What Kind of Times Are These
By Adrienne Rich
There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.
I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.
I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.
And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
our names do not appear.
Rest in peace.
The work was beautiful, I think, because Winehouse was extremely smart about how risk works when you’re making art. She understood that the steely, arm’s-length confidence of modern pop singers — the ones who command, demand, and let you know how little shit they take — can only get you so far. You can’t really exhibit grace or toughness without having something hanging over you; it’s like weightlifting without the weights. So the most “retro” thing about Back to Black turned out not to be its period styling or vintage detail, but that streak of woeful resignation borrowed from old jazz records. Even more anachronistic, Winehouse realized that you can’t write love songs about yourself. Her version of love seemed to be the reckless, hopeless, masochistic kind, the one that looks exactly like drug addiction. There are songs of hers where it sounds as if happiness, or its nearest approximation, has come to depend mostly on the presence of a given man and a stiff drink.
The great thing she understood, though, is that there are ways of telegraphing grace, poise, and wit through all of that — that you can fatalistically accept all varieties of badness and still communicate a level of life and clarity that amazes people. Life, in these songs, sounds like a bit of a mess, but the character singing them does not. Since Winehouse’s success, the U.K. has been full of young women singing backward-looking soul, but it’s her clear-eyed vision through weariness and anguish, not the actual sound, that Winehouse is handing down to them. This year, Adele’s second album outsold Winehouse’s by tacking that same mien onto a safer, more ordinary topic — a standard-issue breakup — helped along by some people’s unconscious, and incredibly condescending, assumption that it must be very sad and tragic for her not to be skinny.
Addiction is a serious disease; it will end with jail, mental institutions or death. I was 27 years old when through the friendship and help of Chip Somers of the treatment centre Focus 12 I found recovery. Through Focus I was introduced to support fellowships for alcoholics and drug addicts that are very easy to find and open to anybody with a desire to stop drinking and without which I would not be alive.
Now Amy Winehouse is dead, like many others whose unnecessary deaths have been retrospectively romanticised, at 27 years old. Whether this tragedy was preventable or not is now irrelevant. It is not preventable today. We have lost a beautiful and talented woman to this disease. Not all addicts have Amy’s incredible talent. Or Kurt’s or Jimi’s or Janis’s. Some people just get the affliction. All we can do is adapt the way we view this condition, not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill.
We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care. We need to look at the way our government funds rehabilitation. It is cheaper to rehabilitate an addict than to send them to prison, so criminalisation doesn’t even make economic sense. Not all of us know someone with the incredible talent that Amy had but we all know drunks and junkies and they all need help and the help is out there. All they have to do is pick up the phone and make the call. Or not. Either way, there will be a phone call.
Cosigned. I have known and loved many addicts and it is a bastard of a disease. Those who have beaten it should be proud; those who can’t beat it deserve love, help and encouragement, not pity, scorn or jail.
Who says that I am dead knows nought at all
I - am that is
Two mice within Redwall
The Warrior sleeps ‘twixt hall and Cavern Hole
I - am that is
Take on my mighty role
Look for the sword in moonlight streaming forth
At night, when day’s first hour reflects the north
From o’er the threshold, seek and you will see
I - am that is
My sword will wield for me.
Riddle below Martin the Warrior’s tapestry - Redwall, 1986 (via cerinus-rivennis-apodemus)
I - am that is - Matthias