Tag Archives: ontario

A Unified Worldview vs. A Dualistic One

Friends,

The video counterpart for this post can be found here.

There is a prevalent myth in the Western  world about “celebrating diversity.” It is a noble idea in theory but I argue that in practice it leads to problems. You see, by celebrating diversity we have to presuppose separation and difference. And certainly, to look around the world it’s very easy to view things and people as individuated and self-contained, rather than seeing them as all part of the same global process. To quote Jacque Fresco, “You don’t see the plug up our asses,” so it’s very easy to forget that we’re all connected to something larger.

This illusion of separation is particularly deceiving in the world of opinion, viewpoint, ideology and religion. Everyone espouses and subscribes to their own ideas in these fields and if they are polite and well-mannered they will profess to have respect for all different ideas, opinions and worldviews. But what does that really mean? Well, for starters, by respecting different viewpoints there is an acknowledgement of difference in the first place which means that there is an implicit recognition of superiority in one’s own viewpoint. After all, if someone didn’t think their own viewpoint was the best, they wouldn’t subscribe to it, yes? So not only do we see superficial separation based on nothing more than a different estimation of reality, but we see other worldviews instantly as inferior in spite of our best and noblest intentions. Again, if these other worldviews were as good as ours, we would subscribe to them instead.

What we need to do is stop looking at different view points as separate end-points and view them as all part of the same emergent process of finding truth. Some people’s outlooks represent a closer approximation to reality perhaps than others, but as different as viewpoints may be, they are all part of the same beautiful search for truth that we are all engaging in. That is the benchmark and common denominator in all discourse and exchanges of ideas.

To put it in a phrase: The dualistic eye looks at other viewpoints and thinks. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even though they are wrong and I am right.” The unified eye looks at other viewpoints and thinks, “Everyone is formulating all these wacky ideas, just trying their hardest to figure out life –just like me!

We have to acknowledge that we as individuals (and by extension, as societies) have never been 100% percent, empirically right about anything. All we have are approximations of reality which, if we are lucky, are moving closer and closer to truth as we refine our methods and keep inquiring.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo
Instagram: @dreguan
Twitter: @dreguan
Youtube: dreguan
Facebook: Andre Guantanamo
IMDb: Andre Guantanamo
Demo Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gdwhemiqzc

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Filed under blog, consciousness, Critique, Deconstruction, discourse, discussion, opinion, peter joseph, philosophy, spirituality, tzm, Understanding, zeitgeist

The Importance of Being Objectified

Friends,

I’m writing this post as a companion piece to a vlog I just recorded and am currently uploading which can be found here. In said vlog I discuss how being sought after and lusted after is a relatively new experience for me and it’s awesomeness wore off quick. Oftentimes, accentuating my physique with certain clothing choices has been more problematic than anything.

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Woe is me.

This first occurred to me doing improv a couple summers ago while wearing an undershirt. Every scene became about my exposed muscles and I didn’t want that to be the crux of every onstage interaction. So, I started wearing baggier clothes for that specific purpose as well as fuller cut t-shirts. I find myself going through this again now that I have recently started doing standup: I’ve been advised that being fit and relatively good-looking should be de-emphasized so that I’m more relatable and people feel more comfortable laughing at my jokes. It’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow because on some level I feel like how I dress shouldn’t matter, but I’m finding out it does. I feel like my options at this point are to completely de-emphasize my physique with my clothing choices or go balls to the wall and own it, wearing nothing but wife-beaters and tight leather pants, essentially making a caricature of myself. While that could lead to some great jokes it might make it difficult to touch on more serious issues in earnest. So while I might experiment with the latter, I think that going forward, the best option would be to dress more neutrally.

However, the objectification isn’t all bad either. I have often gotten acting roles that required a fit or physically imposing actor based at least partly on how I looked. More often than not these have been roles with great depth that afforded me the opportunity to cultivate a strong character who just happened to be fit (see above photo). I’m certainly not shy about “pimping” my physique for such roles but I acknowledge that the way I look has an expiration date and that I have to base not only my career choices but my sense of self-worth on something more substantial than my physical appearance.

