Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hard Time Killing Floor Blues

By Andrew E. Colarusso

I remember, upon moving to Providence in the summer of 2011, tracing the path of a shooting star across a perfect midnight. That sort of deep blue black tinged greenish from the rehearsed light of the moon. They're sometimes called falling stars. Most us, first educated by Ms. Frizzle (she never married), know that the falling star is no star at all. Funny how the appearance of space debris burning at (x) mph through the atmosphere may appear to us, in our poetic imagination, as a fallen star. Fallen from the Shakespearean sphere that held it up in its divine place. 

I hesitate to make blaring comments on the age in which we're living. We're mad enough. I'm mad enough. And to make prophetic statements on our age really, almost always, turns into a reductionist diatribe that, almost always, underscores my political impotence. Almost. So my thoughts in this post are general. 

We are living through a depression. And in times of economic downturn a society that prides itself on agricultural self-sufficiency and human capital sees tremendous change--revolution, some would say. On the level of the individual this means search and migration. Those of us "unincorporated" (as the poet Cole Swensen once put it), artisans, merchants, and otherwise, must go in search of opportunity. The thing about being an artist is that 1. the tools you keep allow you a certain degree of freedom from economic downturn, provided you are able to find your place and 2. you have to find your place. What good is a hammer if there's nothing to repair or build? Are you following me here? I hope so. 

I moved to Providence to attend Brown University in pursuit of my Masters--a blessing in and of itself. It's a highly selective program, so I feel fortunate to be counted among the new cohort of MFA candidates. I was also able to find a wonderful (if odd) job on campus with the help of some newfound friends. I feel fortunate to have a place to produce my art and an audience that receives it enthusiastically. That falling star seemed to mark my initiation into a new world, a new life. It was a quiet reminder that I would experience the tremendous upheaval common to most transition periods. I moved to Providence from New York City where I'd spent most of my twenty two years. 

To share the tools we are endowed with is perhaps one goal of the artist in the context of society. In search of purpose we may find ourselves drifting, from place to place, from identity to identity. Some eighty/ninety years ago this was happening in America (and its colonies) and we've all (hopefully) read about it in American History textbooks or watched the Ken Burns documentary (you know the one)

Times are hard and I imagine, for many of us, it feels like there's little time to waste in recognizing this. But, it's necessary to step back and observe this historical moment in the context of those that precede it and those that may succeed it. It's crucial that art be allowed life in moments of depression, because who else will see to the vision of what succeeds the trough?

I hope you are brave enough to seek out your purpose in this moment and hold on to it.