Our generation has become more productive but less effectual in the visual language that we use. Maybe because of the demands of the market, artists have lost genuine creativity. Where are the new art movements? Where lies the voices of visceral dissent and thirst for change?
— Vladimir Umanets
To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves - there lies the great, singular power of self-respect. Joan Didion, "Self-respect: Its Source, Its Power", Vogue (1961).
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours, I heard the announcement: if anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately. Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her problem? We told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she did this. I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly. Shu dow-a, shu-biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick, sho bit se-wee? The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—she stopped crying. She thought our flight had been canceled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late. Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him. We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother until we got on the plane and would ride next to her—Southwest. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out, of course, they had ten shared friends. Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—and was offering them to all the women at the gate. To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California, the lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies. And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—non-alcoholic—and the two little girls from our flight, one African American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice and lemonade, and they were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere. And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, this is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped—has seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women, too. This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.
∆ Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal
“creating is about problem solving. It’s about seeing the world, perceiving it as your own and coming up with a language or solution that helps improve or communicate or exchange ideas and information.”
“I think it's so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary--you're happy for an instant and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.” ― Georgia O'Keefe
Not-so-public, digital spaces demand more contemplation, and will inevitably serve an important role in the next generation of social media. My guess is it’ll be in these smaller spaces, not the big public platforms, where we’ll build some of our most valuable infrastructures of care.
When you build a thing you cannot merely build that thing in isolation, but must also repair the world around it, and within it, so that the larger world at that one place becomes more coherent, and more whole; and the thing which you make takes its place in the web of nature, as you make it.