Friday, October 31, 2008

Chauncey DeVega says: We Pull the Curtain Aside--Obama Election Countdown Day 3, What is Your Favorite Fight Song?

I know I am not alone as I express my anxieties about what may come during the next few days. I don't know what is going to happen. I don't know if Obama is going to win on Tuesday. I don't know if he is going to lose fairly. And to wear my allegiances on my sleeve, yes, as though it is a surprise, I am deeply invested in his victory.

I don't expect the sky to open, or our world to radically change. Why? because frankly that is too much to ask of any one man. I am not invested in him because he is a peripheral acquaintance. But, I will admit that it is sort of cool to have gone to the same barbershop and to have spent money at the same supermarket as the likely next president of the United States.

I was talking to Gordon and Zora today, and my compatriots and I have gone back and forth on what to do about Tuesday's election. Gordon has been on me to write something and I have been dragging my feet. Yet, I have been pretty productive as I have avoided his encouragement. I have published two pieces in some pretty prominent places and have gotten a nice amount of attention as a result--another hint to help those who may be trying to figure out my "real" identity. I have done some good research. My "professional" life is moving forward. Most importantly for our purposes, I have written what I feel is one of my best pieces for this site. But you know what? I haven't been able to write about this Tuesday.

It has been said that one of the allures of being a blogger is the ability to publicly share your most personal thoughts without consequence or risk. One of my best friends back in Connecticut, my Virgo twin, says that the attraction of running a website is that we can all be celebrities. I think she is right. Moreover, we can be part of "the blogosphere," or in this case "the black Blogosphere" and feel like we are part of some freedom struggle: look we can write online and be radical and fight for justice, look here! look at us! we are so political! But you know what? As much as we are part of the next generation of some type of Black counter-public, or Left counter-public (or INSERT X counter-public) we are safe through our relative anonymity. No one is going to kill us, there are few material consequences for what we do, and if politics, I mean real "political" action, is action in the face of real consequences for your person, how "political" are we really?

Don't be mistaken, I believe in my heart that we all do good work and are part of a broader community that is participating in meaningful conversations and exchange. That having been said, for this weekend and until Tuesday, I want to pull aside the wall, the screen, the veil that we collectively hide behind. Yes, I am Chauncey DeVega. Yes, I am sincere. Yes, part of why I think this project has been more successful than I could have ever dreamed (and thanks you to all of you, and I/We REALLY mean that) is because me, Zora, and Gordon are committed to being ourselves. And I would like to believe that the many tens of thousands of people who have visited this site have responded to us precisely because of our sincerity and honesty.

However, in wrestling speak, or in the language of folks who run carnivals and circuses, I also believe in what is called "kayfabe," the allusion which makes magic seem "real." In wrestling, they say that you are successful if you take your own personality and turn its volume way up--this is why Hulk Hogan, the Rock, Ric Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, HHH and many others became legends: there was and is something utterly believable about their personas because these workers are exaggerated versions of themselves. This is the quality that attracts me to certain authors, thinkers, actors, and in this context, bloggers--the idea that some people are just themselves, utterly authentic, just with the volume turned up. This quality is what makes me admire, and I apologize if I miss anyone, Trill, Raw Dawg, Dallas, Darko, Straight, Ta-Nahesi, Undercover, Afronerd, Field, 8th, Werner, and many others.

And guess what? Until Tuesday, I am going to turn the volume a little down. This makes things a little more personal and a bit more intimate. I know I am not alone in being worried about Tuesday and what may or may not happen. But, I want to be "me" as I talk about it.

In that spirit, when I am worried or frightened I have a few songs that play in my head. These songs are my fight songs (and yes I have a martial spirit so they have a certain energy..this probably explains why I have a samurai sword in my bedroom and I make sure to read a selection from the Hagakure each day), the personal anthems that simultaneously calm me and also ready me for battle. It may sound odd to some of you, but when in crisis I feel my hand tighten around some intangible and invisible sword as I prepare for battle. This act gives me strength and comfort.

I really believe that we all have songs like this--maybe the Creator hardwired this capacity to find solace and stability and focus in music into our psyches. Who knows? maybe as we evolved we developed this capacity on our own. When I have gone to give a lecture, or to present in meeting where the stakes where high, I played these songs. When I have gone into situations where I didn't feel prepared I played these songs in order to give myself strength. When I am ready to take care of business, and to destroy my enemies so to speak, I play these songs. When I buried my father, I played these songs.

