A Manifesto For Global Humanity Transcendent

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

We now again live with a Cold War conception of peace; as a zero-sum game or the liminal state of mutually assured destruction. This conception of peace has slid into our understanding of international cooperation in trade and, perhaps most dangerously (more so than war!) environmental protection; it perniciously infiltrates and pollutes mandates of social and cultural “tolerance.” Mutual gains, frankly, are too-often dismissed in the discourse of realpolitik as a Leftist Albatross. This, of course, is never stated outright, but careful scrutiny reveals the discourse is more closely related to détente these negotiations are not the same as creating a collaborative-competitive global international framework.

The balance of the equation slides teleologically: in the present forecast is maintained the liminality of global interdependence. The nationalist developments that have manifested in, for example, the Brexit referendum and the American Election demonstrate this. Populism necessitates a local, micro-perspective and this will remain the horizon-line reality of the rhetoric until a two-fold process takes place: 1. Peace is redefined from a state, something that can be maintained, to a process of harmony. 2. Populist Nationalism is broken down so as to encapsulate a global populous. A happy side-effect of this process would be to neuter demagoguery of much of its dangerous and alarmist potency. Within such a supra-community of political and economic communities, that type of narrow-scope rhetoric would be unable to encapsulate the lived-reality of enough people. It would alienate the traditional base of extremist right-wing conservativism because it would disrupt the conservation of harmony, thus rendering such views antithetical to the raison d’être of conservatism. This same decentralization would again prevent the Frankensteinian monsters of Left-wing ideologies à la 20th Century Communist dictatorships. Even an organizational model akin to the European Union would be insufficiently capable of governing such a body, in case there are those who would fear the over-bureaucratization of such a global body.

This is because the end-game would not be to create a singular entity. The United Nations is evidence enough that this is an insufficient means and, often, simply ineffectual. The diversity of peoples, and individuals within them, and the multitude of their interests and abilities is our greatest asset, the greatest strength of the U.N., it is also, of course, our greatest weakness, and the Achillies heel of any democratic body. And so: The grand design is not a political body, it is the creation of a mentalité. Systems fall away when we recognize they have outlived their usefulness. Our prejudices break when we recognize ourselves and our enemies to be so much more powerful than our errors in judgement; that the truth does not set us free but is a promise, a pact, in which we bind ourselves to a strength greater than those who cower behind noxious vapours of deception; that morality is not a system of law, but the inheritance of human potential. To change the order in which we perceive the world and life upon it is the only way to prosperity, to potential for all. There is always the chance that today could be the day is the only hope for any.

It is true that the fires of struggle forge the greatest souls. Let this be a mentality of striving. Everyone on this earth faces their own trials, so let us meet them, let us overtake them. We have so much of our humanity to regain, to attain. There is no shortage of human, environmental, economic, and personal crises to whet our appetites and test our mettle, on which to hone our abilities and sharpen our reason. Let us not redouble our obstacles, our foes, through hate and mongering. It is simply wasteful; in the guise of expediency it is only inefficient, makes all our efforts and expended resources redundant – the cost! By all measures of wealth – moral, material, spiritual, monetary, social – we only stand to gain. This seeming sacrifice for some could be repaid many-fold. It is so hard to in this current mould to be rich in one without becoming bankrupt in another. We can have it all. Malevolent violence exists only in the absence of power. The powerful have no need for violence, it is only when power fails that malice sweeps in to fill that space – a poor, crude compensation. Let us be powerful.

Let us all be powerful.

The Soft Power of Season’s Greetings

Tags

, , , , ,

A rose by any other name is still a bigot. The following is an atheistic analysis of a potential, perhaps pernicious, side-effect of invoking wholesale the generalized, non-specific “Happy Holidays” for this season’s greetings.

Changing the marketing of Christmas to “Happy Holidays” or some such is the first major change since Coke-a-cola and the Santa Christmas became hegemonic. The idea is to make for a more inclusive environment, to make the holiday not exclusive to Christians. Unfortunately, we do ourselves a disservice. It does not, in fact, create a more inclusive environment. Instead, it only disguises the imposition of a Christian (traditionally) holiday (now Christian-Capital/Consumerist), drawing everyone into its web, regardless of belief. A truly inclusive space, I should think, would encourage everyone to wish one another every type of holiday.

While Happy Holidays seems too-often to secretly mean “welcome to my liar,” I’d rather hear Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Huzzah it’s Kwanza!, be wished well for Ramadan, or invited to partake in a joyous Diwali, etc., etc. Clearly I don’t even know the names of many other holidays because we are not encouraged to explore them, to come together in many ways, but rather to “integrate” and deny anything special publicly that we could in fact share.

