August 04, 2016 - Comments Off on Embracing Smallness

Embracing Smallness

Cosmos2

The past few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about transience. Things come and they go, and one of those thing is me. The mystics say that when you get a glimpse of the truth, stuff like this happens. Visions of paradise or hell on earth. The brittle, unreality of things which seemed solid before. Personally, I start to see everyone as little GI Joe sized figures scurrying over a scale-model of a city, endless changing, but always the same. But what is that truth? All things die? Or all things are reborn? Which one gives me the most comfort?

Neither is an easy answer for me. Do I really want to live if it means irresistible suffering? Or is freedom from suffering really a thing? Unfortunately, everyone who might knows seems to be founding a religion or selling a book. Camus said the only real philosophical question is whether to commit suicide or not. Suicide only requires a moment’s decision but life is a series of of them. Simplistically, one seems easy and the other seems hard, a distinction in which my Protestant work ethic comes down decisively in favor of the latter. Surely if a thing is difficult it is worthwhile. Well, I’m not so sure what makes a while worth it. And life can take quite a while.

Life is difficult. Let’s be plain. It exists because it works to exists. It works really hard. It runs, climbs, burrows, clings, slithers, fucks and more. It resists decomposition into its base elements like a consuming fire refusing to extinguish. It changes and reproduces to avoid the toll of entropy, but is ultimately dependent on those greater forces, energy and entropy, for its being.

My point is that I don’t think our lives are the center of the universe. It seems to me all earthlings are essentially the same kind of thing, from fungus to financial analysts, just different versions of the same process of resisting entropy, reproduction and ultimately cessation. Perhaps the universe itself is in a similar process. We have no means as yet to determine the boundaries of the universe or its uniqueness. Perhaps it is not infinite. Perhaps all its vast components are more like organelles in a tiny cell. I’m certainly not the first to observe this, I simply agree with the impression that humans are incredibly small, our impact on the cosmos so vastly inconsequential as to be nothing. But why should this inspire despair?

Did our ancestors despair at a world they understood even less than ourselves? They grappled with it, surviving long enough to eek out practical truths which in turn revealed grander ones. Our ancestors created myths to represent the encircling unknown. Some of those myths persist to this day, marking the boundaries of our knowledge. Perhaps the grandest being our primacy in cosmos, the idea we possess unique souls. We tell ourselves that evolution is a linear upgrade from basic to progressively higher, more complex forms of life. Could the universe want this? Perhaps. It’s not inconceivable the universe exists for the sole purpose of birthing a species capable of cosmic interaction. Maybe it’s how universes reproduce. How tempting a worldview. How it comforts. But even if you buy this hypothesis, it doesn’t mean humans are the chosen ones.

Further, just as we found the earth and, subsequently, the sun to be simply characters in a vast panoply of stars, planets and countless other celestial bodies, it seems reasonable to me the tiny carbon-based organisms that sprung from them are equally non-central, perhaps moreso. Perhaps, like a cell, there is a nucleus of the universe, but we have yet to find it, much less comprehend its implications. For me, I find peace in realizing what I do not know. I cannot imagine how any practical progress could occur without a willing embrace of the unknown.

April 06, 2016 - Comments Off on BABYMETAL – KARATE (OFFICIAL) – YouTube

BABYMETAL – KARATE (OFFICIAL) – YouTube

Listening to the latest hot tracks on Apple Music and this shit right here blew my mind up. The blistering guitar assault coupled with math rock precision and soaring lead vocals so compelling I feel like I could speak Japanese.

February 12, 2016 - Comments Off on Apple is reportedly making a TV show starring Dr. Dre | The Verge

Apple is reportedly making a TV show starring Dr. Dre | The Verge

Source: Apple is reportedly making a TV show starring Dr. Dre | The Verge

It was only a matter of time. Apple has historically made its fortunes in tech innovation–real leaps of utility combined with graceful and elegant form factor. But, like Moore’s Law, the pace of said innovation cannot keep up with the demands of commerce any longer so Apple is expanding laterally to keep growing its market base to satisfy investor appetite.

Content is a natural fit for the company which already has a vast distribution network, huge user base, and racks of disposable cash. Not to mention relationships with uber-stars like Dre as well as cutting-edge taste-makers and influencers via its Radio One platform.

February 10, 2016 - Comments Off on Kanye West’s ‘Bill Cosby Innocent’ tweet sparks outrage – CNN.com

Kanye West’s ‘Bill Cosby Innocent’ tweet sparks outrage – CNN.com

With just one tweet, Kanye West succeeded in creating yet another Twitter storm.

