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African Renaissance

Shakespeare’s Nervous Breakdown (Part Two)

Abigail George

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I owe people money and I am writing again. I must tell you. I love you my darling. I hope that you are not lonely. I have to do collateral damage. Please do not be angry with me but I have to write this play to earn an extra income.

I want to do right by you. You are everything to me and because you are everything to me, I will move heaven and earth to see to it that what I am writing will become a roaring success. I do miss you. Do you ever think of me sometimes? Man is flesh and bone, a violent creature but a woman is something else. She can illuminate the world around her, dance around it surrounded by the things that love her the most, her children and her husband without lifting a finger. Glories lie aside; men take what they can get. They take to lovers but I am all yours.

I think of your beauty but you are beautiful in a myriad of ways. Even my daydreaming turns into transformations. In the dark, I am a floating body made up of God particles. I have a confession to make. I am crazy about you. I read books the way inexperienced girls take to lovers. All I have now are these glorious winter dreams about you. Not all the time but just sometimes. Whatever I was thinking and feeling before, the writer’s block is gone now. Thank heavens for that otherwise I would never have got out of this mess alive if you know what I mean. One day people will love you, sing your praises to the rooftops and the next if you owe them money it becomes dangerous to be alive. I want to be with you not just for appearances sake all the time when I am away from you. It is getting late. It is getting dark and I still have plenty of work to do.

Now that I have found you, I have found inspiration for every sonnet. I want you. I am haunted by you as I am by any woman’s lot in life. Just think of me. Think of my loneliness and my fear. The fear that I have that I will never be able to provide for you or the fear that I have that I will never write again. All I do is imagine you cooking up a feast and gardening. You are grand. You are grand. A lot of the time when I spend time with other playwrights, they ask what my secret is. You have to live and then they ask me, these playwrights who are just as successful as I am but who are or rather seem to be jealous out of their minds at how prolific I am ask me, well how do you live? Know your limits I say. Know your limits when it comes to drinking and know your limits when it comes to women but especially know your limits when it comes to borrowing money.

Do not forget that everything in life is a struggle when you are an adult. I live from hand to mouth but they just roll their eyes and scoff. Even when I was a child, life was difficult but I had a mother and a father who loved me and could explain the ins and the outs of the world to me poignantly, beautifully, wonderfully. Life was a zoo country. If I tell them that, I write about myself mostly and as often as I can about the women who have stripped beauty from my heart and wonder from my life I know that they will not believe me. I write for the working classes. I write to emancipate myself from the class structure in London, England. They want to talk about leaving a legacy. Balderdash I say to that. Balderdash. They want to live forever and in wanting to live forever, they forget that they have to live now. Another thing what they fail to do is write all the time even when they do not feel inspired.

They wait for a woman to arrive on the scene so that they can admire her and love her to death inside of their heads of all places. This is the madness that I have to live with on a daily basis. None of these men really seem very sane at all to me. We are all in it together. Art. The art form of the play. We drink together. We live together. We inspire each other. Sometimes we bounce ideas off each other. We are fiercely competitive. It is in man’s nature to be fiercely competitive with each other. How do you do it repeatedly? How do you triumph when we fail to do so, they ask. Here in my room it is cold and drafty but all I have to do is think of you and everything is all right again in my world. Parachutes of winter light and cold air. I am hungry for the light. I find it difficult for the inspiration to kick in when I write by candlelight. The light to me is spiritual like the writer’s intuition.

The sunlight is honest because it reveals everything. Even a hideous man can become beautiful. Every soldier’s fissures has a psychological and a physiological framework. I am fortunately not a soldier. Do not have those terrible war scenes written on the blueprint of my mind. The horrors of war. I look at the young men who have survived. Who have come back and I cannot look into their eyes. There is no life there. Imagine if these young men were to marry, their young wives, and what if they brought children into the world what kind of household would that be. All women are elegant and sophisticated in their own way even an ugly woman. I will not talk about my childhood to you. I will not talk to you about children but what I will talk to you about is love and pleasure. Rather I will talk to you about insights, about courage and about the motivation to write.

I meet so many fools. Where are all the wise men I ask myself? They say for a man to be wise he has to have a wife. In the state I am in right now, all I do is stare blankly at the walls around me. Sure, I feel isolated. The thing is I do not need praise in order to write. Just a little bit of encouragement from the fools around me who keep on telling me that they can never write again because they have just lost the love of their life. The love of his life in question usually belongs to someone else in the first place. I will still be in love with the halo, and the crown of your head while intimacy will be a dying art form for millennial couples. So even shrouds burst into song or leaves of grass from time to time. Here I will be forsaken for a raging lunatic who has seen his dead father’s ghost.

