Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections: Jeb Loy Nichols

Jeb Loy Nichols | 6th January 2020

It’s time once again for the annual series of postings we like to call Shadows and Reflections, in which our contributors and friends look back on the past twelve months. From Jeb Loy Nichols:

Nine Postcards I Didn’t Write To My Sister 
with photographs by Loraine Morley

People were marching on the streets of London yesterday and they were saying what they always say: Power To The People!  Power To The People!  

Is there anything in the world less in need of power than people?  We’ve had more than our fair share of it for thousands of years and what have we done? Created plastic patio furniture and established an infinite network of fast food outlets.  Can we not have a march where people quietly chant: Failure To The People!  Sub Optimal Performance To The People!  Power To The Squirrels!  Power To The Sycamore!  Power To The Wood Lice!

Whatever you love, love it big.  Love it huge. Make allowances for it.  Always be smaller than the things you love.  That’s good.  Let the things you love be all there is.  Let your enthusiasms be extravagant.

This year has been a year of Jack Gilbert’s poetry.  Also The Hunting Gun by Yasushi Inoue.  Also The Outlaw Album by Daniel Woodrell.  Also The Earthly Paradise by Robert Thom.  Also Moise And The World Of Reason by Tennessee Williams.  And I’ve been listening to Tony Rice and Norman Blake and William Parker and Carlton Jumel Smith and Bobby Oroza.

Also been listening to the rain.  

Why do I live out here, tucked away from people? 

I want to live with the last true oppositionists, the last true revolutionaries, the shrubs, the squirrels, the trees, the insects, the grasses, those things that don’t consume, that don’t war, that don’t vote, that don’t produce, that don’t promise, that don’t build and steal, that don’t accumulate and grow greedy.

Let every born thing make the noises they need to make at the volume at which they need to make them.  

Let them move around at their own pace.  

Let them multiply as they see fit.  

Let them fight and draw blood and be fierce as needs be.  

Let them be curious in their own ways.  

Let them construct and live in whatever homes and nests and burrows they require.  

All except us.  Let us be less.  Please. Generally, across the board, let humans be smaller and more minor in our pursuits. 

Whatever we do is inevitably for the worst, so it’s best to do as little as possible.

Don’t impose.

Don’t teach.

Don’t do good.

Don’t sit there like that looking smug.

Don’t make further mistakes by trying to put right the first ones.

Perhaps the only truly radical option left is to simply do nothing.  Don’t get involved.  Walk away, shut up.  Doing nothing is the only thing left that capitalism can’t co-opt.  What can capitalism do with a bunch of people who are doing nothing?  We should be as water is; slowly washing away at the foundations of power, of success. Of doing.  Water does nothing more but just be water and yet it reduces stone to sand and mountains to plains.

Be idle.  Be hesitant.  Force defeats itself.   

Been thinking about Bernie Mac and how he said: I ain’t afraid of you motherfuckers!

I’ve been reminding myself to say that everyday.