I am not writing specifically in the defence of Christian Christmas. I am as happy to have a secularized Christmas as the next person. Rather, I am concerned by the trend of confusing what it means to separate Church and State and invoke freedom of religion. Idealistically, democracy requires open and transparent operation, unfettered by excessive smoke-screens of rhetoric and the capacity for political sleight-of-hand. By refusing to call Christmas out by its rightful name threatens to allow it to go unnoticed that we have actual laws written-in to protect a Christian Holiday, that we, particularly we North Americans, completely orient the operation, form, and activities of our society, culturally and economically (in the case of economics, Christmas is a key factor in many business models) for most of an entire month, in some cases longer. Nobody closes up shop on Sundays anymore but we don’t think anything of the fact that Christmas, like Easter, is a stat. holiday. We unthinkingly accept the right to not work or do business on Christmas in most cases. The same can not always be said when minorities request the same right to have the time needed to observe their important holidays.

The disturbing thing is more the general trend of lying, of hiding, and isolating our views instead of creating a space where they can be discussed, shared, argued, accepted, tolerated, embraced. In the lead-up to the election of US president-elect Donald Trump, I heard a statistic on a CBC program describing an alarming percentile (somewhere in the mid-to-high seventies, if I am remembering correctly) of college (university, to us Canuks) students simply did not engage in discussion with those who held opposing views to their own. I cannot state the horror this particular demographic’s failure to communicate should instill in those with a stake in their country’s social future. And one cannot simply scapegoat the feedback effects of social media, though it is a factor. I imagine the Canadian statistic, in this case, is not too far-off the American one.

Placing the handle of “Happy Holidays” over a Christmas practice fuses and integrates Church and state – or, in terminology more relevant to our times, promotes the cultural hegemony of the mainstream through institutionalized discrimination. A hierarchy is supported in which a suzerain power structure retains its hold in the style of a cabal; the “old-stock,” WASP culture and freedom of religion, they are not even stated as separately identifiable things. I know a Russian Orthodox Jew; her absolute favourite holiday is Christmas. She knows it is a “Christian” holiday, but the way we celebrate it is beautiful to her. It is something she can embrace without threatening her Judaism. I think that’s wonderful and we should all be so lucky as to do that, only with a much more diverse palate for cultural celebrations. However, she can only do this in a way that allows her the enjoyment of the holiday without threatening the integrity of her religious beliefs because she knows, explicitly, what Christmas represents; its origins, which parts intrinsically align with her beliefs, which parts are just the sheer ruddy joy of consumerist hedonism, along with those aspects she personally will choose to not involve in her celebration of a holiday rooted in a religion that is not her own.

Nobody should be fooled by the feint except those looking to feather their cap. I realize Christmas isn’t very religious for most people and I understand the appeal to some of the totally non-threatening, politically-correct, denomination-non-specific wording of “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings.” I actually don’t have a problem with people using these phrases; I use them myself, frequently, to wish-well unto others generally during this season – but never as a by-word for Christmas when I honestly am thinking of my own holiday. It is not the trivial wording substitute itself but the larger trends it represents that is a threat to the freedom of religion, of expression, of identity – not for Christians, not in the slightest for Christians, it is in all but name a guarantee for Christians. The fundamentalists should rejoice! – but for everyone else. It is dangerous. It is dangerous because it represents a backsliding of our so-called values. Our values are “so-called” and backslide when freedom of religion means freedom-to-believe-whatever-you-want-so-long-as-you-don’t-tell-anybody-and-don’t-show-it-off. This isn’t the Sochi Olympics, were it was acceptable to be homosexual so long as you refrained from promulgating “homosexual propaganda” (examples of “homosexual propaganda” at the Sochi Olympics including: stating your homosexuality while at the Olympics, or generally being openly gay and openly good at sports at the same time). Instead, we should seek a social norm that promotes the open expression of religious or non-religious cultural practices equally, in a transparent and accountable form, rather than secretly imposing the practices of the traditional social center over all citizens.

Salaam, and Merry Christmas.

One Final Fermented Fruit – An Aperitif: What Is Hip?

Tags

, , ,

I think, at this point, it is fair to say we were all rather reactionary regarding hipsters – which is actually ironic and, indeed, perhaps the greatest irony of hipsterdom as there has scarcely been a more reactionary cultural trend of such near-ubiquity in the West and especially North America. Remembering such popular blog-essays as “Hipsterism: The Death Of Western Culture” (or something thereabouts) and a plethora of cultural debates and diatribes on the state of our contemporary youth including the inexorable determinism of hipsterism for the individual-minded: you become some variant of hipster, be it the double-hipster, the proto-hipster, the rustic hipster, the innocent hipster, etc. hipster. Now there are the hippsies – but I might touch on them later. Some of us were rather animated by the topic – unless you were hip, in which case that wasn’t cool. Now, it does follow a logic, that so many, myself included, responded in kind to the reactionary nature of hipsterism. There are, of course, the myriad personal reasons why one might reject or accept a movement or trend but I am going to instead propose an anthropological or sociological theory instead…. We’ll see which direction my argument develops in.

First off, it must be agreed that hipsters can be legitimately interpreted as reactionary rather than revolutionary, culturally speaking; that the movement tends towards droll idolatry, rather than attend in fidelity to its rhetorical trappings of iconoclasm. The explanation for one of the major cultural motives to react to hipsterism is actually one in the same. The culture of Millenials (relevancy of the generation-gap being another discussion altogether) – or the culture Millenials were born into – is a Tower Of Babel. The digital-information age is still sorting its way through archetypal materiels accumulated since the 60s and in the post-modernist tradition (also accumulated) of pastiche and cultural collage, we as a culture have stacked them one on top of the other building our tower higher. Of course, this might yield an image more akin to a Jenga tower than an antediluvian masterwork of architecture; this is perhaps not coincidental. Hereunto now we’d accumulated all these pieces: youthful rebelliousness of the sixties, Punk D.I.Y. attitudes of the 70s, the digital dream of the 80s, Grunge aesthetics of the ninties (coupling nicely with some of nihilistic elements of Punk but more ready to accept it as feeling rather than .absolute fact), the mass-communications boom of the 2000s – just to give the paltriest list possible.

The mock-fifties aesthetic of the hipster flies in the face of this progress. The modern look throws itself backwards into the tepid waters in the tub of mid-century American plaid, hornrims, chino pants, uncomfortable sneakers…. Beards are back, nomore vain but perhaps accidentally less masculine than ever, meanwhile electric razors have fallen to razor-blades and there is even a rise in straight razors! Vintage is now, in my opinion, an obsolete term. Underrunning throughout the decades has been, of course, the Great White of commercial capitalism’s pet and meal: Consumerism. That hipsters flaunted consumerism ironically is a lie to save individualist face. Also, that [individualist claims] was a waste of time because the effort to fit into the individualist hip role negates the individual aspect. If it can be taught but not learned, bought or rewarded but not earned, it is bupkis. In this case, the idol I promised is the mannequin: the everlasting fantasy that what you see can define anyone you want it to be. It is a promise of self-invention, of possibility. But, in a culture where in the business world “Creatives” are an asset to tally amongst the cogs of corporate structure, the promise is more Faustian than Promethean.

Emphasize this with the fact that a blatant return to the powerhouse character-traits of the fifties throws the Jenga table over outright in favour of something the flavour of a promise rather than a raw, disenfranchising deal. Frankly, they have every right to crave this. 20-somethings live at home collecting school-debt into ages when their parents and grandparents were paying down mortgages and collecting baby-photos. The lucky ones rent four or five to a house. If information is the new economy it has to be treated as such very shortly because the goods economy doesn’t provide the same jobs thanks to mechanical inventions and services are liminal as the rebalance between what goods require what services, and what services are goods (such as telecommunications and internet provides) still sorts out its shuffle. Frankly, if a young person wants the promise of the old American Dream, they should get a 50s-style job and learn a trade. The trades actually need people. Most youths end up in service industry positions or marketing –  a fitting fate.

The mannequin kills the woman, kills the man, kills their history. Another casualty is the global characterization of globalization. I keep using the fashion examples, however, the old adage “the clothes make the man” is not an entirely asinine idiom. They do represent a functional aspect of one’s relationship to the world and, as observation affects results, and as prejudice and snap-judgement run deep through both the conscious and unconscious mind – particularly the collective subconscious mind when we are exploring trends on the macro level as I am indulging in here. If you take a Barbadian, a Taiwanese, a Diné, a Greek, a Russian, a Frank, an Egyptian, a Brazilian, and a Canadian and dress everyone up the same, give them an i-phone, and a couple used up slogans about anti-establishment and you have it, right there: the establishment of a, if not homogeneous, then a rather amplitude-shy consortium. You meet very few people these days, you engage their commodity.