Abigail George is a feminist, poet and short story writer. She is the recipient of two South African National Arts Council Writing Grants, one from the Centre for the Book and the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council. She was born and raised in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape of South Africa, educated there and in Swaziland and Johannesburg. She has written a novella, books of poetry, and collections of short stories. She is busy with her brother putting the final additions to a biography on her father’s life. Her work has recently been anthologised in the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology IV. Her work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film.

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African Renaissance

Harper Lee’s sigh towards God and the signature psychology in her writing of To Kill A Mockingbird

Abigail George

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To Kill A Mockingbird, cover

There is blood in our silence, and in our silence the milk and honey, assertion and defiance of language lives and breathes. In our projections from the past, of our cultural background and history, and so, we are transformed by the social and political evolution of the lonely and simple, the mood of innocent and innocence lost and frighteningly dysfunctional country that we live in. I touch on the Mockingbird book for a number of reasons. Why would it inspire a South African poet living in an oblique African narrative, writing in the context of a divided self with emotional vigour. Meditative scenes and the climate of narcissistic visions of the dominant patriarchal landscape, the consumerist environment that we live in now.

Nelle Harper Lee, was she a pioneer stylistically, a visionary writer ahead of her time, or, a one hit wonder who just disappeared from public life never to be seen of or heard from again until her death? What exactly did Harper Lee fall victim too? The voices of her characters inside her head, her craftmanship, the assault of the popularity and critical success of the Mockingbird book. Were all calling to her, speaking in tongues of stigma change and brutal racial discrimination, the inner self, the system of the nuclear family, alienation, self-imposed isolation in a small-town setting? It deals with paranoia (so she was both eminent author, and feminist thinker) as an epidemic, to the freezing response of the strangeness of personal grief.

The nostalgic sentiment of childhood barricaded under the gaze of progress, dissemination of information, and the policies of racial conflict, racial hatred that is still an act of terror at the heart, the root cause of our neurotic behaviour all over the world. Audience and censure interplay in the novel. Any kind of discrimination is a fork in the road, the other side of silence. This other voice of racism perpetuates the struggle of divide and conquer, separate but equal. Hate is night. Gazing into the past. It is very much an absent waking from reconciling falling to the land of the European, being classified as Non-European. Race relations is an emergency continued on the universal horizon.

It is still setting the maladjusted stage in this modern age, in this society. The book also talks about causal issues of objectification, the anxious fear and ‘montage of heck’ subjugation that exists in the paradigm of a small-town community, the racist gender bias leaning towards the traitorous, fearful figure of Boo Radley who rejects the community, and is rejected in turn, giving up a life contributing positively to society. My response to this is to be a parting realist.

The same fears in this book are the fears that I have. The happiness in this book cancelled out the discrimination in my own life. That is why I read female writers so voraciously. The comedian, the exploratory-novelist who dissect the issue of post-coloniality in their literary pursuit, the experimental-novelist, the children’s writer, contemporary female poets, but when it comes to male writers, I only stick my neck out for Updike, Hemingway and Salinger.

Those are the books I grew up with in adolescence. The Music School, A Moveable Feast, and Catcher in the Rye. I didn’t know any brown novelists. Any poets who were of mixed- race descent. There is recognition of Harper Lee’s sign towards God. The sign is a sigh. She is statue-like. The Harper Lee when the Mockingbird book was finished had the finesse of a bird, of a swan. Her features destroyed like blue sky by rain when she disappeared from view. Hidden, shielded from the publicity machine by her editor.  Her sabotage by the roughs of this world. Both men. Mainly women. She plays this game. This game she knows so well. The anxiety and discrimination of anxiety. The undertaker is menopause. Eyes cast down. In the name of extinction, the dodo’s modus operandi, out about her pain, she tells herself to write everything down. She must. She must. In the name of the night watchman (for she is the night watchman), she must. She simply must. And yet light appears. And yet light appears. I am slowly going insane this time because what it comes down to for me is living in a brown South Africa. Not so much elegantly so. Growth via belonging are elegantly slow in those fields. Being a poet in a brown South Africa. Being a novelist in a brown South Africa. Wanting to be a pioneer on the same basic grounds that Harper Lee and Truman Capote were for those times. Politics is politics is politics. People are people. It comes from our childhood. If we grow up to be racist, now, whose fault is that really? Are we too defined by the class regime?

