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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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Filed under blog, consciousness, Critique, discourse, opinion, technology, Uncategorized

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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Filed under adventure, blog, consciousness, gender, opinion, philosophy, spirituality, travel, Understanding

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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Eli Eastwood: Undercooked Fish

UNDERCOOKED FISH

Dinner that evening had been either humbly magnificent or magnificent in its humility: Salmon, lightly-cooked with ginger and garlic, damp, white rice and heated spinach from a can. Tim had placed the plate in front of him and gone back to the stove, and Eli, waiting for his host to to sit so they could begin eating together, leaned in to smell the meal. The potency of the seared ginger and garlic hit his nose like a pungent hammer fashioned from warm air and vapor and he leaned in further, inhaling deeper, smiling.

“Oh my God, this smells amazing.”

“I cooked the fish with ginger, garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce.”

Eli leaned in again. Yes, he could smell the soy sauce now, almost forming itself around the ginger and garlic like walls. It was like the garlic and ginger were two people co-habitating a space only to have a soy house with sesame windows spontaneously erected around them with the prevailing principle of design being to perfectly complement and facilitate the daily activities of the inhabitants.


This was the house that soy built and whether mortgaging, renting or squatting, garlic and ginger had made it their home.

Tim sat and began to say grace. It wasn’t the grace of a Christian, but rather the grace of a “Far-East Space Cowboy, Rosicrucian, spirit-walking, sovereign.”

“I’m really glad we have this meal and I’m very happy to have you here to share it with.”

“Samesies,” Eli thought, smirking inwardly at how gay the sentiment of reciprocity sounded.
“Me as well,” he said with outward solemnity.

They dug in. It was incredibly satisfying, and Eli found himself eating very slowly and deliberately even though he was usually inclined toward gulping his food down mindlessly. Such mindlessness would profane this meal though; This meal symbolized brotherhood and acceptance into one’s world that transcended the financial costs and the small (though commonplace) miracle of eating fish in the mountainous reaches of the Sonoran desert.

They’d had fish (sole) the night before and the night before that also (whitefish…tuna… he wasn’t sure) and in all cases Tim had cooked the fish gently which had made it juicier and more flavourful.

One could almost imagine themself a bear in the Pacific Northwest catching a salmon right from the river and biting into its still-living flesh with relish while eating fish cooked so non-committaly.

Over last night’s meal of near-raw sole, their pre-dinner conversation about women and meeting them on other planes of existence than this prompted Eli to tell Tim about the one girl he’d been dreaming about -V, a significantly younger and very naive former conquest. She wasn’t the one he thought he should be dreaming about, which might present problems down the road, but right now he was more concerned that his dreams of her had been scenes of violent fuck-making. He vividly remembered slapping her in the face in the midst of a sexual struggle, then turning her over and sodomizing her while pinning her arms behind her back (he woke up with damp shorts for his troubles). All the while she seemed to be enjoying the degradation, and the pain and most of all enjoying the…

There was one more thing she was enjoying but the realization hadn’t reached his conscious mind during last night’s meal because Tim began responding to Eli’s dream revelation with his peculiar brand of paranoid/enlightened stream-of-consciousness and the monotonous gravitas took over Eli’s thoughts -not effectively enough as to imprint its content on his memory, but enough to distract him from the mystery of V’os implacable enjoyment of being roughly, even “sinfully” taken. Instead, while Tim droned on, Eli’s mind had wandered to the thought of how appropriate it was to be having a conversation about hatefully defiling a sweet young girl while thoroughly enjoying a piece of undercooked fish.

Last night’s conversation about his dreamed depravities with this young girl had also been something of a milestone in his relationship with Tim. He had spoken openly and vulnerably, not attempting to humble-brag when describing that the dream girl was actually someone real he had slept with, and someone who was furthermore almost every bit as pliant and submissive in real life as she was in the dream (God bless her heart). But tonight was a little different; Tonight they were talking about ____________ and the young man felt compelled to talk about Mindy, a story he couldn’t relate without a modicum of humble-braggadociousness.

“I was leaving Florence a few weeks back, heading to Phoenix…” Eli related how he’d found Florence depressing with its surfeit of correctional facilities and sleepy population, and after spending one evening and one morning

NOT IN JAIL; JUST VISITING

in the town he had set out hitch-hiking toward Phoenix. En route, a woman had reached out to him and made conversation. She was Hispanic, and had a cute, round face. She asked him about where he was from and what he was doing dressed like a paramilitary. He explained that he was a film-maker and told her of his journey, and she suddenly asked if he was hungry.

He knew what this was and had mixed feelings, but also had personally challenged himself to always say “yes” to new possibilities. They walked 10 minutes to her small one-bedroom house in the ghetto outskirts of an already ghetto town, all the while talking about her recent abandonment by her boyfriend. When they arrived she entered first to calm her dog, a yappy chihuahua named Chili. ‘Yappy chihuahua’ he mused; a redundancy if there ever was one. He supposed his general dislike of the breed went back to his teenage years when his Salvadorean girlfriend at the time had babysat a couple of them for a few weeks. It was bad enough to have to wait for her parents to go upstairs before making a move, but when the dogs alerted her parents to every shift of his ass cheek with a shrill series of barks…well, he didn’t like the breed. However, he felt he could get past his dislike today as he suspected that there were no parents here to be alerted and maybe there never had been.

“This is caldo,” she had said indicating a pot of hearty-looking soup on the stovetop.

He glanced in: potatoes and meat.
He looked at her: same.

He smiled at this thought and she smiled back as she began serving him.

The soup, caldo, was quite good on its own but he poured in some of the offered hot sauce. She watched him while he ate and talked about her life, and circumstances, and kids, and plans to leave this town. He put his bowl on a side table when he’d finished and then moved to the front porch and began packing his corncob pipe with some tobacco he’d purchased from a Circle K mere minutes before meeting her. It was a rough smoke; he should have expected as much when the teenage, skater townie joking with the clerk reassured him that he smoked this brand all the time. Still, it was tobacco, and he let her take a hit off his pipe which they both realized on some level was an overture toward some greater sharing, if not an escalation.

“It’s hot as a fuck out here” he observed, benevolently, if profanely. He moved back into the house onto the love-seat where he had been sitting for the meal. She sat beside him and started talking about _______. He cast her a series of sidelong glances, meeting her eyes a few times but mostly observing her in profile. He could tell she was kind and decent and tried to do well. He knew too that her kindness had been wasted upon sleepy people who had been cruel or indifferent to her. She wasn’t lovely but she had a loveliness about her, and she needed something from him. What though?

Some dick?
Maybe, not primarily.
She needed intimacy that was kind. It didn’t have to be deeply satisfying, earth-shattering or even lasting; just kind intimacy with a kind person.

He needed something too. But he was only prepared to give so much of himself. He knew he didn’t want to kiss her and he knew he didn’t want to make love to her, but his libido had been piqued and a blowjob sounded just fine.
Knowing now what he wanted, he struggled with how to broach such an indecent proposal.

“I wanna ask you something but I don’t know how to say it.”

“Just use your mouth.”

“That’s what I was hoping you would do.”

She looked over at him a little surprised and he grabbed her left hand and placed it on the bulge in his fatigue trousers. She seemed a little flushed and a shiver went through her. “Hold on,” she said and went into the kitchen to pen the dog. He unbuckled his utility belt and undid his pants, still very much locked into his rig -a tactical vest laden with pouches, secured to his belt and pants with keeps -but his dick was free.

She came back into the living room and her eyes widened. Sitting beside him she started stroking.
“This is the biggest dick I’ve ever seen.”
He smirked at this observation and attributed it to her lack of sexual experience. He knew he was average-sized and when women said this kind of thing he knew they were being kind and took it for what it was.

She went down on him.

He applied gentle pressure to the back of her head as she did so. It wasn’t the best blowjob he’d ever had but it was the best one he could remember at this moment.
Something about the whole situation was primal and visceral and greasy.

Greasy. That word kept going through his head. A kind of catch-all term for debauchery he’d picked up watching The Trailer Park Boys, but also greasy in a more tangible sense. He hadn’t showered in about 24 hours (not his longest unbathed stretch to be sure) but he’d done some hard-marching in that time and she was paying especial attention to the bits of him which would become unpalatable quickest of all. He felt vaguely bad for her in the same way Al Swearengen must have felt vaguely bad for his whores when he stripped down to his dirty long-johns and got a blowjob from them after a long day of running the Gem. Eli wondered idly if those feelings of pity only turned Al on more like they did him in this moment as the meat and potato woman paid his dick the highest respect one can pay a thing (to put it in one’s mouth).

“Mmmmm…you’re the best” he muttered. She stopped sucking and lifted her head to face him.

“You can say what you want but you don’t have to lie to me.”

“I’m not lying.”

She looked at him skeptically for a moment then resumed her veneration.

“Poor girl,” he thought to himself, “She doesn’t believe me.”

At length she’d finished, they’d talked some and he carried on north. Later that afternoon when he’d arrived in Phoenix as a result of some fortuitous hitch-hiking, he found a note Mindy had tucked into his bag while searching for his journal:

“Her note said I was the highlight of her year,” Eli said as Tim sat listening with an ambivalent, though attentive expression. The expression didn’t change and so Eli elaborated.

“She fed ME and sucked MY dick and I was the highlight of HER year.” A smirk developed on Tim’s face upon Eli’s articulation of this realization, implying that he too had been the highlight of the year for many women before his self-imposed exile into the remote reaches of the Sonoran desert.

Eli withdrew into his mind not wanting to think about Tim getting his dick sucked. He focused on his own experience; he liked the idea of being the highlight of someone’s year simply by allowing them to feed and blow him. It satisfied his ego. He thought there was something Christ-like about it (“Take this all of you and eat it; this is my body…”). Perhaps his Light was so strong that contact with him -“helping” him actually elevated others. By that rationale he had made Mindy better, elevated her, by allowing her to partake of him.

And at this thought he realized what he hadn’t the night before, what V, the girl from the from the dream he’d discussed had enjoyed so much beyond the pain and the degradation.

“I slapped and anally raped her and it was the highlight of her year because in the dream (as in real life) she believed I was better than her and any contact with me elevated her.”

Eli’s eyes widened while squinting at the pleasant discomfort of this thought. This was powerful. Some cult shit. He had a fondness for these women (though no admiration) but they idolized him and wanted to partake in his Light, even if the illumination apparatus was a greasy, average-sized, non-consensual dick.

He looked down at his somewhat diminished plate of undercooked fish.

Perhaps last night’s comparison of defiling a young, pliant girl to devouring a piece of undercooked fish could be taken even further into a metaphysical conceit of Donne-esque proportions, but Eli had no inclination to do so.

As if on cue, Tim’s voice began to register and he listened to the old hippie’s deconstruction of reality with a quiet mind as he cleaned his plate.

@dreguan

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Limiting Beliefs as the Pillars of Human Civilization

Friends,

Recently, I had a conversation with my friend and colleague, Peter Mazzucco about the USMC’s “40% Rule.” The rule itself has interesting implications for will-power, but it also gave me pause to think back and reflect on something which had occurred to me months back then I was on the road shooting my upcoming adventure-documentary, Just Might Be Ok. I was somewhere in Mexico sitting on a rock taking a mid-day water break from walking. I had done 30 km already and was fairly impressed with myself. I reflected on how I had prepared for this undertaking: several full days every week spent in the late-summer heat walking the Hamilton region. My feet had toughened, my endurance had gone up, and the muscles in my legs, hips and lower back had developed to accommodate these new weight demands. But did these factors actually enable me to walk 30+ km every day encumbered with gear, or was I always able to perform this feat and I simply needed to convince myself that I could (with training and gains).

I found it to be an interesting question with wild implications. First and foremost, if a proverbial “97 lb. weakling” who never worked out walked into a gym with a deeply enough held belief that he could lift 400 lbs., could he?  On the other side of the spectrum, is the professional body-builder able to lift the 400 lb. weight because he has increased his muscle tissue and bone density through his workouts or have those physical changes simply had the desired effect of convincing him that he could lift the 400 lb. weight?

henry-ford-think-quote-mood

What we’re really talking about here is the relation of thought/belief to reality. At this moment, there is a Playstation controller on the table in front of me. In theory, if I have a deeply enough held belief that I can’t lift the controller or if I have some fear-based aversion to touching it, it’s not getting lifted, regardless of how much I have worked out. On the back end, isn’t that the same as not being able to lift it?

Ability has at least as much to do with mentality as it does with outward physical appearance and musculature. However, our mentality shapes us and so those with strong mentalities, disciplined mentalities, typically have bodies which reflect this. This too, could be seen as an indication of the relationship between thought and reality.

When discussing this idea further with my roommate, Kelton, he broadened the question by asking if the 97 lb. man could use levers and pulleys and other such machines to perform the lifting feat. I figured that that still counts as exerting one’s will upon reality and so I said sure. When you think about it, this is how society works: We can’t do something; “fly” for example, so we build machines like planes which allow us to do just that and see our will imposed upon the world around us. But this also made me think of another aspect and nuance of the question: We have laws and regulations governing aviation, what if we had laws and regulations prohibiting the use of levers and pulleys? Well, in absolute terms, the 97 lb. man could contravene the law and still lift the 400 lbs., but assuming he came up in the authoritarian public school system and our society more broadly, he would likely have a deep-seated fear-based aversion to using prohibited machinery. Again, on the back end, this is the exact same as not being able to lift the 400 lbs.

I would go further in fact to say that all laws and their corollary rights fundamentally serve as limiters of possibility. They limit what we believe we are capable of. I used to look rights and laws as opposite ends of a continuum, both flowing from a central point (the state/authority/power), the former protecting the individual and the latter protecting the collective, and always in a constant state of tension. There is truth to this view, but within the context of limiting beliefs I began to conceive of a new conceptual model for our relationship to rights and laws.  Imagine that same central point (the state), but it is above us and it projects beams downward and outward to envelope us in an upside down funnel shape. These beams are rights and laws, and while they are touted as guarantors of freedom, they actually act as bars caging us into the activities and potentials the state has dictated to be acceptable.

5-ways-to-overcome-limiting-beliefs

Every law and right is in fact a micro-aggression which limits our possibility. Even the most well-wrought, agreeable laws, against killing perhaps, even these still limit our conception of what is possible for us in this world.

It’s at this point where the unimaginative might derisively retort, “So are you saying that we should get rid of all laws, you anarchist?” -as if such a proposition is completely ludicrous. I think the abolition of laws and rights is a desirable state to get to but it is a state we can’t discuss without talking about other societal changes which are beyond the scope of this post.

For now, it is simply important to recognize that every new law, rule, right, guarantee, statute, and stipulation is coercive. Recognize that you have been conditioned to be afraid of force being used against you for contravention of the laws. Recognize that a law against stealing means that there are consequences for stealing, it doesn’t mean that you can’t steal.

You can do anything. Convince yourself of this. Believe it at an experiential level, and begin to undo a lifetime of limiting programming.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Nintendo: Once and Future Overlords of Gaming (and the World?)

Friends,

On July 6, Nintendo/Niantic released the “augmented reality” game, Pokemon Go. In this new instalment of the franchise, players are required to move around the world, the real world, in order to capture monsters digitally super-imposed onto the landscape around them and observed/detected/captured with their smartphone.

