redhanded: a songe forre the loste
redhanded: a songe forre the loste
afterwords ~ excerpts
This is an artist’s rant. It is a three part polyphony for the lost…
In representing these terrors of children, I hope compassionate and lasting change may become possible. The reading of this testimony is meant to be something of an ordeal.
My father was born on a red clay farm in rural Georgia, United States, in the year of nineteen hundred and nine. My mother, born in nineteen twenty-five in a German settlement of Brooklyn, New York, spoke only this language until she was ten years old. My parents met in nineteen forty-seven and were part of a communal household, which operated a pacifist and civil rights press, soup kitchen, and Christian studies retreat in Harlem, New York. The press and retreat were moved to the farmlands of western New Jersey, where I was born in nineteen fifty. In nineteen fifty-three this group was absorbed into a German fundamentalist religious sect in Paraguay.
In The Brotherhood isolated in rural Paraguay, I grew up speaking German, British English, Guarani, and some Spanish and Portuguese. My father required that North American English be spoken in the house. He was exiled from the sect during a power struggle in nineteen sixty. In the last hours of his expulsion my mother decided to follow him. They disappeared for some weeks and later managed to get their children out.
In exile with four children, my family of origin settled in the mountains of rural western North Carolina. My mother Americanized herself and the other children as expediently as possible. However, neither my father nor I could make the transition into modern North America. We had both, in different ways, been subjected to The Brotherhood’s auschlus, or shunning. As the eldest of his children, I was caught between opposing cultures and times. I was formed in the slow and circumspect artificiality of the archaic European sect. The rest of the family tried to adopt North America’s overt, loud, and fast culture. My old world manner and dense accent affected my ability to communicate verbally even within the family.
I learned intimately how the eccentricities of a closed authoritarian society distort the experiential wisdom of everyone within its dominion. Any cauterized social system with an invasive means to male power is a prosaic crucible that creates acute disconnection within the self and the humyn family. The severe sense of isolation that ensues is difficult to dismantle. Over time, I have come to recognize the pervasiveness of these systems…Their purpose is omnipotence for the chosen few through effective manipulation of the consciousness and conscience of the many.
Many children are currently trapped in the unspeakable. The vindication of broken and lost children is daunting, as their testimonies are difficult to believe and chronicle. It is simpler to symbolize or further isolate distressed children, as in the idea that one bad apple spoils the whole barrel. This attitude is prevalent in the present exorcising of entire cultures and species…
This series speaks specifically of grrl children. Surrounded and invaded, invalidated and divided against themselves and each other, grrls and womyn are still at particular risk in a pathologically dominant male society. Terrorism by males is publicly sanctioned in acts of rape and murder of grrls and womyn, the temporal and spiritual denial of womynkind, male-biased linguistic and cultural stereotypes, and popular culture’s indecencies. Male violence curtails the daily lives of womyn of all ages, races, and nations. It imbues our lives with a sense of dread, rage, and powerlessness. Ingrained despair caused by constant threat of violence destroys the regenerative alchemy integral to the whole self, family, community, society, and world, both natural and humyn.
The hidden Brotherhood I came from had a labyrinthine multi-national history. In modern times, it has progressed through the Wandervogel and other youth movements of nineteen-twenties Germany, the Nazi German and British occult hierarchies, and Stroessner’s dictatorship in Paraguay. Exiled from the other nations, it found asylum in that sparsely populated country. In nineteen fifty-four it expanded into the United States, where it thrives as a wealthy nonprofit religious organization with effective public relations representation and powerful legal protection. Because of this, it must here remain unnamed. This inner Brotherhood has been an embedded fixture among international governments. It is but one of the many misogynist corporations whose outward appearances seem beyond reproach.
The closed world that formed me concealed itself within a larger collective of families in self-proclaimed monastic brotherhood. Its hierarchy was modeled on the early Christians and deeply misogynist collectives of Anabaptist practice in the fourteenth century. A contrived society in thrall to a charismatic male figurehead, it emulated the thirteen men of the mystical Essene tradition. Its glamours masked the inner circle’s true intent, of asserting ultimate power over mortal life, humanity, God, nature, and time.