Now, the hipster was champion of an era of “neo-” fashionism. The neo-hipsters went right to the first post-war source. They took their name from an architype itself: the hipster is simply the mannequin to hang however hip cuts contemporarily upon, a rack for cool and if you’re lucky that rack is you. I’ve seen the fading signs; we are now post-hipsterism. To be clear, I mean post-“hipster” of the early 2010s, not hipster: the artist of the artifact. The cult of cool always keeps beat. The arts jockey for position to be the most avant-garde, then the most quintessential of any period, the most nostalgic. Just look at music right now: every genre has a “post-” variant. We are now in the post-period period. Post-post-modern has to be my favourite. Post-post. The hipster’s paradox was to be a nostalgic modernist, perhaps a reflex to confusion and helplessness. The nostalgia defining the culture has now set to shifting forwards again. How this will manifest is still unknown. But the post-people will have felt themselves by now to be on the other side of something. However, this smacks falsely to me in these early stages. To define as post-anything still requires that antecedent to fulfil definition. This tension will serve for a little while as the comfort, the nostalgia of conflict. Conflicts like Occupy, the Toronto’s G20, the current fight over Trans-rights, the many “springs” overseas. We now have a real war started by other people to scape-goat fears again. The personal conflicts require to change the world of people through the people of the world were too much and too present for the hipster movement and I fear too real and urgent for any post-meandering.

The reaction came from teenagers, twentysomethings, and even “the man” making the killing. It was never youth vs. establishment; Left vs. Right; new vs. old (though, perhaps now, will we see a brief skirmish of Neo vs. Post?)…. Hipsters as reactionaries stood for a return to the status-quo that promised prosperity, the coming of liberties not yet attained, the stirrings of personal and spiritual freedom – I say again the stirrings, and those stirring were the hipsters. Don’t get me wrong, I love bebop and I love the Beats. The reaction to the reactionaries feared for the loss of a status-quo of decades of cultural revolution that has burned out and been bottled and shelved, available in bulk-pricing. Both are nostalgia. Both burn empty. But I see the irony of conformism turns out to have been a manifesto bound by impurities and poor humour and the post-aping of Toronto hippsies also doesn’t have a sense of humour – which is the surest sign to single-out a lack of sense-of-self.

A Self one must always becoming upon always in the present-tense.

The Voice Of A Pleb “Like A Ballot In The Wind”

Tags

, ,

I am late in writing this. Events and their transpiration – and an afflicted hippocampus – are to blame. Ontario recently held an election, an election I was not permitted to vote in. I have no criminal record, am -as far as I know- a part of no watch-list of CSIS, and unless provoked I have little political agenda – aside from voting and the occasional bitch. I even received my voter card in the mail at the appropriate time and had it fixed to my fridge with magnets in preparation for the date. I broke one very important rule. While the politician’s accountants of souls took a photograph of the registered voting demographic, I moved. I blinked from one city to the next and by the time I’d looked back up from rubbing my eyes it was over.

Around the turn of the industrial 20th century, a common grievance here in the North America was, quel suprise, political corruption. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Upton Sinclare outlined one such dastardly account (among many) in the worlds most monotonously depressing novel, “The Jungle.” The particular practice to which I refer is that in order to vote, people needed time away from their jobs, time the working class didn’t have. Some would make it to the polls and, in Upton’s view, sell their votes almost unanimously over lunch-hour. But for many, voting was a temporal impossibility. Polls closed before shifts ended. Routing people around polling stations stalling for time is something Hunter S. Thompson griped about in 1970, during his brief career in Aspen politics, too.

To vote today you must appear at your registered polling station between such and such hours. This station is determined by the geographic zone in which you live – not necessarily the closest to your house, but determined by arbitrarily drawn demographic cell. If you fail to appear, your vote is forfeit – like failing to appear in court to defend yourself. The only exceptions are mail-in votes (extremely tedious and circuitous to apply to do) or advance polls – also to be done at the designated polling station. But what if you cannot appear at your appointed station? Perhaps your geographic reality was unexpected?

Such was my condition on voting day when I found myself unexpected stranded in another city, just over an hour and a half by highway away from my home and polling station. I turned in to the nearest polls I could find to be informed that, despite the fact that I am an Ontario resident and Canadian citizen, I would not be allowed to vote in provincial elections (I was still, for the record, in the well within the province). Now, I realize that the local candidates are directly elected so it would be nonsensical to count my vote for the Rep in the area I attempted to vote. But despite the physical ballots, all votes are tabulated electronically and I am not prepared to believe in the difficulty of pooling my vote into the proper region on some bureaucrat’s latte soaked computer.

The nature of my profession requires me to be highly mobile from day to day. It is often only day by day that I know where I will be. Call me a sort of itinerant laborer. I am involved in affairs in more of these arbitrary ridings than most Ontarians however my deep interest in the state of the Province has rendered my political voice, small as it is, silent. It is this that has me indignant; that the domestic  moral priesthood of the sprawling sedentary societal model still wields such a veto over other life-styles and ways of living. Human beings were originally nomadic, hunter-gatherers with a tight-knit and egalitarian or at least merit-based social structure. The hierarchy would have been a very flat and malleable one, based on expertise and collaboration. The brutal pyramids of the power-structure we recognize today, between the stones of which we live and grind ourselves down to meal, were raised only once mankind was told by one of its own to stand still. So that the lazy can eat and the greedy can amass palaces of wealth, homo-sapien-sapiens sacrificed their wiser motions, shared knowledge, rituals of power. Only thus, by the single-minded hand of authoritarian leadership, becomes possible the co-ordination between parts of a large agricultural – and eventually Industrial Capitalist – social model.

