Perhaps my writing this post also constitutes as me conforming to what society claims to be acceptable but it has been in my head for long enough so what the hell. As far as rebelling against society goes, we’ll call this our first step to many outrageous stunts out of the boundaries of what is called normal.
The other day I sat through a Film, visual and performing arts class on Jazz music and its culture in South Africa in the early 1900’s. Our lecture was being held in a contemporary Jazz club called The Orbit. My class is basically made up of all the arts students in the school. Musicians, game designers, fine artists, theatre performers, film makers, dancers and other general BA students who have an interest in the arts. Now Jazz music slowly crept in to the South African music scene at a time that did allow for the culture that it encouraged. Jazz culture is very sophisticated but gritty at the same time. It brought people of different races together in a South Africa that was still very much clothed with the laws of Apartheid, one of which did not permit the gathering of multi-racial groups of people in one place. Nevertheless, Jazz music burst through those barriers and it came to be a sound for everyone.
I couldn’t help but imagine how difficult it must have been to break those boundaries set by the society of that time. The state of mind those artists must have been in was one of a great undying desire to survive or at least create something to help others survive and see a bigger purpose that they might be living for. I don’t want to ignore the passion and courage they had, bringing a sound new to people who have never heard anything like it before but could totally relate to has to have needed the bravery of Goliath. They rebelled against what was expected of them and as one arts student called it….”went ham”. But I figure that, that is what passion drives you to do, when your mind is set on something, it will do anything to achieve that goal. Just as jazz, singer, Thandi Klaasen, continued to sing after acid had been thrown in her face. It was all for passion.
Since the lecture, I have discovered or perhaps re-discovered something which I would like to re- iterate. The human brain is a phenomenal thing, we are intelligent human beings, really! I realised that it has taken me 13 years of my schooling life to learn just that. Yes, I have learned other great things about the world but all of which root from the grandness of our ability to think up all the knowledge we gain from going to school in the first place. I wake up in the morning and go to school to re-discover this truth all over again. I wonder if the likes of Dolly Rathebe, Mariam Makeba and all the timeless artists of that time ever thought of this. Perhaps for them, there was no curious arts students like me around to conclude this or for them it has always been a thing of constantly having to, against all odds, live up to their fullest thinking capacity and potential in order to survive under or even against what Apartheid encouraged. Perhaps somewhere in west campus there is a science, accounting or engineering student doing just that, I don’t know, in fact nobody knows. But a lifetime from now other kids will wake up in the morning and go to school to learn about how great they were.
I usually take a 2hour nap in the afternoons just for control and most of the time I wake up before my alarm rings from a fright, as if I have been aggressively shook from my sleep. It takes about half an hour for me to get back to my normal state of mind. My overly innovative self leads me to believe that I could be doing something great with my time than just sleeping. If a singer can endure the agony of her skin creasing and still keep singing, what are sore feet, chalice hands or 6 page essays? To whom much is given, much is expected. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should all go lose an eye so that we can be called great but if that’s what it takes, then for the sake of art, go ham. Maybe we’re so comfortable with the society we live in that there is nothing daring the way we live any more, living is easy. I hate that as an artist who claims to be extraordinary, that I still have time to be taking long naps as if I have nothing left to offer. Maybe we’re afraid or just flat out lazy. I haven’t figured that one out yet, perhaps it will take me another decade to learn that a simple lecture on jazz music was enough to end this epidemic of laziness in the first place.
Essentially, whether we go to school or not, that does not take away our ability to think up grand things. But it’s all in the conversations we have across our different fields of interest. And how we can collaborate to create another ground-breaking era in South Africa. I have found great interest in speaking to musicians, film makers and game designers per say because of the different ways of thinking they bring to the table. And that is perhaps something they might have learned in the environment of a formal learning institution or maybe a piece of knowledge they gained from speaking to a random homeless guy on the street, needless to say, our minds are super. Imagine the things we came up with in a 45 minute lecture on Jazz music. There could be many more of those. I think we are great, and I think we know this, that’s why we’re all here. We just need to break through the barriers we have created for ourselves and show the world why we are such cool kids.
P.S Congratulations on your first attempt to slap society in the face and reading my blog. Don’t worry, you are going to be just fine.