How do you see the world? Through a liberal or conservative lens, fundamentalist or progressive, Democrat or Republican? Which bubble are you in? What frame do you use to organize your thoughts about what’s happening around you, which for me right now is focused much more than usual on national politics.
I can’t turn away from national news and neither can most of the people around me. For much of my adulthood my knowledge of political machinations has hovered at the periphery of my life. I’ve known what’s going on — the Republican shutdown of the government in 2013, opposition to Obama’s ACA, the Supreme Court’s recent rulings in favor of same sex marriage and affirmative action and against abortion restrictions in Texas. But political news hasn’t been at the center of my attention for much of the day every day.
Now it is — Trump’s election, reactions to his lies and hyperbolic assessments of his victory, his increasingly scary and bizarre cabinet picks, breaking news about Russian hacking and pressure on Electors not to elect Trump — are at the dead center of my attention. I check the news as soon as I get up and before I go to sleep and during every break I take during the day — Twitter, NYTimes, Washington Post, clicks through to CNN and Slate and Newsweek, Huffington Post and Politico. I read at least a dozen opinion pieces a day. While I run or drive or walk I listen to the 538 and NPR Politics and Show About Race podcasts. There’s a constant feed of news into my brain, almost none of which is good, and the opinions about what has happened, what might happen, why what happened happened, and what each of us should do about it all is overwhelming.
After a dose of online reading I usually come away feeling like everyone is telling each other how to see the world. But everyone is doing way more talking than seeing. There’s an overload of words meant to convince each other who to believe, who to understand better, which bubble to try to penetrate, your own or someone else’s.
I’ve turned to words myself. Besides the political reading I’ve done in the last six months, probably more than I’d done in the previous ten years, I’ve been writing and talking about this election and its outcome for months now. It’s time for something beyond words.
The most comfort I’ve found in responding to the election of Trump and my fears about living in an increasingly authoritarian, white, male, Christian controlled world has been literally weaving the news, revealing the fractures in truth we’re living through.
I started with the Sunday, December 4 NY Times, ripping strips of the paper, printed with news of Trump and responses to his decisions and actions and Tweets, then weaving the strips into a collage. I’ve since done five more collages with newspapers and magazines and the last one is my favorite — Barry Blitt’s drawing of President Obama on the cover of The New Yorker with text from David Remnick’s article.
Finally, a way of expressing how I see the world right now that doesn’t need words. Cutting and ripping and weaving and gluing shreds of news is calming.
If I can’t stitch the truth together out of what I read and hear, I can at least make something that shows the truth I see.