All art is political. All art contains truth, although some art is more true that other art. This is about the truest works of art I’ve ever encountered, and it’s from Vilnius, on the wall of Keulė Rūkė BBQ, where I will most certainly be dining next week.
Photo originally discovered at Imgur, posted by gintrux24.
Ok, so in the wake of the publication of an interview in 15min, the Lithuanian news site, I ended up with a TON of new Facebook followers over the past day. The interview is obviously in Lithuanian, so not all of Liquid Ink’s followers will be able to enjoy it. In a nutshell, I claim that identity is fluid, and that “being Lithuanian” is a gateway, a means of connecting to others, not a fortress to pack myself inside.
Interestingly, this Saturday I’ll be reading an essay that speaks to this issue. My essay, Displacing Forces, was originally published by Dialogo (and edited by Achy Obejas), but then appeared in Radikaliai. It deals with my return to ancestral lands, and meditates on what it meant for my grandparents to face torture and displacement. In a way, it makes my point to have Displacing Forces appear first in a journal of Latin Studies, then in an alternative Lithuanian publication, and then to be read aloud in the basement of a Chicago Tattoo parlor (which is, mind you, one of the best Chicago area venues for a reading). BYOB.
That’s where That’s All She Wrote does its business. The reading will be in the basement of Great Lakes Tattoo, where afterwards we’re encouraged to shake our asses to spinning 45’s one of the moderators has been collecting over the years. Those new followers who’ve never heard me read and are new to my writing are encouraged to attend. Yes, I’ll have books for sale. Yes, I take credit cards. Yes, I’d love to have a glass of wine or beer with you.
1148 W. Grand Avenue
Saturday, May 14th.
Show starts at 8pm, party starts at 10pm.
Photo taken from Form.
Karolį Gintarą Žukauską Lietuvoje girdėjęs retas, tačiau tarp JAV literatūros gerbėjų šis vardas skamba vis garsiau. „Gint Aro“ slapyvardžiu prisistatantis lietuvių kilmės…
This is also a phenomenal short film by Paul Thomas Anderson.
I’m depressed today because I know I’m complicit. Separating myself from the culture—indeed, the cultures—to which I belong is impossible.
I am an American at a terribly low point in our history, and I can’t separate myself from the embarrassing maelstrom in our daily rhetoric, the “leaders” we believe reflect our values, at least in part. I refuse to use their names in this post. Using their names has for a long time been part of the problem, a way of using attention junkies to gain attention.
I’m an educator at a time when education is far less effective than it should be, both yielding and reflecting the maelstrom. I’m in higher education at a time when the whole system—the system that compensates me so that I might pay my student loans—looks at students as streams of revenue, at courses as products, and thinks of itself the way an empire might, at its teachers the way Pharaoh saw captured troops. A contemporary college’s greatest partner is a bank. Its greatest enemies are artists and philosophers.
I’m a man of letters at a time when people argue in comments about clickbait headlines. Despite the headline’s purpose, so many don’t bother to click, yet freely unload their frustrations, ignorance, hatred, fear and anxiety. I have written such headlines in attempts to profit. My refusal to monetize this blog is a cheap and pathetic attempt at integrity, one whose sincerity is questionable. It’s embarrassing to receive a “paycheck” for your “writing” in the amount of $6.00, the result of 12,000 “clicks”. We’ll say, “Hey, better $6.00 than 0!” We justify so many vile acts this way.
I could go on. I think I’ve summarized the situation well enough. No…I’ll go on.
I am a child of migrant refugees who now fear and loathe migrants and refugees, who blame refugees for failing to contain a war that banished them from their homes, migrants for working jobs that, if performed by others, would raise prices. Among us are sons and daughters of those displaced because tyrannical demagogues decided to send their armies into battle, slaughter citizens en masse. These children of the displaced today support a demagogue and tyrant. I am complicit in this irrational fear, in this simultaneous hatred and denial of one’s back story. I have paid money to companies that financed movements and politicians who profit by inflaming the maelstrom. Some of these politicians hold shares of the company that sends me a bill each month.
That bill buys a product that’s bad for me. The company knows, all of its employees know the product is bad for me. How many of us pay our bills from the sales of products we know are bad for the people consuming them, and how many of our bills represent purchases we know are bad for us, bad for our kids, bad for people not yet born? The maelstrom swirls, gaining speed. We all know what we’re doing, and we go about it as if there’s no alternative.
Our national rhetoric is about to achieve a level of profanity we may not be able to imagine. I think it’s important, right now and right here, for all of us to stop using this sentence: “Look at what they’re doing over there.” That’s a dangerous delusion, part and parcel of the problem. The correct sentence is this one: “Look at what we’re doing over here.” If we could wake up to ourselves, to our actual predicament, which is that our conditions are the result of our actions and ideas, we’d see the alternative path.
I’m very happy to team up with Volumes Book Cafe to sell some books tomorrow afternoon. It’s Independent Bookstore Day, and Volumes is Chicago’s newest bookstore. I recently visited to take some pictures and just fell in love with the gorgeous space. It’s bright, uplifting, heavily caffeinated, and the shelves are stacked with great books. I was especially impressed with the extensive fiction collection.
Come tomorrow between 1:00-3:00 PM to meet me, buy a book and get it signed. If you haven’t heard, the Chicago Tribune called my novel, The Fugue, “magisterial,” and Centered on Books said it’s a “masterpiece of literary fiction.”
My publisher, Tortoise Books, will also be on hand to sell many of their titles.
Here are some impressions of Volumes: