Annals of Indolence – 27 NOV 2017

Friends,

Can you still call a bender a bender if there’s no drugs and alcohol involved?

This is what I’m wondering as I’m lying on the couch all night the last few days distracting myself waiting for inspiration to hit like a lightning bolt.

I want to do creative things. I have so many great ideas. I have multiple mediums to express those ideas. Yet for all the inspiration that passes through me, I have been hard-pressed to produce consistently and with follow-through.

Why?

Well for one, my default way to handle inspiration has typically been “write about it,” but I’m out of practice -I haven’t been a prolific writer the last year because I have been away from a computer while backpacking down south. I had a phone but I am loathe to type with my thumbs on a phone so got a little rusty.. That’s probably definitely (sic.) a part of it.

Another part of it is that I just moved to Berlin and my life here so far been so inter-twined with that of my girlfriend, Anne, that I really haven’t had a degree of ‘me-time’ to carve out my own space here and ease in.

One thing that I hope it is not is that I have lost something; some fire that I used to possess which made me post prolifically (often angrily) about matters I cared about. I like to think my convictions have remained consistent but my passions have been tempered with reason and patience.

Is there truth to that? Probably…yes. But I’m also at an age too where people calm down and settle and expect less from the world. I think… I KNOW I have gotten stronger in many ways over the last few years, but I can’t help but feeling I am capitulating by not being angry, or at least passionate like I used to be.

Do I expect less from the world? Do I expect less from myself? Is that appropriate?

I see myself as woefully unprepared and ill-equipped to take the world by storm. I’m not really expert at much, let alone the skills that are most rewarded by society, but fundamentally the problem is deeper than that. It’s a lack of drive because I want for something to believe in. I want something to motivate me to get me excited for each new day. Lately I have been living my life with the mindset, “How can I maximize the safety and inoffensiveness of my existence so that I can prolong my comfort for the longest period of time in the hope that the revolution materializes in the interim?” That’s no way to live and I know it’s against everything I profess to stand for but it’s also a suit that fits well.

So, what do you when the type of living that you’re against is also the type of life you’re really good at? I have perfected living frugally and within my means and managed to find happiness in that. As a student of stoic philosophy I actually think there is something noble about it, but at same time being back in a city makes me feel like I am not being all I can be because I am surrounded by so many high-achievers. It was easy for me to be a relative high-achiever living on a beach the last couple years; if you can make some flyers with an iphone app, open beers, guide people through stretching and bend wire you are a high-achiever. Berlin is a little different and I have felt that I am not really good enough at any one particular thing to make a living at it when there are a hundred other people who focus on that one thing and have become expert at it.

So I’m wondering what do I want to be good at and examining each possible thing critically. Naturally I always find reasons why I shouldn’t be focusing my time on these things. There are so many reasons NOT TO DO things and even the reasons FOR doing things can be taken apart and shown to be meaningless, pointless, self-defeating and paltry.

The only consistent, irrefutable reason TO DO anything always is that it’s inside me and I have to get it out.

I don’t know.

I don’t know if I’m right, if I’m deluding myself, and if this post even makes sense.  I just wanna get back to being good and outspoken again like I used to be.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

 

 

 

 

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The Dervish

*This story is based on a prompt from r/writingprompts which can be found HERE.

THE DERVISH

Ishmael breathed into his hands to warm them by the fire. For all the lofty talk of freedom he had heard, all he could say for sure was that it entailed a great deal of discomfort. If only he’d escaped from MECCA-CITY 01 -at least then he’d be in the desert. True the desert lacked abundant water, but seeing as he wasn’t particularly thirsty at this moment that seemed a reasonable trade-off.


(DAYZ Forest Campfire by Kaelakov)

He was suddenly distracted by a giggle from Fatima.

“What’s so funny?” he asked.

“I don’t wanna tell you.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’ll make fun of me.”

“Pfft, I’ll make fun of your dumb-ass ass anyway.” At this, he lunged and attacked her. They wrestled for a moment until he pinned her loosely underneath him. She looked up at him and smiled. Without her head-scarf, her thick, brown hair fell in cascading locks that were quite lovely.

“You should be wearing your head-scarf,” he said, admonishingly.

Fatima’s expression soured. “Oh what, are you gonna be the religious police now that we’ve escaped the city?”

“No….it’s just that it’s cold and if you get sick I’m gonna have to be the one to take care of you.”

She weighed this and nodded. “You know ‘ll get sick even quicker if you keep me pinned on the ground like this.”

“What were you giggling at?” he inquired again? Without waiting for her to respond he grabbed her wrist and gently twisted it so he could see the image on the smartphone’s screen. It was a picture of the prophet engaged in immoral acts with a camel.

“What the fuck?” he exclaimed and got off her, registering mild, though still exaggerated, disgust and disappointment.

“See, I knew you’d think I was stupid for looking at memes.”

“I don’t care that you’re looking at memes, but that’s disrespectful.”

He resumed sitting on the log he had leapt from moments ago. and took on a brooding demenaour.

“It’s a fucking joke, ” Fatima protested. “Have a look. Now, that we’re outside the mosque we’re picking up all kinds of signals from parish and synagogue satellites. I find the parish memes funnier so far…”

But Ishmael drifted off into his own thoughts. There had of course been speculation that the infidels had their own networks and advanced technology, but he’d never been very much interested in that notion; he wasn’t one to spend much time online anyhow. But now, seeing firsthand that the ‘barbarians at the gate’ were actually sophisticated societies…well, it was all a little sobering. Fatima on the other hand, always had her nose in her phone and took it for granted that the infidels must have the internet because what else would they do with their time? She was so far past the shock Ishmael was feeling that she was already doing a comparative analysis of various infidel cultures.