Something distilled now appears to transcend the established automata of To Kill A Mockingbird. All I see is darkness all around me. Now all I hear are the voices from the dark past. I tell myself that they are angels. But sometimes the things they say and tell me are hellish territory and I know then. That I am bound by oath and oar to boat and rope. The hangman’s noose. And everything is a political movement in the book. The father is a lawyer who loses the case of a lifetime, while his children grow up in this autobiographical account of racism in the Midwest. Lest we forget. Time is longer than rope. The gospel truth is that what Harper Lee wrote about then, it is a universal story.The flexibility of stigma and the spinning wheel of discrimination have shaped South African history for the longest time. It is a different kind of war. What in childhood shapes you,it evolves you into adult life.It is both mandate and contract. Other lives have other languages. Racism is central to the story, a muse, ‘the’ muse, a symbol of what has been lost and possessed, the dual images of both. It is a brilliantly sacred account of a complicated transforming wound for these times that we are living in. The light echoes. It is the end of another day. Tomorrow we wake up and the line of disparity continues. We live in denial, denial, denial, as if discrimination and the social system of race, and class, and struggle, and liberation is a falsehood. Believers are like the leafing owl and the flaming bowl of the moon. I just want something simple to believe in, that’s all.

Our norms and values make us who we are as a country, as a society, divide us too as a country, as a society. The religious say it is our duty to pray, and the politicians want our vote. The newspapers print what they think is the gospel truth. It is important what our novelists write, think. It is significant. What a poet’s response is, is this. As advocacy body, outreach, confessional analysis. The poet is fulltime activist. They can write in rhyme, in verse, or, meter.Words count for something, is what Nelle Harper Lee presupposed in the Mockingbird book. Regardless if it was before my time. I listen and I listen and I pay attention because I too want to put my best pioneering effort forward. There is freedom in creative expression.

As writers, novelists, you don’t write for the establishment. You don’t write to make a name for yourself, for glory, for name and fame and to put away money in the bank for your retirement, or, to secure financial security for yourself and your family. You write to impact and change the world around you for the betterment of humanity. You want your voice to create a force for good. Far away, I think of Harper Lee making notes as she made breakfast, or, sitting at her typewriter punching out a manuscript, changing the ribbon as I did when I was a teenager. She never married. Never had children. Never wrote more than two books. I have written ten, and I’m still going. Churning out poetry, novels, short stories, essays, plays.

My motivation will always be just to transform one life, one sociological perspective, one crisis of identity, one vision comparatively at a time, one strategy,one history. One reality.

Therein lay Harper Lee’s profound brilliance. Her triumph was her appeal to reason. To challenge the status quo of every nonconformist thinker.

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African Renaissance

Vincent van Gogh: The Other. Now we will both drown in agony, despair and ecstasy

Abigail George

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Now he belongs to the elite.

Like a photo workshop, even the trying decline of the citizenship (belonging to the working and lower middle classes) of stigma and the super-rise of discrimination amongst the mentally ill has myths and attitudes. It has become kind of like an occupational hazard that swings black veins here to know and understand this ‘captive-apartheid’ (separate but equal mentality, this psyche) of what it is like to be mentally ill, to be hospitalised, institutionalised on a long-term basis, the conflict in the home that leads to isolation, withdrawal from the community and broader society of the ‘victim’. In the discontent, in anger and agony, there will be violence and assault against the mentally ill that is never spoken about. There will never be an apology. The arrogant and thoughtless perpetrators from all quarters would think that with time memories of the past injustices and brutality will fade like a season. That the mentally ill sufferer would forget the pain of the mental cruelty of the emotional abuser. I think that we are all victims. All artists become victims. The dysfunctional household, the nuclear family hanging on by a thread becomes anti-powerful, antisocial, and rather than address these questionable and brutal actions, this avalanche of sin against the creative-minded and imaginative bipolar sufferer, or, the mentally ill sufferer who has an artistic temperament the result can lead to the dynamic of social alienation from society. The artist may be seen as a deteriorating misfit and living in declining living standards. Having a low sense of self-worth, no identity to speak of, or, frequently in the mode of identity crisis.

