Is There Life After Homelessness?

Below the illustration is an excerpt from my personal diary.   

The Battle After the War – Homelessness and Housing

I’ve thought about almost nothing but homelessness in Berkeley throughout the past five days. It’s a disease; it’s a disorder; it’s PTSD; it’s been triggered.   So I thought I’d take the opposite tact as oft-advised. Rather than distract myself from the triggers, I would embrace the experience completely.

In that spirit, I created this talk, called It Can’t Be Forgotten. Later I judged this effort harshly. Not the fact that I did it — that I don’t mind at all. I was happy, thrilled, and thankful that I completed the spontaneously conceived task, exciting as it was to undertake it.

What I judged was its quality. Two glaring errors stood out. For one thing, while I spoke often of the “inequality” factor, I did very little, if anything, to back up how that sense experience was valid for those of us enduring the Homeless Experience. It could just as easily have been a reflection of my own individual inferiority complex as it was an alleged manifestation of a social injustice.

Secondly, when this issue of inequality arises in the speech, I adopt a tone of voice that seems excessively strident. This could make the listener uncomfortable. The stridency could be alternately interpreted as either anger or sarcasm, something of an almost bitter outrage enters into the vibration from time to time, and the whole thing can make one very uneasy. This is especially the case if one can only tune into the upset tone of voice, and figure this guy’s got some kind of ax to grind, and then never tune in to the actual content of the dissertation, due to the fact that the ostentatious style has stood in the way.

I just now listened to the whole thing for the first time this morning. I don’t find it nearly as objectionable as I did during yesterday’s listen, but that may be because as a listener, I’m simply getting addicted to the repetitive playing of an interesting piece, and I’m getting into the groove of it. But it also may mean that my original objections are not so objectionable, because to remove that element of anger as well as the component of vagueness as to what exactly made us all feel so unequal and so dehumanized when we were all together back then on the streets, would be in essence to assault the very concept of the piece. It is what it is. If it makes you uncomfortable, good. What does this say about you?

That question asked, the speech, on that level, succeeds.  What might be a distraction from that success, however, is if a certain kind of listener jumps to the conclusion, based on early, as yet undeveloped information, that the piece is “about” Internet trolling, trolls, etc.  But it’s not.  It’s about homelessness, inequality, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The troll is only used as a device, to serve as a trigger.

8:06 a.m. – 2019-08-10


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6 thoughts on “Is There Life After Homelessness?

  1. You are as eloquent and expressive as always, Andy. I had no problem with it at all. What can come across as ‘strident’ can also be received as passionate, so the latter is how I took it. The exploration of how non-homeless people listening to your story, no matter how much you can clarify for them, interpret it for themselves with their own distinct judgments coming into it is beyond your control and is a kind of bugbear result of your sharing your experiences on behalf of the whole real story of homelessness and the perceptions of inequality that this may so easily incur.

    I could talk about my issues with the art world in similar ‘strident’ tones. There is is much that disgusts me, quite frankly. I know my subject well and I’d be able to able to share my experiences and views eloquently. But I can guarantee if I did this publically, someone in the ‘audience’ twisting my position around or assuming things about me would trigger my buttons too. These inner buttons are there for good reason, they are part of a result of a long period of feeling and interpreting. So to share is to risk triggering yourself off – that has to be what you are prepared to do if you air a social issue and to accept that it is likely to happen. To be prepared for it. I think you are doing a great job! I got to air my views in my novel, and I’m so glad I did! Your musical is your expression and it will have its own power. I hope I’m making sense here. Cheers, Andy!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Well, thanks Lynne. I did decide just to leave the speech as it is, though I may do another one later and try to adjust the angle.

    It seems anyway to have all run its course. My mind has finally stopped thinking about homelessness in Berkeley, and is again thinking about things like revising my vocal score, going to church, and getting the rest of my ex-wife’s stuff out of my house. (An arduous task, and one that tends to breed resentment.)

    I’ll have to see what the editors decide. If they still want to use me, fine, but I’m pretty ambivalent at this stage. I guess journalists just have to thicken their skin and deal with it as it comes. But there’s something about 25,000 people reading the words each month that I write for a grand total of $25 USD that is beginning to disturb me.

    My need for notoriety is so minimal, I think I’ll look for the gig where 25 people read my words and I make $25,000 for it. Here’s hoping.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can never listen or read anything without changing my reference frame. So it seems different each time. I’m thinking that works that way for everyone. Maybe not.
    I work at something (writing, music, visual art, poetry) until it’s time to abandon it. It’s never actually done, I just finally walk. If I’m fortunate there is always another time.
    You are articulate and passionate. A fine combination. Keep going.

    Liked by 2 people

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