Robespierre quote on opera curtain


From: "Andrew Phelps"


Cc: Friends

Subject: [S-ACC] duck line-up reflections

Date: Saturday, October 1, 2016 11:34 PM



I reflect on what I experienced at San Diego Alternatives: I came back to my regular lived experience and my community. Last nite I saw the opera "Andrea Chenier" about a poet who was given the guillotine by Maximilien Robespierre in 1794. The curtain read the justification, "Even Plato banished poets from his republic." I thought of Pat Risser who talked like Plato and consistently challenged - from the inside - the infrastructure concerns that underlay the theme and process of the annual national conference of the "mental patients."

On the one hand, I was pleased to connect with people attending by the "ducks in line" concern. The behavior management approach of the mental health system expects the managers to stereotype in terms like that. I also realized that we weren't speaking enough to what to do about that. We did ask participants in the workshop to do so, however we were not able to produce extensive speeches at that level, beyond what we (the panelists) had each prepared.

The "empowerment" fabric of the early ("first stage") client/survivor movement was being brought back at the conference. And individuals felt much freer to speak of that there than in earlier days, where confrontation with the system tended to predominate. Pat, I believe, noted that, and started from the perspective that we are people, not beings afflicted with that so-called "mental illness." Now we need to work matters forward from there.

I came home and looked to see how my engagement with my life project has been affected by the experience of the Alternatives conference. I found old habits deriving from protest and accommodation may not work the same way as before, and that some changes may be required. I'm also looking more closely at how we may put forward our "New Jim Crow" type advocacy (by analogy) and move our oppression experience more to the Vision of a "second stage" social dynamic. I have new ideas, and much stress, and I wonder more how we may attain that transcendence.