Frequenting brothels, becoming hypersexualised, or, befriending people living on the fringes of society. Cast out of society, Vincent called upon interlopers like himself, marginalised, disadvantaged due to poverty, neglect, and abandonment, and the liberties of discrimination. I have spoken about the spoiled identity before. I am more moved now to write about how the socialisation of discrimination against the mentally ill sufferer came about, than press-ganged stigma. There is a different mode of operandi for both. Like the Dutch painter, I tried to outrun the dawn, befriend the working class, those living and working in poverty, those gone in a drink, but the world has become a sticky place. Vincent held up a paintbrush and it became an alpha and omega talisman in his hands. He never sold a painting in his lifetime, had experienced unrequited love in his life, lived in abject poverty, befriended and even painted his circle of confidantes, prostitutes. He painted the wilderness in a chair, he painted the bone-filled face of the moon, he painted portraits in which he portrayed both the androgynous effect of the mind and the male and female landscape there, he painted self-portraits displaying his nature, his a-typical personality for the entire world to see, and he painted sunflowers. He engineered grasses, torment (even in the stars), the genius in the mundane, the banal. Even in the mediocre he found light and improvised comfort for himself in that light as if it belonged to the arena of God. He found the heart and the liver in the shadow of the destitute weeping over the figure of Christ, and for me, there’s a vague anguish attached to the scale of the page.

I think that when Vincent was painting himself, these complex pictures were so layered with subtext, so conceptual, yet, the broken link was there all along. The psychology of it all. And in extremes magical, in bursts of creative thought with an almost unreal substance sticking to it as if mentally he was getting rid of things that had robbed him of life. Marriage, children, ‘the’ career and a loving wife. When I look at the depressed views of himself, the imaginative portraiture, of course, of course I see myself. I see my own writing. I see myself as a poet, second and novelist, first in this phase of my writing career. Not confident in his talent, or, sure, is this a gift. His work was not ‘art’ in a commercial sensibility that would see him gaining financial security from his monumentally gifted work in his lifetime.Vincent’s nightmares like mine must have been intense and terrifying. I journal, Vincent painted. I didn’t handle my nervous breakdown every well, and subsequent nervous breakdowns, and hospitalisations. Stress, burnt out, depression and mania. Both common in the artistic temperament as well as female poets suffering from the Sylvia Plath Effect. He knew the business of internalising emptiness, the nonconcrete, turning it into the uninvolved non-event of the morose state of affairs of both affective pressure and fatalistic depression. I concentrate on the good things.He was a Renaissance-wolf. Hanging on by a phantom thread (as is due to artists who are mentally ill).He knew the voracious destructive pain of being rejected, that matters of the heart have two definitions.To be loved in return, or, to remain single, unloved.

And have many love affairs always trying to make up for the one that you lost to another. He plugged the gaps with the divine, albeit psychological art. In a South African, African context, the artist should be an enfranchised individual. It is important to realise that not just as newspaper gospel, but as a universal challenge, and as truth. The climate of freedom comes to the enfranchised. A kind of innermost peace in the lonely nights. Where did the origins of Vincent’s art, his utter focus, the language of his concentration, the fact that he was so prolific, as hardworking as spit come from, from childhood, or, from a psychiatric disorder? I have struggled with this realisation for most of my adult life. What does every bold incident of trauma inspire in the ‘disaster’ artist? The sunflowers of the creative spark, or, the madness life in the very ill.In the end, ultimately Vincent was the winner. He was the heir to whom the voice of God belonged to in his own time. I see his work speaking to me as diagrammatic. As a photo ark speaking in hundreds of tongues.What is writing, writing for pleasure, what exactly does that mean? What is painting, where is the voice in the painting, to whom does that voice belong? To me, truth resides in the forms of succession (what is the reward for the artist, what is the hereafter and the aftermath). By design the boiling kettleof the psyche brings to life the work, the vision, the art. Where dawn meets nightfall, the music of the hours, the silence by the beach with sand, the knot on the counter top, the muted television, the lost television remote, posterity and legacy, immortality and the mortal; the intellect is the master.

I think ofthe light in the fridge. How for me it can sometimes illuminate, radiate, light up the entire phenomenological plan of the order of this planet, of what I am writing, but the question begs, does the artist have an ego, is it unfulfilled, is it more mythic embryo than the odyssey in the womb. What is talent, that seems to come so naturally for the chosen, or, plays out as dubious and unnatural for the audience. Can the negative, can depression fuel, and nurture art?There is both affected dark in that supremacy, and light.

And of damage, of the photograph album of the soul rising to the surface; art too can heal, and can be a blessing. Yes, yes, the misfit can heal, and can be a blessing. We need not only look at Vincent van Gogh as a Dutch painter who never sold a painting in his lifetime, we can look to Africa’s nonconformist artists (Dambudzo Marechera, Richard Rive for example), and we can look to the universality of the world. Look upon the broken link to find the livid owl. Look upon the psychological education of the artist from childhood to death.