All in all, I think the experience of being objectified has been an important one. Had I never had it, I might have falsely believed it was the key to lasting happiness. It is decidedly not.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo
Instagram: @dreguan
Twitter: @dreguan
Youtube: dreguan
Facebook: Andre Guantanamo
IMDb: Andre Guantanamo
Demo Reel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gdwhemiqzc

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Filed under Deconstruction, discourse, discussion

HA HA! DATING!

“I have infinite hate in my blood; it’s mainly cause of the game of love.”
-Eminem, “Love Game

Friends,

A few months back I found myself newly-single. It wasn’t a bitter event; just two people who had simply grown apart. But for the first time in five years or so I found myself back in the dating game, and I was determined to be more mature and respectful about dating than I had been been as a walking hard-on back in my mid-20s. After all, you can’t be a jackass your whole life.

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Or can you?…

Honesty (General)

Now I have to confess, relationship endings are often blurry affairs so I was already talking to and getting to know some people while still technically in a relationship. I guess I needed to fill that vacuum of companionship that had developed as me and my ex had grown apart. But the upshot was that psychologically I already had a little bit of momentum when I became single for realz, as opposed to previous break-ups where I basically found myself suddenly alone and feeling adrift and desperate. So with said momentum, the break-up came like a starting shot for a race, and I was off!
But like I said, I’m more mature than I was five years ago and I had a different set of priorities vis a vis relationships. I realized that I didn’t (don’t) want a traditional monogamous relationship as I have known thus far. Instead, I wanted (want) beautiful experiences with beautiful people. Some people call that poly-amory or other things, but anyone who reads my blog knows I’m not big on labeling things. So while I don’t know what to call what I want, romantic relationships for me must meet four important criteria:

1) Fun
2) Comfortable
3) Loving*
4) Not Possessive

And boy oh boy, have I ever taken flak for this. I have met some lovely, yet jaded women who see me as what is wrong with the dating world. Basically a guy who doesn’t want to make a commitment, and who wants to perpetually date or hang out. And for these viewpoints I have some sympathy, but only to a point, because I am not against commitment, or as I phrase it, making an investment in someone. However, I don’t want said commitment to preclude a beautiful experience with someone else.

If you’re fine and you won’t front, I don’t wanna be your man but I’ll hook ya up.”
-Coolio (NOT 2-Pac), Rollin’ With My Homies

The problem to me ultimately comes down to scarcity and abundance. Perhaps as a result of our competitive, scarcity-based socio-economic market system, people often go into the world of dating with a scarcity mind-set, worried that they can’t give away too much of what they have (vagina, money, etc.) without getting a commensurate amount in return. And, if you are in a relationship with that person, you are expected not to give too freely of what you have as they have proprietary rights to your sexuality,flirtatious overtures and even money.
Fuck that noise! I’m operating with an abundance mindset and what I have to offer to romantic partners I have in infinite supply (not money lol) so why would I (or they) share that beauty with only one person? That external restriction/ownership/scarcity mentality has fucked up everything else in the world, are we really gonna let it poison relationships?
Well yes apparently, as I have recently found out lol.
Another fairly major change between me now and last time I was single, is that I am not interested in hooking-up (sex) just to say I did or to get “my number” up. Mostly I don’t like the feeling of emptiness I’ve been left with during past one-nighters, but a big part of this is number 2 on my criteria list: Comfort. If there isn’t comfort as a result of familiarity not only will it not be enjoyable, but more often than not I will have trouble performing (as certain ladies reading this might be able to attest to :-S). So I am very up front and honest with people at the outset about what my priorities and desires are because I don’t want a relationship predicated on a lie. Someone will be unfulfilled, hurt or both.

