Sins & Trespasses-prologue [Zedekoah excerpt 2]

 We are The Hanging Man

 the invisible,

The Ghost land

The indivisible mind and broken sun

with rays jagged and scattered

As if striking against each parted slice of glass

Broken with the frame

 The mirror is no more

 It is the hanging man, son. Don’t say you saw it. Don’t see him. Lie, if anything. But to see

is to be

And lord knows the hanging man

Is me.

*

Philip K. Dick, circa 1970, with his cat [photographer unknown]
There is a Philip K. Dick story “The Hanging Stranger” that sums up our problem in 21st-century pop culture, academia, and so-called cultural establishment which is this: we claim the emperor’s wearing clothes…when he’s not even an emperor.

In Dick’s story, only the conscious can see “the hanging man” whose bloated body twists in the town square

And so the aliens who have taken over must remove them one by one. They know you’re a conscious person simply if you panic and recoil in horror at the sight of a hanging person. The minute you mention it is the minute you are persona non grata. And you will be swiftly terminated. It is a phenomenal metaphor to the blacklisted genius or simply the truth-seeking artist. It is anyone who does not follow the rules, marches to his own beat, and knows – but can’t prove – that the system is not only rigged but insidious.

It’s what’s occurring right now at this very moment in formal activism, it’s what’s already destroyed institutes of higher learning.  And it has killed – if not erased completely – organized art.

There is a Nina Simone recording which sums up Dick’s story in music.

The song, Everyone’s Gone To The Moon, written by the oddball British songwriter Jonathan King, is a bizarre rendering of a world losing its grip on consciousness and ‘morality’ for lack of a better word. As if we’re through the looking glass and up is down, bad is good, etc. This is a gross simplification but the point is that by the end of the song the singer wonders if everyone has gone to the moon instead of the sun as she might prefer – so what will happen to us/to life as we know it?

 

The Essential Nina Simone Vol. 2 (RCA) contains songs of empathy, distress, love, and protest. “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon” can be found here.

It was a junkie who first told me that the song was simply about getting high and what would happen if everybody junked out.  Of course, the great irony in all this is that most gravely ill junkies or hardcore abusers are addicts who know that the world they are living in is not upside down, but right-side up in a world turned upside-down. People released from jail sometimes have a better perception of this because they see life as clear John Berger clearly explained it – the 21st century is nothing but one massive prison system.

Simone’s interpretation of Everyone’s Gone to the Moon is a freaky and majestic absurdist turn. In her high priestess wail, she is sincere and yet there’s a faint sound of nonchalance in her voice, almost – almost– as if she doesn’t have the strength to care. It is haunting because she’s alone. Everyone around her has decided to not see the hanging man.

What does this mean?

*

Our casemate has been infiltrated, we may not have much of an arsenal, but at least we had our own embrasures through which cinematic torpedoes and art could be launched.

 

________________

 

Author: Dennis-Leroy Kangalee

"I've been addicted to the flight, the albatross reason and the eternal search for something I couldn't explain or give or create or destroy..." Guerrilla filmmaker, performer, & writer Dennis Leroy Kangalee is a radical media ecologist who writes critical essays about protest art, activism, Black cinema, and culture. He is best known for his 2002 controversial film "As an Act of Protest". He is the author of "Lying Meat" (poems), the 2011 performance-piece "Gentrified Minds" and several screenplays. A Juilliard alumnus, he is the creator of the "Visual Liberation" film pedagogy that relates to 'protest art', he is available for lectures, workshops, freelance writing assignments, and private acting coaching lessons for actors.

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