VIDEO PLAYLIST: Where do you Find Wisdom? Listen to Toni Morrison
“At Garn we encourage you to take up the challenge of deep contemplation of the importance of the struggle for democracy.”
Video Playlist (6 Videos in Playlist). Video playlist navigation in the upper left corner of the video player.
Where do you find wisdom when the world’s gone mad – “mad” as in totally insane, “mad” as in vicious and violent? Where do you find wisdom when a president, pathologically obsessed with himself, unleashes the ire of powerful, armed and dangerous hate groups on the American people? Not the media that’s for sure. Addicted to Trump, talking heads and journalists offer few insights and little wisdom, preferring instead reports that whip up the right and frighten mothers and children. You see them on the streets with terror-eyes they look terrorized. They are terrorized, and politicians are doing nothing about it.
So again, where do you find wisdom? At Garn Press we find wisdom in the books we publish by writers of conscience. In the search for the moral and ethical we look to the stories of ordinary people written by extraordinary writers and at the top of our list is our beloved winner of the Nobel for Literature, Toni Morrison. Here is Morrison in The Bluest Eye:
Her poverty kept us generous. Even her waking dreams we used–to silence our own nightmares. And she let us, and thereby deserved our contempt. We honed our egos on her, padded our characters with her frailty, and yawned in the fantasy of our strength.
And fantasy it was, for we were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to call ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life. We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word.
Morrison’s wisdom, written at another time perhaps with other thoughts in mind, leads us to a universal truth we might not reach without her. In a society that condones increasing inequality we are all living a lie. What is different today is that the LIE is now embodied. The LIE is expressed in symbols and language that is trafficked in a perverse inarticulateness that tantalizes and fascinates and keeps us coming back for more. But hidden in the weirdness of the syntax is, as Morrison wrote in her 1993 Nobel Address is:
The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; . . . or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek – it must be rejected, altered and exposed. It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind.
When a people find they are ruled by a bottomed-out mind civil disobedience becomes the only ethical option for people to take. It is insights such as this that the venerable writer who is our conscience encourages us to make. At Garn we encourage you to take up the challenge of deep contemplation of the importance of the struggle for democracy when the president goes rogue and the fascists lift their crinolines and we see their boots.