With The Hands Of A Musician

Tags

, , , , ,

I almost missed you, October. Life has been busy and exciting for the good Doctor. But I want to keep a monthly appointment, even a loose one here, and I finally have a few moments to my own to share with you an anecdote from the other week.

I was at my friend’s house the other afternoon for coffee. This friend of mine is a musician, a guitarist. But, at the moment, he was baking – one of this other sometimes-passions – making something for us to have with our coffees. He’s a curious fellow, a sensitive soul. His time-management skills (outside the context of bar-lines) are also atrocious. Hence why he was still baking when I arrived; he had meant to have everything finished and cooled in time for my arrival. All neatly set-out and arranged to meet our first cup on his oddly ornate serving tray. A family heirloom. But no matter, we put the coffee on and discussed our pressing affairs across the thresholds his sitting room and adjoining kitchen. We’d put on a second pot when his treats were ready. We often drank more than a single serving at any rate.

“I like my art like my chocolate chips:” his voice rose through the statement in a crescendo-for-no-real-reason; he lowered it again to a resting level, “bittersweet. –Or is it semisweet? That wouldn’t do anywhere near as finely.”

He is a tragic man, but, not sad. He’s alone now and, truthfully, I don’t think he will get used to it if he hasn’t at this point. Since my arrival, Barber’s Adagio has cried itself out into a grandstanding final movement of Beethoven 9 and now Maher’s “Resurrection” symphony is stirring the porcelain-ware sitting on its tray  atop the coffee table with a fledging life. Little Rattlings. His tastes shift to reflect his mood; last week we had African blues and Highlife, the week before that it was Iron Maiden, and before that, I think, it was Jean-Michel Jarre.

I sauntered from my place by his old globe – another heirloom; he wasn’t the type to have money to sink into a globe, though he most certainly was the type to own one – stepping into the kitchen, coffee cup in hand. I moved to start the process of putting on another pot when I saw what he was doing.

“Jesus, man! You’ll burn the flesh off! What in hell are you doing? How will you be able to play?” He’d taken the baking tray from the oven with his bare hands, holding the edges with his fingertips. I was horrified. He had a concert of great and new prestige this very night, one he had told me of with great anticipation for months. Maybe he was sadder that I had realized.

“It’s all right!” He flashed a smile so dazzling it made his hair look thicker and his face almost ten years younger. “I don’t feel the pain anymore.”

He walked over to the counter where he had a cooling rack standing ready and made to set the baking pan down. He jumped at the last possible moment and dropped the sheet the final few millimeters. He chuckled to himself, rolling his fingertips together, then blowing on them. He moved to the faucet and ran a little cold water over them.

“Well,” he admitted, “mostly.” He held his hands up with his palms turned towards me so I could see: “it’s the callouses. They’re so built-up, I hardly feel it…. until I’ve really overdone it, that is. I guess.” He shrugged, unconcerned.

Nothing that afternoon was overdone but he’d certainly outdone himself with whatever it was that he’d made. I am not the connoisseur of sweets that he is, but it was some kind of baked delicacy new to me; a little zesty, some cocoa in there, flaky, dusted with cinnamon after it had cooled. It went perfectly with our fine acidic café foncé. We sat down at last with our little plates for our desserts and actually used the saucers for our mugs (that were really for wood side-tables, not the mugs’ benefit) in the sitting room. I took my customary place on the couch. He took a chair that faced both myself and the window. He looked through it and his face glowed with the blue light of afternoon storm. The rain was audible for the first time and in the diffuse light the lightness of his features came into a sudden soft focus. He smiled again, but this time with only half his mouth and his look was wistful somewhere out in the rain. The sky wasn’t dark at all; it just glowed and gave.

“Today would be her birthday.”

I was taken a little aback. “Oh, I didn’t realize that was today.”

“Yes.” He just nodded deeply twice and let the statement run-out. He nodded by rocking his whole body. It showed his age.

I couldn’t think of a thing to say. He told me a little about her, about them, and about the past. I never saw him truly nostalgic except for this one curious case. He never really gave me the details. I sensed they were private – not secret but his. Perhaps theirs, though now he was sole custodian of those years. “It’s alright,” he finished, looking to me with a raised eyebrow to make sure I was ready for an earnest reference, “….so it goes.” He smiled at me the way he had when he looked through the window. I stole a glance in that direction; the pane was nearly opaque, it’s glass molten with raindrops. Then he smiled like he did when he pulled the injuriously hot baking pan out of the oven with no though of protection to keep his precious hands safe.

He took a sip of coffee and I could see how it pleased him. This small pleasure was one thing sacred we shared. For instance, I didn’t care for his quiet religion and, for his part, he was uncurious of anything not beautiful in his eye. Luckily, he could easily see the beautiful things in the research I was engaged in lately. But sweet things and bitter coffee we shared in the same quaint little place of ourselves. It had made us feel respectable back in the days when sometimes we’d drink for real and even sometimes drug, to enjoy such a bourgeois ritual a day or two later – or the afternoon before. Those days are mostly past, but the afternoons carry forth.

I began to recount the latest in my research, the update of that week. The math was beginning to line up with our specimens. The indications were so pleasingly human. It was how I imagined Francis Crick and James Watson (and their team of course) must have felt. A shared universality! How marvelous; looking at our latest findings, and what it could suggest, it was what faith in scripture must feel like when one is in a church. But my and my team’s church was not just the lab, but the whole world where things moved – once you knew what to see. Who would have guessed an obsession with Einstein would have led me down this particular path of biophysics?

“Do you mind?” My host, by gesture, indicated he would like to play his guitar to fill the background. The music had run out and the rain had died away. He tuned, strummed a chord, bade me continue, and began to play. Flickers of pain illuminated his placid, oceanic expression when he made the quicker, more complex and precise gestures to fit melody and flourish into his chording. All the while he looked to me, listening intently to what I had to say.

I am not sure what style of music his was. I knew he wrote but he seemed to play from a vaguely familiar repertoire most often. It wasn’t flamenco and it wasn’t classical. And for some reason or not for any reason at all I never get about asking him for a word for it. Beautiful and infinitely inventive were more than enough to describe it. The arrangement on those ghostly familiar melodies and progressions seemed to change every time or pair and repair like a bright festival of loving bodies. Gay and gallant at one moment, in torpor and reverie for the duration of the next movement, bold and cocksure the next, tragic and human for the final turn.

The burns or the playing or the remembering was hurting him. He was quiet about it, more intent on listening to my drone and his guitar’s dramatic turns of interval.

It is painful, yes. But that in itself was meaningless. I looked at him, enraptured in the what he himself would call petty human struggle. It’s not the point that it hurts, it just does. And he’s one of the few, perhaps the one I’ve seen, who doesn’t ever seem to be bothered by that. He just makes music from it. Or coffee. Or sweets with names in sweeter languages.

I told you he was a tragic man. It’s no fault of his, life is a tragedy in the end – a little sooner if you are him. But that doesn’t spoil any of the jokes or the small glories like this afternoon. The littlest things make my friend happiest. His temper isn’t perfect but he certainly handles the big things with a grace.

We should all learn to handle life with the hands of a musician. Most of us have tried our hand at a musical instrument and most of us failed utterly and given up all but the pretext of a “used to” thing done for polite conversations. My friend is different. He is different from the rest of us who learned to play our guitars as teenagers or middle-agers. Do you remember learning the first chords or simple stupid two-note songs? My fingers ached and the strings stabbed straight into the bone sometimes it seemed. I had blisters and the more I practiced the more I blistered until I didn’t have the fortitude or the patience to practice. Getting there, to the point of blisters, was another matter – on good days, at least – but it wasn’t any fun once I had the blisters. Most people, for all their bravado or their snippiness, are really rather torpid people compensating – though their hobbies and professional accomplishments are wide-ranging and as impressive as they are varied and virtuous. They don’t live much of a life because it gives you blisters, every time.

But I told you my friend was different. He lived how he played and played how he lived – only a little more elegantly. Life like his is a bittersweet song – or chocolate chip, if you will. You get strong to it if you want to. It hurts but you persevere. It is worth it. To blister. One must play through the pain and smile at the best parts and especially at the total mistakes. But it will change you – if you have to be too strong, play through too many blisters. Eventually, this way, if you are going to live long enough, you become calloused and insensitive. If your hands are to survive, it cannot be helped – not if you intend to carry on. But, for a maestro, it is still possible to feel the beauty of the melody through the callousness and the ringing of the world threaded in harmony beneath your hands as you play, reaching through all that hardened skin, touching the vibrating strings.

After the final cadence, my friend set his guitar away with a sarcastic flourish. This self-depreciation marked his best moods. I laughed and cheered, “Bravo, old sport!” He looked down at his hand; his face locked into a sensitive and bewildered portrait. The illusion snapped back to animation as he chuckled through his nose. It was a singular laugh all to himself. He held up his hand to where I could see his fingertips.

“Look at that,” he mused, “I’ve gone and managed to blister.”

Advertisements

A Brief Treatise On Writing: An Archived Epistle.

Tags

, , , , ,

Perhaps I shall indeed resurrect thee from thy abject state, o’ miserable untended blog. Though let us not presume as we customarily do; time will do the telling, it always does. I have a penchant for grand plans.

