Nana Karobi Ya Oki
One of my treasured inspirations is this Japanese proverb. It means "knocked down 7 times, got up 8".
It failed me years ago when I volunteered at a rehab facility for children afflicted with polio. Seared into my brain are the images of those kids, locked shoulder to toes in iron lungs, prisons they could never hope to escape from, a medically-induced Guantanamo they did not deserve and could not leave. I could read to them, chat with them, but never erase the feeling of horror seeing them left behind, helpless, as I walked out the door.
I could walk
In one year the polio vaccine would become available. But those kids would never reach 8.
Their limp bodies, those desperate faces, haunt me today when I hear about people who refuse to vax. Do the anti-vaxxers have any idea what a vaccine would have meant to kids who got polio?
Have we lost the ability to speak compassion? What we seem to speak instead is innuendo and knee-jerk slogans veiled as innocent shorthand. Direct communication seems a lost language.
Insiders and cognoscenti rally to the underlying messages. We are, they seem to feel, those in-the-know, the Big Kahunas of the knowledgeverse.
Perhaps you are aware of "Josh A." and "Billy B.", apparently pilots of right-wing media sites with names like Parler and Gettr, backed by men like Steve Bannon and Guo Wengui. Parler has recently announced an NFT partnership with Melania Trump, while Gittr leads the social media battle to control the online conservative ecosystem. (1)
When my children were little, they understood the significance of language as a conveyor of important truths. They created a private dialogue called "potato language". It was designed specifically to communicate with each other, outside of the eyes and ears of parents and other denizens of that strange world called grown-up.
I intend never to grow up.
But I understand the ability of language to camouflage truths and sway minds.
Some two years ago I added the words "Caviar for the Mind" to the banner on top of giraffe.com. I wanted to convey the idea that digital imaging, while not familiar to everyone now, will one day become the standard language of art. I meant to express the joy of discovery, the pride in invention, the hint of tasting tomorrow by looking today at the new iconography of vision made possible by the computer.
In retrospect I am doubting the wisdom of that phrase. A former First Lady has just announced a new beauty product that contains caviar. It was designed, I suspect, to attract those with excess cash and bitcoins, to be the elite of the cosmetic world. It embeds a subliminal reference to Russia, home of the world's best caviar and idol of her ex-President husband. Its hope of attracting big dollar buyers was undoubtedly tied to his insatiable need for more money to pay for his misinformation-tainted world.
Is it too much to expect that a former First Lady might devote her energies to more worthy causes than the complexions of the uber wealthy? What about the hungry, the unemployed, those wrongfully evicted, those wrongfully convicted?
What about the children today who will never get past 7 if the antivaxxers prevail? Do Josh A. and Billy B. ever think beyond their lust to be not only in the right, but on the Right?
At first I wanted to remove the phrase from giraffe.com. Then I had to ask myself, was I letting bullies silence me? By removing the phrase was I a co-conspirator in a campaign of silence: bullies roar and cowards cringe? Should I let one woman's convictions erase my own?
Caviar: it's just one word. Can one word mean many things to different people?
Of course it can. There are words that reasonable people will not, ever, use, words that are hateful, hurtful, and harmful. Symbols that are inexorably destructive. Gestures that demean. Clothes that enrage. (Black Hats, for example, hackers who evade security protocols and contaminate computer networks; White Hats, those who bring shudders and shame to us all.)
Hopefully the roe of a fish does not rise to that level.
Until I learned that caviar comes from stunning the fish and extracting the ovaries. Or from doing a caesarean section on the female, allowing her to continue procreating. Or by massaging the female to eject the eggs.
That banner is beginning to feel very fishy. And I'm beginning to wonder: how do I get to 8?
(1)For more information on the disinformation media: gettr.
c. Corinne Whitaker 2022
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