They aren't "Black" music per se, because we as human beings have a wonderful capacity to borrow and assimilate music (and its varied energies) from places other than our own: most importantly I think this demonstrates how human beings, at least in our best moments, are truly more than the sum of our parts.

When I need to conquer my fears, to get motivated, or the like, I think about the featured songs from the following four movies:

Last of the Mohicans:

Conan the Barbarian:

Of course the song which serves as my ring tone, and is also the inspiration for one of my tattoos, the "Imperial March":

When I reflect on how far I have come in life, and about how much farther I have yet to go:

What do you think about? What is your personal fight song? How and what are you thinking in these next few days?


Anonymous said...

Something to conquer your fears and get you motivated? Since I'm a self-professed geek, how about some from cartoons?


The Touch [by Stan Bush]:

Gatchaman [Japanese]:

Or Battle of the Planets if you'd prefer:

And finally, not a song or a cartoon, but something that definitely wakes you up:


Your driver said...

Till Victory by Patti Smith, White Man In Hammersmith Palais by The Clash, Jerusalem by William Blake as sung by Billy Bragg and The World Turned Upside Down by Leon Rosselson. I am, obviously, a white man of a certain age. There's bunches more, The Rebel Jesus gets me through the annual Xmas shopping frenzy. Old gospel, songs like Farther Along and I'll Fly Away are helpful when it just plain hurts. The entire Mavis Staples album, We'll Never Turn Back has been very helpful in surviving the last couple of years of the Bush administration. I've listened to Till Victory a whole bunch of times in the last couple of weeks.

Lisa said...

I read this right after you posted it and I've come back and read it and thought about it ever since. I'm a 47 year old white woman. I was brought up in Boston and started junior high school when the rioting over busing in Boston was on national news. I was very lucky to be raised by people who, unlike many of my neighbors were not bigoted and didn't force religion on me.

I spent 14 years in the Air Force and in that time I lived all over the world and worked, socialized and lived with people from all parts of the country, of all races and with all kinds of backgrounds. I learned things about southern whites that shocked me and my seven months in Mississippi was seven months too long.

How am I feeling three days before this election? I'm feeling nervous and distracted and more concerned about this election than I have about any other in my life. Close friends who are also Obama supporters all seem to be feeling the same. I live in Colorado, but I work for a Texas based company and nearly all of my colleagues are Republicans. I never expressed a political view in 2000 or 2004 and I never mentioned my anger to co-workers when I voted in the 2006 mid-terms, but I let people know where I stood this time around and so people have avoided talking politics to me.

I read both of Obama's books, I've watched every speech either live on on YouTube and I'm obsessed with every scrap of news. I've felt every emotion from hope to fear of disappointment to anger to resentment throughout this campaign. I have never been inspired by a politician before. I have never dared to hope that there might be someone who truly can unify and transform this country and who may actually care about us and provide us with leadership.

I'm afraid that if Obama wins, the conservative anger will, at best lead to subterfuge geared toward ensuring that he can't succeed in office. I'm terrified that the recent US attack on Syria and the 16 attacks on Pakistan since August were intentionally launched to provoke an incident to throw this election.

His winning will forever change the world I've lived in for almost half a century, but winning is only the beginning. It is crucial that he has the support of Congress and that his popularity remains high through his first year.

I am nervous and giddily hopeful. What music do I hear? Oddly enough, I keep hearing Dylan.

Thanks for letting me get that out.

chaunceydevega said...

Good selections all--if we get enough folks willing to share perhaps we will do an online mixed tape of sorts.

@lisa-thanks for sharing. you are always so sincere and reflective...and it is appreciated. let's stay strong because who knows what is going to happen come tuesday.


Caro said...

Fight songs for me:
Expensive Shit, Fela Kuti (to confront injustice with grace)
Cachao's Güiro (for when you need Obatala to open the path)
Guns of Brixton, The Clash (when I'm militant)
Pay to Cum, Bad Brains (to channel the angry righteous 17-year-old who wants to kick ass)
Matador, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs (batucadas and brass made for good fightin' music)
Tú No Puedes Conmigo, Willie Colón & Héctor Lavoe (attitude up the ying yang)
Immigrant Song, Led Zep (it's cliched, but it so works for me)
So What, Miles Davis (for the cold simmer)

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

thanks for the love but your words are already the vol turned up high