Honesty (Specific)

On the topic of being up front and honest with people is also not being ashamed of particular desires. If there’s a certain way you like to fuck, that you might have grown accustomed to, but that might be a little outside the realm of normative sexuality (as if there is such a thing) bringing it up to a new partner can bring some anxiety. Rather than getting into the best way to bring things up in the bedroom (or my own personal tried and true method of bringing kinks up lol) I will just say that I have learned to be just as open and up front about these predilections and desires as I am about my broader relationship objectives. Life is, after all, too short for mediocre sex.

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Pretty much this exactly…

Work Ethic

I don’t really love using the word “work” in relation to dating and relationships but it takes discipline to put yourself out there and in my experience “out there” is where the adventures happen. For example, when I found myself single I began to challenge myself to cold-approach at least one girl a day. For those not in the know, a “cold approach” would be chatting up a random girl in public. It’s a hard sell, especially with the feminist backlash against cat-callers and other harassers, but overall I find that approaching earnestly and honestly perhaps segue-ing into it after making conversation is a safe bet. I often (okay, usually) won’t get a number, but I have yet to be accused of patriarchal oppression. #GreatJob!
I have a few other things to say about cold approaches so bear with me:
Like many men in the early to mid 2000s, I read Neil Strauss’ book, The Game and was captivated by it. Having read it before a planned backpacking excursion to Australia, I joined the Mystery Method forum which the book told of (now The Attraction Forums) and put up an open ad saying that I was a Canadian sarger (or pick-up artist) traveling all around Australia and I wanted to work with different members in different cities. And WORK we did. We hit the bars hard and challenged to ourselves to chat up every group we could. It was scary. But then something happened; it stopped being scary. By getting over approach-anxiety I was able to have more natural, less contrived conversations with women which I can only imagine they appreciated more than some nervous guy stuttering some canned opener. Sure, every night we needed to warm up and the first few “sets” as we affectionately called them were always a crapshoot, but by and large we ended up talking to many gorgeous and wonderful women who might otherwise have been too intimidating to approach. Simply put, we spent so much time outside of our comfort zones that they grew to accommodate us (our comfort zones, that is). To get back to my point in a roundabout way, I am in the process of getting back to that serene place where I can approach any woman regardless of my insecurities (of which there are many) or her physical beauty or social standing. If you think about it, those latter two things are really superficial and stand as an impediment to genuine and meaningful human relations, so training myself to disregard them is actually a service to humanity.
And yes, to answer your next question, I do in fact, believe all my bullshit. 😀
The other thing I wanted to say about cold-approaching is that I have often brought it up when speaking with other actors, making the point that it is analogous to auditioning; The more you do it the less anxious you are, the less anxious you are, the more you put the casting directors at ease and everybody is happy. And in both auditions and cold-approaches sometimes you can do everything right and still not get the role or the phone number. Maybe they wanted a different look or she had a boyfriend and maintains a steadfast devotion to monogamy beyond the point of reason. Who knows!? It happens, but you can still learn from these experiences and walk away with a satisfaction that you only get from laying yourself bare and truly connecting with someone.

Age May Be Nothing But a Number, But it’s An Important Number

A peculiar thing happens when you chat up girls on the street and not just in bars. You see, the real world has no bouncer making sure everyone is of age, so very often you find yourself talking to someone who is “south of proper” with regard to age. I don’t know if its a really uncomfortable rite of passage or what, but you will never forget the first time you find yourself talking with a girl and upon some romantic/suggestive word from you, she reveals that she is underage. All you can really do is smile and eject from the situation. In fact, it would be really handy occasion to have a smoke pellet to facilitate escape.

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NINJA, VANISH!

I don’t know what it is, but this shit never happened to me until I started approaching 30 and it got especially creepy. I will say two final things about this: 1) the reality that you could chat up a girl who is criminally underage creates an imperative that you approach women respectfully and perhaps not be too forward at the outset. Not only is it more tactful but you might avoid committing a crime, and 2) Always know the age of consent.

Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number: Part II + Avoiding the Hatred Pitfall
But here we got off on a tear about jailbait when there are actually much more sublime implications to age as it pertains to relationships. Like, for example, the difference between a girl who is 20 and a girl who is 28. By and large I find the latter much more receptive to my particular brand of honest, sincere and deliberate intention. And, old maid anxiety notwithstanding, older women are usually more comfortable about exploring relationships outside the conditioned norms. On the other hand, younger girls frustrate the shit out of me. Remember at the beginning of this post where I said I wanted to approach dating in a mature and respectful way? Well, some motherfuckers aren’t gonna respect you unless you’re an asshole to them. Or they flake out on you if you make yourself too available. The shit can be infuriating. I know I should probably avoid people who force me to use artifice and cunning in the pursuit of them, but what can I say, sometimes my dick is in the driver’s seat and doesn’t want to stop at the gas station and ask my brain (or heart) for directions. However, I’ve been pretty successful at not hating these people, although I think it’s an easy trap to fall into. I think every guy reading this has had a revenge-fuck fantasy about some girl who snubbed him and that’s not really the route I wanna go, tempting though it may be. I wanna deal squarely with everyone, hard as that may be sometimes.
One thing I find works for me is always blaming myself for the success or failure of any interaction. At the end of the day I can only affect my own behaviour after all, so if a girl isn’t feeling me I evaluate how I could alter my approach for next time. It doesn’t matter that she may be nuttier than squirrel shit and an all-around unpleasant harpy who delights in the misery of men, that’s her business. My business is what it has always been: dealing with her and everyone else more lovingly and meaningfully. As soon as you take responsibility for the outcome of every interaction you have, you make it very difficult to hate other people because you’re constantly asking yourself what you could have done better, not “why are they so FUCKED?!”

Murkiness vs. Full Disclosure

Guys, have you ever asked a girl out expecting that she knew it was a date? You go out and get along swimmingly, you may even pay for everything to sweeten the deal and then she tells you she has a boyfriend, or doesn’t invite you in, etc.? Of course, we’ve all been here, and its even worse when you try and take it to that romantic level and it makes her uncomfortable and the rest of the time together becomes shitty and awkward. Let a girl know ahead of time where you stand even if it means risking “the friendship” because if you don’t you’re basically living a lie and putting unfair pressure on her. What are we really afraid of? When I think of every girl I’ve been friends with but also attracted to, not one of those friendships was too precious to subject to the light of truth and my actual intentions, and I regret past instances where I wasn’t forthright when I should have been.
Bottom line: if you are going to meet up with a girl and you have any doubt that she knows for sure its a date, let her know. You will save yourself approximately a metric shitload of heartache and you’re doing her a service as well because it lets her better plan which underwear to wear and whether to shave or not 😉

The Company Ink

Just kidding! there’s only company ink if you have an actual job. I on the other hand am an actor, or a freelancer if I wanna sound marginally more respectable. That said, I have probably fallen in love with at least 90% of my female co-stars and a goodly number of the crew members as well. I can’t help it! They’re fucking hot! And like me, they’re driven and aspire to something greater than the slow death of an ordinary life. What’s not to love? The people I work with on set are, by and large some of the most inspiring people I have ever met as they reflect back to me all of the things I like best about myself.
Buuuuuut, people talk and nobody wants to get the rep as that sleazy guy who hits on everyone on set. That’s not to say don’t hook up, but I’m not sure what my particular line is or if I even draw a line. On some level I am a creature of opportunity, and if some hot starlet was feeling me and was “bout it, bout it” I might find it difficult to focus on maintaining my reputation, such as it is.
*Note to female co-stars, past, present and future: I’m probably “into” you and would be amenable to getting to you know you better.

Moving Forward

Things are going okay I guess. But I’m realizing something very profound: these types of relationships I’m pursuing are not static. That is to say you don’t just have a couple of relationships that more or less take care of and maintain themselves. Instead, things are in a constant state of flux, and you’re only “with” someone when you’re with someone.

