Two Things

Two Things

The First Thing

It used to be that mental illness was a taboo subject. This was bad. The stigma created by the silence harmed many people and prevented people from living the happier lives they could have lived. Now, however, we’ve overcorrected, and mental illness has become the explainer for way too much of human behavior. I see this especially in my partner’s generation (people in their 20s), for whom various forms of mental illness have become the defining factor in their lives. This is particularly a problem, in my opinion, because of the second thing.

The Second Thing

Of course mental illness is real. People have actual malfunctions in their brains, PTSD from trauma, and a whole host of other things. BUT we also live in an incredibly sick society. We’ve been sold (quite literally) a lie about what constitutes success and happiness, and we’ve been sold that lie so we’ll buy things we don’t need, obey social mores and rules we don’t need, look up to “leaders” we don’t need, and avoid doing the things that actually contribute to human well-being and happiness. In a society as depraved as this one, feeling depressed and crazy is a rational reaction. Again, there are real mental illnesses, but I also really believe that many of us feel the way we do because we realize something is wrong but we’ve never been shown any way to live outside this awful, harmful system. We’ve been sold a series of yardsticks that all lead to less and less happiness, rather than more.

So What?

A logical question is to wonder what to do about any of this. And this is where I come back to the same song I always sing, namely that small intentional communities of mutual aid are the only rational way forward. We need to do everything we can, no matter how small each individual step may be, to separate ourselves from this system. Grow food. Make things. Stop needing crap. Help one another. Trade skills. Live together. Yes there are a million complicating factors, but some of them are what we’ve been told is unachievable by the very people who have the most to lose if we achieve them. We can heal ourselves, but we can’t do it using the system that made us sick.

POEM: the armchair anarchist meets the Turkish men

Photo by Jason Crane

the armchair anarchist meets the Turkish men

SportsCenter is blaring on the TV above the fireplace
ten feet away is another TV
        tuned to a different channel

& from the overhead speakers falls the voice
        of the Queen of Soul
I’m trying to read a magazine through the distractions

as if those aren’t enough, Turkish men begin collecting
in front of the lobby’s other fireplace
“As-Salaam-Alaikum” and a kiss on each cheek

because I’m a proper lefty I feel an instinctive need
to approve of their gathering
        to be better than the unwashed (sniff)

that’s when I see the Amway bag
& realize that this pyramid is no Mount Nemrut
& yes I had to look that up

/ / /

Jason Crane
30 January 2018
Pittsburgh PA

POEM: on listening to The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughn Williams in an outdated Holiday Inn in Pittsburgh

on listening to The Lark Ascending
by Ralph Vaughn Williams
in an outdated Holiday Inn in Pittsburgh

it’s a miracle, music
this couch has seen too many sittings
my tea cools in a styrofoam cup
one of the lamps buzzes then shorts out
& I’m hundreds of miles from those I love
yet the violin cuts the grey sky
letting light pour in through the gash
& for sixteen minutes, this room is paradise

/ / /

Jason Crane
24 January 2018
Pittsburgh, PA

House Concert: Ross Hammond

Last night my fiancee-in-crime and I hosted our first house concert. A couple dozen people piled into our living room to listen to Sacramento’s Ross Hammond – Guitarist? play an hour of blues, spirituals and improvised music on the resonator guitar. It was a magical night. I want to share some of it with you, so here are three of the songs Ross played last night. Find his music at http://www.rosshammond.com.