It’s been just under a week now. But it’s been a long time coming.
This last 18 months has been brutal. It feels unprecedented. It is, in some ways, and in others, maybe not.
I’ve been reading a lot, but not comics, certainly not literature. I’ve been listening to a lot, but not music. Analyses, post-mortems. I-told-you-so’s. Foolish attempts at reconciliation.
Last night was the first time in a long time that I was brought to tears by art. Not in some profound way. Unless grief and anger are profound, unless strangeness and ugliness are profound. I read, and I heard, and it poured out of me.
The comic was Honey So Sweet, a shojo manga from Viz. It’s not great comics. It’s not great art. It’s good though. It’s about a girl and a boy falling in love for the first time. Dating with marriage in mind. It’s innocent. It’s sweet. It’s caring, and naive, and earnest, and lovely, and all the things this world isn’t right now, but also is, but also isn’t.
The song was Everything Is Happening Today by Flock of Dimes, Jenn Wasner’s solo project. The song isn’t a mourner’s song, but it has a set of lines that knocked me over.
And as the seasons lie in wait /
Like a secret you already know /
Winter is behind us now /
It is ahead of us, also /
Part of me has always used art as a buffer, as an armor against the world. Lately I’ve felt like it hasn’t helped. Maybe I’ve been looking in the wrong places.
But, as a counter example: I read Julia Gfrörer’s latest book Laid Waste a few weeks ago. It was good, maybe great. But it also felt like a tonic for the hopelessness of the last few days. Passion in the end times, an act of defiance against death. Sorrow and brokenness witnessed. And without thinking last night I found myself reading it again, mulling it over. At the time, I didn’t know how much I would need it. I know now.
I think, now more than ever, I need art, and I need artists. The work of musicians, artists, writers, cartoonists will be the work that keeps me sane, and able to fight. To stand up for what needs to be stood up for. So thank you for strength, and kindness. And thank you for being loud when everyone else has been quiet. For rousing me from the shell shock.
The winter is behind us; it is ahead of us, also. We can face it together.
Thanks for reading.