“Ma, our time together is our time together, and our time apart is our time apart.”
-Jay-Z, Girls, Girls, Girls (Remix)

It’s good in a lot of regards. It creates an imperative to “stay sexy,” and you don’t get bored of and stuck with people. Most importantly, its a constant reminder that life, like your relationships is in a constant state of flux, and the illusion of permanence is just that. So don’t hold onto things and people that no longer serve you. Instead, move forward righteously in the pursuit of beautiful experiences.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*I am very loosey-goosey with my use of the word love. That’s not to say I use it in vain; in fact, I am very deliberate in my use of it but I recognize that it comes into play in more than just familial and long-term monogamous relationships. I think you have to love everyone and on some level I do, even a girl I just met. And if me and someone else can’t be loving to each other, even from the outset then we really got no business being with each other.

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Filed under blog, discussion, gender, opinion, sex

The Most Useless Threat There Is

Friends,

I’ve been lying awake all night in spite of what was a very tiring (and very good) Thursday yesterday.  I was gonna wait out the whole night and get up with the sun, but at 4am you just have to say fuck it, time to get up!  Lying in bed awake all night is one of those things that has been pretty common for me lately but I don’t react to insomnia with the same stress that I used to react to it with in the past.  This is primarily because I don’t have any pressing engagements that I have to be well-rested or up early for (shout-out to all my under-employed mafuccas with nothing to wake up for in the am lol).

Anyhow, I want to speak briefly about something that has been going through my head these last few hours as I stared up at my ceiling.  You see, the past two days I have had two people threaten to call the cops on me.  The first one was on Wednesday and it was this chick who always seems to be wandering in my apartment hallway, drifting between the apartments of two of my neighbours whom  I suspect whom I am very certain are drug addicts.  So right there I am convinced this girl is up to no good.  But she doesn’t cause any problems so I kind of just look at her with impotent disdain.  That is until two days ago when she wore out her welcome among my building’s residents but didn’t want to leave the building.  She kept hammering on my neighbour, Carol’s door and I could hear Carol telling her to go away.

At this point enough was enough; whatever chemical adventures Carol may or may not be into, she is a sweet lady and she has always been nice to me.  So I went into the hallway and the conversation I had with the girl had me asking her if she even lived in the building and if she could please stop knocking cause obviously Carol didn’t want her around and she was causing a disturbance.  This chick didn’t seem very bright to me and this was confirmed when she accused me of harassing her and said she would call the cops if I didn’t stop.

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I thought this was rich and volunteered to call the cops for her.  I think this threw her for a loop because she seemed positively relieved when Carol relented and let her in.

One important thing to note is that I handled this situation well; I didn’t antagonize her and I remained calm.

Fast forward to the next day (yesterday).

The day started off grey and overcast so when it got sunny and clear in the mid-afternoon I was all about getting to the park, getting my tan on , doing some yoga, and working on a monologue for an upcoming audition.  Now for the record, I bike wherever the fuck I want, and rather than let broad sweeping by-laws prohibiting sidewalk-biking define the parameters of where I cycle, I let common sense prevail and try to avoid the sidewalk if its crowded.

Bearing that in mind I was biking on the road and I crossed onto the sidewalk at a driveway 20 feet before the beginning of the park so as to avoid hopping the curb.  Now some crossing-guard who I had biked past saw me do this and yelled some shit.  I stopped and took out my earphones and he told me I had to get off the sidewalk to which I responded, “No, I don’t,” to which he responded, “Then you’ll get a fine!” to which I yelled back, “I won’t pay it,” as I biked away and into the park.

I settled somewhere in the middle of the park, unfurled my mat and wouldn’t you know it, when he saw that I had stopped, he tentatively thought it over a sec and made his way over to give me grief.

I’d like to tell you about it, but I happened to have my camera running (Please make sure you read the video description).

Picture 3

I think I ‘clonkered his bonkers’

So yeah, I moved up from harassment to blackmail apparently and unlike the chick from the day before, this guy actually made good on his threat to call the cops.

