Thinking Out-loud

CHVNGE

you have to believe

you have to believe that you can change

then you have to believe that you can change the world

mlk… man. at some point he said he was going to change things

and people probably thought he was crazy

but that didn’t stop him

it didn’t stop him from making that change

can’t stop me. fuck it.

you can sit there and make assumptions about people

assumptions about their intentions

assumptions about their life… about who they are

what they’re trying to be…

who are they

if we’re all reflections of one another… what does that say about us

what would you say about yourself if you could see you from another perspective

i think its totally fucked that we can only ever see ourselves as reflections

either in pictures or in a mirror… how fucked is that?

and i think… that’s no coincidence

we’re meant to see ourselves as a reflection.

we reflect each other.

stop judging… stop hiding behind a mask

pull that shit off your face

go face the world with who you’re meant to be

who you’ve been all along

get there

i wanna see you get there

you’re so much more than the size of your house

or what year your car was “made”

or how big your bank account is

when you and i die… we’re made up of the same thing..

the same carbon… the same star dust that was there

from tiiiimmme bruh

stay humble.

Advertisements

It’s 2014 and genocide still happens.

what a strange thing that we allow atrocities to be committed
that i could be standing in the anne frank house one day
and the next, i am standing before the nazi party rally grounds.
a place with so much history… where decades ago, a man stood before the people
he stood there and said things.
things that would eventually lead to some of the most unimaginable acts i’ve ever read about and seen
my sense of reality is shook
to imagine a world in which a young girl loses all faith in life
she loses the ability to see the good the world has to offer because it dealt her cruelty
unfathomable cruelty.
as it does, to so many people.
desire can be endless. and its that which men desire so it turns to obsession
it’s hard to pretend that it’s okay
that the things that happen to others is an inevitability of this world
some say it’s the reality of things
that the evil men do cannot be stopped or altered or changed
that the world cannot change, what chaos ensues, needs to occur
it’s hard to accept that
it’s difficult for me to accept that we cannot change the things that are wrong
i couldn’t help but wonder the things anne wrote in her diary
the things she said to the lady after having been taken to the camps
i remember her saying she couldn’t even go outside, and that was something she missed the most
she had to stay inside the house all day, all night… that her and her family couldn’t go outside
they weren’t even supposed to be living where they were…

“the best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy, is to go outside, somewhere so
they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, and nature, and God. because only then does one
feel that all is as it should be”

i take that for granted now… as i walk around outside. i can go anywhere.
I’m here in germany now
and i was in amsterdam yesterday,
and last week i was at home in canada.
i can go outside whenever i want… i can just walk out my door.

“memories mean more to me than dresses”

it’s so fucked up. so fucked up what we give value to.
how social conditioning has made it so definitive what it means to be productive and successful
that to tell me i am experiencing this, and this… so it makes me THIS
why are you telling me how i feel, and why I’m feeling that way…
am i alone, incapable?

why have we attached so much value to monetary worth?
you can’t play the game when it isn’t equal, but its disguised as such
we’ve become commodities.
this spirit, this extraordinary thing is completely devalued

how can we do this to each other?

————————————————————————————–

I had written that while i was in the Netherlands/Germany a couple months ago. So much of what I’ve seen in the last few weeks with the Israel/Gaza conflict makes me sick. It reminds me that we’re still so savage-like. Bombing Gaza in the hopes of killing a few “terrorists” while murdering hundreds of innocent people is fucked up.

You’ve got to be a really fucked up individual if you’re going to take orders from somebody and drop bombs at random thinking you’re doing a “great service” to your country. It’s ludicrous. It’s brainwashing at it’s scariest.

BtfyR3JCEAAhNem

I don’t understand why this … is happening.

Courage: The Power Within

It’s strange to me that the very things that I was taught to embody to be a “good” human being, are the very things that have often led me down some fucked up paths. Or at least that’s what I thought.

I had been wanting to post something about an event, an occurrence in my life that really changed a lot for me. I’ve been wanting to share this for quite some time, but I think the reason why I hadn’t already, was because of feeling vulnerable.

Vulnerability is really strange too. I find a lot of things strange. There’s this thing that we all do to protect ourselves. We try not to question or say things that we feel will have a particular reaction, usually a negative reaction. We hesitate to tell our crush we like them in fear that they won’t like us back. We appear a certain way so we don’t receive the negative reactions attached to appearing any different. And we say and do things… with hesitation, always over-analyzing, always over-thinking our behaviours. It’s this feeling of vulnerability that we don’t want to experience. We feel the need to protect our hearts from getting broken, our self-esteems from being bruised, and ultimately… this fragility we all walk around with, is self-inflicted.

