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Language Log

Saturday, Jun. 17, 2023 - 9:48 a.m.

Roasted a bunch of tomatillos we got in the food box. I now have like a half gallon of tomatillo sauce. It needs more garlic and some cilantro, and I guess I’ll go get some and add it in. Then freeze it all.

A question that was asked in a transcript I did for me thinking. It was asking these people to basically reimagine how their profession might work, and they had some interesting answers. One insight being that it’s easy to complain about what’s wrong, but imagining how you’d want it to work, all the possibilities, is a harder task and a more valuable one. So I’ve been the last few days reimagining a few things.

How art would work being the main one. I mean, you know my struggles with separating art from commerce, figuring out how to reach an audience with my various stuff.

Art is about making meaning. I’d like for everyone to have access to being able to do that for themselves, the creation side, which involves access to knowledge and leisure time… But also one makes meaning through interaction with artworks others have created. I would like the barriers to that to be lower. I would like for art to be valued not just as a commodity or social status indicator. And stuff that doesn’t particularly lend itself to trade, too. Not just “I’ll paint this for you and you’ll give me a scarf you made” although that is always good too. But a system that supports landscape art, performance art, site-specific installations, etc.

I walked to the bathroom at the river walk today, and when I came out there was a homeless person at the sink, wetting a wash rag. A Black woman, or MaGe at least. She smiled and offered to step aside and I said, no, it’s ok, I’ll wait, I just need to wash my hands, go ahead. I can wait. But she stepped aside anyway and was saying something. Cardboard sign around her neck said something about Jesus Christ. I washed my hands quickly and thanked her. I wished she hadn’t ceded her place to me, but I wasn’t going to argue. She was saying something, and giving a big smile.

As I walked away my brain finally extracted meaning from her words. “I don’t take up no space. I just don’t take up no space. Won’t take up no space.” I was halfway to the bridge and I turned around and said, “You can take up space.” She smiled big again and said, “I don’t take up no space.”

And who am I to say that that mantra isn’t one that saves her life on a day to day basis. The self-effacing smile, the yielding her place to someone else who is allowed to take up space. She knows better than me.

But I’m pretty sure everyone deserves to take up some space, and no one should be forced to accept giving that up for the sake of their own safety.

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