Monday, March 07, 2016

Cloak of Invisibility

Some people fantasize about the power wearing a cloak of invisibility might give them. I'm just the opposite. There is nothing that makes me feel more powerless than the feeling of being invisible. Perhaps it is a "middle child" thing, but I often go through life doing what I do and taking up the space I take up without the feeling that I am being seen. It might have something to do with being short of stature in a world where most adult heads hover six inches above mine. It might even have something to do with being a violist, since in orchestral and chamber music situations we are often invisible (though sorely missed when we are not there).

I have had periods of what I tend to think of as "visibility by association." Over the years I have been thought of as Marshall's sister, Burton's daughter, Baker's student, Michael's wife, Rachel's mom, Ben's mom, or this or that person's friend. When I worked at a radio station and wrote CD reviews, there were people who seemed interested in getting to know me because they believed that I was in some kind of position to help them with their career objectives. Some of those people actually got to know me as a person rather than as a "contact," and became good friends.

There are long-time residents of our small university town who know me by what I do or what I have done, but to most of the newer musicians in town, I am invisible. It is sad that I am also invisible to their students. I am not invisible to the musicians I associate with in the larger towns where I do most of my playing, which helps me to keep going when my internal motivation mechanism gets overwhelmed.

I know that my situation is not unique to me or to musicians. There are a great many people who feel powerless because they have been rendered invisible. My heart goes out to the people in Flint, Michigan. My heart goes out to the faculty and staff at our local university. Many people have lost their jobs, and many more are anticipating pay cuts because our governor will not pass a budget to provide funding for state universities. People may demonstrate (I will demonstrate with them) but in this situation we are essentially powerless and invisible. There is too much power in the hands of our governor, and he has not shown that he is a person to be trusted with power. I feel sorry for the people who voted for him in good conscience. Especially the people who have lost their jobs because of him and the local elected officials who support him.

Perhaps one of the reasons I admire Bernie Sanders so much is that for decade after decade after decade he has spoken out about inequality and has maintained his search for truth by "walking the walk." The corporate media is trying to make him invisible, and they are doing it because they are afraid of having a president in office who might change the way elections are funded. A Sanders presidency would mean, in part, that the various institutions of the corporate media might lose out on the huge amount of money and power they acquire every time we have a big election.

The absence of coverage for Bernie Sanders's accomplishments in this presidential race has become noticeable. And if it continues (and I believe that Sanders's success will) the press might have to make some significant changes on its own. Let's hope that day arrives soon.

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