05 November 2008

Saul Williams--A Letter to History

Now that is poetry. I've loved this guy since I saw Slam (that's the "in 1998" part), and his poetic sensibilities are great (though for me they really, really pop only when he reads them or I can channel his sort of cadence as I read it).

What I also found interesting, though, was the interaction with history:

Parts of me have feared becoming great
Because it seemed that the price would be death,
And a post mortem glory
That my memory could never learn to resurrect.

I've stared at paintings,
Dieing to catch glimpses of the painter,
Closed my eyes to listen to songs
That drunken ghosts dance to.
And all the while I've struggled
To free the present,
To become.

And later:

Dear history, I beat you.
Generator of generations
Bearing witness to a world
That we are holding accountable
For past actions.

And lastly:

Dear history, we no longer believe in you.
We have invested our beliefs
In the present time, the present moment
Into our present opportunity
To shift our reality into one
That does not resemble the past.
I couldn't help but think of Walter Benjamin's and John Berger's view of history as a thing to be resisted, reformed, and...maybe...if we agree with Williams...released from the present.

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