First, I was a man and now, I am Black

First, I was a man, and now, I am black


Spam is a funny thing. It reveals quite a bit about how things really work on the Internet. For months I have been receiving lots of spam about Viagra and ummmmm…personal growth. Obviously, somehow I have landed on a “of-interest-to-men” spam list. Then, the other day, all of that was gone and instead I had message after message regarding “Meet Hot Black Singles!” and “Successful Black Women are looking for you,” plus quite a few tips on cosmetically covering my keloid scars.


Now, I had to sit and think about how I had switched identity on the spam lists and realized that just a few days prior I had a few exchanges on Google plus with two African-American writers (conservative writers, both are very good  – Shirley Husar and JC Kendall) but haven’t been on much otherwise due to deadlines and presto! I am now an African-American Male.


Think about the kind of identity crisis this could cause. Think about what it says about how social media is actually used. It is important that you spend a little time contemplating how these services can be free. The ads we see are the least of the ways that revenue is generated. The issue is not just about how your information is used, but every click and stroke you make is analyzed for the purpose of selling you product.


Recently, I have begun to learn more about something called Big Mind. To quote Wikipedia (because I am feeling slightly lazy today)

“(Big Mind is )used particularly within the Zen tradition, the term Big Mind can have different meanings in different contexts, even within Buddhism. Japanese Soto Zen founder Dōgen Zenji uses the phrase in hisTenzo Kyōkun (Instructions to the Chief Cook);[1] as does 20th c. Zen master Shunryu Suzuki in talks collected in the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. “Big Mind” indicates an awareness of reality that transcends the merely personal, or wholly subjective.

The “Big Mind Process” is a specific technique developed by Zen teacher Dennis Merzel that merges Western psychological techniques (specifically Voice Dialogue therapy) with Buddhist conceptions of self and mind.”


I am learning about it through personal application (read – I found a new therapist and this is their approach) and also in an outward application (read – the new therapist is also directing me to sources to learn how it is done). It is a fascinating process and one of the few that has the effect of immediately changing how you think and act. Some of the change is simply from an increased awareness, but with any type of shift in awareness – one begins to make different choices in their actions.


What I keep meaning to blog about (and started to a week ago) is the awareness I have of the shift in my writing. I have gone on and on for years that there are two kinds of poetry – the personal and the universal. The personal is more about a private emoting, the universal is about an identification of shared emotions/events. A lot of poetry contains elements of both. There is a third type, but I can’t stand it so am not even going to give it space.


Universal poetry comes from the poet writing in service to the community. In other words, they are an artisan and not an artist (assigning to artist the modern meaning of ‘outside the norm’). The artisan is the craftsmen (in any media) who translates or captures meaning within the community. They are the great masters who painted or sculpted for religion. The writers who wrote to educate or explore meaning within a larger context then their own lives. I think truly, the reason why some artists have remained in the public eye and contemporary context even though they may have been dead for hundreds of years is that when you are involved in serving meaning within the community, you are creating works that speak to large groups of strangers who all are connected by the human condition.


I have watched my writing begin to transition out of the personal, dabble into the universal and then…suddenly, begin to exist in a role in which it is a tool of something else. I have mentioned how I have been under the impression I haven’t been writing much poetry at all and then I noticed all I have been doing is writing poetry. Only instead of writing something that I put out in a book or on the web. These poems are being put into use – they are the prayers of Grace Independent, the hypnosis scripts I use with clients, the meditations that I am beginning to teach – and I don’t feel like I am writing poetry because suddenly, the words are not separate from the life. The work I have done before has been separate – separate in the sense that yes, people can relate to it and perhaps find themselves within it but only by suspending their lives for that moment. Just as the creation of the work was a suspension of mine. If that makes sense. Somehow all of this relates to Big Mind, I think it is in using awareness to see how things may adapt, heal and have purpose.


And I think that is one of the reasons I have had a sort of stumbling with the city of love. The city needs a purpose to be a part of to continue on. That realization makes me happy. Like I have to go find a job for the poem.


Now I have gotten totally distracted.

But I am off to go see The Artist again.


c.2012. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.



About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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