Members coming into the larger group relinquished all worldly possessions, including children, to the glory of the common good. The masses, as lesser equals, were maintained on very little. Hunger, hard labour, constant pregnancy, poor nutrition, and unpredictable inquisitions effectively kept members compliant. Breeding was one of the sect’s commandments. Outside contact was forbidden. Those banished from The Brotherhood were sent into the wider world with nothing to sustain them, often with many children. It destroyed many families by separation and exile. Thus the inner circle amassed a secret worldly wealth, despite pretensions to poverty and spiritual simplicity.
…Severe subjective interpretations of sin and threat of expulsion in an anaerobic social system force its members to capitulate anything to remain within the fold or return once exiled. Members sent out after long internment, and children born and raised within its confines, bear lifelong scars from abuse, shunning, and exile.
The Brotherhood saw itself as a pragmatic utopia where womyn were used primarily for breeding and labour. The monotheistic outer pretext functioned as cover for the amoral inner circle…
…In learning to rely upon native humyn intelligence, John Irving’s suggestion to “cast your role as a screwdriver rather than a tank” is most practical in bringing about change. When the destruction children become accustomed to becomes undeniable, perhaps the acquisitive humyns will apply themselves to another way for all.
Children who have been purposefully imprinted with their trainers at an early age can unwittingly be at the lifelong beck and call of the sect or any other predator. They are susceptible to any person of authority who understands their malleability. Adult predators can easily divine these children. Effective parents, teachers, and child psychologists learn how to manipulate the developmental stages of children in similar ways. The difference is in degree and intent.
Dissociation that comes of early training based in trauma and rage is called a disorder, but it is simply a necessary way to live with the unspeakable. I see a true dissociative disorder in the conventional world’s ability to observe and live with the ordinary rituals of unrelenting violence without taking them personally. Apathy conveniently allows the graphic displays of the pornography of eternal war to prosper. The inherent prostitution of body and soul in war is conspicuously manifest in those whose purposes it best serves. Complacency is an obscenity. The lewd, avaricious face of violence lays waste to the natural world from microbe to polar bear. It undoes the mental health of our children.
The group I came from was part of the broader social experiments by which the successive governments of the United States and other social pragmatists have greatly profited. Perpetual threat of terror, mind control, and rituals of violence have enabled the world powers to take expedient advantage of humynity’s fundamental idealism and distractibility. The sanctioned addiction to ceaseless war and its relentless news is an unsurpassed propaganda device.
A world of male violence robs humynity of its soul. Although it seems difficult for reasoning people to believe in organized humyn perversion and its consequences, it has been graphically demonstrated throughout history. Collective lack of awareness and unfounded skepticism cause the further isolation of children who live in terror. Still, I sometimes envy anyone who can sustain these self-insulating measures.
The largest internationally sanctioned cult of our time is the military. A deranged cosmopolitan nation-unto-itself, it wields ultimate power without accountability. Its relentless war, religion, and news are unbearable. Even sensible people are driven to destructive self-inflicted solaces. These recourses well serve the complacent misogyny of the predominant geo-political and religious powers.
How can we continue unmindfully to participate in our own destruction? Mind control, fear, and loss of habitat force the living to the edges of being in unceasingly loud surroundings. Enforcement of the peculiar insular paranoia of instituted governments and religions is required early in life to dismantle our innate interconnection. They instill the belief that only the Humyn Chosen have right to the homeland all life inhabits. A population whose value of life and immortality is limited to itself usurps inborn freedom as a means to its own ends. “Combating fanaticism means denouncing the humiliation of the Other. It means celebrating the freedom of the Other, the freedom of all Others” (Elie Wiesel).
…The earth has her own common sense law and bears witness everywhere. In our veiled disconnection, we become criminals in her eyes. To allow the diminishing of others is to damage oneself. This premise is said to be the essence of all the world’s mystical traditions.
…It is a rare child who is not in distress. A life safe from constant dread is every child’s essential right to life. The predominance of humyn control in the development and influence of fearful children is required to maintain acquiescent populations…
The willful destruction of their homeland from within leaves children with no untampered-with places to learn and grow of their own volition. Distressed people, particularly children, need the provisional anodyne of nature to hold to and regain trust in their own senses and instincts.
