BC: Gimme Gotcha c. Corinne Whitaker www.giraffe.com email@example.com
FC: Gimme Gotcha | Corinne Whitaker
1: Gimme Gotcha Corinne Whitaker
3: When Talya was five she asked me if life could be a dream.
5: I wonder if the concept of Family could be a dream, a fiction designed to camouflage the dissonances of hearth and home. Does family mean Gimme. Gotcha. You owe me? In the early 21st century, is the United States of Aggression greed-ridden and consumer-obsessed?
7: What about the greater family, the Human family? The rage in Pakistan-Kashmir-India, the tortured confessions of the Catholic hierarchy, the suppurative outpourings of radical Muslim hatred and the equally toxic radical hatred of Muslims - does the fiction of Family hug the globe in some kind of relentless death grip?
9: Does Family mean that some members of a clan are more desirable than others? I have never heard of a horse cramming its own into ovens at Dachau or elsewhere. Do humans have the right to shoot and dismember a giraffe, the right to decide he was expendable? We have long understood that violence is endemic to the larger universe. Do you know that the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy are speeding toward each other at 300,000 miles per hour? Scientists tell us not to worry. If there is a collision it won't occur for at least three or four billion years. But violence in the human family is being called a World Health Problem. The world, it would seem, is sick.
11: It is not only our natural offspring that we induct into violence. A group of computer scientists is experimenting with Genetic Programming. They invent thousands of possible new products inside a computer and then let all the products fight for survival. The strongest products are allowed to "breed" while the weakest expire.
13: This fiction of the Family has been with us for a long time. A newly translated letter written in Greek some 1800 years ago reveals a soldier's longing for home, accompanied by his desperation at the lack of letters from his family. Father Christmas and Mother Earth express a yearning rather than a fact. Sisterhood and Brotherhood prompt us to ask what really lurks beneath those ominous hoods.
15: "Uncle Sam Wants You" touched our need to be needed. It turned out that the need was for occupants of body bags, or uninformed subjects to be sprayed with live nerve and biological agents during the Cold War. Those were our daughters and sons. They endured tests called "Fearless Johnny" and "Flower Phase II". A more apt name might be Cancer in Drag.
17: There must be some elusive reason why men so regularly go to war. To get women, it has been suggested. To get more "stuff". To prove their manhood. The Pentagon has lately acknowledged manhood fifteen thousand eight hundred and ninety times. This is the number of body bags they have admitted ordering recently. None, by the way, is for the use of an enemy.
19: Whose daughter-son-mother-father will fill those yawning bags? Whose smashed bones will go into those soft chambers of death? These are not doggie bags, with left-over goodies to take home. These are left-over soldiers to bury, the bones of your neighbor, the flesh of your friend.
21: Lest you worry that our youth in their prime are fast disappearing, fear not. One scientist predicts that humans will upload their memories and consciousness into robots. We will then send hordes of these robots into the cosmos. They will create unrecognizable off-spring who will populate other galaxies. Isn't that comforting? What happens if a chip malfunctions? If wiring goes awry? How many of us are the result of faulty wiring? I know I am. What if I had been deemed "expendable"?
23: Last night I watched a baseball game drag on for thirteen innings. By the twelfth inning the air was filled with flying pigeons, the ground fairly covered with their feathers. It was night time, flight time, and time to eat the leftover hot dogs and garlic fries that littered the stadium. It occurred to me that the American dream is a pigeon whose feathers are being plucked, one by one. Does anyone notice, or are we too seduced by high-tech toys to care? The dissonance is beginning to spread to Brazil, Syria, Egypt, Turkey. As George Washington succinctly put it, "many mickles make a muckle", ie, grievances can pile up.
25: The elite of all ages have been driven to prove that their way is the only way. The Gimmes thought they could make a killing in real estate in Vietnam. The Gotchas see Baghdad as a place to market cell phones. These human profit machines are kith and kin to Napoleon and Alexander the was-he-really-Great? Aung San Suu Kyi, in 1991, looked at it slightly differently. "It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it", she said.
27: I call it the Fear Follicle, for we seem to be just a hair's breadth away from living in constant fear. Who is listening to us? Watching us? Photographing us? Data mining us? The Sword of Damocles hangs fragile above us, and we barely notice. We seem to be at war with ourselves and with each other.
29: Is it even possible to evaluate the essence of being human when you are one? How can we step outside the box when we are the box? Ironically,if we are to survive, it is the risk takers that will spur us on, past obstacles and over barriers. It is not only little boys that need heroes. It is you, and I, and everyone who has drawn breath. I would not like to meet Steve Jobs when he hadn't showered for weeks. But these are the humans who propel the species forward.
31: Does that mean that every sociopath is heroic? How do we distinguish the ground-breakers from the heart-breakers, the thirsty from the blood-thirsty? Barefoot kids with stinky feet are not necessarily prodigies. Sometimes they're just dirty, or rebellious, or trouble-makers. Sometimes the people in white coats treat you as a guinea pig rather than a patient. Sometimes those in gray suits line their pockets with the contents of yours. The corporations that sell electronic cigarettes to children eat dollar signs for breakfast. Gimme is their birthright. Gotcha is their legacy.
33: But in between the ashes and the butts are the true heroes. Maybe they don't pass standardized tests well: Einstein didn't. Maybe they create art that outrages: Matisse's work was called "savage". David Kelley, one of television's more brilliant writers, created a young man who wrote beautifully and compulsively. When his Mother locked him in his room without paper or computer to "cure" his obsession, he wrote on the walls and he wrote on toilet paper.
35: It is easy to despair.
37: But then the phone rings, and a small voice pleads, "Nana, won't you please come out of the phone and kill the monster under my bed?" And there is hope after all.
39: Corinne Whitaker, aka the Digital Giraffe, brings 33 years of experience to her career in digital imaging and digital sculpture. She is the editor, designer, publisher and programmer of the award-winning digital giraffe eZine (www.giraffe.com), now in its 20th year of monthly web publication, and has exhibited her work worldwide in over 80 solo and 200 group shows. Whitaker has written extensively about the new iconography of vision made possible by the computer. "Gimme Gotcha" is her sixth book, continuing her investigation in images and words into what it means to be human in the 21st century. Whitaker lives in her imagination and works out of her studio in Foster City, California, where she listens to the geese and the wisdom of the water. Copyright Corinne Whitaker 2014 All rights reserved. www.giraffe.com firstname.lastname@example.org