I have really enjoyed the past few weeks blogging on DAO. One of the pleasures has been sharing this space with the sparkling insights of Caroline Cardus, Sophie Partridge, Rockinpaddy (move over Jojolito), Dolly Sen, Vince Laws et al. And the polemical cartooning of Dave Lupton aka Crippen. Or is that the other way around?
Dave's work reminds me of the intensely political cartoons of Naji Al-Ali. Although he was mysteriously assassinated in London in 1987 at the age of 50,
Al-Ali's work is constantly reproduced by many struggling to bring justice to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Handala - the strange man child who haunts his work - has become a symbol of exile, exclusion and injustice known all over the world, rattling not only the cages of Israeli and US regimes but also the corrupt governments who have colluded in the continuing oppression.
I believe his work is massively relevant to all those fighting for fairness and equality for disabled people. I think particularly of those of us whose exclusion from society is exacerbated by the vagaries of the mental health system.
You will see from an earlier blog post, that my own current relationship with that system is exceptionally positive. Past experience - including coercion to undergo electro-convulsive therapy (at the hands of a bullying psychiatrist who went on to become a successful conservative politician) - has been nothing short of a nightmare. And I am trying not to let my good relationship, with the mental health professionals with whom I am now in contact, ever allow me to forget the shameful abuse of neuroleptic drugs perpetrated by other parts of the same system.
I would like to extend my undying disgust for the shark-fanged shrinks (alongside all paedophile priests) to the thieving-magpie therapists. And all the bloody lot of you who earn a fecking fortune (£40 an hour and more) from preying on our insecurities and imposing your narrow bandwidth view of normality upon us. Not to mention creating a self-serving addiction to therapy to add injury to injury.
There are, of course, glowing exceptions out there as well. You know who you are. Or think you do. Analyse that shrinkos! Analyse my crippled Irish ass!
For those of you interested in Naji Al-Ali, I would recommend the excellent website www.handala.org.
'Nice to see you using art to get back to being normal again.' A recent comment from a well-meaning friend who had just grabbed my DAO blog and was feeding back.
This stopped me in my tracks. When have I ever talked about wanting to be 'normal'? So, after some (but not too much) reflection, I feel the need to explain my position on 'normailty'.
In my first few posts, I refer to the remit of this blog as being notes from a non-artist who started to make art. The making of this art seems to be helping improve my health and well-being on all levels. But I never said nothing about 'normal'!
When the shrinks enquire as to your state of mind on a particular day, they always seem to be poised to pounce at the merest indication of elation or sadness. Such deviations from a 'mean standard of reality/normality', an even keel, are clearly viewed as dangerous. Can't have that now can we? Sadness? Happiness? How 1960's! Surely we got rid of all that when we turned to neuroleptic drugs? They seem to work even though we don't know how exactly.
And we call that lot 'normal'?!!
And what is that gold standard of normality to which they implicitly refer? Is it normal to guzzle your second supersized bucket of cappuccino and ponder on your investment portfolio - or the squillion other things that the Daily Mail would approve of - while millions of Pakistani people are going through indescribable suffering, or people in Gaza are held in a limbo of international indifference? Is it normal to work your fingers to the bone and plunge further into a hopeless stranglehold of debt, while inherited wealth and position can suck society dry while sitting on their regal bottoms? A big fat naff off to all of that. Give me the weird, damaged, bitter, twisted, eccentric, passionate, contradictory gals and geezers any day of the week.
That's why it's such a pleasure to be in such good company on Disability Arts Online. Just hope it never goes 'normal'.