Bullshit! This is simply a lingering prejudice from a very old reform undergone by our species. A voice for those without rest or swampy contentment, if you please, who only wish for a home they’ve built to come back to.

A Very Simple Request Because Nobody Likes Somebody With A Fat Attitude

The other day a stunning, bright-eyed 14-year-old walked into my house and asked if I knew anything about Freedom Writers. The movie with Hilary Swank? – Yes. – Well in that case isn’t it about overcoming racism and its social determinism? – Umm, something like that. – Why? – We watched it in gym class today because it was going to rain….

For background information, there had been a chance of showers forecast, however, the day had been sunny and clear since dawn. This had happened three times already. Now, Freedom Writers is a perfectly understandable choice for a high school teacher looking for something to show the class. Especially given this girl’s gym teacher – whom I know to be the Civics teacher and involved heavily in the guidance program. What I don’t understand is why she kept her students inside on a beautiful day during their gym class to watch a movie. This cinematic viewing also took place in the school’s fitness room, equipped with dumbbells, medicine balls, skipping ropes, exercise bikes, treadmills, steps, yoga mats, etc.

So my request is this: Please, educators, bear in mind that “physical education” is so named for a reason. It is not to be neglected simply because it isn’t a “core” class like mathematics or English. Although, I would have to say I took more from my gym classes than any course in mathematics that has stayed with me through the years.

As important as it is to socialize students, instructing them on diversity and tolerance – respect for others – it is at least as important to teach students respect for their selves. In this case, their physical selves. Grade nine is the last guaranteed opportunity for most people to get even a modicum of the physical exercise the human body requires for peak efficiency and health. It is for many the last chance to teach teenagers how to enjoy and benefit from physical exercise in an increasingly sedentary culture. Exposure is the key – just like when it comes to the “diversity issue.”

It is not enough to fulfill a nutrition and sexual education unit (though both are important) and watch movies the rest of the year. Teenagers need to build a relationship with their working, moving body, to express themselves through measured movement – even if it is playing touch-football. Especially with issues of body image and obesity/lack of fitness rampant these days. It is an opportunity for kids in the class to become intimately familiar with their bodily movement, to feel comfortable with its limits and strengths. Students need a chance to learn how to care for, use, and enjoy living in their own body.

It doesn’t have to be a boot-camp either. I’m asking for physical educators, not staff-sergeants out of a John Hughes cliche. The school system is designed as a socializer. Well, sportsmanship seems to have fallen by the wayside. Video games don’t carry the same real-world consequences [risks] so who cares about a dirty trick? Do that in real life and you end up with blood on your hands or a gang at your throat. Read Cocteau, games are microcosms of life, smaller scale models of the real thing – like laboratory tests. Or how about the blend of competition and ambivalence for anyone who’s enjoyed casual sport? I am no athlete, but I know that trying to win is what electrifies the game environment and being at peace with whatever the final outcome may be is what allows me to enjoy the experience. It’s not only social rules the mustachioed, whistle-blowing, cargo-shorted, fanatic is in charge of teaching your children, it is general life-philosophy. The desire to succeed combined with how to be relaxed enough to allow oneself to actually succeed after the slightest hiccup.

Gym class is often overlooked. Many schools lack legitimate “gym teachers” until high school – especially for female students who often don’t even get those in high school but rather civics teachers who cut out units based on their own preference. Exposure once again. This 14-year-old girl complained in the same conversation about how her teacher refused to do a field-hockey unit. Knowing this teacher, I suppose their might be a resistance to latent sexism in the sport in her decision in addition to simply not liking it. Or she’s just close-minded and lazy when it comes to other people’s interests, regardless of sex, race, or creed. I only mention this because for this girl, field-hockey is the only sport she legitimately enjoys. How can you justify turning off a person’s only avenue into that bodily expression, into maintaining their physical health simply because you, the teacher (who doesn’t actively participate in the sports anyhow), don’t particularly like it or hold a poor opinion of it?

It is not radical science or new-age philosophy to say the mind and body are intrinsically linked. To starve one is to starve the other. Psycho-somatic phenomena affect physical health in very real terms. The street is a two-way thoroughfare (think of the release of endorphins and other bio-chemical/neural responses evoked by physical activity). If the body suffers, if it decays, so will the mind be afflicted. How much longer can we afford to ignore the mental and physical health of students at such a critical, formative period of their lives?