Source: Kanye West’s ‘Bill Cosby Innocent’ tweet sparks outrage – CNN.com

No, Yeezy! No. You were hacked. I get it. Your laptop got stolen and some punk kids decided it would be a riot if… Or maybe you didn’t pay your Illuminati dues and this is what turning the lights out looks like. I’m sure there’s a perfectly valid reason. You are a genius. Wait a second. You’re a genius! This is a publicity stunt. A strategic move to headlock the twittersphere in anticipation of SWISH or WAVES or whatever it is now. I am a Kanye stan. I will accept any of these explanations. But if I’m honest. And this is just between you and me. You don’t want to get involved in this Cosby mess. He’s not Cliff Huxtable. He wasn’t your ideal dad every Thursday night for eight seasons. There’s a resemblance but Cliff only had sex with Mrs. Huxtable and he most certainly never had to drug her. He only had to do a lovable soft shoe to some jazz on vinyl then whisk her upstairs to their perennial honeymoon suite. I still want to be that guy. But this Bill fellow has always been a little arrogant towards poor black people. He ate too much of his own Jell-O if you know what I’m saying. I sympathize that he lost his son in a tragic accident. He’s human too. Sure. But he’s also widely despised and for pretty good reasons. Like way, way, way too many reasons. He did some things to some ladies that weren’t so great. That were, like, totally the opposite of great actually. We all make mistakes, but when you make it over and over and over and then kind of laugh/brag about it, well then you’re doing exactly what you just did it. I mean, those punk kids who stole your laptop just did… Right?

February 09, 2016 - Comments Off on Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel kills self

Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel kills self

A Black Lives Matter activist killed himself on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse, authorities said.

Source: Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel kills self

This… hurts. From an analogous sense that this could be my son. Easily. This continual pain we describe inadequately and abstractly as racism is a physical assault on the mind and body of not just those who endure it but those who enforce it as well. Even our most valiant are not immune. Our brave, passionate youth are not at all prepared for it. They’re learning on the job. They are fighting the fight of a lost generation. But this abstraction is tangible in the lives it claims. It’s a dark, living parasite that swallows people whole… Find peace with the ancestors, young brother. Thank you for your fight. At some point we all surrender to fight another day. It’s painful to hear that yours was final.

February 09, 2016 - Comments Off on How to Know You That Bitch: The Passion of Beyonce

How to Know You That Bitch: The Passion of Beyonce

There are tiers to Blackness just as there are tiers to Beyoncé stan-dom. Think of it like Judaism: at the center are those Hasidic guys bobbing their forelocks in prayer, around them are all the yarmulke wearing believers who happen to drive German cars, and then out there in the nether, in the nose bleeds of faith, you got all sorts of agnostics, atheists and pragmatics who, while claiming Jewish, are not planning to skip the bacon on their next Denny’s visit. The same can be said for any social group—there are believers and then there are BELIEVERS. Levels to this shit.

I won’t waste your time modeling the hype trajectory of a Beyoncé release because you understand this already. You understand that to a certain core group of Bey-lievers, Bey is infallible. There is no water porous enough to sink her (unless she says so). There is no hatred black enough to dim her glimmers. No critique or detraction can possibly even scratch the surface of her immaculate perfection. You understand this already. This is the same faith as your grandmother’s. This is prayers before dawn and into the night. This is “thank you, Jesus” and “Allah’u Akbar.” This is magical thought. It’s the transmutation of white boy into blue eyed soul star. There is no logic but it’s own.

Nevertheless, with every Beyoncé release, there is an anti-chorus of critics and self-proclaimed apaths who “do not hate” Beyoncé but must make it clear they do not like her, that they do not identify with her or find her movements authentic much less righteous. “Formation” is no different in this respect.

I will not present yet another list of reasons why “Formation” is a worthy of conversation. Read this, this, or this. I also do not find it necessary to rebuke the accusations of artistic thievery on the part of Beyoncé and the video’s director Melina Matsoukas, but I will say that Chris Black will probably guard his intellectual copyrights more zealously next go round and, in all honesty, I’d never heard of him or his documentary until now.

No, I’m blacking pixels on this one not because I feel that Beyoncé requires another stan to join the overwhelming chorus of approval for her righteously vulgar treatise on the new New Black but because I want instead to draw light to the fissures exposed in the black community by such a release and how they represent a continuum of Blackness that no individual black person can own.

If we go back to my earlier model, what you’ll find is that most Black people inhabit the second and third tier of Blackness. The first circle is reserved for ankh-rocking, wooden beads jangling, Pharaoh profile picin’, Rastafarying HOTEPS. People for whom any degree of mainstream success equals treason. For whom mass media is a gigantic hypno-ray intended to brainwash unsuspecting bantus into submission. For these folks, there can be no nuance beyond “white deviltry” and “black righteousness.” Beyoncé is damned because Beyoncé’s hair is not consistently nappy. Beyoncé is damned because her lyrics aren’t extended Kweli-esque theses on the oscillating wheel of Nubian wretchedness and glory. Beyoncé is damned because she gyrates her Ubangi hips with such lusty fervor it is low-key incompatible with black patriarchy. Beyoncé is damned, damned, damned. Worship, instead, is reserved for figures like Lauryn Hill, our modern Nina Simone, for being inscrutable to the media, for shattering spectacularly under the spotlight of criticism thus confirming the incompatibility of black authorship and white consumption, for releasing one dope seminal album back in the 90s. Or for “underground” artists with overtly political agendas and niche followings. You know who they are. Or don’t.

Outside the inner circle of Blackness are where the majority of us lie. We who like naps but have no issues with relaxers or weaves. We who have no issues playing capitalism, but purchase Oyin products because its black-owned. Inside this broad region of blackness, there’s Obama, whose day job is President of the US but moonlights as a motivational speaker and organizer for young black men. Those of in this circle are comfortable with our double-consciousness and not parsing for existential loop holes to confirm our authenticity.

Like this for instance.

The bizarre contortion asserted here is that Beyoncé, a black woman, is appropriating her culture on behalf of corporations (including her husband’s) for their primary benefit. She is essentially lending them a black face to mask their nefarious intentions to sell us things. Because she appears in commercials for beauty products and soft drinks, she is selling out the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The author doesn’t say how Beyoncé’s involvement does this or whether it would be preferable that Black artists be erased from mass media and excluded from the benefits of capitalism, but this is all unnecessary. Because no actual offense on Bey’s part is required for it to ring true. Bey is the straw woman on which to hang all the failures of black militancy and nationalism. Just keep invoking the boogie-men. “Co-option,” “Corporate profits,” “corporate blackface.” (In love with the co-co!) Hilariously, this is invoked on a social media site dedicated to the co-option of the author’s opinion for corporate profits. I’m actually more concerned with the implicit assumption Black people are any more suggestible than everyone else when it comes to being sold things by celebrities. No Beyoncé fan believes Bey will show up and fix anything in their lives except silence and boredom, so who are these “haters” really addressing? Methinks they really have issue with the larger black community because of our duality. For how easy it is to rock a Malcolm X t-shirt while wolfing down a plate of spare ribs. For how satisfying it feels to shout off your hangover at church after a wild night of turn-up. For why we want our clergy holy but bedazzled and stuntin’. Black folks have a way of not getting tripped up in the contradictions. Our existence is contradiction. We are American but we didn’t choose to be. We are minorities but our cultural influence is international. Too many of us are locked up, poor and jobless and yet our struggle inspires the world. We want the freedom to twerk and slut shame all in the same breath. We want to stomp to some Kirk Franklin then stomp on some gays.

White folks, to their credit, have mostly stayed out of this analysis and offer good reasons why. Good for them. This is, as many have pointed out, a truly Black moment. A moment for us to reflect and re-asses the fault lines of our fractious cultural geography. How deep is deep? How much is selling out? How “down” is down? We need to know these things in order to know ourselves as authentic black folk, to know our place in the world, to understand home. And we owe these cultural moments to mass media—there’s no way around that. There’s no other way to disseminate the information (you see what I almost did there). We are literally having this present conversation, critique and celebration at once, because of Beyoncé’s  entrenchment with corporate wealth. It would not be relevant otherwise.

So, thank you Queen Bey, for blessing us once again with the gift of controversy and self-reflection while simultaneously providing women and queens everywhere with new dance material for the next three years. We are now having a long overdue conversation about colorism, class-ism, this New Black shit, and every Blackity Black thing inbetween.

That’s how you know you that bitch.

September 23, 2015 - Comments Off on Why Some Boys in the Dominican Republic Don’t Grow Penises Until Puberty

Why Some Boys in the Dominican Republic Don’t Grow Penises Until Puberty

Countdown to Life: The Extraordinary Making of You, a new BBC series focused on how our prenatal development shapes our lives, has brought new attention to a group of seemingly sex-swapping people in the Dominican Republic.

Source: Why Some Boys in the Dominican Republic Don’t Grow Penises Until Puberty

September 22, 2015 - Comments Off on Report Documents Growing Number of Isil Defectors | Al Jazeera America

Report Documents Growing Number of Isil Defectors | Al Jazeera America

Encouraging news that the adventurous life of a jihadi isn’t nearly as romantic as it was sold to be. Maybe the constant sound of drone shells is finally working itself through the rhetoric.

Study based on testimony of 58 ex fighters paints a picture of brutality, corruption, and increasing disenchantment

Source: Report Documents Growing Number of Isil Defectors | Al Jazeera America