Tribe, Art, God, Change and Survival: an allegory, a primer, a to-do list

The question “what can a poem (actually) do?” has been a part of the philosophical debate about art for a long time. It is impossible to know when it was first asked, but I’m willing to bet that it had something to do with the onset of the Industrial Age, and the coming of age of Capitalism. That the lack of a definitive answer, or any recognizable material profit tied to its production hasn’t stopped people from either writing or reading it, is probably answer enough, but in the Fall of 1977, I moved from Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies to Winnipeg, Manitoba – the MidWest of Canada. My step-father was working with the Canadian government and so, we were migrating. 

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Welcome to the Last Days

To rise to and consolidate power 20th century fascism invoked crude race and national origin myths. This is part of what led Breton to pose the problem of counter-mythology, a different set of stories; stories that would animate resistance – that would bring the weight of the past crashing down on the enemies of socialism and the working-class. As Walter Benjamin wrote, the hatred and sacrifice needed for revolution is nourished “on the picture of enslaved forebears.” For Breton this was bound together with Surrealism and its intersections of chance and plan, individual and collective psychology, dream and consciousness, individual and collective action. As our contemporary far-right movements have gained ground they have brought back the “belligerent gods.” And among the neo-fascist “alt-right” there is a return of esoteric occult fascism in the “Cult of Kek” and its Pepe the Frog fascinations. So, just as before, we need our own animating counter-mythologies – our own stories for living and fighting in this world – for ridding it of the “myths of Odin."

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La Trompestad

The comic “La Trompestad”  by Michelle Sayles is the perfect illustration of what it feels like to live in the first week of Donald Trump's America. Although we may feel defeated, we must remain vigorous in our fight against Trump and his administrations' spectacle of  “alternative facts”. Michelle Sayles is an artist and community organizer living in Burlington, Vermont. You can find more of her work on her blog. – Craig E. Ross

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