Furthering Freedom – Running My Mouth On An Enigma

Tags

, , ,

I wrote recently on freedom. A very politically motivated acquaintance of mine posted this link on facebook a week or so ago: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/they_cant_outlaw_the_revolution_20140518.

Cecily McMillan, an Occupy activist, one of the thousands unjustly persecuted by the judicial system of the United States of America. I will leave it to you to read the article linked above. It is well written to the point where my summing it up would be redundant. However, Cecily makes some very poignant remarks which have me thinking about what I said.

Those who know me are well aware of my suspicions of radical ideology – or should I say radicalized ideology. The Left and the Right are never so close as they are at their most extreme. But that fear does not extend to radical action, soundly conceived and executed. To be wholly radical, one way or another, in the partisan model is to choose a selective blindness; to enact a conscious hemispherical necrosis. I propose that the partisan model is insufficient. It does not allow sufficiently for the type of free responsibility and constructive action needed to bolster the enigma of first-world revolutionary politics.

Primarily it is bogged down by the limitations Karl Marx found within the genesis debate over the human species. The same man who reduced religion to the “opium of the masses” was also convinced that the atheist stance was an equally unfounded argument as that of the fundamentalist religion. To be a-theist, is to define oneself as not a theist, as in one that does not believe in god. But the issue he raised is that definition still accepts god as an opposition and only defines itself as a negative. In fact, atheism is bound to a context of theism just as is the marriage of light and shade. They are two sides of the same coin, recently equally ignorant and evangelical I might add. But that is another discussion.

But politically, and this is part of what McMillan describes in her court and prison experience, it must be about a baseline unity. Traditional white privilege does her nothing in prison, the only privilege is that of power. Power knows no race, only the hands of its master. The key to a successful “revolution,” if such a word is appropriate, will require transcendent mass movement – transcendent, that is, of the partisan dialectic, of militancy and conflict in that limited sense. An aggressive evolution from within seems the best to me – that we should, with Classical grace, slay the beast from within – but this is a long war, an attrition, the battering of the inexorable tide against medieval dikes creaking. It is one thing to bring the walls down, but a Samsonian feat of strength is not only a long-shot bet but fool-hardy. The world is a precious balance and for all that is destroyed there is creation. To preserve freedom, we must undertake these responsibilities simultaneously lest we become victims to the same caprice that tainted the utopic visions of the 20th century.

In an unpublished article of a few years ago on the implementation gap between online and real-world discourse, what at the time I saw as a lack of translation there between, and its possible implications as a sort of cultural libido siphon, I tried a new concept of mass: the mass of ideas – as in the physical presence of an idea, its thinking, or the supporters of the idea and/or its thinker(s). More or less, an idea is a metaphysical construct with no premise of empirical existence farther than its capacity to be embodied in the physical world through various forms of action or its influence upon active decision making. The mass of an idea roughly measures its theoretical veracity by weight of observable evidence. If an idea can be seamlessly superimposed over top of existing structures (physical or social) or interactions, that idea takes on mass almost parasitically in accordance to its congruency (or the level to which the appearance of congruency with the real world can be manipulated). The other measure of mass is more human; how many people hold a given idea and to what extent does the idea influence real-world action? When the mass of an idea held by the masses, say the 99% to use an example relevant to the article, becomes greater than the mass of the existing political/economic/social superstructure, it gains the capacity to overcome the latter’s inertia. McMillan mentions Foucault, Bourdieu, and mass theory as intellectualizations which we must be wary in doing, lest it become completely abstract, “a game.”

I admit to perhaps playing the game myself (after all, I did venture to talk about the interplay of metaphysics and the physical world), however, we are the children of the age of science; let us not forget our most basic physics. A generation of conflicting parts apathy and indignation is coming through. So far the agreement I’ve seen between camps has been that the way things are must go. Sadly, it is so much harder to envision a practical new reality than is the fall of the present. But this must be accomplished for the eventual weight of the masses to not collapse in on itself.

The problem is that not all mass is created equal and idealisms become unstable once translated into real-world terms when they remain stubbornly intransigent. An evolutionary revolution must take place. Any proposed change must be holonic: part of a larger whole, but itself stably constructed to the point it can exist on its own. Progress must still grapple within and even thrive in the real word as it presently exists, potentially hostile. Political reform is a game of behemoth tipping, not dominoes (and where much of what is worth saving may be found in the shadow of the toppling giant). The roots of history too are pervasive and deep, in infrastructure and in people. Persistence and organicism will be required, not steadfast idealism. “I believe….” is the slogan of a bygone era. Optimism yes; determinism, no. A self-consciousness and sensitivity to context will be required of the mass political movement. “The masses” themselves not being a single body either but a collective of interests and visions, it will take, above all, perhaps a willingness to change, not simply the demand for it; a vigilance to not accept the means as the ends; and a constructive will, tragic yet necessary, to build with permanence what must be set down in a few years’ time. Mass politics must aspire beyond Ortega’s revolt of the masses. It must itself acquire genuine mass and not suffice for empty carbs. Freedom and equality are not the same. It is high time we choose liberty as a civilization – but for the sake of ourselves, not that of civilization; the liberty of the individual, in place of the liberty of the institution. We must choose responsibility to self, and the only way to guarantee that is to recognize our responsibilities through our relationships and those we interact with, as extensions of our self, to treat them with equal respect and care for their mortality.

