SHARPEN THAT FLINT! AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL
WRITING FOR REALITY HUNTER GRAY [HUNTERBEAR]
SEPTEMBER 7 2002
Sure, so maybe this is a little presumptuous, cheeky. That's my Organizer's
blood and style. And I've always said, anyone trying to organize
anything -- getting and keeping people together for action -- has damn well
got to have a healthy ego.
If I'm going to expect anyone to listen to me, I'm packing that Ego with all
the rest of the tools of my trade -- the Rigging -- that I carry wherever I
go. And that happens to be right here, right now.
So, first. Everyone's had experiences -- and those all have meaning.
Some, whether one knows it or not, have a very special meaning for others --
and, indeed, sometimes for many, many others. I'm talking about Radical
Meaning that gets down into and cat-claw fights the roots of snarly capitalism
and racism and all the other anti-people isms.
Meaning that not only helps one fight in the long arena of the day-to-day
struggles -- but also sights and steadies one's eye on the Vision -- the Shiny New World Over The Mountains Yonder. Socialist Democracy.
Meaning that helps people come together and understand how each of these
Rivers -- the Day-to-Day and the Vision -- contributes and strengthens the Other: an earthy, basic dynamic where, by seeking and accomplishing the significant and necessary day-to-day things, people not only help themselves, build confidence, but contribute to the Vision Stream.
Whoever you are: You should certainly try to toss those happenings -- the
special ones -- and their radical meaning right off into the Four
Directions. And if they have a whole lot to do with you personally -- your own hard-gotten
experiences, the stuff that figuratively and literally cuts into your hide and head and
mind -- well so much the better.
But whatever. Do it.
"Even if your writing ain't so hot," an old labor editor used to say. "Send
it to us. Tell us what's going on all around you. How you see it all."
Take It to the Sun.
I've been lucky on that score -- but I've also made my luck.
I was 24 when a tough and hostile newspaperman, an adversary to the core --
president of his particular western state press association -- looked at me with
slitted eyes and said, with obvious admiration: "I have never, never seen anyone who
could use words in the absolutely ruthless, cutting way that you do."
We smiled appreciatively at each other. Wickedly.
And I was a good deal older when that classic, universal epitome of
Machiavellianism -- an Academic Dean -- shuddered and recoiled slightly across the table from
me. "You use words just like bullets," said he.
It may damn well be Ego on my part -- but I do like those same-fight comments. Much.
Anyway, now to a personal Beef of mine. And if you do stick with me on this
one -- listen -- I'll really be much appreciative.
Coyotes howl every night now and thunder booms. Heavy rain -- always a good
and special personal sign for me has been falling these recent days and nights
here in Eastern Idaho. The cool Fall feeling -- which I detected 'way back in
early August at a couple of points -- is now very broadly apparent. Everywhere in
our 'way up region is the pungent smell of damp sage and cedars and
junipers -- a rich perfume that could never even be remotely replicated
by any human lab anywhere. In short, it's a good, meditative kind of time in
both dimensions: the Seen and the Unseen.
Idyllic. And promising.
And into this pleasantly reflective ethos, I now toss Big Cactus. Not at
everyone or even at many.
Just at a few.
Every now and then -- neither consistently nor frequently but with
regularity -- I pick up indications that some folks don't
like my "autobiographical writing." This appears with crabbed and carping
regularity from a few sour porcupines on one especially
problematic socialist e-mail discussion list where Red-baiting is Rife.
And I pick up an occasional elsewhere-ripple or two or three now
and then -- here and there.
There are some pithily creative things that I could say. Like, "travel
straight down to H and camp There until I get Religion and change my mind."
But I'll just put it straight-out that I don't give a deep devil's damn
about these darts and shadow knives. And the poison potions of the skulking cowards in the
I have rattlesnakes that are good friends -- buddies. Comrades. But not
Basically, I think it's Jealousy. Just rank, run of the mill Venial Sin
Stuff. They -- whoever -- simply don't appreciate people like me or a vast number of others
who've been privileged to do some solid things. Radical things. And who can then
effectively talk and write about those.
I do get a raft of positive comments -- sometimes on-list and often off --
about the many things I write and post. However they come flying in to me,
they're really welcome and much appreciated. These pieces of Rainbow travel
in here from a whole wide range of people: the gamut of races and
ethnicities and genders and preferences, younger and older, wage slaves of all kinds -- some of them thinkers and others doers. Some come from a really rare breed: scholar activists.
And there're even some ideologues -- good and ethically pragmatic ones, of
No small number of super kind words come from people who,
themselves, have sent admirable essays and books and poetry off on the High
And others are assiduous readers, the always-learners -- those who then do
their own very worthwhile things.
Of course, it has to go both ways, always -- so I certainly shoot my
own positive comments to good humans for solid thinking and fine work.
And there's much creative and splendid stuff of all kinds on the various
e-lists and in the paper print of our contemporary birch bark.
I grew up very much in the Native tradition of oral story telling as a fine,
precise art with its well-honed subtlety and its drum beats of emphasis.
It's a gift very critically necessary to our socio-cultural and
individual survival and enhancement.
And to our Flint-edged effectiveness.
And I also grew up in a family where
everyone was privileged to read -- and to read all sorts of things that in
total covered a vasty piece of the Creation. In our family forest, we never,
any of us, genuflect in the churches of cinema or television nor
do we -- ever, ever -- sprinkle ourselves with their holy waters of
Because we grow up telling and reading, we know how to Speak.
And we also know how to Write.
As Bill Faulkner put it, with no false modesty, "how to write good."
And on top of that, from my earliest years onward, we take History when it
comes and beckons and we travel with It -- 'way high up and far, far beyond.
The waves of experiences, occasionally marked by great public drama and much
more often exemplifying the drudge-of-struggle, have been rich and vigorous and
shining -- sometimes unique. They're always very substantively worthwhile. And even the most significant of these -- sometimes very much the most significant -- has
often carried the price of deep tragedy. For me there are some really heavy things that
can make me cry, But I do that, in the warrior way, always off and apart from others.
That's my loneliest exercise.
So for all of my life as an ongoing Organizer/Teacher -- and it's most
likely going to be a very long one -- I've had things to say and to write.
And those things have meaning. Radical meaning. And I can convey all of
That -- sometimes with subtlety, often directly, and always with very vivid
and incisive clarity.
Take two very recent and widely posted pieces of mine.
One's called "When a kid buys his first car in the Capitalist System" and
it's based on the challenging experiences a very young member of our
family just had [hell, that our whole family had in conjunction as well]
when he sought and successfully landed his first used and reasonably
dependable motor vehicle.
Jesus, what a very common, human struggle! A significant one, believe me.
And that little soliloquy drew many positive and experientially empathetic
comments from younger people all over. But not just from youth -- many of whom are
scouting their own motor search at this very moment -- or recovering from one. There also
are some mighty kind and in-tune messages from those in the veteran generations
camped much further up the Mountain. Who've gone through this travail, frequently even
helping their own younger folk take the perilous trail.
And then there was my most recent one: "Coming of Age into the Red [A
Native's Memoir] ." That's me -- very much me -- and in another time and on
a very critical trail deep into a Canyon and across to New Country. Turf where the Wild
Things Dance in the Sun and Shadows. Red Country. The Dark Blood-Red Country that I'm still in -- always for me -- and in which I shall always be.
That wide-ranging resurrecting piece takes in Indians and Cowboys and the Wild
Southwest, Lenin and Bears, Mentors and struggling committed Youth --
and the Far Far Horizon -- and a great deal more.
It takes all of those -- just like a myriad of copper wires -- into the
Crucible where it sears the many, many determinative strands into a fused complex: a story, reality. Me.
As I am right now -- Now and Forever.
And that piece -- "Coming of Age Into the Red" is writing that's drawn more
favorable comment than anything I've recently done. It's struck very deep,
drumming resonance over a very broad range.
It's obviously, of course, just as autobiographical as anything could ever
So when there's a sullen, clenched-teeth growl in the brush and thickets,
when there's a bitter little sting from the jaundiced shadows -- I shrug our Native shrug
and keep right on keeping on Blazing Trail.
There's a very special Bear Claw around my neck -- always.
And these things of mine -- sent into the New Faith of Cyber -- very often
and very soon get into traditional print media -- contemporary, tangible
publications. Good for me to hold and read them, wondrously turning each page just
like they're as new as they are to any reader.
And here's more: All of these little essay signal fires and weapons of mine
wind up, of course, on our large and much visited social justice website,
Lair of Hunterbear
And one of these days -- sooner or a just little later -- many of these
will appear as a good-sized Fist of burning feathers, published as a Fighting Book.
So I think things are doing just fine. And, again, to you I say: If you're
having experiences -- solid ones -- and a good searching look sees the Fiery glow
of Meaning or the deep down Red Spark, then talk about them. And write'em up. Don't be chary.
Just tell your story and give your meaning.
And it can help Save the World.
Send It all out on the Rainbow and On The Wind. Send It to the Sun.
Even if the Sun's pretending to be a Cyberspace Discussion.
Send It a whole lot further. And if others don't like your Arrows, don't
back up any at all. Smile -- but let them know they'd better not push too damn
far. For their own good.
"Better to be called Red than be called Yellow," said the old-time radicals
who gave me my catechism.
So take your Radical Stuff to every single burning frontier and across
every rocky rainy river and craggy canyon and over every desert and forest
mountain in the Creation. Our glorious and our very sanguinary -
blood-dimmed -- Creation.
Cut Trail -- Good Radical Trail -- Now and Forevermore.
And sharpen that Flint.
Fraternally / In Solidarity -
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear] Micmac / St Francis Abenaki / St Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´