Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Reflected without Tranquility

Wordsworth said that "poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility."

That statement rings true for all artistic expression. All art needs that essential motive force, that emotional core that bubbles up from some honest, emotional well. It's also true that such emotions need time to percolate. They need to be recollected in tranquility, not so that the artist can move beyond them, but rather so that he or she can take those emotions and shape their expression in such a way that others will be able to feel them, too.

So, um... there are tears on my face right now. 

I just finished reading the script for FRUITVALE STATION. Even though as a screenwriter I try to watch all the movies (especially the Oscar contenders), I had decided that I wasn't going to watch this one. I knew what it was about, after all. And I knew it would hurt.

But then they released the script and I downloaded it and I read it and... and... and...

Well, sometimes it really hurts to be white. It hurts to be college-educated, and from a two-parent home, and privileged in so many ways. It hurts to have the deck stacked so high in my favor, and to know that the system is screwed and that other people are getting stepped on, and that -- let's face it -- I'm not really going to do anything significant about it. The world's gonna keep spinning, but for some people it's gonna spin a whole lot harder, and they'll wanna get off, but no one will let them. America's still gonna have by far the highest incarceration-rate in the world. Non-white parents are still gonna lose their kids for no reason, and they are still gonna keep getting further and further disenfranchised, andGodAlmighty, I'm gonna keep sitting here on my stupid computer, typing out words like "disenfranchised."

Words that don't half-say it, and mostly just testify against me in my privilege as I sit here quoting Wordsworth, writing my bullsh*t words... changing nothing. Throwing in asterisks because there are people out there who are more offended by the word "bullshit" than that a young, unarmed black man can get shot in the back by a cop in a train station.

Do you feel it?

Do you feel what I feel?

Probably not. I probably haven't given it enough tranquility. Maybe with enough tranquility, I'll be able to write a script like Fruitvale Station. A script that'll maybe get made into a movie that will make you feel a pain that you, too, don't want to feel.

Maybe.

For now, though, I think maybe it's best I just let myself feel it. Maybe I've had a little too much tranquility in my life, up til now.

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