Michelangelo was a sculptor. That’s all of who he was. The rich rat bastards, they kept paying him for paintings—he didn’t want to paint, but painting was where the money was. So, he painted.
A sculptor—what he really was—involved selecting and regarding a block of marble. Seeing what it was meant to be. Knowing the interior. The finished glowing being. Then, having to go, through time and effort and time, the tiresome endless work, of bringing out what was already there. The already happened.
Chip. Chip. Chip.
In the last decades of his life, Michelangelo approached marble, chipped away for a time, then stood back, saying he was finished.
No one, at the time, could see how he could possibly say that he was the least bit finished.
To this day, people do not understand what he meant. By “finished.”
His, here, is an avenue of art, that no one, over the past umpteen-hundred years, has pursued. Because it appears to be nothing but “unfinished.” Like, maybe, probably, he just gave up.
Bollocks. This is the man who had already used chisel and stone to depict the most precise and divine representations of human beings in the entire history of sculpture. Before, or since.
So, when he moved elsewhere, people should have paid attention.
But they didn’t. And they still don’t.
The “unfinished” Michelangelo pictured above is called “Awakening Slave.” From the title alone, it should be obvious, to anyone employing brain cells, that it is absolutely right, that the slave is unable to fully emerge from the marble. Michelangelo’s choice, here, was absolutely right.
He said that the marble spoke to him. And, when it said, stop carving, he stopped.
True artists don’t listen to the bullshit. They listen to the art.
Writing is like regarding a block of marble. The task is to chip away the bullshit, the effluvia, the waste, revealing, relating, only what is.
That is why, when I was 16, and first regarded the “unfinished” sculptures of Michelangelo, I knew exactly what they were about. He had gone beyond the mere perfection of form. To regarding, and representing, perfection attempting to emerge, yet held back, by the muck.
Now that I am older, I see a second reason why he went with the “unfinished.” Because, for decades, he’d put it all out there, in the way that they wanted to see it. Yet, they still didn’t get it. So: fuck ‘em. Go with the quantum. The finished/unfinished. The way it really is.
So, uh, this piece, that follows, I had grand finished plans for the thing, some weeks ago, when I wanted to both Snowden, and Zimmerman. I was first concerned about those in my karass so hurt by the Zimmerman verdict. And, next, those, also in my karass, so wounded by the Snowden revelations. Unfortunately, I don’t think I ever got around to serving, in what I have here written, completely, either. Much less both. The piece is unfinished. But I’ve decided to put it out there anyway. In hopes people can regard what is there, and see also into the marble. To what was meant to be. To what is.
(for robin and denise and amazing and adept and time and sephius and conk and tree and trayvon and sooth and seeta and ms. turn-up-your-radio and my pooldar anacaona and she-be-hawaiian-feet and the far rambling planet and all whose skins and souls burn 24/7 with the lies of this nation . . . . )
The Snowden uproar has been driven mostly by white people.
In garment-rending frenzy, that maybe government folks, are ear-trumpeting their phone conversations, goggle-eyeing their email.
Like, checking them.
People of color have, generally, been less exercised. Because, from when they first become conscious in this country, in this culture, people of color naturally assume they are being checked. Watched. Listened to. Tracked. As a condition of their very lives. Because, everything about their lives, about their history, teaches them that they are.
(The exception was when the Bolivian president’s homeward-bound plane was forced to the ground: people of color, then, particularly south of the border, they for sure, then uproared, over that. Because it was, so humiliatingly, typical of their lives, their history. To wit: white people won’t believe them. Will naturally assume them of involvement in nefariousness. Will physically roust them. Whenever they feel like it. Even if the rousted is the president of a sovereign nation.
(So let it be written. So let it be done.
(Same as it ever was.)
What people of color in this country would like, it is something more basic than freedom from a government-snout snorting about in their email.
What they would like, is a guarantee of physical safety.
That, maybe, they can feel free, to, oh, say, walk to the store, and back again, without getting shot.
And what the Zimmerman verdict tells them is that, once again, this—this is a forlorn hope.
Because what the Zimmerman verdict tells people of color is: no, really, they can’t—still “not yet”—walk to the store and back, without fear of being shot.
And white people, they have no idea, what that means.
To live, day in, day out, every day, like that.
Knowing they might be killed. For just walking the streets.
As they continue to squeal. The white people. About a snout. Maybe in their email.
I received, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, an email from a person of color, who has succumbed to despair.
A lot of what I came up believing, spouted ad nauseam by Jose Marti and Rev Dr. King? I am doubting any of it now. I don’t believe for a New York minute we shall overcome, or “not too long.” This seems like the weakest pabulum and fairy tale imaginable. It’s open season on people of color.
What can I say to her?