What a strange month for Kanye West. Let’s review. On June 15th, Kim Kardashian gave birth to their DAUGHTER, North. I’m not going to make fun of her name because, honestly, I think it’s a really cool name. This will probably not be the last time you disagree with me in the course of this post, so let’s start right off with an emphasis on creating a safe environment where everyone has different opinions and ideas and that’s okay because diversity is the mother of beauty or something like that, and it takes many, many facets to make a diamond shine. Okay? I’m asking you to AT LEAST proceed with an open mind because what I’m ultimately going to attempt is to encourage you to resist some of your most deeply ingrained and cherished philosophical presuppositions and – guess what – I’m going to employ long dead English Romantic poet, John Keats, to help me. And Walt Whitman too. Fun, right? I know. So anyway, the very next day, June 16th, was Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day, Kanye! I know it’s only been a day but now you have a DAUGHTER. And then 2 days later on June 18th, West released his 6th studio album, Yeezus, an album that goes to absurd lengths to assure the listener that, yes, Kanye West is – no questions, without a doubt – a full-fledged misogynist, which is why this will be the third time I mention his DAUGHTER in bold all caps.
And I, too, have a DAUGHTER. She’s 9. And I can only call upon enigmatic similes to just barely hint at how much I love her. I love her like the secret book loves to tell its stories to the silver snow. See? Like that. It’s so intense that it doesn’t make sense but I try to employ words that connote mystery, esotericism, and alchemy to hopefully evoke a kind of magic that both invites and resists interpretation. How do you feel about that? Not everything coheres into the kind of sense we’re most accustomed to making. In fact, a lot of things don’t cohere in tidy logical systems and I sometimes wonder what’s more distressing: a lack of coherence or the insistence on coherence where it simply doesn’t exist. Keep your eyes open. I’m nudging us toward a theme here.
But, first, let’s lay out some pieces that don’t shore up.
1). I’m in love with a woman who, among the many concerns that occupy her rich and complicated mind, considers her contribution to the ambitions of feminism one of her fundamantal concerns. A crucial aspect of this contribution entails a refusal to support institutions or individuals who exercise power in harmful ways that perpetuate the oppression of women. In other words, she’s a badass and she’s my hero. Seriously, I can’t even look at her without apprehending her in the context of my admiration for her nuanced sensitivity to important things that really, really matter.
2). I have a daughter who I believe deserves the opportunity to grow up and thrive in a world that evaluates and appreciates her from multiple perspectives as opposed to perceiving her initially and primarily as a potential object for the sexual pleasure for men, among other whims.
3). Apart from dwelling solely on the important females in my personal life, I also identify as an advocate for women in general and hope to participate in the creation of a world where women make great advances toward equality with men in terms of occupying positions of power in seats of government and business.
4). Kanye West is an immensely popular rap artist whose lyrics are blatantly and unapologetically misogynistic, running counter to all the aims described above.
5). I love Kanye West, his music, the monstrous dimensions of his arrogance, and his unreasonable demand for us to hurry up with his damn croissants. I’ve listened to Yeezus nonstop for 7 days. This post in no way seeks to defend Kanye West or the way he conceives of women. The mental set of assumptions he lives within that permit him to think and say what he thinks and says about women are deplorable. And yet, fully aware, I spent the $11.99 and I play Yeezus over and over and over. How’s that work?
Another thing this post does not seek to do is defend my right to support misogyny by giving money to Kanye West and repeatedly spewing his misguided messages through the horrified air. I think it’s wrong. I’m wrong. My beliefs and actions don’t line up. I lack integrity. I’m splintered. My moral system is all disjointed and fragmented like a goofy Picasso painted in 1910 – who, by the way, was no prize himself when it came to women.
So, to reiterate, I haven’t done much more than point out that Kanye West is wrong and I am too for listening to his music. I can’t speak for Mr. West but, for myself, the only way I can account for this lucid understanding of my wrongdoing while neither altering my listening habits or feeling really guilty is perhaps due to a heightened ability to relax in the midst of glaring contradiction. Let’s consult long dead English Romantic poet, John Keats, and his definition of “Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason”. I don’t know why I’m possessed by Kanye West. It seems to me that defending myself or defending Kanye West would merely be an exercise in irritable reaching.
Is it really that implausible for a guy to be, inside himself, an argument of irreconcilable voices. Aren’t we all a mess in some way every single day? How much energy do we waste trying to appear to cohere? When Walt Whitman sounds off and yells “I am large, I contain multitudes,” does anyone seriously think he considers himself a large multitude of agreement and coherency? Absolutely not, because the less frequently quoted two lines that come right before his large, multitudinous assertion are “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself”.
“Very well then I contradict myself” sounds like the comfortable announcement (one imagines him in a hammock sipping on a pink lemonade) of a man not given to “irritable reaching after fact or reason”. Interesting to note that Keats’ definition of Negative Capability came in 1817, Whitman’s ease with containing multitudes of contradiction occurred in 1855, leaving the last word for lonely Nietzsche to declare the death of God in 1882. In spite of this revolution in our relationship to being right and wrong (at the same time all the time), nearly 200 years after Keats first provided the prescription for existing in doubt without irritability, we can’t seem to shake the tendency to constantly divide into opposing camps around each and every issue to duke it out with both sides’ eyes focused on a victory that is no victory but, rather, a diminishing in the multitudes that constitute the geography of our largeness.
This post has travelled far afield into distant thoughts that may seem to have little bearing on Kanye West’s release of Yeezus. But it all aims to rigorously wonder about, and to seriously contemplate, what the actual shape of conflict, argument, and war would become if the precedent arose from someone, heated and frothy, saying It’s a logical impossibility for you to be a feminist at the same time that your actions condone the work of Kanye West and I merely replied Very well then.
And finally, though maybe this is an idealist long shot (I’m going to consider it anyway), what do you suppose might happen if the entire world of musical criticism suddenly dropped its attack on Kanye West and his misogynistic lyrics? Is it perhaps in the realm of possibility that West will continue to demean women as long as he continues to get mountains of negative attention for it? Who knows for sure? But humor me for a second. Imagine this. Let’s say the entire machine of criticism just one day STOPS. West is perplexed and, frankly, a little bummed out and bored. But, no matter, night is falling and North is fussing, so Kanye puts her on his chest and rubs her back as he rocks her to sleep. His baby girl. She’s a little world. And slowly, imperceptibly, in the wondrous subtle way that no amount of yelling at someone will ever accomplish, his mind begins to shift and change in directions he previously refused to consider. Rocking his baby girl to sleep. Listens to her breathe. Feels her heart beat. Close your eyes and let the world take 1000 pictures. One good girl is worth a 1000 bitches.
Read more from me at Black Hockey Jesus.
Recent posts: No Grown-Ups, Letting Lean In Be, Top 5 Educational Activities For Summer Fun, Picking Candy, Dancers, Townspeople, Chorus, The Baseball Game With My Kids, When My Kids Bug Me, Stealing Frozen Yogurt, Picking Up My Daughter From The Sleepover, My Daughter Running Across The Street, My Kids Meeting My Girlfriend, My Daughter After The Car Accident, My Daughter Breaking Her Neck, 5 Things My Kids Fight About, The Last Days Of My Daughter Turning 8, (My Son’s Maybe Girlfriend), My Daughter’s Lack Of Essence, Things My Kids Should Know After Their Father Dies, Light On My Daughter’s Face, My Son’s Masonry, Monitoring My Daughter’s Behavior And Processing Her Feelings About A Dead Boy