Then in late-fall came John Mayer's album Battle Studies, where he asked, "Who Says (I can't get stoned?)"
In the news this weekend, protests unfold at state, college campuses across California.
I find myself reminiscing of the days when I was an undergrad. I was such an idealist when it came to social issues - adopting a greener lifestyle, educating on global warming, locally supporting small businesses, advocating universal healthcare and affordable education, accepting certain values of socialism. I sat on board with my fellow peers during political campaigns and charities. We believed social change was within our grasp. Little did we know that we were directing our energies in an ineffective way, and that fighting against invisible, bureaucratic ideologies, made about as much sense as spitting in the wind.
I would like to think I have grown up from those years, but maybe its just a newfound revelation - it is easier to influence the tangible and what lies before you, than trying to change a long-held idea or belief. Perhaps this is another incarnation of idealism; I want to believe that my personal, day-to-day choices are just a smaller scale of the "better good". If we were all conscious of our individual actions, with a broader responsbility in mind and motivating us, wouldn't we be better off?
Of course this comes from someone who devoted time and energy to the study of political propaganda from the "Events of May 1968"; having argued from a sociological and visual art standpoint, that the posters created during these student/worker uprisings, were the strong-arm of the protests. Quoting a blog I wrote about that time:
" I spent many months of my college career, obsessing over the year 1968 and reading everything I could get my hands on, from "The Paris Commune" by Lenin, to the writings of Hervé Bourges. (I am sure I was red-listed as a communist supporter by my junior year of college). But I think something really rubbed off on me, and though I was not claiming to be a socialist, I had developed my own political ideals that were definitely in the realm of anti-bureaucracy... my only criticism of the "Spirit of '68", is the lack of mention of other visual breakthroughs that came about during this revolution; which are the political propaganda of the students, workers, and artists who joined forces for a common cause. With much of the art produced still remaining by anonymous hands, I think it is important to appreciate and give credit to the creativity that can sprout from political/social discord." (In response to A.O. Scott's "Spirit of '68", NY Times)
Recently, I came across some sketches I had made up during my studies. Some friends and I had wanted to start a t-shirt company with witty expressions and political humor, just as others had done before our time. I remember feeding on the energy of those days, where evenings were spent crowded in a small room, munching on garden veggies, and bouncing ideas off each other. I was truly inspired by images of the past:
"Be Young and Be Quiet"
"Culture is Dead"
Here is one of my sketches:
I have begun to revisit the t-shirt idea again, and just recently approached a designer friend of mine about silk-screening. Though I have to say, the images that are now in the works, are quite a bit more passive than they were before. Play-on-words and metaphors are my latest interests. So, if you have any ideas or suggestions for this new pursuit of mine, please feel free to comment or send me an email.
I am interested to see what comes out of the California protests, and whether the personal freedoms message gains momentum as it becomes more publicized in the media. But I can't help but think how frivolous some of these causes may seem, in perspective to those fighting every day to be alive. Another reason for me to focus on what is before me, the choices I make, and how they affect the larger picture, than trying to mend the world with my own two hands.