The cop was actually cool about it and he kind of seemed embarrassed to be there, inferring that decorum dictated he follow up on a complaint made by a fellow municipal worker in uniform.  I was sympathetic to the position he was in and I had since calmed down (notice how gassed I was in that video, especially at the beginning).  I explained that regardless of whether I thought that guy was out of line I should not have escalated it like I did.  The cop seemed to appreciate my earnestness; I can only imagine he has dealt with countless fucktards all too willing to take a trifling matter like this to the supreme court.  I told the cop I would go find the old man and apologize for letting the situation escalate (though not for biking on the sidewalk) but I never got the chance because he finished his shift before I finished frolicking in the park.

Now I’ve been in this lamentable position before: rewind to October 2012 and I entered Toys R’ Us looking for a Batman mask to complete my Bane costume,

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only to be stopped and told that I had to surrender my knapsack => I just realized that I detailed this encounter in an earlier post so I won’t rewrite it.  But the end result was the same as my encounter with Johnny Crossing-Guard: I was not in the wrong but I let my emotions get the best of me and I got suckered into a conflict.  As someone who sees a lot of civil disobedience in my future, I can’t afford to be so careless.

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I take ‘violence’ to mean even violent language and causing hurt feelings

When I mulled over this post in my preceding hours of insomnia, I had crafted the title to encapsulate a certain idea of how futile threats of calling the cops were (Threatening to call the cops is an ultimatum; a Hail Mary thrown by people with no power when they are in way over their heads.  Anyone who has a legit reason to call 5-0 simply calls 5-0).  However, now that this post is written I’m not really sure what it’s about.  Hmmm, let’s just say that the moral of the story is that I’m a badass who is above the law and I’m looking to go 3 for 3 today and hopefully get accused of something more serious than harassment or blackmail.

For serious though, be polite and respectful to everyone you meet even if they are being cunty.  I fact, if they are being cunty they probably need politeness and courtesy even more.

Best,

-Andre Guantanamo

P.S. I feel like I may have left the wrong impression with my contrasting attitudes toward the crossing-guard and the cop.  It’s not like I have less respect for crossing-guards; they perform a valuable service (within the context of our obsolete infrastructure and modes of transportation).  I was heated when the crossing-guard spoke with me and I had chilled out when the cop approached me.  Pus, the cop approached me respectfully and wasn’t barking orders and threats.

Most importantly, he was acting in the capacity of a peace officer, trying to keep John Q. Public from killing each other and whatnot.  Had he started trying to give me tickets and enforcing statutes and regulations there probably would have been a different dynamic to our conversation.  One hopes I would have behaved like an adult, not dishonouring myself, instead of like an idiot as I had a few minutes earlier.

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Filed under Deconstruction, hamilton

Absent the Messenger

Dear All,*

Last night I volunteered at my improv school, The Staircase, for a performance called The Six-Minute Memoir.  As a fringe benefit of working the show (and I use the term “working” very loosely) I got to see 13 different writers share their experiences in writing and life.  All of them shared something of value which resonated with me to varying degrees, but I want to mention a thought I had when I was listening to the youngest speaker in the ensemble, Eva Kay.  Only 17, she is already an accomplished poet, and from what I could tell in the brief time I spoke with her, a lovely girl.

Yet I have to confess that I had some negative thoughts when she was reciting her poetry; She touched on some heavy themes and I started to think, “What serious shit has this girl ever dealt with that makes her think she knows about life?”  I mulled this thought over for a few seconds as I listened to her recite words that seemed pretentious from my clouded point of view, but then I realized something: It’s not about her experiences. it’s about mine.  Good poetry, good art for that matter, should be appreciated differently by each person because of their own different experiences, and not uniformly as a result of the experiences of the artist.  In fact, the art itself should have a transcendent quality wherein the artist’s disposition, experiences, etc. don’t even factor into your appreciation of their work.

