Friday, October 30, 2015

The plumbing talking in its sleep.


Some interesting things about Havana via Wikipedia:
The national government does not have an official definition of poverty/People living in slums have access to the same education, health care, job opportunities and social security as those who live in formerly privileged neighborhoods/In the 1980s many parts of Old Havana, including the Plaza de Armas, became part of a projected 35-year multimillion-dollar restoration project, for Cubans to appreciate their past and boost tourism

So it sounds like housing standards don't actually tell you about the standard of living for its occupants in Havana, that they might not even have a negative category for people to feel trapped inside of as far as where they fit into the economy, and there is a strong sense of positive cultural fabric for the people in/from that city to feel connected to and proud of. It makes sense to me that Urban Renewal cannot live here. Taking things down makes sense when things stop working - but what if they haven't? I don't think we all need to live in the future together, that it's hard to appreciate how far we've come if we've wiped out everywhere we've come from. It seems like a high functioning slice of history, as opposed to the dying behemoth of Detroit. Modern ≠ Better?

As the scale in which we do things, inside of an increasingly globalized economy, gets larger and larger - I think Detroit can be considered a boomtown at this point, one that outlines the rise and fall of the automobile, of the factory, which died to birth modern corporate monsters - cutting costs to shift production overseas at the expense of local economies. Who were those factory workers when not producing things? What cultural identity did they have left after industry collapsed in the Rust Belt? With no roots to cling to/help stimulate growth of a new kind of identity and very little history to tie anyone to that place, it is quickly becoming the largest ghost town in America. It almost resonates in the way Chernobyl does, with our deep desire to witness it as nature reclaims this specifically manmade disaster - there is a lesson in the rotting carcass of the city, with scraps of flesh and meat that still hold the pinkish tinge of life.

We did this.

I do think the wound/Detroit is still fresh enough to feel the heat from its history, but maybe it is too close for us to really assess the nature of the damage. To do so would mean admitting some deep and true things about the system we've set up and what we had to buy into to have manifested that particular reality. That seeing human labor as a mechanical function and matter of efficiency and profits, instead of living breathing beings filled with dreams and desires and basic human rights and needs is a particular blindness unique to the corporate beast, and feeding it will only extend the landscape that Detroit deteriorates into.

Katrina was an act of nature or of God, but is a foreign Other we can band together against, something that shows us exactly where our weaknesses are to 'intruders', and has forced us to recalibrate our relationship to the landscape, to consider how we can work in tandem with rather than against it. As so much of our history was washed away in the floodwaters, the things that we rebuild there mirror what we valued about it, while giving us room to build a hybrid creature of past and future. The story we want to tell our progeny. Like most of our stories, it will live in half truths until everyone is unable to escape the inherent responsibility we have had in manifesting these Acts of God/Nature with increasing frequency.

I Am That I Am.
Natural Disasters are not unlike our own immune system I think, whether it is fire or flood or wind, it sweeps away the underbrush, the insubstantial, the not-meant-to-be and inspires new growth, hardier growth, and maybe does the thing that we cannot - rips from us the things that used to be a part of us, like a parent pulling out your loose tooth.

In dream analysis teeth represent our roots. But space needs to be made for more mature ones to grow in their place.




Friday, October 23, 2015

These endless catacombs of self-reference.


conflict (v.) Look up conflict at
early 15c., from Latin conflictus, past participle of confligere "to strike together, be in conflict," from com- "together" (see com-) + fligere "to strike" (see afflict).

In the first stages of development after we are born, we begin to define ourselves in space - it is pushing against things that lets us know ourselves, and I don't think that ever changes, that what we come up against shows us who and what we are. What we really believe in. How what we risk can also reveal what we value. How what we attack can tell us what we are afraid of admitting about ourselves most. And finally, how necessary discomfort is to inspiring change.

There exists a number of primal urges for survival that we share, especially predictability, certainty, structure. There is a refuge in rules. Rituals, habits, landmarks are all ways to synchronize ourselves in time and space, moving to the metronome of our breath, but maybe without conflict it is hard to tell where we stop and another person begins. I have a hard time arguing that war and injustice are unnecessary when they have taught us so much about ourselves. That maybe there is something uniquely powerful about being stripped down to your core, so you can build a house that YOU want to live in, on a foundation you believe in - and not be constrained to the limitations of its previous identity. Maybe the idea of catharsis is deeply intertwined in destruction of anything, but manifests as violence against other, since destruction of our own identity calls up the question of what we have left to orient ourselves around - and in choosing what we value automatically implies a devaluing of everything else.

Is there a way to honor something in its destruction? Like a Viking funeral, can we also dispatch of our history with reverence? To honor the life of a fallen building and all it has silently witnessed of our trials and tribulations? Mourning the death of an identity is necessary. Healthy. Valuable. Cathartic. Maybe extending an invitation to affected communities to be participants in the mourning of that symbolic relationship and the shift in their emotional landscape might make letting go just a little bit easier.

I recently learned that in the Torah, there are prayers devoted to people who have committed suicide - and the language focuses a lot on the individual having nowhere to go, nowhere to turn... that they didn't have space.

Maybe there is deep psychological value to considering how we orient ourselves in time and space, how it can help us, as well as how it can hold us back, and how it can be used against us. How making space can be an invitation rather than an attack. How it can honor the past by being a sacrifice to the future. That an inhale is just half of a breath, and exhaling its necessary conclusion to make space for the next one. How choosing what we keep and letting go of things that no longer serve us can be a powerful language for expression of Self.


- from an article about the evolution of rap

''There was a sea change in organizing when [NWA’s] “Fuck tha Police” came out. Before, even dope dealers I knew had this feeling, like, the police are the good guys. “Fuck tha Police” changed that orientation; it kind of chronicles that. [Their songs have] got misogyny, they’ve got glorifying murdering each other, things like that, because it comes out of the culture that capitalism has created. I think it’s important for us not just to edit the culture that capitalism creates, but to create the material basis for a culture that we want."

- Boots Riley
an American poet, rapper, songwriter, producer, screenwriter, humorist, political organizer, community activist, lecturer, and public speaker