I knew from very early on, and I’ve mentioned this before, that I’ve always felt like the other. Not just in my appearance, or what I thought or talked about… but the way I carried myself. I think at a point though, I acted very selfishly… I had carried around the weight of my issues and what I’ve experienced in life, dragged it around everywhere. Everywhere! I was on the path to complete self-destruction before I had ever stepped in that direction. I expected my friends and my family to understand what I was going through and help me fix it. And that was the problem. The expectation.

November 5, 2011: I was having drinks with some friends. The night was fine; just like any other I thought. I was going to get wasted, get high off of whatever I could get my hands on, and I was going to force myself to forget the things that made me feel like not wanting to get out of bed every morning for the past however many years of my life…

November 6, 2011: I woke up in a hospital bed with my best friend sitting on a chair next to the bed… I had never felt more guilty and selfish in my entire life.

The vast majority of the night is not in my memory. It’s like a movie trailer… I recall snippets of things. I remember calling a close friend of mine and balling… I remember saying I can’t do this anymore; I can’t fight the thing inside of me that wants me to die. I remember being driven in an ambulance, sort of, it felt like a coffin on wheels. I felt constrained. There was a woman’s voice asking me questions like what I had taken, what I had been doing all night. I can recall someone kneeling down in front of me once I arrived at the hospital… and I didn’t look up because I was too afraid or too fucked up, or both, to care. I felt someone’s scruffy face rub against mine and their arms reaching around me, and I knew it was my brother. From that point on… I remember just having the toughest night of my life…alone…

I had to confront everything.

I had to acknowledge my fears.

I had to acknowledge I got my heart broke.

I had to acknowledge abuse, emotionally and physically.

I had to acknowledge the idea of someone close to me dying.

I had to face everything that I had carried around for so long… and deal with it, alone.

Up until the age of 21, I had never taken drugs or drank alcohol, with the fear of turning into somebody I really did not want to. And within the short span of 2 years, I had become the very person I had feared.

Someone, and to this day I don’t know who, wrote a note in my phone that night…

Image

 

And there it was… I couldn’t run from it anymore. Either get living, or get dying. You know which path you’ve been on. What are you so afraid of? I made a decision that day, that every day I was going to do the very things that I had been doing since I was a kid… believe in myself, believe in the power of change, and fucking love myself.

This was really nerve wracking to write… but I want to thank an individual I went to high school with for reminding me of the courage within me, and for reminding me of this journey I’ve been on. He had messaged me a few nights ago, when I had come home very discouraged. I had felt like maybe I was wrong about the universe, and my teeny existence in space and time. He messaged me on Facebook… telling me a very personal account of his life after high school, and that he’s sorry he never worked up the courage to talk to me in high school. He told me I was one of the most courageous people he had ever seen because I just didn’t give a fuck, and not just for the sake of nonconformity. I truly just didnt give a fuck and he was inspired by that. You walked around with a shaved head! I did, haha.

It was a mind trip. To think your own tiny little existence impacted somebody without you not even having realized it! The fucking universe intervenes and drops a bomb. She’s like “hey, check this out”… and some guy, I barely remember from high school… (we’re talking, totally opposite crowds in high school terms)… messages me to tell ME, I’m courageous and inspirational. MIND BLOWN.

But… then I really thought about it. I started to have one of the coolest revelations ever. It’s true. I’m not afraid to tell anybody how I feel. I’m not afraid to walk up to a complete stranger and ask them to go out with me. I wasn’t afraid to shave my head, dress like boy, and kiss my girlfriend in the hallways of my high school. I’m not afraid, I’ve never been afraid… so why was I so afraid of living when I had had the courage all along? I wear my heart on my sleeve always and I’m spontaneous; I do what I want, and I don’t care that that’s a vulnerability, because when I think about it… it’s not. It makes me courageous as all hell.

But that courage is inside all of us. For every day you get up out of bed and you face the world, you’re vulnerable… and that’s courageous. Don’t be afraid of vulnerability, embrace it. Just be you. Imagine the best you that you can be, because that’s who you truly are. Be vulnerable, it’s what makes us who we are and it makes this place one insane, wonderful mind trip.