In addition to the lack of basic security, it is becoming evident that children are losing touch with their senses. The virtual realities of technology and universal urbanization are replacing needful interaction with nature in the daily lives of children…Invasive plants and people displace the native plant and animal communities. This insidious form of violence undermines the stake children have in preserving the wilderness without which they have no future. It erodes their sense of kinship in the whole breathing world.
We can neither afford to lose kinship with each other nor the Earth. We need the modest wisdom learned in seeing ourselves reflected truly in one another, in wild nature and the stars. That which seems most strange may have most to teach us. My experience has shown that hierarchic power is easily abused, particularly with children, and always bears close scrutiny…
…My experiences left an abiding shadow. There are things one cannot outlive, mend, or outrun. To try feeds despair…So much is unforgivable. In trying to comprehend and mourn what I cannot forgive, I may begin to dismantle its terrible tenacious power even in myself.
To an outside observer the conditioning to the cult of violence is particularly prevalent in the United States. Here children grow up subjected to violence desensitization training that begins at birth. In this early training the senses become encased or disembodied. It is reinforced and exported in mainstream belief and practice. A child formed in such a society is made acutely aware of the broader applications of violence against others…Anyone can be declared a monster. It is difficult to understand how under ubiquitous hateful teachings, children can be expected to live consciously in a beautifully diverse world. The manipulation of a child’s instinctual kinship with her surroundings is a fatal erosion of the fully humyn capacities with which each child is born…
This work speaks of a daily reality in which children all throughout the world live without such reprieve as I have been given. In order to survive, they have constantly to adapt to dire conditions. They must comprehend and somehow contain the pathologies of the cult and culture that made them.
I find some complicity with others who seek atonement for the incidental and deliberate violations of the inherent rights of the natural world and of childhood. The “roaring inside her,” which the writer Susan Griffin addresses articulately in her book, Woman and Nature, must be given voice. The uninverted fury of grrls and womyn is a much needed renewable resource.
…Womyn and men who share in the profits of domination of children, womyn, and nature are complicit in its tragedies.
As Barbara Kingsolver has said, “I shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children…there is a difference between righteousness and what is right.” When the sins of the fathers are at last visited upon the fathers, rather than the children, womyn, and nature, balance and natural justice will be seen in the land.
Perhaps the stacked destinies of men can yet be creatively dismantled. I understand that those who take just and compassionate part in the whole web of the world carry for us what it means to “be a mensch”. I hold out for at least thirty-seven wise and just elders who, like the Lamed Vavnik of the Talmud, are required at all times to keep in order the world to which I owe my allegiance.
Our lives contimue to be usurped, marginalized, and effectively silenced. I would offer the practice of hope and a lifeline of bituminous humor to the groves of grrls and womyn who are all our sisters, foremothers, and afterdaughters.
Every act of art, especially perhaps the tragic, is a witness to the joyous beauty of the living world…Art shows what living feels like. It renews my faith in the nearest resource, that of the thirteen common senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch, knowing, feeling, understanding, compassion, connection, outrage, generosity, and adaptability.
“Ultimately, to write is an act of faith” (Elie Wiesel). This may also be said for drawing. With drawings and words of delicious duality, I can take part in all that outlasts me. I love fiercely the wilderness and world of my time, and all her wayward children. In preparation for a fully humyn experience, I seek an applicable and reliable transcendence, to replace the predetermined ideal. The discipline in drawing and writing works a continually moving wonder. It can help bring together what has been torn asunder, scattered, and hidden. Art has always been a good place for the free re-association of the far flung…
…Approaching my venerable obstinate years, I choose my elders and companions, dead and alive, carefully. With applied belligerence, I apprentice myself among the fierce womyn who have learned how to keep moving between the known and the unknown.
“My heart is moved by all I cannot save: so much has been destroyed. I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world” (Adrienne Rich). I seek faith enough to stand among well-tempered womyn and honourable menschen in mourning and hilarity. I want to live where grrls and womyn are safe and respected, where boys and men are kind and funny and self-aware, where wilderness and children thrive.
What have I learned from these fraught experiences? I have come to know that inclusiveness, diversity, spontaneity, and wilderness save and remake us. The seven deadly sins are not sins but crimes. Self knowledge is to be learned beyond, as much as within, oneself. The only nation is nature and humynity. The essential religion is compassion. The only homeland is the earth. Everything is practice.