“Exchanges Between Fathers and Sons”

Thanks to Patrik Gothe

Thanks to Patrik Gothe

I read John Wideman’s Fatheralong, and here’s a great quote:

The stories must be told. Ideas of manhood, true and transforming, grow out of private, personal exchanges between fathers and sons. Yet for generations of black men in America this privacy, this privilege has been systematically breached in a most shameful and public way. Not only breached, but brutally usurped, mediated by murder, mayhem, misinformation. Generation after generation of black men, deprived of the voices of their fathers, are for all intents and purposes born semi-orphans. Mama’s baby, Daddy’s maybe. Fathers in exile, in hiding, on the run, anonymous, undetermined, dead. The lost fathers cannot claim their sons, speak to them about growing up, until the fathers claim their own manhood. Speak first to themselves, then unambiguously to their sons. Arrayed against the possibility of conversation between fathers and sons is the country they inhabit, everywhere proclaiming the inadequacy of black fathers, their lack of manhood in almost every sense the term’s understood here in America. The power to speak, father to son, is mediated or withheld; white men, and the reality they subscribe to, stand in the way. Whites own the country, run the country, and in this world where possessions count more than people, where law values property more than person, the material reality speaks plainly to anyone who’s paying attention, especially black boys who own nothing, whose fathers, relegated to the margins, are empty-handed ghosts.

(From Fatheralong, 64-65)

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“Illustrating the Possible”

“This is the thing about the art market. If a young kid isn’t invited to know what they have inside them, and how to unlock that, then what they have is just devices. And you pretty quickly run out of devices. I had a life before all this. The lights were off for me, I was out in the shed, but that was a really useful way into this world…I am invested in illustrating the possible.”

Theaster Gates talking about art and autobiography and “what happens when you stay”. Please read the rest here.

Listen. Obey.

As your mother told you–and as I’ve said to you before–when we put you into the hands of someone else, that’s the person we trust.  So that’s the person you listen to.

Be it your teachers or other relatives, if you don’t listen to the people we give you to, you’re also not listening to us.  And for now, you have to listen to us.  You don’t get to not listen.  And not just because we’re bigger than you.  We actually know more than you.

We know that when you do your own thing, that thing is still so underdeveloped that it makes no sense in the world.  One day that will change.  One day you have more choices than you do time.  One day you’ll pick the menu and the shoes and the time we leave and return.  But you don’t drive.  You don’t know the city’s grid.  You don’t understand the nuances of roasting a chicken, even if you’re a good sous chef.

So, hear me, hear your mother.  And we’ll let you stay with us.  If you don’t listen, you’re only a quick walk from the Swansons, a short drive from either of our mothers, the full house with your cousins and my brother, a spot next to Champ’s cage at your other uncle’s, or slightly longer commutes to your aunts.  I’m sure even Grammie will take you if we call her and say you’re on a flight.  But I’m also certain those lovely people will have similar expectations.  And they–though they may fight me on the point–will not love you nearly as much as me and your mother.

Thurman on Stages to Maturity

The immediate reaction of the child is clear and precise: varying forms of protest from the sustained whisper to the roaring scream (these two words are used together quite advisedly).  Sometimes it is a battle of nerves between the baby and the mother.

At this point the baby is having his initial encounter with spiritual discipline.  A pattern of life has been interrupted.  In the presence of an expanding time interval between wish and fulfillment the child is forced to make adjustment, to make room in the tight circle of his life for something new, different, and therefore threatening.  The baby begins to learn how to wait, how to postpone fulfillment.  He thus finds his way into community within the family circle.

…If the response of the parents or others continues to be available on demand, the conscious or unconscious intent being to keep the time interval at zero between wish and fulfillment, the baby begins to get a false conditioning about the world and his place in it.  For if he grows up expecting and regarding as his due that to wish is to have his wish fulfilled, then he is apt to become a permanent cripple.  There are many adults who for various reasons have escaped this essential discipline of their spirit.  True, in terms of physical and intellectual development they have continued to grow.  Their bodies and minds have moved through all the intervening stages to maturity, but they have remained essentially babies in what they expect of life.  They have a distorted conception of their own lives in particular and of life in general.