Dog Days

It’s a hot summer here in AZ.

Quarantine is back again, after a couple weeks of regression to a semi-normalcy. COVID cases are up, higher than anything that’s been seen before here in the state, and restrictions have been placed again. If it hasn’t been made obvious, COVID is not a political issue, or a new subject to be debated in upcoming elections, it is a promise of death and pain to those that contract it. I’ve heard lots of takes regarding the Virus. They are all interesting and some much more inquisitive than others, but I listen. Some people do have to see it to believe it and I agree, most won’t think it’s a real issue until they’re already dead. Others say it’s a scam, or a ploy for government control. They justify their beliefs by saying: “Churches are closed but liquor stores are not!”, or “How come I can go to Target but not the library?”. They have been removed from their comfort zone and taken on their community as an enemy. These are strange times, ugly times.

A couple of weeks ago of a Black man, George Floyd, was killed, stepped on like a dog, and murdered; slain by a white peacekeeper – white grim reaper. He was stripped of his humanity, and robbed of his life, only to be remembered as another martyr, another victim, another name on the long list of those wronged by the unjust treatment of this country towards Black people. This behavior has been far ingrained into the fabric of this country. This is a place built on those beliefs and changing them will require an enormous sacrifice. Change doesn’t come freely and right now that toll is being paid through petitions, protests, even looting and rioting, but we need more. There will be more deaths, more tears, more blood, more lives lost before real change is delivered. It’s a tragedy.

These are troubling times. Everything is bleak. The azure days of summer are no more, all is grey, and never ending. I do have the expectation that one day I’ll wake up and everything will be just fine. Back to how we were. Maybe it’s childish of me, forced innocence, because I know what’s at stake. Positivity only gets you so far, and forcing it can cause more harm than good. A questions I have been asking a lot is: “Can things stay like this forever?”. I don’t think they can, like I said before, it MUST come to an end eventually, right? I don’t know, and I don’t think it matters. For me nothing has changed really. I’m still going to work; it hasn’t slowed down. I’m still reading, writing, I’m still me. Nothing’s missing, nothing’s broken.

One thing that I have taken notice of is people’s voices on social media. Quarantine has given people a lot more free time and a lot of it is spent on the internet. These online voices I’m talking about tend to be loud, much louder than the real voice behind the screen. I see it all the time, people say one thing but mean another. It’s not a new observation or idea, people hide their true intentions all the time, what they really want is a mystery, most don’t even know it themselves. But we are all the same, we might think our desires are unique, but they’re not, we are crippled by hypocrisy. Even me. I think one thing, but say the opposite, and you do too. It’s a pessimistic view. Social media is a window that reveals people’s lives but what we are really seeing is a caricature of it. People choose what they show and it’s mostly only what they want you to know, exaggerated bits of it, their best qualities. We live in an age where words on a screen mean everything and nothing at the same time. Social media has transformed into a worldwide stage where anyone can grab the mic and speak their mind. They can lie and deceive their audience without them having the slightest clue. I take what I see and what I read and digest it, carefully, because I know that not everything is as it seems.

What has saved my mental during this nightmare of a year is art; literature, cinema, photography, music, all different mediums and canvases for expressing oneself. So far this summer I have read: A Clockwork Orange, Nickel Boys, and Travels with Charley in Search of America. All different genres of books, and all completely different stories. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess tackles humanity and playing god, evil abounds but castrating someone from their power of choice is a much greater evil. Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead tells the story of a reformatory school for boys where the teachers and those in charge abuse their power and punish their colored students. Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck is much more relaxed, it is a nonfiction piece about his travels through the U.S. with his dog Charley. Some of the most notable movies I’ve watched recently are: A Clockwork Orange and Stalker (1979). The films I listed are not new, in fact they are decades old, but the visual poetry and prose that they portray is timeless. I love them. Stanley Kubrick, one of the greatest directors of all time is the mastermind behind the film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange. The cinematography, the score, he is a genius storyteller, and both the book and the movie are among my favorites. Stalker is a much more different type of film, it comes from the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky, who is more known for his ability to create art from life. Stalker has immersive shots and dialogue that compels you to assimilate with the characters on the screen. These are some of the places I’ve escaped to.

Books, movies, music, these things serve as getaways. Escapes from reality. Take those away and we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves. Not everything is what lies in books, what can be seen on a screen, there’s more to life than dwelling on words and characters. But when the world is as bad as it is right now, a little escape can’t hurt.

This blog post took a lot longer to make than some others. There were a couple drafts for this one and lots of time between writing. Thank you for reading. The next blog post is already a work in progress, it is something I’ve never done before so hopefully you like it too. You can expect that sometime in July. Take care and thank you again.

-Jonathan <3