While an interesting idea, I was a little cynical when I first read up on this mechanism of the game. Why cynical? Well it seems to me that Nintendo has been trying to incorporate physical activity into gaming since the release of the Wii in 2006 (although in a broader sense they have been trying to get gamers out of the house more since the release of the Game Boy back in the 80s). While I appreciate this good intent, I remember that on the handful on occasions I played Wii, after the initial novelty had worn off, I kinda just wanted to play sprawled out on a couch in a dark room with the blinds drawn and wearing dirty track pants, like nature and God had intended.

But this is different. The memes tell the tale.

Cm-KlcYUEAAm_NX

Cm-LbeIVYAA2uJe

Or, most tellingly…

sorry-mom-ill-be-leaving-our-hometown-next-year-to-1213139

People are literally being mobilized to go out into the world in a way that video games have not been able to (nor sought to) make them thus far.

 856347
Far-Fetched? Maybe, Maybe Not…

Why is this incredible? Well, Nintendo, or more specifically Niantic has figured out a way to not only get people to move around in the world, but has theoretically also found a way to get mass groups of people to all congregate in certain places at certain times. If you look at Niantic’s last augmented reality game, Ingress, you see a world where people try and dominate the global-digital landscape with whatever colour they have chosen, blue or green.

ingress-screenshots-r471x

They can “attack” and thus take over any region held by the opposing team provided they physically go to that area. However, beyond co-ordinated attacks or other such player-driven events, there is nothing driving people to be at a certain place at a certain time. In the case of Pokemon GO, all the Pokemon (at least those which have been released thus far) seem to be distributed more or less evenly in the countries where the game can played*, taking into account of course that certain types are only found in certain geographic conditions i.e. water-type Pokemon only found by bodies of water, etc. But as suggested by the above Bear Grylls meme, what’s to prevent Niantic from placing a Legendary (thus rare and prized) Pokemon like Articuno, somewhere inaccessible like Everest Base Camp? Nothing, save for the limitations of Google Maps.

But let’s take it a step further. What if Niantic released a statement saying that a certain incredibly rare Pokemon would appear only on the lawn of the White House, and then only for twelve hours? People would MOB D.C.!

……

Okay, this scenario is probably beyond a “step further” but I think you get my point. Even if Niantic did a 5-day Pokemon appearance event in a certain city, we could see mass-migrations of people. How serious am I about that? Well, according to Wikipedia, the app, after less than a week of being released, and then only officially in three countries, topped daily usage of Facebook, Tinder, Snapchat and Instagram. That means, it’s beating out people’s libidos and narcissism -no mean feat.

The effort put into capturing Pokemon may seem unbelievable to non-gamers, but is it that surprising? We take our games very seriously especially when there is a ranking structure and an opportunity to demonstrate our prowess and superiority. MMOs in recent years have seen this vulnerability exploited as people will stay indoors on a beautiful, sunny Saturday playing games online in order to take advantage of Double XP weekends. It’s about bragging rights and Pokemon GO differs only in one critical arena -your couch is the last place you wanna be.

Artificial Scarcity
I’m fond of talking about the power of scarcity to motivate people and games truly exploit that power. Whether it’s reddit karma, Pokemon in your pokedex or having a Vex Mythoclast in Destiny, these are things that take work to accumulate/acquire. It’s hilarious because they are digital constructs -lines of code, which by their nature are infinite. But, limit their available quantity or occurrence, attach some status to possessing them and all of a sudden people will scramble.

712862

For now, this is all guess-work and hypothesizing on my part. But it seems foolish not to make the thought-experiment. Maybe this potential hasn’t occurred to Niantic/Nintendo or maybe they are just waiting for an opportune time to mobilize their willing army of Pokemon trainers against the regimes of the world.

All I know is, if it turns out that there are to be different Pokemon in different parts of the world, I will be on the front lines becoming the greatest Pokemon master of them all.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*The game has at this point only officially been released in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, but lo and behold, here is a picture of me playing it in Canada…

IMG_1609
Fuck the P0-lice!

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