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African Renaissance

Cyber-terrorism

Abigail George

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Every day in this country there are men, women and children who live without honour, decency, values and integrity. This is Africa and sub-Saharan Africa’s masterpiece that we have discovered.

Time is running out on us to develop successful behaviour. The future is now. Life is impoverished, marginalised and disadvantaged areas are teetering on the brink. What has led to the inevitable decline that has advanced upon the poor in Africa during these turbulent times. I think of the visionary leadership of President Trump.We live in a world of simulation, where there is no contact between a large number of people due to the digital divide, information technology, poverty and prosperity and wealth, although we are all linked by the matrix and flux of culture. These multiplying and restructuring connections through serves evolution. I think of Kelly Askew’s “hydraulic needle theory”, Neil Armstrong, Thomas Jefferson.

Knowledge is intense. We tell ourselves that good will attempt to overcome terrorism. Resistance is futile.

A digital evolution where advancements are being made everyday all over the world concerning the rights of the third world countries in Africa. Sanitation, wells, electricity are linked and frame health subjectivities.

It is oral evidence, proof of the comprehensive contribution to positive social outcomes in this age of modern society, God and the revolutionary spirit, religion and the church that has given us life. The private of identity history of the economic apartheid of Africa, its stranglehold on its residents, has forged key figures and major role-players in African history to flesh out our relations of ethnicity, class/ruling class/president-elect/occupation, holistic democracies. The Coloured contextualised means of mixed race.

For humankind “to live long, and prosper”, we have to accept counterpowers, mental and cyber-freedoms.

Is this the legacy the leaders of our government and the African Renaissance want to leave us with? South Africa is on a self-destructive mode even more so than Zimbabwe. Stress and depression are rife in the workplace. People still ridicule mental illness and depression (for example, John Nash and Anne Sexton). We are missing the childlike innocence all citizens had in the novel beginnings of the new South Africa. Our Rainbow Nation. Our global village. We don’t have enough intelligence at our disposal as first world countries. We think of transport and we think of roads, we do not think of the bigger picture. Trade. Trade routes. Free trade. Why is it impossible to have rocket men, far-reaching satellites, astronauts from Africa?

As an empire, America is a stronghold, the leader of the free world, the home of the free, land of the brave.

Africa has good politicians, and bad politicians. Africa has corrupt politicians, as is the upper hierarchy that exists in the corporate world. The nature of the new game-plan is how fast can I make new money and spend it. On our school playing fields there exists an uninhibited violence and pornography is rife in homes. What would the dead heroes and heroines of the struggle desire be for revenge on all the negative issues that are prevalent in today’s society? Only time will tell. Even with the horrors of defeat facing us in all spheres of the human condition we must look upon positive solutions to free us from daily pessimism. With every psychological framework of an extraordinary mind comes perception, even before education.

Analysis will always lead to the final break, or unnatural breakthrough devoid of anthropological subculture.

It is illegitimate to write the history of only part of an absolute, and total community.

War crimes, hate crimes, slogans, speeches, murder, spy games, warfare, guerrilla tactics, scorched earth policy, Intel, intelligence, collateral damage, inconclusive, sectors, precincts, districts under guard and who still remembers Guantanamo Bay? The stuff of movies right. Perhaps a film by Orson Welles. The magical stuff of the imagination. War games. Spy Games. There are no sides here.There is only the ferocious coupling off of countries and citizens against terrorism (for example, cyber terrorism, eco terrorism). There should be only one allegiance and that should be to the one country empowering other people in developing countries. How can you hold a superpower responsible who diminished the UN Security Council? Let us think of the computer logic of world superpowers and the elite such as Saudi Arabia, Korea, Japan, and Russia.

That were never even intimidated by them and who doesn’t even think he, his country should be held responsible for the war crimes in Iraq? Perhaps in the past (as history has foretold), the accountability of the decision-making of Bush and Blair will rest on the world’s regard for these two world leaders. Somehow these days it feels closer to home. In mass media today, I think of Black and White personalities that have made their mark on society throughout the ages with their social point of view, their beliefs and existence, however fragmentary and dominating, mechanized and robotic. When that is projected before the followers of essentially two worlds, present and future, we still consider the scientist with all of their expertise as viewed as either a villain or the saviour. In the computer age, everything is mentally, verbally projected.We must start thinking of a specific parent culture when it comes to the divide and conquer rule of the world of computers.

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