Monday, November 21, 2011

Dislike your own clan? Let the black gang handle it.

I forgot when it was exactly but the day came when I realized I really did not like the clans to which I belonged. Perhaps I knew them too well. Perhaps I had grown up in a contentious time where stories were weighted in such a way that it bothered my sense of fairness...at least the stories I was forced to see because they supposedly told of my clans sorrows so truly.

But I was always the one who would look at a tough feminine woman in a story and groan that the plot was set up to make us like her.  Truly, fifty years from now when folks look at some of the sitcoms I grew up with ...the silliness and the overwhelming agendas of the plots (Are all sitcom dads stupid? Are all female cops tough and are all weak women to be mocked?)

But it wasn't only the female clan that annoyed me. The Christian clan as depicted in Christian movies bugged the crap over me.  Because I had met those pious insensitive dismissive holy camel-swallowing-gnat-straining legalistic Christian types before. But I also hated the way atheists and secularists and "former Christians" depicted Christians.

Especially the former Christians. To me it was a problem with art. Their art was always unbalanced, like they were trying to show one side so powerfully that they could not for the life of them see another side. I have this thing about balance. And it's really difficult being balanced when one belongs to one of the suffering groups: black, Christian, or feminine. Because one knows that everything we the sufferers write in our novels about the larger world is probably true, and yet at the same time we know that although the world has caused us to suffer, we have also done our share of victimizing others (those like and unalike ourselves.)

So how is an artist to deal with this?

I venture to say that the BG should handle it. The BG (Black Gang of the subconscious) are invariably more artistic than we ourselves are. I cannot tell you how many stories I have destroyed because some bitterness against some black/white, male/female, Christian/atheist person has seeped into my story. I totally think anyone who sets down to write about her clan without thinking the matter through will end up with a wobbly book that only shows her neuroses without any elegance or writerly craft.

The Constant Tower is my novel that the BG wrote. All my issues are in it. Yet, because the BG wrote it, it is not bogged down in specifics. My Life as an Onion is the novel where I am aware of my own issues and of each opportunity to slip in some comment against Christians etc.. Hence, it's the novel I have to really be careful of. I really really really should not have written a contemporary novel. My issues seem to come out better  and more elegantly in fantasy. But now what to do? I like Onion. So.... I'll have to finish it. It'll probably be a bitter novel, like one of the novels written by former Christians, Black and white.   Aaargh! May God have mercy on my soul. 
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