That much said, I have decided I should like to share as an installment an old letter/criticism written to a friend of mine. The subject is a short story B. sent me, the title of which I have redacted for B.’s privacy while the implicated details of the plot and characters, I think, are more than vague enough to preserve this intent. Though there are supposedly many a way to skin a cat (something I have never tried for myself, but so I hear….), I have herein advocated craft possessed by an animist spirit of world and world-crafting that is perhaps a viewpoint effected by particular condition which I possess. Nonetheless, answers come from far stranger places than questions ever have….

 

March 18, 20X

B—-, old friend and newly esteemed colleague,

I’ve read the newly updated ——– and I think you are on the right track. But as a friend and a reader I have this to ask of you: more. I am still hungry for more of the dark secret, those tiny details which weigh cumulatively on the back of my mind but never quite enough to tip the scales of epiphany. Put in the parlance of our time: Tantalize me; bring the reader to the brink of orgasm but don’t you dare let them come. Pure pleasure that refuses resolution, defies the comfort of closure. I have a few words to say on the matter of wordsmithing so please, if I foray into pedantics, forgive me for I deliver it with the utmost respect and the hope that I may be of some service. I have more than a bit of the Underground in my blood yet and it is well known that once we come out, we talk and talk….

I say I want more of your story but I don’t necessarily want more story. In fact, the shorter the story sometimes the better off it is. But you need an economy of expression, symbolically speaking. You are a writer and as a writer everything you write must be written with deliberate intention. I will not bore you with passive verbs. You have already been told in incalculably repetitions to avoid the passive tense by all means. I would temper this by saying they are to be avoided by general principle but, like trouble, should be dipped into when you crave a certain affectation. However, it goes beyond that.

Take a stiff drink for example – as your man Edward well knows, when you leave a drink in the other room it is not simply in existence upon the side-table by your chair: It waits for you; the ice melts in boredom, impatient sweat beads down side of the glass, and, like a lover scorned by neglect, when you finally do return you find the welcome at best lukewarm – and thin. Objects have purpose of their own and you have your devices upon them also. As the writer you do not simply create a word and its populous. You have direct control over the ways in which your pseudo-sentient figments of imagination interact and perceive the world. You command how the reader perceives the wold in which your characters play out and how they perceive your characters perceiving the world and themselves [and themselves perceiving the world!]. There are a million-and-one reasons determining what details the human brain takes conscious note of and which are filtered out – You control all of them. From the insurmountable overflow of data, you choose what is seen by who and why. Edward notices the deliberacy and strength in Anna’s choice of words; they impress, surprise, and intimidate him just a little. At the same time, her sloppy folkly syntax appeals to his sympathy, gives him a sense of power, and assures him of his own security. The paradox vexes him. There are reasons of his own behind Edward’s response to these mixed sensations, stirred in him by Anna’s peculiarity. It occurs to me that Anna knows just what she is doing, knocking on solitary, unassuming Edward’s door.

With this arcane knowledge of craft, you have at your disposal the opportunity to infuse even the most pedestrian and perfunctory scenes with that nigh-imperceptible significance I earlier begged for. To do this, of course, you have to know what sorts of suggestions your characters might pick up on and what there is to suggest in the first place. Do you, B—-, know who Anna is? What, if in fact anything, is she running from? What fills Edward’s “black charred” memory? The meaning of the burn mark? I doubt highly that Anna just so happens to be a vagrant girl with a monumentally unstable self-image and a fetish for branding people whom she has knocked out with an acute neurotoxin, absorbable through the skin. –OR you could be a greater absurdist than I could ever dream.

There is truth in this world, though perhaps not absolute…. There are truths behind the doors of perception; it is up to you to choose which to unveil. You have an armoury of tools fit to the task. Do not forget, even your commas create meaning. They not only dictate rhythm and meter, but they also mark out the interior borders of context within a sentence. Their placement determines if a sentence is hammered out from a single plate, woven as a composite of interdependent parts, or assembled as compound device of complementary little mechanisms. Is there a picture within the picture? A sentence need not be overwrought nor must it be minimalist to fit any one of the three descriptions just as a description may be concise as three words but stand with the hidden laminate strength of its deliberateness. In choosing the right details it might be helpful to for your characters and for your readers to know – unless the distance is very slight – it is no different than deploying the pun or its deeper cousin, the Freudian slip.

I suppose that is all I will impose upon you with this brief treatise on word-craft. I hope that you do not find it rude or my examples overly vague or crude. Above all, I hope that I have not been over-presumptuous. It is quite late and my only revision is the time between how long it takes me to type and when my memory kicks in with the next string of “stuff” – syllables and symbols, and it goes on until I am finished or I am finished off by the ambiguity of alphabet.

I am both at once finished,

Dr. Cervantes F. Moody

Fishing

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Fishing, as far as I can tell, is the art of being an asshole. The thrust of the activity, at its core, is to fuck up some poor bass’s day. Or trout. Or salmon. Or cod. Or lobster. Or crab. Or sunfish or some other sorry sport sucker you can’t even eat – and I’ll get to the eating part. Proponents of the ancient practice purport it’s character building – presumably, the same way getting your ass kicked or being denied the small-time money needed, as a child, to join in your friends (living below your class, if you wanted a byline) – supposedly, it fosters patience, discipline, sportsmanship (have you watched two fishermen bicker?), and a healthy respect and communion with mother nature as you lure, nap, and devour the flesh of the other children swimming in the lake. Sadism.

This is the first time I’ve been fishing in, probably, ten – no, almost fifteen years. I am exempting one instance which I refuse to count. As a child, I found the cruelty uncomfortable – perhaps I was a sensitive child – but there was always the guiding hand of a father-figure to assure me it was alright. This was no mere senseless violence we perpetrated: it was fishing; it was a just ends within its means. The only fish of note I remember catching was a sunfish. Inedible. We threw it back. Mangled. We never fished in good spots. The once we did was on a commercial tourist boat of the East coast of Prince Edward Island; we hooked a veritable murder of cod. We just dropped the lines in the water and they fell on our hooks like we were after, well…. Fish in a barrel. But now I’m the adult supposed to keep my compass calibrated and moral. Hell! I’ve even been the father-figure and I’ve learned: I don’t trust father-figures anymore. I won’t pretend I don’t mind spending an hour or two casting off a rock, only now that disquiet has a voice, has a name, and I can recognize the horror…. The horror.

I’ll tackle the bait. Live bait, man! I can’t stress how, on the bald face of it, how fucked up that is. Worms have no brains, per-say. They are a greasy tube of muscles and a digestive track wired up to a central nervous system – I’ve known a few people to fit that description. A worm can’t support mortal terror, but I know pain when I see it. The popular wisdom that a worm will regenerate if you sever it in the midst is as bold and venerable as most. It’s complete bullshit. It will live a while, a lot longer than it will take you to lose interest or drown the other half of it. If it doesn’t wriggle and writhe its agony between the dock-planks or off the edge of pier or into the grass to die softly, watch the other half before you spear it. It won’t be moving if you’ve left it long at all. This morning I thought it was dead, until I pierced it through and through and through, three times onto the barbed hook; I didn’t have the guts to string it straight through like a macabre puppet from some hellish fantasy tale. It galvanized with the last desperate flashes of life. Like all of us sometimes, the only thing it knew was a desire to escape the pain. Well, no such luck. Burning pain – remember, it’s entire existential existence is nerves, sensory perception, what it can feel – and then the iron weight of tangy lake water, and cold. That is, if it isn’t eaten alive.

The fish is a higher-level organism than the worm, it’s thoughts equitable to the reptile brain. Just because something is stupider than you is no reason to rationalize that it can’t suffer like you suffer (you egotistical, self-pitying jerk!). If anything, I imagine it should suffer all the worse. When a rational human being takes the bait and gets burned, it hurts, but, they understand why, if not how, they’ve lost. It’s the same mechanism by which we can even scapegoat the cause of that pain, not just to the one who burned us, but the Universe with everything and anything in it that failed to deliver us. Even when the real pain is damn ours to own.

I imagine that’s how the fish feels. Dangling the worm is the damn metaphor for taking some poor sucker for a ride to explicitly use and abuse and either toss away when your done or suck the flesh from their bones. It’s no wonder fish-bones are so deadly. Such weak revenge. But, like I said, fishing is all about being a dick: dangle the crucified worm in front of the fish’s face on an invisible wire and just when he goes to take a cautious bite of what he desires – jerk the hook through his mouth. Reel that punk fish in and take your pick: Do you throw it back in all mutilated and in trauma or do you keep it?

If you hold on to your trophy, the most humane thing would be to kill it quickly. Break the neck and gut it. Better yet, use the Japanese method of execution sushi chefs practice with a thin blade. They promise to cause the least of all trauma. Not the man I’m fishing with. A slow death is kind in his mind. It took more than three hours to suffocate that small-mouthed bass as the oxygen slowly dried out of its gills, while the blood got thicker and gradually more useless. He thought it was dead and picked it up 3 ½ hours after getting his obligatory catch photo with it. It moved. He left it to die for a few hours longer. It was eventually delicious despite its weak revenge.

Humans are terrible people. We fished all week.

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.