I love you friends.

– Am 🙂

A DECULTURED HYBRID “OTHER” LIVING IN A EURO-CENTRIC,

A DECULTURED HYBRID “OTHER” LIVING IN A EURO-CENTRIC, HEGEMONIC SOCIETY INFUSED WITH ASPECTS OF SYNERGY AND TRANSCULTURATION  

or  

“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Ignore the Iggy Azalea’s of the World”

Written by: Dom

PREFACE:

I cannot help but laugh mockingly at myself as I begin, largely because I distinctly remember once holding great disdain for having to memorize these very terms, which I at the time found inanely superfluous. I recall challenging that these postcolonial and cultural studies courses depended too much on terminology that was overly rhetorical and only served the purpose of providing self-satisfactory pleasure in quibbling over nuance. Cultural Studies is an area of academia perfect for those individuals who believe that it is satisfactory to undermine an entire person’s argument based on their incorrect use of a term that is really only two shades different than the term they will present to you as the more accurate one.

Alas, here I am though… in the very shade of these terms I found so tediously redundant. Funnier still is that I tend to express myself with the same excessive wordiness and I can see that that is probably because I spend much of my own contemplative time in that similarly intractable gray-hued shade.

_______

Lately, I have realized that almost every facet of my conscious experiences are and therein likely have been tinged with the quandaries of post-colonialism. I say “conscious experiences” because at no other point in my life have I been able to look at what I see around me, which includes seeing people see me, and be able to comfortably rationalize the thought pattern behind, for instance, an absurd music video or the terribly offensive dialogue in a movie or the strange perplexed look in someone’s eyes when they see me or my best friend. Why the need for “comfortable rationalization”? Well, before this I tended to take things far too personally, particularly as an indictment of myself, and also because this is the upgrade I needed in order to continue to protect innocent idiots and the not so innocent idiots from my violent predisposition to “smack sense” and bring the “boot of doom” to asses everywhere. You are all welcome, by the way.

What encouraged this, you may wonder? Two fucking doses of Iggy Azalea.

Now, to be clear, my use of profanity is not because I harbour any personal or negative feelings towards Amethyst Amelia Kelly, also known as Iggy Azalea. Honestly, I like her flow and it’s golden almost precisely because one could listen to her rap complete, utter nonsense whilst being entranced by her voice, her tones, and her delivery. Nevertheless, as I was saying, I do not know her, I cannot presume to actually know her thought pattern, nor do I feel that she is the blue-eyed soul-sucking devil incarnate. In fact, I don’t even think she has blue eyes; it’s more of an expression… much the same way that Iggy Azalea functions as an expression of the problematic dalliances between cultural appropriation and synergy that have been waltzing through my grey matter of late.

_______

My understanding of the terms “cultural appropriation”, “synergy” and so forth, I owe to Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. And if you click the link, the handy excerpt reads “This best selling key guide, now in its second edition, provides an essential key to understanding the issues which characterize post-colonialism; explaining what it is, where it is encountered and why it is crucial in forging new cultural identities. As a subject, post-colonial studies stands at the intersection of debates about race, colonialism, gender, politics and language.” The bolded sections of this excerpt essentially encapsulate my “eureka” moment where practical, everyday application of post-colonial discourse in my life is concerned. First generation Canadian, check. Family immigrated from a former colony, check, to another former colony, check-check. Female, check. Of Afro-descent, check. Attachment to a language or mode of expression that is not from Canada, check.

And so, while I waltzed through my thoughts about Iggy Azalea’s alleged comments regarding the use of the N-word , her apology for that “I’m a runaway slave / master” line and her recent music video, Bounce, I realized that yes, “new cultural identities” are clearly being formed because… really, what the fuck is this shit if not some product of transculturation or maybe even transcultural shared experience?

As I recall, transculturation is rooted in the “phenomenon of the contact zone”, whereby cultural practices and various means of representation (of culture) coalesce … into … blue-eyed soul-sucking devils? I kid! But seriously, this concept is a beacon in the dim grey landscape of my mind. Places like Canada are prime examples of “contact zones” where various cultures come into “contact” with one and other, producing new hybrid ways of “being” that make those tired black/white binaries even more tedious than studying post-colonialism.

A very comfortable rationalization, indeed; however, it does not end there because power and privilege distort what subsequently emerges as sufficient (and I argue respectful) representation of (a) culture. Add authenticity to that question of representation and it’s a nightmare, it’s a bloody shit show and the boot of doom is destroying everything. Not so comfortable anymore — this is my thought process.

So if transculturation is a euphemism and hegemony (power and privilege) undermines this “rainbow-hand-holding-cultural-love-fest” then how can we respectfully practice or engage in a culture that we, for lack of a better expression, were not born into or raised in, particularly where the question of being privy to practice a different culture is concerned? My answer to that has always been that it is important to distinguish between the malignant and the benign, the callously insensitive and the innocuous. In the case of the above, the difference between malignant “appropriation” and benign “synergy”. Here is where the grey gets stormy:

  • Malignant Appropriation: Appropriation, as I understand it, is basically used to describe the way in which a hegemonic power usurps the cultural domains of those it intends to “take over” or integrate under it’s own institutional design. Important to keep in mind is that these domains that are being usurped have important historical, social, and cultural articulations of identity. This is all an oversimplification, probably a grievous one given the nuances of this entire field of study from which I borrow my terminology and understanding. Nevertheless, there is an inherent power dynamic captured in post-colonial studies that illustrates the fact that in this situation the hegemonic power or even hegemonic culture (colonizer) is atomizing and reshaping the identity of the “colonized” or of the Other with iniquitous disregard.
  • Benign Synergy: This term brings the rainbow back into transculturation. Synergy emphasizes that post-colonial cultures or societies like Canada, the US, and Australia, are a product of various contributing cultures as well as the consequent complex cultural formations that develop thereafter, which too are various in scope. The unequal power dynamic and the implications of negativity inherent in the term appropriation do not pervade this characterization of cultural exchange as it occurs in a now much more positive, synergistic, transcultural manner. When cultural exchange is respectful (appreciably difficult to determine) or at least endeavours to be then it is much less problematic and thus benign in my eyes. Like a benign cancer, it is still something to watch but not something to get overly aggressive about. Feelings may still be hurt, minds may still be perplexed by flagrant cultural insensitivity but in recognizing that the intent was not to harm, a much more productive dialogue can begin or you can move on to frying bigger fish.

Okay, now why does any of this matter? I don’t know that it really does, but I’ll tell you what it means to me… it means that I wish I could read something that talks about race or gender or culture/ expressions of culture without seeing “THIS IS APPROPRIATION!” scrawled in crayon. It calls to mind the imagery of fighting a battle but with a renegade part of your army just recklessly blowing up everything, undermining all strategic advances.

For example, if dreadlocks is a part of your culture and all of a sudden you see someone who does not look like they were born in and/or raised in your culture wearing dreadlocks … and thus somehow not privy to that aspect of your culture… it does not mean that this is an undisputable example of appropriation. Now this is in no way a binary argument, a “this is either appropriation or it’s not and it’s synergy”; I appreciate that there is a lot of grey and it is precisely this grey that needs to be taken into consideration before we lambast everyone for being culturally insensitive. Take the dreadlock example again; if the “wearing dreadlocks” consisted of a hat with a few cottony tendrils then by all means, let us talk about how a corporation has appropriated and commoditized an expression of culture.

_______

That was my end game… I went on a mental waltz because I was annoyed with reading that every breath is apparently a vile act of appropriation; I was annoyed by the N-word debacle; I was annoyed by disrespectful appropriative expressions of culture; and I was annoyed that people were erroneously classing positive, synergistic exchanges of culture as “APPROPRIATION”.  Synergy and appropriation are very similar but it is the nuances that make them distinct, just as the nuances of a music video or a conversation or a side-glance can be an indicator of whether intentions are malignant or benign.

So I guess it can be said that those two doses of Iggy Azalea I referred to earlier really only turned my existing dalliance with this subject matter into a dizzying Viennese waltz, adding Hesitations that would throw a professional ballroom dancer into a tizzy. And while I may be annoyed with all the grandiose displays of carelessness, at the end of all this postulating about postcolonial discourse being relevant to my sphere of existence I realized that it is best to ignore some things. Intention is not always clear… and in those instances where the hateful or disrespectful nature of an intention is apparent, I can say a very healthy “Fuck you” without burdening my heart/soul with baffled negativity. Conversely, if I so choose and the other party is a reasonable human being, we can respectful discuss annoyances, miscommunications, embedded socio-historical context, and ways to be less insensitive. That way we are not attacking every seemingly silly nitwit with a head dress because how unfortunate would it be if that person turned around and told you everything there is to know about it, down to the significance of every artifact while all the ammo you had was “that’s appropriation because you are not allowed to wear that because you… don’t look like you’re from that culture!”

