Category Archives: opinion

Believing my own Bulls–t

Friends,

Last week I found myself in what is, as of late, an all-too familiar position: that of defending Donald Trump. How do I always end up in this position? Well usually its starts with someone talking shit about “Merica. I then explain that America is the greatest country in the goddamn world (although not as good as it could be, hence MAGA). They’ll argue that statement initially,  but by so many metrics that statement is demonstrably true which inevitably makes making contrary contentions near-unwinnable. So, seeking an easier win (because of course people are trying to win and of course they want to do so easily and expediently) they’ll change gears and refine their position so as to be anti-Trump specifically, because surely I couldn’t argue with that position… 

“Oh I can. And I will!”

THE BROADER CONTEXT

To condemn Trump is to move focus away from a broader context, ignoring important details to focus on minor ones which are far removed from his actual competence as a president. His reality TV past, his ups and downs as a businessman, his scandals and his cavalier attitude toward them are seized upon by his detractors in order to paint a picture of someone unfit to lead. More important details, such as positioning America within a global system, maintaining a balance of power, and the amoral business of Real-Politick are hardly considered. Even worse, when they are, they are reductively and inaccurately represented: Improving relations with Russia is read as sucking Putin’s dick. Flattering Kim Jong-Un to inch forward a peace process is seen as bowing before a despot. It’s pretty embarrassing really, and it always amazes me that otherwise intelligent people who pride themselves on their rationalism can understand so little of nuance and the game that is statesmanship.

Whatever. People are retarded logically when they’re fired up emotionally. I try to avoid firebrands because of pearls, swine, and low-hanging fruit, but it is beneficial to talk to people who can look past their own knee-jerk reactions and follow a logical train of thought -German men are great at following such trains incidentally.

….

 

Following those trains all the way to Dachau, amirite!

Bad joke. Moving on…

THE BROADER CONTEXT II: THE   B  R  O  A  D  E  R   CONTEXT

So if detractors are focused on a microcosmic picture informed by trivialities, and they thus far always are, then I start with the macrocosm of the world and/or multi-nation federations such as the EU or the USA. I make a case for why an emerging global consciousness is a good thing; why it’s important to create decentralized hubs of human congregation and activity which are inter-related and linked through infrastructure, transportation routes and informational technologies, etc. I really harp on DECENTRALIZATION, contrasting it to the hegemonic imposition of centralized authority from the top down which I represent as bloated, monolithic, completely-detached-from-everyday-people federal governments such as, most saliently, the EU.

Centralization vs. Decentralization is a powerful argument. I think most people are suspicious of over-centralization but can’t imagine the laudable aim of global unification implemented without it. Painting a picture of what decentralization might look like; drawing parallels to natural systems and even internet infrastructure, is a powerful way to re-frame what people’s conceptions of the future look like.
When a picture has been sufficiently painted of a decentralized, inter-connected global system as put forward by The Zeitgeist Movement and The Venus Project, I juxtapose Donald Trump against this hegemony as, at the very least, a brake on the establishment of total global hegemony.

At this juncture it is worthwhile pointing out to the other party that my diagnosis is predicated on the truthfulness of the narrative that Trump is an outsider to the established mainstream. This helps to build confidence in my position because I acknowledge that its falsifiable and possibly erroneous. More poetically, I describe Trump as chemo to the cancer of globalization. Is he toxic? Yes, but he’s also the lesser of two evils / a necessary one.

As of yet nobody has done a 180 degree turn right in front of my face and professed love for Trump where formerly there was hatred, but their frame has been compromised; their meandering and fragmented responses attest to this compromise, and it is very common to see a verbal diarrhea fill the void of their recently-held belief and coagulate into a temporary new scab over this new intellectual / egoic wound. I love this moment because it is a testament to our longing to always make sense of the world, even on the fly. And even if they manage to immediately form a scab which covers the wound for the rest of the discussion I feel little need to pick it and re-expose the void of lost belief because a seed has been planted which will sprout in their brains.

DO I BELIEVE MY OWN BULLSHIT?

Great question! “Yes, but!”

The but is because while I believe what I am saying I also understand that there are a multitude of narratives which accurately describe the current geopolitical situation, and any narrative which resonates has a kernel of truth of a size proportionate to the degree of resonance. So yes, in my view I am speaking a truth, not the truth.

I have often been accused of trolling and not caring about people, but in my heart of hearts I believe that by putting forward alternate / alternative viewpoints, well argued, I am expanding the limits of debate and I think that is God’s work.

Deus Vult!

-Andre Guantanamo

r/raddecentralization

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There Will be Consequences

Friends,

This summer while working at a summer camp in Germany, I was having a conversation with my fellow counselors. I don’t remember what the exact conversational jump-off point was, but at some point while talking about sex, one counselor named Raph started off about how he didn’t like condoms.  He explained that he had tried them once and never used them again (Raph is married in his late 30s with two kids). It wasn’t just because they killed the feeling either; he seemed to be

philosophically against them as well, and while he couldn’t or didn’t articulate exactly and precisely his issue with them, something beneath his words struck a chord with me. And of course, seeing as the ladies in the group were a bit in shock from his unconventional views, I joined in the condemnation of prophylactics for the lulz, claiming with as much seriousness as I could muster that condoms were feminist tools of male subjugation and emasculation -(“All the tonic effects of getting a nice stiff one in you without having to sink to the level of intimate physical contact with a man”, etc.).

Me and Raph had a laugh and someone eventually changed the subject but an idea had been planted which I thought about subsequently. Trying to piece together the hidden wisdom in Raph’s words, the best I have been able to come up with thus far is that sex with condoms, if it is indeed objectionable, is so because it is frivolous.

Is frivolous sex a bad thing? Well, it’s certainly not the worst thing. Lord knows it’s fun…
But when it comes down to it, I’m tryng to do something.

My thoughts can be summed up in the film Rounders: Matt Damon’s ,Mike McDermott quotes poker great, Doyle Brunson: “Put a man to a decision for all his chips.”

When you discover her ‘tell’…

At face value this may not seem particularly relevant but I like the idea of not playing unless you’re playing all-in so to speak. I think when you apply that all-in mentality to sex it has the potential to make people take their couplings a little more seriously -or at least it fits well into an overall sex education which emphasizes something beyond the physical act and going through the motions.

Of course this isn’t to say that sex with a condom is simply going through the motions, but the stakes are definitely lower, and that can lead to all kinds of frivolity. Conversely, just because the stakes are raised doesn’t mean people will play more responsibly; our human history has been characterized by a lack of reliable contraception/general protection and that has been no guarantee of people taking it seriously. Countless bastard children and the spread of venereal disease are a testament to that.

Bearing in mind this human tendency to take stupid risks no matter how high the stakes, I am certainly not advocating for any kind of condom or birth control ban.

I googled ‘African Cardinal’ -I’m not even sure who this is but he looks like someone I would picture if we were to talk about banning contraception. 

Instead I would like to see a consciousness take root in men; one in which they are a little more intentional in their approach to women. An approach where they don’t think about getting laid, but rather one where their mentality when approaching women is: “I want to do something with her that has consequences.”

They should think it, but to ensure they mean it they should say it out loud, because it’s a lot harder to lie to yourself out loud. If they can’t say it truthfully for whatever reason (in love with someone else, don’t really wanna risk being a father, the chick in question is a toad-faced skank, etc…) then they probably got no business making romantical (sic.) overtures.

To bring this all to a neat dovetail, a wise man once said, “If you’re only doing it for the money, it’s probably not worth doing in the first place.”
I think its equally true to say, “If you’re only talking to her to fuck, she’s probably not worth talking to in the first place.”

Somehow, I think the ladies might approve of this message as well.

Best,
-Andre

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The Shape of Integrity: Thoughts from the 18 MAY 2018 Munk Debate

Friends,

Is it possible to look at someone and tell if they have integrity?

I think yes. And this was illustrated quite beautifully in the recent Munk Debate between Michelle Goldberg and Michael Eric Dyson on one side, and Jordan Peterson and Stephen Fry on the other.

Just look at the dais:

Do you notice anything?

If you guessed that 3/4 of the panelists are addicts, you are absolutely correct.
Now, is this a problem? I think so.
Why? Bit of a difficult answer.

“I Don’t Trust Bunny, But I Trust Bunny to be Bunny”

At the risk of sounding crude and mean-spirited: Would you trust a junkie? I imagine the answer is probably “no.”
Why? Well for me it’s because its difficult to trust someone with no self-control. If someone is feeding an addiction it becomes difficult to tell when they are being truthful and when they speaking only to preserve their access to their drug of choice.

Fame is one such drug. And it directly affects integrity when people don’t have as much as they want.

With regard to the picture above, Jordan Peterson (second from right) is the most famous of the bunch and so arguably has enough access to the ‘drug’, if he is indeed addicted to it. In the case of the others that is not so certain and they are actually leeching some of his fame by appearing with him. Michael Eric Dyson refers to and admits to this many times throughout the debate and actually tries to goad Peterson into plugging his book. His referring to Peterson as a “mean old white man” is, as well as being incredibly bad form for a debate, a transparent attempt to increase his own profile through controversy. Goldberg and Fry may have attempted to engage in this kind of attention-whoring too at a smaller scale, but I didn’t really notice if they did because Dyson was so egregious and pathetic in trying to get his ‘fix’.
He is a fame-whore, and Fry to his credit, calls Dyson out as a snake-oil selling huckster in his stage presence and manner.

In all honesty, my own distaste for Dyson’s position aside, I truly don’t know where the line draws between his (attempts at) rational arguments and his ideologically-motivated silliness.

But fame is not the only drug that these panelists seem addicted to, so let’s address the elephant in the room: Food.

Goldberg, Dyson and Fry have a problem with food. Food, unlike fame, doesn’t directly affect someone’s integrity unless that person is starving, and I think it’s clear that Goldberg, Fry and Dyson are not starving. Rather, their food addiction is such that it indirectly affects their integrity by betraying some internal conflict within them. After all, health doesn’t just exist in the physical body, isolated from the mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. They are all connected and a disturbance in one has ramifications on the others.  I would guess that there is something traumatic that these people are holding onto and not dealing with. Instead they are treating this internal problem with food as their drug of choice and they wear the evidence on their bodies like five-year-olds who got into the cookie-jar wear evidence around their mouths.

“What cookies?”

 This whittles away my trust for them in a way that I won’t be blamed for because they look sick and unhealthy to my perceptions.

Is that unfair? No. Actually it’s in fundamental agreement with what they (Goldberg and Dyson) say throughout the debate: Maybe Dyson has indeed suffered at the hands of whites. Maybe Goldberg has indeed suffered at the hands of the patriarchy. And even though he is ostensibly on the right side of the dais (my side 😉 ), Fry too may have indeed suffered at the hands of homophobes.

But to quote Fry, “So fucking what?!” Does that make them right? I think trauma and suffering CAN give you valuable perspective once they have been incorporated and integrated into your psyche in a healthy way -but ONLY then. For Dyson and Goldberg, if their obesity and general unhealthy appearance attests to real suffering, then it also attests to their inability to thus far deal with said suffering productively and healthily. At best, it is difficult to tell how ideologically possessed they still are by their own pain. At worst, they are the aforementioned five-year-olds who got into the cookie jar and are now trying to see what lies they can get away with telling.

And for the record, I’m all for people working their half-baked, personal-suffering-based ideas out in a performative way –that’s art! But such performances are no more a road-map to a healthy future and a productive life than the The Marshall Mathers LP was back in 2000. Trust me, I tried to lived that album, and my life reflected it 😦

A+ for working through one’s own demons. F for providing a guide for how to live our lives.

Dyson’s performance was better-suited to a high-brow poetry slam while Goldberg delivered a relatively tasteful Vagina Monologue.

Fat Shaming?

It’s worth clarify my feelings about fat. Fat is not the problem. Sumo wrestlers are fat. The best actors in the world get fat for roles. But these two groups share a common quality: Discipline.

And this ain’t what discipline looks like!

That’s a photo of excess, not discipline. That’s what happens when you live too comfortably without feedback from the natural world. It corrupts your body and your mind because you have no reason to be strong and lack the mental fortitude to keep yourself so.

Now if I’m feeling charitable, maybe Goldberg gets a pass because she is not as obese as Dyson, and of course, males and females are different right down to the hormonal level. But in this case, all that pass would equate to is a marginally greater initial assumption of integrity from me irrespective of what ends up coming out of her mouth.

But Dyson? That jowly, Cochran-esque fuck?

“Brotha, me and my people are starving….sha bama lama ding dong!”

For the life of me I don’t know who could actually put stock in what that man says, except perhaps the most atrophied of spirits and the most gullible of intellects.

I digress though; I could shit on Dyson for another 1,000 words but I’d rather tie this up with the corollary argument, which incidentally also amounts to 1,000 words:

Best,

-Andre Guantanamo

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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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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.

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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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Filed under adventure, blog, consciousness, discussion, opinion, philosophy, spirituality

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Fuck the P0-lice!

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Filed under blog, futurism, gaming, opinion, pokemon, travel, Uncategorized