To Be Free

To Be Free

In what condition is man at his most uninfringed? Unhinged? Chained? In what condition does his or her freedom become consummate to their being? That is the truer nature of the question. J.S. Mill thought that Liberty was to be free within the self and free to act so far as it did not impinge on another’s freedoms under liberty. Freedom was, for him, too dangerous to ever be taken pure. For the many in recent popular movements  from the Beats to Punk to Hip-Hop, it is often times personal liberties above all things – including the freedom and rights (or dignity) of others and in many cases, ultimately, themselves. Liberty and freedom are of course not the same. Freedom in its purest sense is primordial, shapeless, a wave both constant and unpredictable. When the wave breaks, it can easily crash down in the fist of a tyrant. Who had more personal freedoms ascribed to himself than a fuhrer? Liberty is the dike against the wave. Water passes, for transport, resource, and commerce, but the storm breaks against its hewn sides. But how tight is too tight and the rights of Liberty simply a moral corset?

There are some who propose that any obligation, any responsibility, is an enslavement, either personal or to convention. That is a dogma its own. Please pass the salt….Here you are….Slave. A little heavy handed even for me. Kristofferson: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” The primal danger is to become slave to oneself, one’s character or act, personal dogmas established in the name of personal liberty of the anarchic libertarian model. There was a musician in the sixties or early seventies, I believe, a guitar player of the avant-guarde who specialized in completely free-form improvisation – no scales, meter, etc. All noises he could provoke were fair game for his music. I think his name was Allan Somethingorother. He supposed that to be free was to not be free of any rules or modes whatsoever but to be free to create those which reflect what you believe in, your own personal values. A personal code, I suppose, if you will.

But liberty and freedom is like electricity; it lives in the wires of our relationships leading both inwards as our consciousness relates to itself and ourselves, and outwards as we relate to our environment and the world around us as a part and a whole within. Freedom is completely arbitrary in a vacuum and so context is everything; as it is for human beings. Even in nurture versus nature – we are parts our living context in the former, how we were raised, our experiences, the material and spiritual conditions of our existence; and the latter upholds we are part our genetic context. It is the play between which defines our conscious and physical framework for navigating the world just as the play between our intra- and inter-relationships which define relative freedom. There are certain freedoms unmolested by law or convention – to enjoy these is complacent with the outer limits imposed upon our civic and moral freedom. Is that bondage? There are absurd laws equally which try and extend the dike, to cut a wall through the self – an iron curtain of cognitive dissonance – such as certain draconian, racist drug laws which could be done without. These stand in the face of an endemic addiction to pharmaceutical drugs with a systemic junkie’s grip on medical science, economics (particularly American), and not least of all those on the receiving end of a scrip. Here perhaps a little more regulation would engender personal freedom, the freedom over one’s own mind and body.

We cannot be free in the vacuum of anarchy. In fact, anarchy is not within the nature of any species. There are levels of understanding, even among solitary animals when it comes to reproduction which, for these creatures, constitutes the entirety of their social structure. Or as I discussed with my friend and colleague, he mentioned the monkey’s understanding of a social contract of sorts: I pick the fleas of your back, you pick the fleas of mine. But I swear to god if I turn around and you’re gone, I’ll fucking murder you. Harsh words, but even those transcendent of the conventions of human society are not transcendent of human emotion. Because love too is the tsunami, apotheotic and crushing, and no sex is meaningless. Human relationships can be sublimation of the same urge that addicts sublimate by means of their addiction. It can be equally binding. The liberty to take drugs and the liberty not to be taken by drugs stem from two loci: law and man. But in real terms, it stems from the self and is a relationship. Just like co-dependant lovers, or the slave-master, or the big boss of the firm herding his lab rats to their cubicles as drugs, are pumped through their food and water, and extra-oxygen is pushed into the air of shopping malls to up endorphins, endurance, and enthusiasm as the acolytes are getting high in the temple of commerce and the drones enter a work-trance. Contact High ensues throughout the social fabric, leeching as the book of lives acts like blotter paper. And, stoned on this reduction, the void swallows the visionaries in the isolation of insanity – the chains of freedom as a vacuum – and the clown’s makeup stains his face, because he himself has become a caricature of dogma and knows not the face below; he has become convinced the façade contains the depths and with it would be washed away – enslaved to context.