Discussions when possible are helpful, especially when mind reading is not an option. In response to the “runaway slave / master” issue, Iggy wrote, “[i]n all fairness, it was a tacky and careless thing to say and if you are offended, I am sorry […] Sometimes we get so caught up in our art and creating or trying to push boundaries, we don’t stop to think how others may be hurt by it. In this situation, I am guilty of doing that and I regret not thinking things through more.” Whether or not this is a genuine apology is difficult to know, just as it may be difficult at times to differentiate between appropriation and synergy but the most important caveats I take from her statement are that “we don’t stop to think how others may be hurt” and “it was tacky and careless”. That is a huge problem on both levels. Telling someone they cannot dread their hair as an expression of themselves or wear a kimono to their graduation, and to take it a step further by inferring they are evil imperial cultural usurpers by doing so because they weren’t born into the right culture is hurtful, unnecessary, tacky, careless, and presumes you know their intention. Of course, I cannot tell anyone to not be offended by something… that is ridiculous and would be ironically hypocritical but I hope more people will think about what they are processing and therein be more thoughtful about how they begin a dialogue about it — sans hurtful accusation when obvious intent is not actually obvious. Again, I’m not telling anyone to not be offended, I’m saying that you should think about what it is you are offended by, try to understand it, and when you’ve checked all your boxes then you can lace up your “boot of doom”. By not doing this and charging head on, crayons raised high, those who systematically and hatefully offend get to hide under the grey veil of nuance and worse still… turn those who speak up against them into “bullies” and I don’t know if anyone else has been paying attention but they are really good at that.

All of this thoughtless mud slinging is poised to turn our collective social space into more of a whirlwind, cancerous, shit storm… and it’s already hardly bearable. When we call out appropriation, racism, sexism, or cultural sensitivity let us not be like Iggy Azalea – careless and tacky – but instead let’s be thoughtful and strategic.

We Are All Slaves

We’ve been so conditioned to abide a structure and lifestyle that is enforced. It’s a perfect way to keep the masses distracted. Get an education, get a job, get married, have children. The 9-5 is a work day designed to make us consumerists. The very little time between work and errands is the time we take pleasure.

________

All of these relationships we cultivate and make over a lifetime is designed to distract us from real issues. IF the issue at large does not affect someone personally and immediately, they won’t care for the cause. If I have to sacrifice some rights than so be it. There’s nothing we can do about the government – so why worry about it? – I’m going to worry about finding a job and finding a partner. We’re so dependant on these things that we even feel a sense of accomplishment when we attain those things. We’ve been conditioned to feel that these life accomplishments are what is setting your life for you. The system gives you the life goals – you think we have choices, but do we really? The dependancy on friendships, love, relationships is to make us feel like we cannot survive without them. That to be alone… is to equate it with lonely. No. We do not need these things in order to feel accomplished or good about ourselves. The idea of structure, societal rules is to make us slaves. The structure of life is so engrained that it is nearly impossible to live any other way. The few who will challenge the system will be swallowed up by the masses, so those in power – enforcing unjust actions – wont need to feel threatened. They eliminate those who dare to stand up to them.

 ________

We are never given options – we’re only ever given the ILLUSION of options. The question isn’t whether you want the PS4, it’s what colour you want? <— These are not options — the question of buying it does not exist. We all need to be instagram users — the # of LIKES validates our existence, our … acceptance. Moving pictures, moments — posted under no pressure.. no obligation, mere NEED for social media. Our needs have become our biggest weakness. It is an endless appetite that plenty will feed. Those who understand this have been given the holy grail of immortality. LIMITLESS IMMORAL ACTIONS.

 ________

We don’t need to talk about the NSA, because we are the NSA. Willingly sharing information – locations – activities online across all spectrums of social media, and then PHONES. So many ways for us to never not be connected, we’ve been plugged into the machine. The giant machine that governs our daily lives to the point we have anxiety or super ADHD… if we aren’t plugged in. We’ll give over as many rights as we need to to always be plugged in. We are all copies of copies of copies… we’re screwed… someone get me out of this game. This game is rigged. It’s all rigged, always.

________