LithHub specializes in publishing and linking striking examples of exactly what’s wrong with contemporary pseudo-intellectual culture.
Yesterday’s email compendium prominently featured a book excerpt in which the above female person of color, reacts to having received a generously-funded writing residency at a posh country estate.
Ms. Busby clearly operates on the basis of a sense of artistic grandeur and identity group entitlement that upon encountering the patron/artist relationship causes her to react to her benefactors a lot differently from the way artists like Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Bach did in the dear dead days of yore.
Busby does not sing her benefactors’ praises or dedicate a grand work to them. No, la Busby instead composes a carefully crafted personal response consisting of a full-throated outpouring of envy, snark, and contempt for her white liberal benefactors.
Previous classical literary representatives of underclass malice, envy, ingratitude, and insolence, Thersites, Caliban, Uriah Heep, never even came close to her.
That night, we are all welcomed to the coast by a man from the arts foundation. He smiles when he talks, apologizes for things that don’t matter. We offer back to him things he gave us in the first place—a seat, a plate of the catered food, a bottle of water. He says he just wants to get out of there and leave us to it, whatever it is, but he’ll see us on Saturday for the community Q&A.
“The people who live here are so happy to have you, and they’re very excited to hear all about your art,” he says.
Jill, we can’t wait to hear all about how our racism influences your art.
If you make us feel guilty enough, we’ll call you brave for your efforts.
You can’t make us love blackness, but you can make us love the way you use it.
How will you use it?
On the walls are childhood photos of the homeowner’s now-adult children. They spent their summers here, their growth spurts recorded on the door frame in permanent marker, meant to stay.
After he leaves, we convene in the yellow house for dinner. We sit around the dining room table with the curtains wide open on a window that belongs to them but is temporarily full of us instead: the screenwriter, the painter, the muralist, the illustrator, the actress, the performance artist, the mixed-media artist, and the essayist.
We squeeze in close, make just enough room for everyone to have a seat. We eat our catered food off their cobalt blue ceramic dishes, drink donated red wine out of their cups.
As it grows dark outside, the ocean view becomes implied, and we become less implied. We are reflected back to ourselves in the glass under the dim light of a low-hanging fixture, more easily seen by the neighbors walking their dogs or walking themselves around the neighborhood. We leave rings of donated red wine on their real-wood tabletop, talk and laugh so loudly that the porcelain teacups and family heirlooms rattle nervously in the cabinet, unused to so much vitality and bass.
We sit on display, swirl the wine, talk about what it means to be black artists (preservation).
They use us, steal our work, force us to compromise.
But how else can we get our art out into the world?
How else can our story be heard?
I mean, we have to do it, right?
Yeah, we have to do it.
It just sucks that we have to do it like this.
It does. It really does.
But it’s worth it.
Oh, it’s totally worth it.
All we have to do is take the cheese without disturbing the trap.
We talk about what it’s like to be nice white liberals (speculation). To live in this town without having a real big special talent, influence, or fame. To live here not as a somebody but as an anybody.