After the election of the Tyrant, a strange thing happened to me. I found my drive to make art and to write about culture evaporate. This didn’t happened all at once and, for a time, I kept up a certain level of production, but I noticed my disdain for these activities rising. Somehow, producing for a failed culture seemed wrong. Instead, as I’ve chronicled here, I turned inward, taking on a variety of projects at our house, but also turning to radical gardening with native plants as a process of healing a small piece of land much damaged by human disturbance (notably construction of this property forty years ago) together with the violence of contemporary landscaping. It’s been incredibly valuable to practice radical gardening but it’s also a matter of temporal displacement: the work I have done won’t be visible for years to come: it’s an investment in a better future, optimism that this nightmare would end.
As for art, I continued research as a kind of secret activity, but I’ve definitely felt the need to retreat. At some point, I decided that I’d consciously go on an unannounced art strike while the Tyrant was in office. I couldn’t find a way to return to work that has been, at its basis, a sustained inquiry into how we behave to each other in the public realm. I’ve talked to a few friends about this and apparently this isn’t uncommon at all.
Even if I don’t expect the political polarization crippling the US and the world to stop, with the Tyrant in his twilight, playing golf as performance art and flailing aimlessly about, there’s no question that a certain weight is gone. The world is still damaged, but it’s easier to sleep at night again, there’s room again to breath. If there’s another lockdown—and there should be—I’ll be here, taking notes and experimenting.
Writing and research are both in the works and you’ll be seeing evidence soon.