I feel kind of dumb for lapsing into this trap of credentialism.  So often we go on the authority of what recognized masters say rather than seeing how a message resonates with us without prejudice.  And age-ism is just another form of this credentialism.  I assumed in my arrogance that because this girl did not share my struggle that she did not know struggle.  This is obviously malarky, and to that point one of my favourite quotations is,

“Everyone I know is in the fight of their life.” -Ben Harper, Better Way

Whether or not someone has been through what I’ve been through, they’ve been through something, and to them it was hard, like it was for me.  We really have to evaluate every cultural input as if it had no author, lest we allow our ignorance and prejudice to deprive us of some really wonderful things.

To punctuate this point, have you ever gone back and read something of your own volition which you were forced to read in school?  If you felt you got more out of it the second time around it wasn’t because the author’s experiences had changed (they might have been dead for years), it was because you had changed.  And, as well as reading in a more engaged manner, you had a different (not better, different) perspective that allowed you to get something out of the art which wasn’t there for you before.

The grand revelation is that it’s all about you: If you like a piece of art it’s because you see something positive of yourself in that art; if you are averse to a piece of art it’s because you see something of yourself in the art which you don’t like; if you are indifferent its probably because you don’t relate to it on any level.  Either way, the artist as the messenger shouldn’t factor into your judgment.

Best,*

-Andre Guantanamo

*Since I’ve abandoned the “Most Interesting” theme I used in blogger.com, I am not quite sure what I want to use as my intro and sign-off for my posts.  I may play around with a few things over the next few entries, so expect some inconsistencies.

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Filed under Understanding

Sharing Scraps

My Friends,
   An earlier post from today detailed one part of my adventures from yesterday regarding the aftermath of a traffic collision.  This post could be considered its direct sequel, or perhaps a spiritual successor in that its concerns so-called “good intentions.”  However, in this case it was less about people using good intent as a mask for petty, retributive malice, and more about people honestly believing they were doing right and being obstinate toward the suggestion that there efforts might be misguided.
   As I walked away from the scene of the aforementioned collision,

More or less, exactly what I looked like walking away except I wasn’t wearing a leather jacket.

I approached that bastion of upscale retail, Jackson Square.  For those not familiar with Hamilton, Ontario, that would be sarcasm.
   Anyhow as I approached it I noticed two reps from “Because I am a Girl” soliciting sponsorship for third world girls.  One girl called to me as I was crossing the street.  I supposed I looked like an easy mark for a charity as my attire (yoga pants, yoga mat on backpack, FiveFingers shoes, lilac-coloured bandana and skateboard in tow) bespoke a left-leaning individual burdened with a goodly amount of liberal guilt.
   I let her run her pitch to me about some girl from whereverthefuck-istan who, through the efforts (money) of sponsors had risen to become the first female lawyer in her proud country.  FTR I don’t think too much of the legal profession but for this girl’s sake and since we were about to butt heads on more important issues I feigned like I was impressed by this young 3rd world girl’s achievement.  
   The chick giving me the speech, let’s call her Mary Sue, gave me the full sales pitch which included well-worn lines like:
“I’m gonna level with you, we’re out here fundraising today”
“It’s really not so much about the money” (a direct contradiction to the first line)
“Have you ever been to a developing country?” (I guess this was used as an icebreaker to gain my empathy)
When she had exhausted her supply of anecdotal stories about minor achievements in third world shit-holes (with me, all the while smiling politely and trying not to come off like a smug, cynical asshole ) she came out with it and asked me if I would like to support her cause.
I don’t know if she was taken aback by my frankness, but she asked me why so I began asking her why the hypothetical street girl turned lawyer was impoverished and she told me something indistinct about not enough schools.  When I asked her why there were no schools she said there was no one to build them.  I of course, asked why and she said she didn’t know and asked me if I knew.  Without getting too in-depth I explained (none too eloquently, as if often the case when your audience is not receptive) that the reasons for the impoverishment of the third world were structural and that in-the-box solutions like charities only helped a sick system limp on a little longer when it should be allowed to fail.  As I explained this her eyes seemed to glaze over.  I went on to talk about just like there was absolute poverty in some parts of the world there was relative poverty here in Canada which was also structural. Not grasping the distinction between absolute and relative, she started protesting that noone in Canada or the US was starving and they all had a place to sleep if they wanted it.  I wasn’t about to argue her on this point but I felt tempted to say “google any number of Indian reservations or Camden, NJ, or Detroit, MI or Baltimore, MD or Florida slavery.”  I didn’t mention these things because I wasn’t wanting to convey the notion that we should focus on domestic problems at the expense of international ones (the Libertarian platform) but rather that things are tough all over and that all of these problems are connected.  
   Like I said though she was unreceptive, and though the conversation remained cordial I don’t feel I expressed myself well.  The tragedy of the situation is that the world needs good people like her, filled with passionate intensity to do the right thing, but it needs them to be better educated about causality and what leads to poverty, crime, violence, and the abuse of females.  
   Me throwing what limited money I have at the problem is not gonna solve the problem.   That doesn’t mean that we should never use our monetary resources to help others.  By all means, buy someone a sandwich or a coffee or whatever, but understand that the more valuable gift is your time.  Real charity, that is to say, charity that actively works to bring about the day where charity is no longer required, does not require large, established foundations to redistribute cancerous debt-based currency after it has taken its cut.  It simply requires good, educated people to take account of the eventualities of their actions and modify their behaviour accordingly.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo

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I Know What I Like

My Friends,
   Yesterday I met up with my father in Toronto and we attended the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).  I had never been before and there was a collection on loan from the Museum of Modern Art in New York which he was adamant about seeing.  The feature was called “Abstract Expressionist New York,” and I would recommend it for anyone who likes to have no idea what they are looking at.  Among these American Expressionists, or The Irascibles as the program called them, the most well known was probably Jackson Pollock.
   Now I’d seen Pollock’s trademark “drip” work in textbooks and it always struck me as not overly skillful, but I wanted to go in there with an open mind.  The first and most prominently displayed of Pollock’s works was perhaps his most famous, “Number 1A, 1948”

I approached this painting with a kind of “alright, let’s see what all the fuss is about” attitude and proceeded to stand rapt in front of it for about five minutes just taking it all in.  I admit that I stood there partly because I had the sense that I should really try and appreciate something so famous, but there was also a genuine attraction to it.  Something about the painting was just so much more than a Tremclad Golgothan having diarrhea on canvas; it spoke to me in a way I can’t explain.  And what people who see pictures of the painting can not appreciate is that the textures and three-dimensional aspects have so much to contribute to the overall experience.  For example, certain big globs of paint were poured onto the painting and left to dry as such leaving a protruding blob.  Another thing which caught my eye was the smear of magenta in the bottom left corner.  I started looking for more traces of this colour throughout the rest of the painting but was unable to find any which gave rise to a certain curiosity in me regarding Pollock’s choice to use it so sparingly.  Overall I can not say that the painting elicited a particular, nameable emotion but it had my attention, and with a nondescript name like Number 1A, 1948, that’s all the painting asked of me.
   One more of Pollock’s paintings had my attention, “The Stenographic Man,”

I spent a good deal of time examining this painting and the two weird robot-looking people looking like they are having an argument within.  To begin with I wasn’t aware that Pollock had strayed much beyond his drip-painting technique so this challenged my expectations.  Secondly, to me there is an aspect of the future in this painting (maybe than for no other reason than the characters in it look vaguely like automatons) and futurism is a genre/style which appeals to me.  The use of colour more than the textures caught my eye in this instance (but again, sadly, google images does not do it justice): To put it into perspective, in a room full of Pollock’s masterpieces, this one commanded my attention.
   I think I have a greater respect for Pollock than I did earlier.  I suppose I always suspected that there was something to his work which had to be appreciated firsthand.  Having now seen some of it I can attest to this fact.  Remember, a ticket to an art gallery is never money wasted.
Stay Thisrty
-Andre Guantanamo

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