In the route of our earliest recorded history, it has been the philosophers, playwrights, poets and writers that have been the composed consciousness of each generation. Whether Socrates discussing ethics, Plato his Dialogues, Homer's Odyssey, Sappho's lesbian love poems on her Island of Lesbos and on through to the great Shakespeare telling us a little more about ourselves through his still very alive and pertinent plays. Through our writers and poets and philosophers we receive a birds eye view of the times from which each lived. A view from the hill magnified sans any societal or government agenda. Writers are often those who "belong to all races and answer all names with no show of an outward emotion", they save their emotions for the page.
Whitman didnt simply sing of himself, he sang of "woman the same as the man, And I say it is as great to be a woman as to be a man, And I say there is nothing greater than the mother of men". He sang of "the hounded slave, I wince at the bite of the dogs, Hell and despair are upon me, crack and again crack the marksmen, I clutch the rails of the fence, my gore dribs, thinn'd with the ooze of my skin, I fall on the weeds and stones, The riders spur their unwilling horses, haul close, Taunt my dizzy ears and beat me violently over the head with whip-stocks" and he sang "None obey'd the command to kneel, Some made a mad and helpless rush, some stood stark and straight,
A few fell at once, shot in the temple or heart, the living and dead lay together, The maim'd and mangled dug in the dirt, the new-comers saw them there, Some half-kill'd attempted to crawl away, These were despatch'd with bayonets or batter'd with the blunts of muskets, A youth not seventeen years old seiz'd his assassin till two more came to release him, The three were all torn and cover'd with the boy's blood. At eleven o'clock began the burning of the bodies; That is the tale of the murder of the four hundred and twelve young men". Through Whitman's poetic discourse we learn about sexism and the horrors of slavery coupled with the Civil War.
Poets and writers have often informed us about the wars of their day, sometimes with an Icarian view and other times straight from the trenches. These from WWI:
- "What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
- Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
- Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle"
"Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz--
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench--
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'"
"From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose".
"Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you in the morning at noon we drink you at
drink you and drink you
A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden
Your ashen hair Shulamith we are digging a grave in the
sky it is
ample to lie there"...
As radio evolved and popular music developed, musicians added their voices (literally) to that of the poets and writers. It is impossible to think of the 60's without thinking of Bob Dylan's genius burning our consciousness like the napalm that scorched the skin of Vietnam children. Yes, the times they were a changin, and protest music artists helped to lead a generation to wake up from the nightmare of the American Dream. Wars were being ended, civil rights fought and won, feminism reaching millions of women terrorized by centuries of circumscribed possibilities, presidents impeached, grassroots peace projects sprouting up like dandelions. And at the forefront of these world changing events, were our song writers, our poets and our authors.
Change was on the breeze blowing far are wide, and like the wind it seemed that nothing could stop it. But change isnt the wind and once Thatcher and Reagan formed a transatlantic union change suddenly stood still. Still that is till progress began slowly going backward whence it came. Pop culture erupted like Mount St. Helens and was allowed to erupt because pop culture served two important purposes: 1) It helped through consumerism to create a more powerful corporate world (billion dollar corporations that would be useful to keeping high powered government official in office-for a price). 2) Pop culture kept and continues to keep people looking here and not there. Pop culture is the multi coloured shiny glittery red herring governments have come to depend on, but as Patti Smith would say "all thats glitters is NOT"!
Since then, civil rights have been lost, while we're on the verge of losing more every day. Gay and lesbian rights stalled out. Feminist gains have been stripped from us and redressed in a hyper feminine hyper sexual low cut blouse, short skirt and stilettos. Voices that once would have addressed these issues, are silenced by corporations invested in the money making superficial that governments rely on. Enter the Blogger!
Bloggers have slowly become our political conscious, it is their voices we are tuning into instead of the radio or tellie for our critical analysis and honest perspectives. Bloggers arent bound by contracts to corporate America, we are bound instead by the truth! And bound to get that truth out to you! There are no rock stars in blogging.We arent doing it for the money (there is none) and we certainly arent doing it for the "the chicks"! Change involves ethics, not egos! Sylvia Plath said that poetry should be "relevant, and relevant to the larger things, the bigger things such as Hiroshima and Dachau and so on". It is her footsteps that so many feminist bloggers now walk from. Feminist bloggers are speaking with the tongues of ALL those dead feminist before us whose voices HIS-story has aggressively tried to erase. We are not only challenging the Gender Straight Jacketed status quo, we are changing it, one blog post at a time!
I asked at the beginning of this post what the role of the Blogger is in our modern techno world. Whitman answers this at the start of the 20th century better than I ever could in this one when he wrote:
"Agonies are one of my changes of garments,
I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the
My hurts turn livid upon me as I lean on a cane and observe".