ARTS & CULTURE | Creative Voice: Who are we?

Artist and activist, Jonathan Weisblatt.

Artist and activist,
Jonathan Weisblatt.

 

 

By Jonathan Weisblatt –

Dear reading one,

Hello. Let’s get right to it.

If I love you – and I’m working hard at it – then I want to make this collaborative project work.

Can you feel me embodying the deep grief I feel while I look at the current state of our human trajectory? I’m frozen with horror at the violence, at humans’ ignorance, cruelty, and carelessness; I’m frozen with fear at my unending complicity and ineffectiveness as I swim and soak in intersecting systems of oppression and the inertia deeper into climate chaos. I wish we would all just stop.

 

Stage direction:

Cut the power. (Everything stops. Everything.)

Stillness. Silence.

We look around. Meet eyes. See cars, stopped. Cyclists, standing. Buses, silent but for the shuffling of passengers’ feet and clothing as they emerge onto the street. Buildings are emptying downtown. Birds weave and chirp; butterflies swerve. People squint into the sunny sky, awake, curious, expectant.

“Welcome! Happy New Moment! Everyone! Please join us outside and take a breath—this is a gift! This is what we all need right now: we are in a crisis and need to reorient, reorganize, and refocus our attention and actions in sensible, sane ways. This will be a multi-phase process, so just be cool and let’s make it fun. We’ll start by relaxing; this, alone, will be a gradual process, as we have been so impacted by our stress-inducing modern industrial capitalist lifestyles. Next we will move into more sensible, practical action items we can handle together.

“The first phase is stopping and breathing, stretching and greeting. Please loosen up and jump and dance and shake it out. There will be some phat beats shortly.

“Quick reminder: we are all animals with unique gifts living on this planet, in this intricate web of life. We have all been impacted by and traumatized by intersecting systems of oppression – the trauma of which we will be addressing directly for community and personal healing in the next phase – so let’s heave another enormously deep breath together and feel compassion and empathy for ourselves and our human family, even the so-called oppressors. Shake it out. Another deep breath into your deepest belly, and… Now we are reaching the stretching and greeting segment. Please begin greeting the people around you and be sensitive to and respectful of everyone’s boundaries; some people do not wish to be touched; some are ready for hugs.”

Phat beats.

“Feel free to wiggly dance and stretch your bodies out to become more fluid. Water comprises 70-80% of your body. Feel free to feel all of your feelings. Stretch out to meet and greet your neighbours; use all the space you want—this is your home planet.

“Excellent jiggling! Let’s all find a spot and lay on the ground. Don’t worry about your clothes; find a cloth or mat or piece of cardboard nearby and allow yourself to just sink down into the Earth. We will rest here for several minutes before we emerge again as active bipeds. For now, just sink down deep toward the center of the Earth.”

Everyone finds a place on the ground, scattered like so many colourful autumn leaves.

“You knew this was coming; it had to. Things could not go on like this any longer. The plastic choking life in the oceans, the CO2 in the air, the mass extinctions, the vain destruction, and wanton violence—you know the story. So now we’re stopping to re-orient and redirect our progress. We’re going to make some adjustments to what is considered normal and acceptable and decent. We are changing many of our tasks on this planet, in this life, so that we begin operating with a sense of justice and truth, transparency and collaboration, health and nourishment: for all living beings, for all living systems. It sounds like a steep task ahead, but we’ve already done the hardest part: you’ve unplugged and stopped.

Self-Portrait, 2003. Original artwork by Jonathan Weisblatt

Self-Portrait, 2003. Original artwork by Jonathan Weisblatt. Photo: Robert Bengtson

“Now that we are no longer feeding into the uncontrollable, pathological machineries of violence and destruction in the capitalist-industrial system, we are liberated to act in accordance with our values and respond to the needs of our environment. Now, there are hungry people; we will serve them food. There are sick people; we will care for them. There are depleted bioregions; we will restore them.

“We are all healers and caretakers and leaders. We have scientists and artists and researchers and community members who know how to solve the problems we have on the ground in our local traumatized spaces. Networks of support systems in communities will be created locally and nurtured in daily circles of connection and communication. These will provide the backbone of our emerging society of compassion and collaboration and sharing.

“The new food production system will be put into motion and transformed quickly into small-scale rotating family-style farmsteads. Urban areas will be adapted into vibrant ecosystems by liberating the soil and restoring the sensible pace of living. Hospitals will become beautiful palaces of healing and cultural and spiritual reconnection. And on and on. Rest assured, all the systems will be rebuilt according to ecological designs and the values of our new culture.

 

Self-Evidence, Burning Man installation 2008, See more at: http://self-evidence.org/Welcome.html Photo: Robert Bengtson

Self-Evidence. Burning Man installation 2008. A collaborative project co-designed and spearheaded by Robert Bengtson and Jonathan Weisblatt. Photo: Robert Bengtson See more at: http://self-evidence.org/Welcome.html

“We will all have new tasks today, and many of them will be temporary, until everyone gradually finds their appropriate place in our new culture of mutual care and responsibility for all living beings, where they feel most aligned and joyful to be giving their gifts to the community and bioregion, collaborating in harmony with the ongoing evolving fulfillment of our common dreams for the exquisite refining practice of the arts of being human. For all our relations.

“Thank you for your openness, curiosity, and full and enthusiastic participation; know you will be cared for.

“Next we will read our Manifesto.”

 Jonathan Weisblatt is an artist and social and environmental justice activist labouring continuously to find ways to exist and feel his animal aliveness and embody his wisest wilderness identity while organizing a healing transformation while enmeshed in the intersecting systems of oppression..

 

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