Something I’ve written about or alluded to often is the flow between personal aspects of my life and the political. However, it’s a matter I’ve moved around the edges of, rather than gone deeply into, because I know I haven’t grasped what I mean fully.
Mark Fisher’s book Ghosts of my Life inspired me with the notion that by writing about culture when he was depressed, he was better able to see that it wasn’t just him – the world really was awful. While that was an important impetus, I find myself wanting to push into a deeper understanding of this connection between the self and the wider context of society and culture. The initial question I set out to address in this blog was how we can make a difference in the world. Over the past year, I’ve taken a different route than I expected, exploring loss, grief, recovery and trying to link this to the wider questions of how we navigate trauma and begin to rebuild. Somewhere along the line I’ve made the assumption that these aspects are linked and flow together in some way.
Sitting in The Hall I feel more determined than ever that I want to explore the process of recovery in a wider context than my own. The film Mr Smith Goes to Washington starring James Stewart and Jean Arthur is being projected onto the wall – a film that shows one man’s influence on American politics. But it’s not just the potential of our individual actions that I want to explore, it’s also the nature of the space that opens up if recovery and rebuilding are approached collectively. My hope is that my experience of beginning to rebuild after experiencing the trauma of loss might somehow inform the process.
Devastation and loss demands of us emotionally, morally and ethically, it also requires us to rethink ourselves in relation to others. In order to not only survive trauma but emerge from it, we need to think about what kind of people we will have to be. What will be required of us emotionally, morally, ethically, if we are going to be part of building something new? What will we have to challenge in ourselves, in our attitudes and perspectives?