Thoughts And Conversations Following Lisa Carver’s NYT Piece On Yoko Ono
I posted a link to Lisa Carver’s new article at New York Times today, but I didn’t reflect on it publicly. I thought I’d maybe let it sink in for a little while. After all, I haven’t read the book yet; only what Lisa published.
But here are a few things I find striking about the article. From my admittedly limited dealings with Lisa (via Facebook, commenting on one others posts), there’s an undeniable openness about her. You don’t have to be overly concerned with saying the wrong thing. She doesn’t launch out at you. If she judges you at all, it appears to be withheld. It’s an admirable feat, that, because she says what she thinks or believes on a variety of subjects or in reply to other people, but it’s somehow without ego.
I once commented that I was stuck the conflict of putting myself out into the world. What am I but another voice. It’s already very noisy. And to be rather extreme about it, I’ve sometimes felt it immoral to impose your will on the world. She answered – she said why not. I can’t find the post right now, but she and a few other people were talking about it was pretty productive. I do have that conflict, though, it’s central to who I am. But it was resolved in some way that day. It may come back again. As Lisa points out in her article, “It’s paradoxical, but it seems that when you accept loss, it loses its tenacity to stay lost.”
WillNotWill: Involution, Not Revolution
But back to this article. There’s a line in it:
“It takes willpower to overpower the will to power.”
That’s a genius twist of words that have heavy meaning. But not only is it a great turn of phrase, it’s a revealing one, too. I think it reveals something about Lisa, although Lisa doesn’t see herself in Ono. Lisa says_
“I don’t see myself in Yoko, no. Do you?”
“I don’t know if I see myself in her. I know that I’ve always had a tremendous amount of empathy and respect for her, for what it must have felt like to have heard all those things that were said about her, to have endured the jokes and to have remained…elegant…through it all. But I’m not sure I see myself in her.
I do recognize a kinship in a lot of her work, though, because it’s conceptual. And I aspire to her kindness. The reason I said that maybe you saw yourself in her is that I see those traits in you. Granted, we’ve only had a few discussions here, but about substantial subjects. Or joked or kidded around. But I don’t worry much about what I’m gonna say. I feel comfortable. So maybe it was an act of transference on my part. All these mirrors.”
“I, too, appreciate her elegance in the face of ugliness. But, no, I don’t respond to ugliness with elegance or silence or kindness, I don’t think. You’ve never said anything ugly. Gross, sure. Ugly, no.”
“It’s hard to say exactly. FB is stripped (heh) of context, but I’ve seen some people say some rude things on your threads and it seems to roll off your back.”
“I enjoy it, though. I’m not elegant… I’m a pervert!”
“Well, yeah, but pervs can be elegant, too. Can’t they? Elegant perversion. It’s all starting to sound French. The élan of gorging yourself on pyramids of genitals. The elegant boils on her ass…”
Then quoting the article, I said that, to me, the following is elegant. It may not be the strictest meaning of elegant, but it’s elegant to me. Elegance to me is sustaining dignity in the face of squalor, and that can take on many forms that may not be overtly elegant. It may, in fact, be ugly. It may be off-putting. Elegance is more than a sleek black dress, it’s almost an essence. And I use that word not lightly, because it’s tricky. And the brain is a tricky thing.
“ I feel that what she does in art — tries to free people — is the most important thing you can do in life, period. And I love that she always does it, bravely, no matter who or what it goes against, no matter how much further her unusual and uncompromising methods might drive her from our bosoms. “