Acts of the imagination are very important if any kind of change is ever going to materialize. –I’m guessing this is what Susan Griffin was hinting at when she wrote the piece, ‘To Love the Marigold’ for a collection of essays entitled The Impossible Will Take a Little While. (It’s a relatively old book they used to sell for a thousand pesos++ and while I resonated with the theme so much, my wallet never felt the same so we left it on the shelf until last month. National Bookstore was having a sale and lo and behold, the book was sold significantly cheaper.) I don’t know how to read it yet because each essay seems to command lots of attention but this one by Griffin is just what I needed. Last Thursday Carina resurrected Things I Love Thursday and honestly, I’d do it too except Thursdays are happier, better days. It’s normally Monday that stinks so…let’s have us a Marigold Monday!
Having said having done
What pleases me
I go right I go left
And I love the marigold.
Robert Desnos was a poet who lived and died during the Holocaust. His story is recounted in the same essay of Griffin mentioned above (which can be accessed here). I urge you to read it because it’s so timely. Here are some of my favorite excerpts:
Among those who would seek or want social change, despair is endemic now. A lack of hope that is tied to many kinds of powerlessness. Repeating patterns of suffering. Burgeoning philosophies of fear and hatred. Not to speak of the failure of dreams. Where once there were societies that served as models for a better future, grand plans, utopias, now there is distrust and dissatisfaction with any form of politics, a sense of powerlessness edging into nihilism.
Tell me that isn’t true? How is it that we feel both alive and dead at the same time? There’s just something unnerving about the times we live in and while I’d call them interesting still, there’s a greater sense of foreboding thickening the air.
What is required now is balance. In the paucity of clear promise, one must somehow walk a tightrope, stepping lightly on a thin line drawn between cynicism and escape, planting the feet with awareness but preserving all the while enough playfulness to meet fear.
At the same time, the act of seeing changes those who see. This is perhaps most clear with self- perception. By my perceptions of who I am or what I feel, not only do I re-create my idea of who I am but I also change myself. Perception is not simply a reflection of reality but a powerful element of reality. Anyone who meditates has had this experience: Observing the activities of the mind changes the mind until, bit by bit, observation creates great changes in the soul. And the effect is the same when the act of perception is collective. A change in public perception will change the public. This is why acts of imagination are so important.
Every important social movement reconfigures the world in the imagination. What was obscure comes forward, lies are revealed, memory shaken, new delineations drawn over the old maps: it is from this new way of seeing the present that hope for the future emerges.
So what this means is that from now on, every Monday, I will take with me this beginner’s mind and consciously strive to see things with fresh eyes. What did I see today? Lots of paperwork and course descriptions that need to be made for the new curriculum. In the afternoon I found a complete set of Dante’s works–how apt to take the Hell Express with a tour guide!–and flipped because it was a beautiful translation. Later in the day I was irretrievably lost. My search for the anti-mining talk brought me all the way to the humanities building where a lecture series was being conducted. Today they talked about Nick Joaquin and Gregorio Brillantes. I missed the one on Mr. Joaquin but I walked in just in time to hear the speaker read from Brillantes’ books. His writing style suits him and really illuminates the world. It’s hard to be inspired nowadays but his words were just incredible…so moved was I that I asked for a bearhug after. Hmm, didn’t really get it because he’s hard of hearing but I did get something else. 🙂 Ran to the library immediately after to find that darn book with his stories that we’d read in college. There’re excerpts here and there that deserve to be shared. So, wait for it.
Also, I heard Schubert again today as a part of a film and it’s the first time it’s become clear that he really succumbed to madness. That gave the film (Le Pianiste) lots of emotional depth though I think it misrepresented classical music in a way because now a certain kind of enthusiast is created in the imagination of the viewing public. Classical musicians and lovers of the genre have always occupied this niche of elitism and rigidity which the movie kind of enforces but as it was a commentary on sexual politics and identities, I might just be digressing. Still, the film undoubtedly needs Schubert to a make point. More of that some other time.
Happy marigold Monday, everyone!