise up like a chorus and scream at you that anything, anything, is more important than that inner work. Cutting your neighbor’s cat’s toenails seems more important.

I have a friend who is dealing with massive existential fear. She will not meditate. Virtually every complaint she has about her life would ease if she did. She “never has the time,” although she has time for trips and reading and movies and anything else. Then, from time to time she comes close to a breakdown, and begs me for advice. When I tell her to look for the light within her, or count breaths, or listen to her heartbeat, she balks. “How long will it take?” At least six weeks to begin to quiet the ego-mind and allow her to slip deeper into her Self.

“I need something NOW!” she claims. This has been going on for over a decade. It is so very sad—if only she had begun when we first started having these discussions, she would be at a completely different place in her life. As it is, she is choked with fear, trapped in a career she no longer loves, and in a loveless marriage. And everything, absolutely everything, is someone else’s fault.

What’s even worse is that she espouses Conservative political beliefs that emphasize personal responsibility—she has no real compassion for the downtrodden. So she talks Right, but behaves as Conservatives claim Liberals behave—blaming everything outside herself for her predicament. It has to be absolutely tearing her apart.
At this moment, for the last week, I’ve actually had all three aspects of my life operating in dynamic balance at a higher level than ever before. Physically (Intermittent Fasting, Kettlebells, etc.) everything is clicking nicely. Spiritually (meditation, family) I am healthy and have no real issues. And Career just took a jump. If I can balance the multitude of projects for another 30 days, the stress level should drop a bit.

But operating at a higher level means that my foundations must be dug deeper, so that I dropped into a section of my psyche I haven’t visited in a long time. It seems that the more sophisticated the engine, the more sensitive it is to grit and bad gasoline. Or in other words, as I ready myself for faster growth and higher performance, the less tolerance there is for psychological dead weight.

Or maybe its just that old patterns feel safe to rise up and present themselves. Man, the “black men can’t have sex in movies” thing is such a sore spot for me that I twitch just looking at boxes at the video store. It’s not cool at all, and I can’t seem to get to the bottom of it.

But then, I’m not sure I SHOULD turn that off. If I don’t remember that that’s a land mine—and an uncharted one—when I take meetings in Hollywood I’ll believe what the executives say (SURE we can have sexual/romantic relations in our movies for black characters. And by the way, don’t you think “Shaft” worked better when they…ah…”streamlined” the story a bit by taking out those pesky bed scenes?) rather than what their actions show.

And I’ll kill my new career. I have to hold the “true” reality in my mind while pretending to believe in the “presented” reality. Otherwise, I’ll awaken the sleeping demon. If I can handle it properly, I can create images that help to desensitize the public to this insanely hot-button issue.

This is just the cost of being awake.
Someone asked me about my responsibilities to black male readers in SF—and to young black SF writers. I have two answers here.

1) The first one comes from my human self. And it says that I’ve pulled that plow, alone, for almost thirty years. I’ve written twenty-two novels, many of which contain EXACTLY the imagery I craved when I was a kid. The books are out there. In this sense, I know I’ve made the world a better place than I found it. But it cost me, more than I can communicate to most people unless they have been in the minority in some major sense. If I was 20 years old today, I’d look at what Steven Barnes did and be incredibly inspired, and determined to kick his ass and go WAY beyond him.
2) The second part is the purely creative spirit. There is so much left to do, and I cannot do it while weighed down by my fears and insecurities. So I have to move beyond them. But I can’t quite do that without moving to the next career level, which MIGHT demand that I create color-blind material, just to create the financial and career stability that will give me the freedom and opportunity and leverage to create some of the images we need to desensitize the market.

This is social programming, to be sure. Just as many filmmakers deliberately did in the 60’s, using their power to create social change. I can’t do that without leverage. And sometimes that feels like selling out. Arrgh.

No, I can’t stop moving forward. But without healing those wounds in myself, I can’t operate at a more spiritual level—I just don’t have the foundation.

This is one of the areas where I wish to God my father had been in the house. His absence left a hole in my heart I’ve never been able to fill, no matter how I try. Maybe my experiences with Jason will help here.

But this is one of the reasons that I am so disgusted when I hear about men having children without parenting them. Or women deliberately getting pregnant, even though they are without partners. This is selfishness, and childishness on a level so deep that it flirts with evil. Blindness at the least.

When this happens in the White community, it is bad, and damaging. But when it happens in the Black community, with the lack of cultural images to compensate, it is something very close to social suicide. It is somewhere way, way beyond irresponsibility. I have great respect for those women who raised their sons and daughters without fathers—as long as the situation was beyond their control (accidental pregnancy, widowhood, abandonment, etc.)

But if this was your choice? I have a very, very difficult time controlling my anger. And when those boys run wild, or those girls get pregnant out of wedlock and the women wring their hands that “they did everything they could” I want to vomit.

Ah, yes. This level of my life is like a broken leg-bone that has never quite set because I have to keep putting weight on it. I can build up the muscle around it, and anesthetize it, but the bone doesn’t heal, and I can’t quite put my full weight on it.

Mom worked herself to death trying to compensate for Dad’s absence. And Dad did the best he could—he just didn’t have the “father” thing worked out too well.

They tried. I wish they’d been just a little more successful.

No comments: