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Migrant Crisis

Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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


Smaller in stature; Larger in retardation

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

***********

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

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

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


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

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

#MigrantCrisis

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Astapor Syndrome

Friends,

Another weekend gone and so another episode of Game of Thrones has aired.  I have been enjoying this season so far (minus the whole Theon Greyjoy sub-plot, which is just difficult to watch) but I have noticed a trend.  Namely, Daeneryus Targaryan likes to free her some slaves.  Now this compassion for the oppressed isn’t exactly a new thing, as you’ll remember that her standing up for female captives about to be raped by Dothraki raiders in Season 1 is what set in motion the events leading to her husband, Khal Drogo’s death,

Khal-Drogo-game-of-thrones-22332273-1024-768

Remember to always use Polysporin on you sword-wounds. 

and later, the birth of her dragons.

DaenerysDragon

But she has been really amping up her bleeding heart sensibilities in the last few episodes.  There was a plot arc in the first few episodes of the season where, upon arriving in the city of Astapor, she resolved to free all of the city’s slave-soldiers at great personal cost.  Although admittedly she did end up tricking the slavers which culminated in perhaps the series’ best sequence thus far.

Picture 2

“DRACARYS!”

Fast-forward to last night’s episode, “The Bear and the Maiden Fair,” and we see that Daenerys (SPOILER ALERT) is up to her old tricks again.  This time her and her army arrive at the city of Yunkai, and while Ser Friendzone* Jorah makes it explicitly clear that the city has no strategic value, Daenerys has this overwhelming hankeing to liberate the city’s 200,000 slaves.  Furthermore, she demands that the city masters free all of their slaves and load them up with food and riches as recompense for their years of servitude.  Presumably these slaves will go on to live free, happy, and prosperous lives.

Does anyone else see a problem here?

Picture 3

Take that scene I posted the link to in the second paragraph; she tells thousands of slave-soldiers who have been brainwashed to be obedient, fearless and self-sacrificing their whole lives, that they are now free.  They can either seek life elsewhere or voluntarily join her in taking back Westeros.

Picture 7

Well, no surprise here, rather than pursue an unfamiliar and foreign lifestyle, these trained killers would rather keep on killing with the nominal distinction that they are now free.  And even though I don’t know how the liberation of Yunkai’s slaves will play out, I can only imagine that the slaves there are similarly ill-prepared for freedom.

Now I don’t want to be misunderstood here; I am not advocating for slavery, or opposing emancipation, but I think that simply telling someone they are free after years of conditioning them to be slaves can’t really work.

Remember this scene from The Matrix?  The key part is when Morpheus tells Neo,

113The_Woman_in_Red-med

“Most of these people are not ready to be unplugged.  And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependant on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

Do you see what I’m getting at here or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?

Whether you wanna call it Stockholm Syndrome or learned helplessness, or simply being a house nigger, I think there are many disenfranchised people (most of the population) that have been so conditioned to see themselves as lowly that they will happily fight for scraps from the table their whole lives rather than attempt to take a seat.

As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” -Proverbs 23:7

Relating this idea back to Game of Thrones, a liberator like Daenerys would realistically (I’m aware of the irony of that word in this context) face a slave population that would largely reject the idea of freedom (or perhaps go on to take their own slaves, like the renegados during the Barbary slaving-era) and she herself would probably have some nagging doubts about the volition of her army of “free men.”

This is one of the things I like about this show: You can watch it absently and take it for face-value or read between the lines and see that there are some important questions it raises.

Best.

-Andre Guantanamo

*This joke was made by my friend, Matt.  Gotta give credit where credit is due

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Praying On Our Downfall

“I’m an entropy fan”
-George Carlin

“Its the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine”
-Michael Stipe

My Friends,
   You just missed it, but I had the most awesome end-of-the-world boner ever.  It all started on a night like tonight.  More specifically it was tonight.  Here in Hamilton, the lights all of a sudden went out whilst I was browsing a forum dedicated to cheating all government and confiscatory bureaus out of my hard-earned skrilla.
   Suddenly everything went black and after a split-second of thinking, “Ain’t this some inconveneient shit?” I suddenly thought, “Hey, this could be exactly what I have been waiting for! XD”  I shut my laptop and walked out onto the balcony just to confirm that all the neighbourhood lights were off.
   They were.  So far, so good.
   Quickly I went back indoors and sent out a mass text message to my parents and siblings in other cities and provinces asking them if they were having a blackout.  Hoping beyond hope that the message would not send because cell phone towers were out of commission too, I was somewhat disheartened when the message was received by all recipients.
   No matter; perhaps the cell phone towers were on emergency power for just such an eventuality.
   I waited.
   I went out back out on the balcony.
   Then I waited some more.
   I started receiving scattered messages to the negative and realized with a heavy heart that this particular loss of power was no widespread precursor of societal collapse, but simply a symptom of our outdated, inefficient and obsolete power infrastructure.
   My dad responded, wondering what I was talking about.  I responded to him thusly:

   (Sigh) It would have been too good to be true.  Still, it was all dark and stone-age outside and there was a palpable excitement and an air of possibility in the dark world.  Me and my woman set out in search of adventure.  She didn’t actually know we were looking for adventure but I would have dragged her reluctant, non-adventure-seeking, midget ass all the way to the depths of Mordor if I had to.

Or maybe not…

   We walked around outside and sure enough things were different; people were out on the streets, sitting on the curb, and I thought I heard some yells a street over which made me think there was going to be an impromptu block-party.  I was pretty stoked and I told my woman how I had messaged my peoples as soon as the blackout happened hoping that it was widespread.  She had previously accused me of looking forward to the coming collapse of society when I was musing about my survival plans for the possible imminent zombie uprising (“My Checkered History With the Undead,” 3 June 2012) and I had been taken aback because she had of course been correct.  But beyond the romanticized, survivalist notions I had in that previous conversation, there had been something else below the surface: A sincere desire to see this decaying society crumble so that we as a species could build something new and better from the ground up.
   Now, here tonight in the darkness of the street, vaguely aware of excited murmurs from others obscured from sight by the night, this thought of rebuilding the world even better from the ashes of what we have today was at the forefront of my mind; all romanticized survivalist notions were absent from my consciousness, notwithstanding the prudent concern of procuring groceries to weather the storm.

“There is no reason to fear the imminent, global financial collapse.”
-Unknown

      To be clear, I look at the societal collapse I have been referring to as a direct result of the financial collapse this quotation alludes to.  But society is not really going to be a collapse even when the financial system does.  Rather, I think it will change.  After all, as long as we’re here there is a society in some form.  And while society is always/has always been emergent (changing), I see a clearly marked period of more dramatic transition on the horizon where circumstances will force us to make use of our stifled ingenuity and compassion, currently yoked by a competitive and uncaring system which forces us to sacrifice a bit of our humanity every day in order to thrive.
   When that unknown speaker says there is no reason to fear the collapse, he is right in ways you might not have even considered.  Most people’s immediate concern, if they are selfish assholes with narrow aims in life, will be, “Oh noes, what about all my delicious monies!?!?”  Relax, when all your money is rendered worthless it will also wipe out all your debt and obligations too.

“Put on your sunglasses; the future is lookin’ bright!”

   Or think of it like this: Every dollar will be put out of its misery too.
   See, I liken every dollar to a sick person who gets weaker and frailer every day due to a sickness called inflation.  Every day your dollars degenerate further, laying in bed on a respirator, shitting into a bag and you are forced to watch as they become more weak, but you never actually get the closure of seeing them pass on and finally be at peace.  Like a terminally-ill person, their time has passed, and though the death will be an initial shock, you can not rightly say it was wholly unexpected and not for the best. 

   As the great warrior-poet, Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges once said, “Drink some prune-juice and let the shit go.”
   Others among you who are rightly less concerned with your delicious currencies than you are with your safety, but you should not worry too much either.  After all, nobody is out to get you who is simply being kept at bay by the current social order and its laws.  I too fall into this fearful category from time to time although I should know better; having been all of over the world and having met many different people, I know that the fear-mongering which we see on television is just that, and that people more or less just want to happily co-exist.  So no, I don’t worry about roving gangs of raider/cannibals marauding when things go sour, acting like a dark cloud trying to steal the sunshine from my apocalypse.