Personal Liberty is electric; it requires the poles of Freedom and slavery. Like the political sphere it is a ring and the antipodes are closest at their most radical. Absolute freedom enslaves, and complete dominance will erode submission from the bottom out when there is nothing left to loose and one becomes wealthy in/with desperation. To be free in the human sense is to be a holy man (or woman): both master and slave at once. It is the power and the will to define and redefine our relationships, both interior and anterior, according to our beliefs, values, and conviction. It is amongst the highest acts of personal freedom to freely assume responsibility, to chart a definitive expression of one’s own will. To make the will of the self binding and absolute and then – the second edict of freedom to which your are responsible – to be equally willing and prepared to destroy this act of will, abandon empty form, melt it down it its essence – yourself – and recast it again in your new molten image when it no longer satisfies the unnamed urge.

The Plastic Conspiracy

Tags

,

Without formal research, an observation:

I made a trip into Brampton yesterday; to do so I used public transit. This necessitates using both the Go Transit and Brampton regular city Transit. I own a Presto card. For those who don’t know, it is a re-loadable magnetic card that can be used with an increasing number of transit authorities and supposedly increases payment efficiency and ease for the rider. Over the course of time I have been making frequent sojourns through Brampton to visit family (almost four years) I have noted a price-hike of nearly a dollar, now at 3.75$ per fare. Presumably, this covers the average needs of expanded service (such as the newer Zoom lines), gas prices, inflation, wage-levels, etc.

However, and this is also true of the Go system, Presto card holders reap a discounted fare. On the city bus, price jumps from 3.75$ to something like 2.70$ – cheaper than the three-dollar fare I first paid. This rate was also unchanged when the cost of a cash-fare rose form 3.50$ to 3.75$ All advertising and service announcements point towards incentivising riders to use the Presto. But suddenly the price-hike seems nonsensical. If it is necessary to increase the price to “continue quality service” why is it cheaper than ever to ride with the Presto card system? Could the higher cash price be an unspoken and inappropriately hard-ball stratagem to coerce riders into tacit reliance on Presto?

As to what this could possibly accomplish, aside from increasing my convenience and efficiency as a service-consumer, all I have are two paranoid conspiracies:

1. They ply you to register your card online to tie it to your name and information – in case you lose it. Even if you neglect to do this, these cards are obviously tracked electronically. This data can then be collected for market information. It also means that each cardholder’s movements are tracked and recorded in a database. One giant personal receipt scroll logging your every movement available at the touch of a button, PRESTO! Your movements become able to be made known and so the business of where you are and when you are  there is not really your private business anymore. I don’t really like that, to be honest. But I supposed the other breaches of privacy occurring online and via phone companies is something we seem to live pretty placidly with everyday. Obama. Stephen Harper. Bomb. 9/11. Assassination. Oil-sands. Al Qaeda. Boko Haram. There. I just got this post red-flagged and wasted somebody’s time investigating these trigger words. You’re welcome Intelligence community.

2. The Plastic Conspiracy as insinuated to me by a homeless person. Last week I was asked for some bus money by a disabled person who had forgotten her special pass she had purchased and thereby lacked fare to get home – or wherever she’d half-said she was going (nobody gets a free ride on this continent – except for students of Certain universities, but they are being made to pay enough to take the ride already). I didn’t have any. this time I was in a city whose public transit has not yet been absorbed into the Presto matrix, so I let the question of cash vs. pass lapse. Later, a panhandler asked me for change for something to eat. I explained I didn’t have any change since I’d walked from where I was staying nearby and been on plastic all day to make any purchases. He grumbled about “fuckin’ plastic” and how everybody had the fuckin’ plastic and nobody had any change for somebody who needs it. I wonder, could that guy be right in his neurotic aggression? Maybe the true aim of the plastic conspiracy, both debit and transit (credit is far more a far more insidious player in the ring of lending and poverty; we’ve been economically aware of that since ’29) is the elimination of the the unemployed and the homeless. Slice the burnt bottom layer off the pyramid of cake and butter; we can eat that and keep the rest. Make some incredibly ass-holey cake-pops out of the crumbled mess of our social service sector and in-need demographic and sell them back to the Starbucks-class consumer at next to no cost and a marked up recyclable price we can sell to their armchair conscience. Let them spit out the fingernails.

Is any of this true? Mayhap, it could come to be found so….mayhap not. But is the heuristic exercise of looking at what it could mean for us both personally and in a broader social context? Absolutely why not.