“Why do you think that is?” asked Ishmael slowly and deliberately.

Fatima neither looked up from her phone nor missed a beat as she answered: “Well it seems that the Jews are more afraid of us and the Christians are more disgusted with us, so they’re less overall respectful and therefore make funnier content.”

“No, not that. Why do you think we’re picking up these signals?” he asked, already knowing the answer. “Why couldn’t we receive them in BAKU?”

“Duh! The men who control everything control EVERYTHING!”

That was it. He still wasn’t sure why he found this so shocking. Perhaps it was because it was final, irrefutable confirmation that he -they- had lived a lifetime of betrayal.

“You look surprised.” Fatima observed with as much compassion as she could muster, even looking up from her phone and trying to penetrate his sullen state with her eyes.”

“It’s just…”

“Just what?”

Ishmael took in a deep breath and unconsciously straightened in his posture while turning to Fatima. “Look, we both wanted a way out, but we both knew we wanted it for different reasons.” Fatima unconsciously turned herself toward him and let her hand with her phone in it fall to the side.

He continued: “You have always felt trapped by every aspect of society. You were always a rebel, since we were kids even. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to find you’re gone tomorrow. The elders will probably make a gestural condemnation of you but I don’t think it will go past that. To their credit, they’re pretty liberal in the periphery. Even the men of the desert -most came this far to escape Meccan stricture.”

“So then why did you want to leave if they were so understanding?” she asked with a touch more condescension than she had intended.

“Well as liberal as they are, there were certain things which were beyond questioning. I was fortunate to learn under Mullah Enoch. At times I asked him questions which others may have had me flogged for. But he would just laugh understandingly and say, ‘This isn’t the place to ask such things.’

“Where was the place to ask such things?”

“I didn’t know…at least at first. Then I started to think that perhaps I should approach him outside of the mosque hidden in plain view where noone would be particularly interested in a student and teacher’s conversation, but whenever I approached him he was evasive or just told me that we could talk the following day in the mosque, which of course was ‘not the place to ask such things.’ So I started thinking perhaps he wasn’t talking about the mosque, but the city itself. Perhaps it wasn’t that he couldn’t talk about what I wanted to know, but that he didn’t have the answers to my questions.”

“So you’re gonna gonna look for a mosque in the wild?” Fatima interrupted with some derision.

“I don’t know!” Ismael responded defensively. “But I’m certain that Mullah Enoch was trying to tell me to leave the city.”

Fatima laughed unexpectedly which startled him. “What? Another clever picture of one our faith fucking an animal? What is it -a pig this time?” he asked, disapprovingly.

“No, I’m laughing at you, dumb shit. All this time I thought you wanted to escape the faith and now I found that you want to go deeper.” She brought her phone back into her lap. “That’s so ridiculuous -you’re finally free and you want to imprison yourself even more.” Her eyes traveled down toward her phone.

Fatima’s words didn’t bother Ishmael so much as he realized his story may have been a touch melodramatic, but he had enjoyed having her complete attention. He felt a tinge of panic when he saw it go back to her phone so he decided to tease her to get it back.

“Well, I can’t let you become a godless heathen,” he said matter-of-factly, casting her a sidelong glance. “We’re still going to pray several times a day and read the word of the prophet.”

“Oh really?” Fatima said, not looking up. “Maybe I just abandon you in the middle of the night.”

“I wouldn’t recommend it.”

She looked up from her phone, amusedly challenging him. “Why’s that?”

He looked at her phone. “The battery won’t last forever. Who you gonna talk to when it’s dead?”

“Congratulations! The one reason for staying with you that I can’t refute,” she said as she looked up at him and put her phone to sleep.

His confidence regained by his triumph over her phone, Ishmael relaxed a little and the conversation began to flow a little more freely from his end. “Yeah well when it comes down t it, it’s our crippling fear of being alone with no one to talk to that truly gave birth to civil society.” Fatima smirked at this. “If nothing else, it kept my parents’ marriage from falling apart.”

“Wow, that’s a pretty cynical view of the social contract.” Fatima observed. ” ‘We are both completely inadequate -so let’s be somewhat less cumulatively inadequate together.’ ”

“You could at least give me a ring before you make a proposal like that,” he said, feigning haughty indignance.

Fatima stood up and got one one knee in front of him, looking him in the eye. “I’m just a young apostate kneeling in front of a young heretic asking him to complement her shortcomings with his his own in a co-dependent, probably destructive way.”

“I hear apostate chicks go all the way…

“Till they stone me or burn me with acid.”

“Wow. You just gave me the weirdest boner.”

“And at that, the condemned young female’s vagina dried up and she rediscovered the faith. Allah hu Akbar!”

They both laughed and Fatima propelled herself by pushing against Ishmael’s chest, causing him to fall off the log.

“Lucky for you it’s cold out here so we’ll have to spoon to keep warm.” she said, giving him an accusing smirk.

Ishmael hadn’t bothered to get up from the ground after she’d pushed him. Instead he laid there and cast her seductive eyes., dragging his finger slowly across the ground. “I feel so tiny wrapped up in your big, strong arms,” he said in a smoky, sultry voice.

“Ha, nice try -I’m little spoon.”

“Dath coo!” He got up and began brushing his clothes of while singing, ‘Ain’t nothin’ but a dry-hump par-tyyyyy…’

“Just keep your weird boner away from my butt-crack and we won’t have any problems.”

Ishmael rolled out a blanket on the ground near their fire while Fatima gathered some more sticks and wood for their fire.

“Should we stay awake in shifts?” she asked.

“Probably the most prudent thing to do. You wanna take first or second shift?”

She yawned. “Umm…neither…”

“Then it’s settled. Let’s go to ground.”

They both laid down on their right sides and Fatima curled herself into Ishmael’s embrace. After a few minutes of fidgeting and getting comfortable they finally settled and began drifting off.

“Fatima”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

A moment passed.

“I’m all you have.”

“You’re all I want.”

They both began tearing up as the knowledge of how alone they were set in. A few moments passed then Fatima spoke:

“I love you.”

Ishmael squeezed her tighter and kissed her on the back of the head and they, at length, drifted off to sleep.

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

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ONE DAY AT THE WATCHTOWER

***The following story is a response to a thread on the sub-reddit, r/writingprompts.
View thread HERE.***

ONE DAY AT THE WATCHTOWER

Kal slurped his coffee loudly as he sat in the lounge of the watchtower reading the news on his tablet.

“Do you have to be so loud?” Diana asked. “Also, put on a goddamn shirt -this is a common area and we have a dress code.”

Kal began scratching/caressing his chest and belly as he looked over at her. “What’s the matter? You never seen a real man’s body before?” He then put two fingers to his tongue and began mockingly rubbing his nipple while giving her seductive eyes.

Diana shuddered. “You’re gonna turn me into a fucking dyke, you know that?”

Kal smirked, but before he could offer some pithy comment, Bruce walked in with a serious look on his face.

“Kal… Diana…All is well I presume?….” Kal shrugged as if to say ‘meh’ and Diana rolled her eyes and returned her attention back to her tablet.

“What is the status of next week’s operation?”

Silence.

“Do we have a belligerent to attack Munich?”

Silence.

“Guys! What the fuck? We have a plan and we’re supposed to stick to it. Why haven’t you scheduled any belligerent?”

Diana cleared her throat. “Nobody wants to work with us. They are all scared since Kal broke Zod’s neck.”

“Oh fuck them and fuck you for saying that!” Kal snapped, indignant.

“She’s right, Kal -you fucked up. Have they flat-out refused?”

“Some did…Brainiac gave us his ‘fuck-you’ price.” Diana said as she turned her tablet in Bruce’s direction for him to see.

“Jesus! We could level the city to the ground, buy it for peanuts and still lose money if we paid him that.” Bruce looked disapprovingly at Kal, who stared intently at his tablet, pretending to be unaware of the negativity focused on him. Ever the pragmatist, Bruce swallowed his anger, “We need to purchase that city. I’m open to ideas.”

“Well, you’re Bruce Wayne -you could always pay ful….”

Before he could finish, a pillow thrown by Diana hit him with the force of a moving car, exploding into a blizzard of white plumage as it hit his cheek.

“Pth pthh!….well that was unnecessary.” Kal retorted while spitting out the goose down feathers now fluttering about his head.

“I told you, we pay full price as an absolute last resort. With the sheer number and scale of acquisitions we are making, we can’t afford to pay market price -I CAN’T afford market price.”

“Well, me and Diana coul-”

“Diana and I…you stupid fuck.” Diana interrupted.

“Diana and I,” Kal resumed. “We could toss on black masks and dark clothes and just go wreck shit.”

“No! Too risky. We’ve had to endure too much scrutiny the few times we resorted to that.” Bruce sat at this and let out a sigh. “We need a clear-cut villain and not some mysterious man in black with suspiciously Kryptonian abilities, otherwise it’ll be the fast-track to registration, ankle bracelets and panoptic surveillance like they’re dealing with in 616.”

At this, Kal and Diana looked at each other, then at Bruce. Bruce remained looking straight ahead, only his gaze was fixed on something which seemed thousands of miles away. At length, he blinked and seemed to awaken. “Kal, do you still have it?”

“The motherbox? Yeah…. but are you sure you wanna ask for their help? Just think about what they’ll ask for in return.”

“It’s true,” Diana chimed in. “But at least we know it won’t be money.”

“Listen, I know I’m not the smartest one here, but it seems we’re opening up a can of worms that we may not wanna open. What if they want us to fight on their behalf in their universe someday?”

“It’s true,” said Bruce, standing with resolve. “But we can set the terms for such a payment, and if we set the terms far enough off in the future we may negotiate some wiggle-room. And who knows: when they call on us it may be to champion a cause we can actually get behind.”

“Ugh, I feel so dirty”

“Do it!” commanded Diana.

Kal left at a grudging pace, decidedly well slower than he was capable of. When he had gone, Diana walked to Bruce who was now staring out at the vast expanse of space and the world below them. She stood beside him and watched the world twinkling below them. A skin-coloured object moved incredibly fast past their field of view and seemed to terminate somewhere in the Arctic circle.

“The idiot didn’t even bother to put a shirt on.” observed Diana. “…Bruce. Do you think it’s really worth it? Buying the world?”

Bruce grimaced. “You know I do.”

“Do you ever feel like we’re becoming the villains?”

“I do.”

“So does the end justify the means?”

“I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m not justifying anything anymore. I’m stopping crime.”

“By destroying cities?”

“If necessary, yes! I spent years, Diana -YEARS- beating the shit out of petty criminals and the mentally disturbed. But they weren’t the problem -they were symptoms. Every city that Wayne Enterprises has bought has been completely overhauled -better infrastructure, better connectivity, integrated agriculture, energy independence, decentralization for greater local autonomy, universal standardization for greater compatibility and cooperation with all other cities…..ABUNDANCE, Diana. People in my cities no longer want for things. And as their circumstances have changed and they’ve been freed from drudgery, their values have changed too and we’re are seeing a marked increase in innovation, virtually no crime, a flourishing in the arts. There is a veritable renaissance going on below and it’s all thanks to-”

Bruce caught himself and took a breath.

“What I mean to say is that we are already seeing the fruit of our labours. Besides, the cities that are destroyed are typically those we can’t afford because the people have become so soulless and speculative that they no longer view domiciles as homes, but as assets. Their loss is a sacrifice I gladly make for the greater good.”

They both stared out again at the Earth. The glass in the window darkened in a split-second as the sun peeked over the Earth’s horizon.

“You really hate gentrification, don’t you?” Diana asked.

“Not as much as I hate yuppie scum!”

Then they had sex with no condom.

THE END

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‘Nosediving’ I: Life Imitating Art in China

“I’ll just follow my nose…”
-Toucan Sam

Friends,

In my recent efforts to get caught up on the program Black Mirror, I yesterday watched the first episode from season 3, entitled “Nosedive.” In this episode, the protagonist, Lacie lives in a world where everyone is constantly rated by each other on a 5 star scale. One’s rating at any given point is an aggregated average, with 5-star ratings from “high-4s” bringing one’s average higher than 5-star

ratings from 3.5s and lower. Lacie averages a respectable 4.2 at the episode’s beginning but to achieve a 4.5 and receive the benefits such a ranking holds (financial, social and professional) she takes a gamble and enters the high-stakes game of upward mobility at the elite level. Things quickly unravel for her as circumstances beyond her control coupled with some “average-dropping” faux-pas’ cause her to drop just below 4.2 and lose that ranking’s necessary benefits. This leads to an emotional outburst and profanity (a positive no-no in the perfectionist world of social media lifestyle cultivation) which gets her harshly penalized until her average is so low that she throws away all pretension and goes thermonuclear at the very social event that she gambled would bring her 4.5dom.

The whole episode seems as if it’s going to be a sobering parable about hubris and the dangers of superficiality, but late in the episode  Lacie has a chance encounter with a formerly high-4 woman happily reduced to 1-dom and we start to see that maybe letting go is the path to salvation and the moral of the episode. The final scene in a jail cell where Lacie (at an abysmal sub-1 average) trades barbs with a fellow inmate only confirms this moral.


She seems happier cussing out this black man than at any other point in the episode….RACIST!!

And it’s a good moral. It smacks of Voltaire’s timeless bit of wisdom, “Man is free the moment he wishes to be.”

I pondered this moral and it’s implications for me and where I’m at. I realized a few years ago that cultivating a squeaky-clean image online was not possible for me, nor desirable, as it would psychologically limit me in the future when I wanted to say some real shit.

Or perhaps more accurately, recognizing that a social media presence is a digital monument, if I built one based on omission and SFW opinions, I would be unwilling to topple it down the road (with risque points of view), it being a monument after all and something I would have, at that hypothetical future-point, invested much time and effort into creating.

No, better to speak my piece, polarizing as it may be, and let the chips fall where they may.

Enter the universe (or invasive data-mining), which, in it’s infinite wisdom, has been known to conspire: Logging onto the Facebooks this morning I saw that a friend posted an article from Wired entitled, “Big Data Meets Big Brother: China Moves to Rate it’s Citizens.

 

That’s right, China is moving to implement citizen ratings based on stringent governmental standards by 2020. I would suggest you read the article for Rachel Botsman’s in-depth analysis of the implications, but essentially people will qualify for better services and greater privileges based on how high their rating is. Furthermore, and much more insidiously, those considered “untrustworthy” (Naturally, China is framing it as a trust-scale more than a conformity-scale) will not only have a lack of privileges, but be a threat to their circle of friends, as one person’s degree of “fuck-uppery” will reflect poorly on anyone who deigns to associate with them, threatening even the ostensibly “trust-worthy” with loss of privileges.


“China, YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD!”

It’s like in Full Metal Jacket when Pyle keeps fucking up and so Hartman decides to punish the rest of the platoon, alienating him from everyone and causing them to beat the shit out of him, in what was (impressively) arguably the most disturbing scene in any Kubrick film. Punishments against bystanders for indulging and tolerating undesirables is a fundamentally malicious policy because it goes against beautiful and humanistic ideals such as “Love thy Neighbour” and “Do Unto Others…”

I’m not so naive to believe that this is a China-problem, nor that people-rating hasn’t already manifested there and here in the west. In a way, I’m all for it; I’ve worked hard to be a good traveler and earn a good reputation on CouchSurfing for example, and that reputation (rightly) gains me the trust of new hosts in new places a lot quicker and more easily. The logic is simple: Don’t be a shithead; Don’t get treated like a shithead. Simple! I, much like Ms. Botsman believe reputation to be the once and future currency of the world -good enough for proto-human tribes, good enough for the post-scarcity economy we’re moving toward.

However, China is bastardizing the noble concept of reputation by taking two of it’s ugliest permutations, credit ratings (a mechanism to further deprive the already deprived) and people reviewing (a “legitimate” way to smear someone via apps like Peeple), and combining them into an ugly abomination with the power to bestow privilege and convenience to the worthy and mete out suffering to the unworthy based on pre-established standards which are reflective of the state institution’s survival needs rather than the ability of citizens to co-exist with each other. And if that wasn’t already enough, those afflicted with “unworthiness” carry a memetic contagion of sorts, alienating them from worthy members of society who may help to, at the very least, rehabilitate them, even though they may have done nothing worse than question policy.

In this last regard, China is almost creating a prison without walls, which might not be so bad if this state-sanctioned social smearing was implemented as an alternative to physical incarceration (even though the ‘bar for entry’ seems to be much lower), but there has been no apparent mention of this, so its essentially just a way to lock up more citizens and scare many more into falling in line.

Well-played, China. The magnificence of your bastardry apparently knows no bounds.

My knee-jerk reaction to this article was predictably fear and anxiety. I’m not a violent criminal but it seems ‘crimes’ we all engage such as out-spokenness may one day land us in hot water as state-ratings become normalized and global. From a strictly amoral and Machiavellian perspective, it does seem to be a viable way to conserve and consolidate power and only someone with a complete lack of imagination or an interest in seeing this system propagate could deny it will be implemented in the western world if the China test-case proves successful.

Again, what was most paralyzing about the worry I felt  was that I realized one day having an opinion that was considered unpopular could hurt those I care about. If I had to dissociate from my father for example, or worse, if he decided to dissociate from me because I was too much of a liability… Well, how could I fault him for that?

But in that moment of panic I realized that I was just feeling, I wasn’t thinking. The former has a place to be sure, but sometimes we have to be pragmatic and logical. Whenever I am seized by existential anxiety I go over my escape plan. The details of it change over time but points 1 and 2 are pretty much always the same:

ANDRE’S SUPER-SECRET, ‘DON’T TELL THE GOVERNMENT’, ESCAPE PLAN

  1. If shit gets too bad I can always kill myself and then my problems on this material plane are over.
  2. I can always focus on my breathing and the present moment.
  3.  Refer back to points 1 and 2 as needed until such time as a better solution presents itself.

You could maybe argue that the order of 1 and 2 could be switched, but they’re just a starting point and as important as their actual viability as solutions to the problem of life, they serve the purpose of reassuring me while I formulate other strategies.

Those strategies I will elaborate on in my next post which will be a follow-up to this one.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Mental Gender and The Kybalion

Friends,

This past January I fell in with a hippie named Timmie somewhere west of Tucson in the Sonoran Desert, a few scant kilometres north of the Mexican border and on the fringes of the Tohono O’odham Nation reservation. We were living in what amounted to a desert suburb -giant plots of land, hundreds of acres each, connected by endless desert track. Maverick bovines mingled with their branded counterparts, and save for the fences which partitioned each ranch/plot of land, the only features which dotted the horizon were the farmhouses, existing kilometres upon kilometres from each other.


We spent our days mountain climbing and smoking metric shitloads of dope…
…rather idyllic…

Add to this isolation the natural desolation of the desert, the alien appearance of the saguaros, the evidence of coyotes ferrying illegals over the same routes we walked mere hours earlier, the omnipresence of the border patrol, the unseen eyes of the minutemen, the looming threat of danger from nearby neighbours who’d tried to rob Timmie, and most importantly the raw spiritual power of the reservation land we were on, and it all amounted to an exciting and interesting place to do drugs.


The remote watering hole on the reservation where we’d take Timmie’s sick dog, Oshe every day, read and allow our peace and harmony to attract wild horses.

And do drugs we did. Well, weed and mushrooms anyway.

I should qualify that: We smoked weed everyday, several times a day and it was even more of a trip because Timmie was one of those guys who could see the matrix; he was always making connections between words, acronyms and numbers and well….everything. As well, he had the gravitas of a wise Indian shaman and so there was something hypnotic about hearing him deconstruct reality…

But with regard to the mushrooms, we only did one trip: 9.5 grams of Amanita Muscarias (which I recorded and edited down to an 8-minute youtube video).
It was a powerful trip spiritually and we did a multi-day preparation for it which included a simple, nourishing diet, meditation and discourse, and reading aloud from The Kybalion. For those unfamiliar with this text I encourage you to read the wikipedia entry on it, but in brief it is the distilled teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, the greatest of all the alchemists, and it posits that there are 7 Hermetic Principles, which it then expounds upon. They are:

I. The Principle of MENTALISM
II. The Principle of CORRESPONDENCE
III. The Principle of VIBRATION
IV. The Principle of POLARITY
V. The Principle of RHYTHM
VI. The Principle of CAUSE AND EFFECT
VII. The Principle of GENDER

These principles don’t seem profound in and of themselves; indeed any pop-scientist who’s ‘liked’ IFLScience on Facebook could probably give you a tenable breakdown of vibration and cause & effect at the very least. However, it is when all seven principles are taken in conjunction that their synergy and implications manifest. It’s all very interesting and their are certainly more in-depth analyses of each specific principle to be had out there if you don’t have an interest (yet) in reading the entire book, but herein I just want to explain the fascinating revelations of chapter fourteen, which deals with MENTAL GENDER.
Mental Gender (MG) might be best explained as an elaboration on the previous chapter’s discussion on principle #7: the complementary masculine and feminine principles/energies/aspects in all of creation. Indeed, the book goes to great lengths to explain how in any act of creation, from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the universe itself, there is always a masculine energy/will which then imposes itself upon/inspires a feminine energy/womb. The masculine impresses itself upon the feminine and the feminine receives impressions -BAM! Creation!
I’ve found a handy conceptual tool to imagine this is that the feminine might be considered the energy (or matter at lower levels of vibration) and the masculine might be considered the vibration itself, determining what form the matter/energy exists as.
So why break gender down further into mental gender? Well, refer to the first principle, Mentalism, and it’s assertion that “All is Mind.” Everything is a creation of the mind, and if every creation is a culmination of masculine meeting feminine, then these two principles, mentalism and gender, share a very interesting connection.

Now allow me to digress a moment: when I left Timmie and Arizona to go to Carpe Diem Eco Project in Nicaragua, I met a traveler named Ryan my first night. He had achieved a high-level of mastery at life and so I listened when he spoke. He left the next day but one thing he said which made a deep (masculine) impression on the (feminine) womb of my mind was this: “I AM is the most powerful phrase in the universe.” While I didn’t understand fully why at the time, I knew it to be true, and so I incorporated this phrase into daily affirmations.

Fast forward to months later, and me finally finishing The Kybalion and wouldn’t you know, the phrase I AM is explicitly discussed and now better understood.

Why?

Well first we must separate I AM into its constituent parts and descriptions:

I is the statement of being. The masculine will which is cultivated through discipline, effort and focus. It must be cultivated.
AM is the statement of becoming. The womb or creative space where our ‘ME’ is created through the impressions we receive. It exists (without any need for cultivation) as primordial chaos which seeks order (I) for the act of creation.

The AM will be impregnated by/create with the strongest I (or Is) it receives impressions from. Since many are derelict in their duty of cultivating a strong I or will in their lifetimes, one strong I, whether from a mentally stronger human being or larger, more influential organization can impregnate the AM space of many, while the I of many individuals simply atrophies and languishes. (I don’t think I need to go into the parallels this realization has on our physical plane, but female sexual selection comes readily to mind, even if masculine and feminine are not specifically male and female.)
It is therefore incumbent upon us to take the time and effort to cultivate our I so that we can create our own reality as opposed to existing in the reality of another.

THINK ‘I AM’ > SPEAK ‘I AM’ > DO

Order yearns for chaos and chaos yearns for order, but chaos is a harsh and choosy mistress, so do the mental work of cultivating a strong I through meditation and reflection, speak a strong I in the direction your will is pointing and then manifest that reality through acting in accord with mind and voice.

I suppose this last bit is as much of a reminder for myself as it is advice to any of you xo

For a full downloadable pdf of the Kybalion: http://www.hermetics.org/pdf/kybalion.pdf

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

 

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Migrant Crisis

Friends,

It’s been a lukewarm minute since I last posted here. Beyond indolence, there was a practical difficulty in that I didn’t have a computer and I absolutely abhor typing with my thumbs.

But no need to labour my absence. Here I am. Back in Canada of all places after 10 months on the road which saw me a tear a righteous strip up and down Arizona with my thumb, have a 4-month, beachfront war of the roses with my ex in Nicaragua, and then spend a similar amount of time in Utila, Honduras getting my divemaster certification (also having my first threesome).

And now I’m back in Canada. Not for long though -in 6 days I’ll be flying to Berlin to move in with my Frau, Anna, whom I met in Honduras. I’m excited to move to Berlin because it will be an opportunity to immerse myself among a critical mass of high-functioning people and see how it affects me.

Also excited to see mein frau -she’s teaching me to speak the German

But how does it feel to be back? Like shit honestly. Everything is falling apart at the seams. I feel unhealthy, depressed, angry, repressed and apprehensive. I don’t wanna be in this fuckin’ country. If I don’t hate it I feel hatred toward it. I didn’t want to come back and it’s only because Canada is kinda on the way to Germany that I decided to stop here.

It hasn’t all been bad of course. For starters I get to see family and friends which is always lovely. Particularly I was fortunate in that my two-week window back here happened to coincide with my cousin Sarah’s wedding


Smaller in stature; Larger in retardation

And of course, I got to see my grandmother, Sheila who has been struggling with cancer for the better part of my absence. After seeing her briefly at the wedding this past Saturday (her first foray out of the hospital since being admitted months ago), I again saw her at the hospital the next day. and we talked and joked in a very familiar way, almost oblivious to the sterile surroundings. As we left, I lingered behind to say what I understood might be my final good-bye to her.
We spoke some more and then I grabbed her hand and smiled -it wasn’t an affected smile trying to fight back tears or hide hurt, but rather a large and genuine smile as one soul may give to another as they part ways after a brief (30 year) and benevolent time together.
She said to me, “I guess this is good-bye for a long time.”
“Yes,” I responded, immediately aware that she was talking about more than just my upcoming departure to Germania.
At that she gave me a kiss and told me to take it with me. After one final squeeze I backed away from her still smiling, feeling more closure and peace than anyone in my position might reasonably expect to feel. She’s right, it is good-bye for a “long time,” but I’l see her again, either in this life or the next.

***********

The upshot of all this is that I’m ready to be on my way. As I mentioned above, I don’t feel healthy here. Three years ago was the last winter I spent in Canada and my health suffered drastically, partly as a result of the lack of light and probably partly as an indirect result of depression induced by coming out of a major break-up. From what I understand, Berlin’s weather is more comparable to southern Ontario’s weather than it is to Latin America’s and so this gives me pause.
As well as my concern for my own health, I know that in winter people tend to clam up, stay indoors and generally not be as open. I tend shine brightest in the sun and from what I can tell I have more power to uplift those around me in said circumstances. Bearing that in mind I will have to make extra efforts to engage and interact, rather than resign myself to wintry isolation.
I’m scared though.

Another thing that troubles me about being in Canada is the politically-correct culture. It has in the last few years had such a deleterious effect on me and my confidence as a man that repeated excursions to the developing world became a must; Say what you will about Central America and it’s problems with violence and machismo, but at least you can call something what it is without people complaining that you’re being offensive.
This PC culture, or perhaps more accurately this Socially-Sanctioned Self-Delusion, has indeed fallen to the periphery of my awareness in my absence from Canada, but it never quite disappeared as I was always plugged into social media. However, coming back here, even for a brief few weeks I’m sickened by the atrophied spirit of people.
Is it the weather getting people down? Perhaps.
Is it my own projections bringing me down? Likely that too.
Still, there is a resignation that people have to their own inability to say the things they’re inclined to say and act the way they’re inclined to act. I say “inclined” instead of “want” because I get the sense that people have convinced themselves they don’t want to speak truth. I recognize this behaviour because I suffer from it too and I’m trying to recover so perhaps I’m more sensitive to it. Yet even catching snippets of SNL and Seth Meyers I am reminded constantly that ostensible taboos are framed as “I can’t say _____” rather than “If I say ____ there will be consequences.” The latter is true but the former becomes a limiting belief and it’s a limiting belief that is pushed forcefully on the masses. This is perhaps what I object to most: the snarky voice of progressive western culture saying “You can’t do/say that!”
Don’t ever believe anyone when they tell you that you can’t do something -they are misguided devils trying to limit the godliness within you insofar as it finds expression through your voice and hands.
Normally it wouldn’t be too much of a problem cause I’m only here for two weeks, but I’m moving to Berlin which from what I understand is a very “progressive” city, and unfortunately the experiences I’ve had show me that progressiveness often goes hand in hand with repression. So in the same way I’ll have to double my efforts to keep my energy up, I’ll have to double my efforts to speak my own truth. My first order of business will be getting a job chopping vegetables -I need a few weeks of some mundane labour to process all the experiences and info I’ve been gathering over the last two years and I think prep work in a kitchen is the route I’ll go.

Winter is coming. My watch has just begun. But if there is any silver lining, it’s that I understand Germany is quite amenable to unskilled fighting-age males with darker complexions.


This is the face I’ll endeavor to face this new challenge and all new challenges with.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

#MigrantCrisis

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…When I Learn to Fly

  1. “I’ll make my way back home when I learn to fly.”
    -Foo Fighters, Learn to Fly

Friends,

I’m coming up on 5 months abroad now, the last three of which have been in Nicaragua, and, seeing as I just returned from a visa renewal trip to Costa Rica, it’s safe to say I don’t have any immediate plans to go back to Canada. I do have plans and intentions but the only person I’ve really opened up to about my intentions is fellow film-maker, Alex Loubert, but even that was a few weeks back and plans have refined since then. So for whomever is interested I’d like to elucidate upon the plans which have been formulating in my head. My intention here is to not only clarify my intent for friends and family, but to give some advance notice to those who may wish to collaborate on the ongoing art project which is my life.

OVERVIEW

Over the next two years I intend to improve myself and broaden my skill-set in order that I may live on the road indefinitely, making money as I need to and not being tethered to the balance of my savings. Also, should I ever return to Canada I want to have a skill-set which will allow me to live on my own terms and not on the indulgence of an employer.
(In the words of Cam’Ron: “Nobody gonna pay you like you pay yourself.”)
Also, and this is of equal import, I wish to improve myself while at the same time seeing as-yet-unseen parts of the world which I have always yearned to see. Perhaps at the end of this excursion I may be ready to put down roots and stay in one place.
No promises though…

WHERE TO BEGIN?…

About a month ago I spent a few days at Momentom Collective, a yoga and circus focused artist residency in San Juan Del Sur co-founded by Gabrielle Buenaciudad and Therese Lowton.

It was an eye-opening stay as I was immersed in a culture of incredibly high-functioning, supportive, positive and open people. Being there really fucked with some obsolete programming I have been holding onto for years; I kinda felt like I was short-circuiting at times as I internalized possibilities for myself which were fundamentally rooted in trusting myself and my intuition. I realized how much I second-guess my inclinations and how much this tendency has stifled me and postponed my full flowering, no homo.
(*On that note, living in Canada, especially near Toronto, with its “progressive” SJW culture, has been degenerative for my psyche, especially when compounded by working in tv/film where I felt pressure to be inoffensive due to the collaborative nature of the industry. I certainly don’t wish to offend anyone but being removed from the industry, the city and the country fills me with a sense of freedom to speak which I ironically haven’t felt since I was in the military. Go figure!).
Since my time there (Momentom) I have made a concerted effort to be trusting of my inclinations and urges and to be deliberate rather than furtive in my overtures.
It’s actually a lot of fun as a big part of it is just saying whatever is on my mind. As a role model I look to Archer and just pretend I have Asperger’s -I say some real funny shit sometimes. Bartending at Surfing Turtle has been great for this because its a license to be deliberate about opening people up and the best way to do that is often brutal, hilarious and honest observation.

But, back to the topic of self-improvement….

My friend Brandon Gowe is fond of saying, “Always have at least three hustles.” There is a lot of truth in this statement, but three is a bare minimum. Right now I:

-Sell jewelry (Occasional)
-Get paid to teach yoga (Occasional)
-Chop a dime here and there (Occasional and illegal)

As you can see my bare minimum three hustles need work. Here is what I intend to do….

NICARAGUA

I have been living in #CarpeDiemEcoProject helping my good friend, Ghislain Beauchamp build the eco-resort he has been dreaming of opening for years. We get closer and closer to completion every week and things are quickening now with large-scale construction projects commencing this week which will see the camp overrun with local contractors and carpenters as well as the usual group of volunteers building with cob.
However, the reality is that it’s getting late in the season and he has floated the idea of closing the place down for the year as soon as mid-May as opposed to June as in previous years. So, using that as a rough timeline I’ve begun to plan life after CDEP.
As mentioned, I’ve been working part-time at #SurfingTurtleLodge and I’m enjoying it immensely, so I’ve naturally thought about switching to full-time. That idea certainly has some lustre and I’m not 100% against it because it would be great hostel-work experience which will be valuable for the next two years (more on that soon), but right now I feel pulled in a different direction.

HONDURAS

Pursuant to my goal of improving myself through a broader skill-set I have set the intention of heading north to Utila, Honduras and doing a divemaster certification. Apparently it can be done for about $1000 USD and it would be a pliable skill anywhere I went in the world with a coastline. Also, Utila is a paradise chock full of reefs, whale sharks and beautiful people. Being in Central America you hear a lot of grape-vine talk about hot places to go and this is one such place which is thankfully something of a hidden gem still. As a bonus, when I mentioned it to Ghislain, a dive instructor who had lived and worked there 5 years ago, he mentioned he was thinking of going back in May for a visit. This would be amazing as I would have a knowledgeable and experienced travel companion and good friend to roll with. Fingers crossed!

POST-HONDURAS

The next for-sure mark to hit after Honduras and divemaster cert would be North Africa. Timeline-wise I’m thinking I would like to get there by late 2017 or early 2018. My intention is primarily to see the Sahara and roughly re-create Santiago’s journey from “THE ALCHEMIST,” but there’s flex on start/end points and route.

To begin with, how to get there? Well, right now the most appealing option is to hop on a yacht in the Caribbean and work as crew to get across the Atlantic. That would be dope and satisfy a longing to do a trans-oceanic voyage. Ideally I would like to end up in Spain where I would begin my Alchemist journey in Andalucia, possibly after hiking the Camino de Santiago in the north (Lukazs, Tom, let’s do this!!).

Another way I might make my way to Spain would be less direct -heading to Mexico, then up the Baja California, through Cali, Oregon, Washington and BC finally seeing the Pacific Northwest that has enchanted me for so long and possibly working as a weed trimmer there if its the right time of year -As far as trimming goes, it’s great coin, but I’m more interested in doing it for the experience before everything becomes legal. In any event, once I got back to Canada I would finally hitch-hike across Canada like I’ve been intending to for years, stopping briefly in Ontario before jumping off to Spain to begin aforementioned Trans-Saharan Caravan.

#NOTHINGISWRITTEN (NORTH AFRICA)

I’m gonna immerse myself in the desert and just get consumed by the wasteland. But I’m also gonna take my time with it, working at hostels, doing workaways, woofing if possible, learning the language and making my way incrementally across the northern part of the African continent to the pyramids. If possible I would like to do more apprenticeships with jewelers, learning local styles and improving my skill-set. In Morocco, my first country after Spain, I intend to head to the Atlantic coast there and check out the fledgling aurf scene and see if my divemaster cert could be put to use.
In the desert itself I wanna go to an oasis soooooo bad. Oases have always enchanted me so I’m gonna live in one.
For the record, I am quite frightened of possible run-ins with extremist groups like ISIS but I figure I’m gonna be more of a curiosity to them than anything. I have joked that maybe they’ll kidnap and force me to make jewelry for them which would be kinda dope, but I was only half-joking: I wanna find out for myself who’s out there instead of just believing the news. Maybe I’ll write an ethnography.
If it turns out they do want to execute me I’ll try and see the humor in it and laugh on the way to my execution -it’s the only victory we can truly have in life.
This whole African excursion is gonna be gully and by the time I get to Egypt I will be ready to begin the next phase: INDIA.

PSYCH! SAUDI ARABIA…MAYBE…

I wanna see the Arabian desert because for me it represents a wasteland more inaccessible and dangerous than that of Northern Africa. Seriously, going there scares me not because of the harsh conditions but because of the strict observance of Islamic law. If they catch you slippin’, well….. Let’s just say there’s nothing scarier than an establishment that will kill you with impunity for perceived transgressions and all the while believe they are acting righteously *cough* police *cough*…
No guarantees on this one but it’s definitely a possibility.

INDIA

I have been teaching yoga for a while, and I’ve been practicing it for years, but I have yet to get certified and thus learn much of the associated theory. Certification will also lend more credibility to me when I apply to various hostels and hospitality locations looking for work. And really, what better place than India to learn yoga? There are many great places here in Central America to get certified and I will certainly broaden my yoga skill-set over time here, but remember, an important part of these next two years is seeing places I haven’t seen. So as well as getting my cert I am going to see India , feast like a king and maybe buy a monkey. Who knows!?

SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Finally, I will make my way to SE Asia. You know, it’s a wonder I haven’t been here yet. For some people it’s their first exposure to backpacking, but even after more than ten years of excursions its uncharted territory for me. As far as self-improvement goes, all along the trip I will be developing my massage skill and reiki aptitude, and here in SE Asia I feel like I could really develop my Thai massage skill-set. Beyond that I’m not sure what I want from this place (food), but I know I gotta see it as it will (mostly) wrap up all my loose ends of bucket list places to see.

EPILOGUE

I’m not sure who I will be when this is all said and done and if I will be ready to buy property and build something of my own, or if I’ll want to come back to Canada or if I’ll want to pursue trips to Patagonia, the Peruvian desert, Antarctica, Eastern Europe, etc. (The bucket list never actually ends) I can literally do anything I want to do. My biggest challenge is aiming high.

So if you don’t know now you know, nigga(s)!

EPI-EPILOGUE

I owe special recognition to two very important people in my life who have precipitated a great desire for growth within me.

First would be Ghislain -meeting him and visiting his project last year was a very serendipitous experience for me and he embodies qualities that I aspire to embody myself. He is a skilled, positive, hard-working, dynamic individual comfortable with himself as a man and as a member of a community. It is by the strength of his will that the culture of CDEP is what it is. I admire the dude and feel honored to count him among my friends.

Second would be Marijo Lariviere. She is one of the most talented people I know whose ability to thrive anywhere in the world with her skill-set has inspired me greatly in my current path. Whether it’s yoga instruction, hair-dressing, jewelry-making, etc… She has so many valuable practical skills that it really made me reflect on what I bring to the table, what I could offer others (manual labor, carry a gun), and realize that I could do better. She made me aspire to improve myself if only to be of greater service to the people around me.

In closing I want to say I can be better than I am. I don’t say that with self-denigration or regret but with optimism, love for myself, and excitement to see the man I am evolving into.

I hope you enjoy the show too.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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