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Drunken Boat is co-hosting a performance coinciding with this year’s AWP. Peter Yumi is among the lineup. And don’t forget to check out Issue 11 for our Life in a Time of Contraction folio.

They say that March “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”. Although they, technically, refers to roots in astronomy, for me, they refers to my first set of teachers from pre-school up until at least mid-elementary school. (By the fifth grade, you would probably be too grown up to recite such cute little proverbs.) Ah, how I miss those innocent days! The proverb still holds some truth even now in adulthood, except for the fact that, at the start of 2010, the lion had already arrived long before March.

The second decade of the 21st century found the nation mired in coast-to-coast snow, while Hawaii, the only state not to experience the wintry precipitation, was threatened by a tsunami (which fortunately did not come to pass) and very recently suffered a minor earthquake. These things happened after the disasters in Haiti, Chile, and there was even a threat to Illinois — the last place most of us think about when we think of earthquakes. This apocalyptic spread dared to silence, if only momentarily, the Christopher Hitchens in all of us.

2010’s assault on humanity makes Peter Yumi’s lung infection piece all the more affecting. According to his blog, lung infection is part of a video series called ‘COLD’. For astute listeners who happen to have an ear for Hank Williams, the first thing you will notice in lung infection is “Cold, Cold Heart” as you have never heard it before. Had Mr. Williams survived into our times, perhaps he would have found it appropriate for “Cold, Cold Heart” to be covered in the manner of a broken man’s dying breath, set to a string of images that evoke a sort of X-ray storyboard.

Mr. Yumi says that ‘COLD’ is about “men and their self destructive behavior”, and the X-ray visuals set to Hank Williams might convey the worst kind of romantic heartache. (Think Jerry Williams —  no relation to Hank, at least not traditionally.) But if a heartbroken man’s self destructive behavior also applies to all of humanity, then lung infection beautifully captures our world as it goes up in a kind of bloody smoke (recurring in the video, but quite effective in 3:37 – 3:54). Indulgence leads to incurable infection (:25 – 1:05). The end of lung infection implies that the cycle will continue, thus affirming our self destructive nature.

No one wants to admit that our gloom, unless we make some radical changes, is going to result in permanent doom. If we’re not placing blame on someone else (Tea Baggers versus the government, Tom Delay and Jim Bunning against the American people, and on and on…), then we’re trying to spin the truth: all you have to do is listen to the constant stream of conflicting unemployment reports. Jobs are up, jobs are down. Unemployment rate remains at an all-time high, but hey, things are going to get better soon, at least statistically speaking…! And if you’ve been keeping up with the ongoing saga that is the vast Toyota recalls, you might get the feeling that, rather than taking responsibility, Toyota seems more focused on saving face and covering its ass. The common line of thinking might look something like: thank you for the cute commercials, but how do they help my sidelined Camry get me to the minimum wage job I had to take after I got laid off from my startup that went bust and now I’ve got no healthcare for myself or my family?

Once again, the Real World proves that Truth is the exclusive enterprise of Art and Literature. Mr Yumi’s series conveys raw truth and emotion that rarely has anyone in a position of power been capable of conveying. In addition to his series, you might also want to check out this piece by Scott T. Starbuck, which is a man-on-the-street account you might never get from our trusty media. And here is Laura Kaufman’s Weight of the World. In a time of contraction, where earnings are inflated and credit card interest rates skyrocket as salaries go down, the weight of the world seems to be the only right number in the whole universe — at least, hopefully until April. With our last lingering threads of hope, let us protect the surviving lamb.

By Joe Ramelo, Social Media Assistant.

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Published Mar 09, 2010 - Comments Off on When the lion was already here

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