Even when apocalypse is frowning (always), he is still kinda smiling.

   And what about the for realz bad guys; you know, the prison population?  You just know that when people barricade their doors and stop going to work that the prison guards and administrators will do the same.  Rather than leave them to rot in their cages, some well-meaning, compassionate souls will probably try to release them so they have a chance at survival.  Should we be afeared of pissed-off convicts swelling the ranks of the aforementioned marauders?  Methinks not.  If crimes are not committed for monies (and the vast majority are, so there would really be no incentive for them in the post-dollar world) then they are typically perpetuated by so-called “sickos” who don’t do bad things for sane reasons like monetary gain.  Well research has shown that these sickos are people who are likely to respond violently when they feel looked down upon and feel they have no other remedy for the shame they feel, whether that be amends, recompense, or simply some other aspect of their life which they feel proud of and can mentally cling to in their darker moments.  If everyone loses everything and is (gasp!) reduced to being equal, it will be hard for anyone to look down on anyone else in the first place.  
   Besides, if theres anything the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy has taught me, its that convicts, when they are pushed to the brink of survival will act honourably, like they did when they were trapped on the ferry in The Dark Knight and the Joker set it up so that they would have to blow up the ferry beside them full of civilians by midnight or risk being blown up themselves.
You’ve come a long way, DeeBo

   Then again, in Batman Begins Nolan showed convicts as looking for retribution against Gothamites when a paranoid frenzy was induced in the population by Ra’s al-Ghul’s fear toxin.

And then he (Nolan) howed them (SPOILER ALERT!!) as all too willing to take control of society and hold mock trials against their former societal oppressors (which invariably ended in death sentences) when Bane freed them from Blackgate Prison in The Dark Knight Rises.  
So I’m not sure where Nolan actually stands on prisoners to be honest.
   But I digress.  I hadn’t actually meant to go on a tangent dispelling the likely fears people have about the inevitable collapse.  Rather I wanted to extol the benefits and the positives.  But in the same way we define our freedom as not being held captive, and heaven as being absent of the horrors of hell, perhaps it would be more effective if I made a short list of negative aspects of our society which are actually exacerbated by our system.  Which of these system-induced features of our lives could you do without?:
   
The stress of always feeling inadequate because you don’t have as much money as the next person, your big, fat junk-food addicted kids, war, most crime, parking tickets, most neuroses which come as a result of the psycho-social stress of living in a stratified society, not being able to trust anyone you don’t know (and even some you do), taxes, politics, child prostitution/slavery, etc…
   The list could go on but whether you realize it or not, there is not one problem you face which does not relate back to our monetary-market paradigm in some way (Someone call me out on this please!!).  Therefore I say we welcome with open arms our impending financial ruin, and call it what it actually is, our impending rebirth.  When I say it is an exciting time to be alive, I truly mean it.  In fact the worst thing that could happen at this point to me personally is that things go on more or less as they have for the rest of my life, I put money away for retirement, have a comfortable existence, sire a couple kids out of boredom and become a depressed geriatric because all of my doom-saying was for naught.  So when I look forward to ruin I don’t look forward to it in the religious “I want the rapture so I can meet Jesus” way, or the “Hey Allah, where the virgins at?” way, I mean it in the “Oh man, building a new and better world is gonna be dope as fuck!” way.
   I’ll leave you with two things.  First, one of my favourite George Carlin bits (and the source of one of the quotations I led in with).  
George’s insights are as relevant as ever in these wacky, exciting times, and although he would probably call me a fucking liar, I would like to see us work together to mitigate the loss of life which could likely occur during a societal collapse.  But before the collapse anyone is fair game because its just more evidence of the system breaking down lol.
   The second thing I want to leave you with is an idea my younger brother left me with.  I asked him how he would deal with society collapsing a while back (yeah, I think about it a lot).  I asked him, “Would you stock up on food?” “Would you fortify your house?” “Would you get out of the city?”  His response stuck with me: “Naw brother, I’d get a table and a pot and go out into the street and serve soup to people as they were running around scared & panicking.”
   More thinking like that is needed and we’ll be able to weather any storm.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
P.S. The power is back on fml
   



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