Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pedicabo Mundi

I had just finished writing The Tao of Pimpin' and decided to start working on an album for a label I wanted to work with. So I went to Joseba's house and said "help!" and he said "ok" and I recorded this at his studio. Then, I didn't release it. Last night, I realized that the only way people would understand the creative direction I'm headed in is if they heard the context. Because not too many people have read the book. And hearing a song is easier than reading a book.
So to catch people up to where I'm at in my head in order to prevent their discomfort when I have to respond "go masturbate, you harmless inchworm" to their requests that I say or do something other than what I'm saying or doing for no other reason than to appease their insecurities, I present to the world PEDICABO MUNDI! It's Latin for "fuck the world."

The concept of this track is a play on Aguas de Marco. A lyric heavy Brazilian Portuguese song that I learned in order to increase my Portuguese vocabulary. Matt, the guy who owns the label I spoke about earlier, suggested that my version of Aguas de Marco would sound something like this. I thought that was funny, but I wasn't going to do it...but I couldn't help myself. Suggestion is a powerful force. And really, the suggestion just helped provide a framework for my inevitable "Fuck Everything" themed art project.

Eastern versus Western philosophies and Taoism

Yesterday, I wrote about the difference between Christianity and Buddhism with marginal eloquence. Today, I'm going to attempt to write a succinct distinction between Eastern and Western religious traditions and then juxtapose Taoism from the more cultural forms like Buddhism and Hinduism. It will be short. Maybe.
Western religious traditions and philosophies function under the idea that the individual is alone on their own path toward a particular goal. That others are stumbling blocks, competitors, or helpers on the path towards one's own salvation. One implication of the ultimate dichotomous reward of eternal life or eternal damnation is that each person is on their way towards one or the other, so the Westerner's goal is to separate herself from wrongdoers and coalesce with the righteous in order to increase her likelihood of being on the side that doesn't spend eternity wailing and gnashing their teeth. Westerners are more likely to eject a perceived wrongdoer from their family or community in an attempt to improve their chances of avoiding an afterlife of endless suffering that is assigned by a single Godhead who presides in judgment over all living things. The Godhead is stern, ultimately fair, and wants the best for his followers. However, his judgment is absolute. The Catholics have found a way out of the dichotomy by creating multiple places where people can go, like limbo and purgatory...neither eternal happiness nor eternal damnation, but some space in between. I do, sometimes, wonder what God thinks of all this. But I digress.
In contrast, Eastern religious traditions emphasize interdependence or collectivism. As a result, the fate of families and communities is intertwined which creates a sense of accountability and collective movement towards an inevitable outcome: a perpetual changing of seasons and circumstances that are the effects of causes. In Eastern traditions, there are concepts of continual process, birth-death-birth cycles, karmic forces, and an inability to escape one's connection from every other living thing in nature. The individual's evaluating force of good and evil is represented in types of karmic forces: like a bank of good and bad deposits which are distributed throughout a person's lives as they pursue their personal path towards enlightenment, which could arguably last forever if they never reach it. This takes the emphasis off of looking at others as causes for good or bad in one's life, and places the emphasis on one's own choices, disciplines, and behaviors. Instead of a single Godhead, there are many higher beings who exist to challenge or assist the human on their path toward enlightenment. This eliminates the absoluteness dichotomy, presenting all sentient beings on various points of a continuous path towards enlightenment that they will all ultimately reach.
In Taoism, there is no good and there is no bad. There are just causes of effects. Furthermore, the emphasis is not on a transcendental future of bliss or enlightenment, but on right now. The perpetual inner dialogue of the Taoist is "How am I doing right now?" Many Westerners are afraid of Taoism because it seems to suggest an "if it feels good do it" kind of irreverent hedonism that would disturb the hierarchy. However, this is not the case. The Taoist is an interdependent member of nature and does not exist to her own end. Anything that would be experienced as "karma" is happening to the Taoist in the moment, should she choose to pay attention to it. The Taoist could choose at any point to let go of all attachments, in which case she would no longer be subject to karmic forces. Her existence is already absolute and functions under the laws of The Tao, or The Way. Life, death, and suffering are accepted as natural and all that is left is what is. This makes Taoism seem like a cheat and leaves Taoists being accused by Westerners as "defeatists" and Easterners as "irresponsible". The Taoist holds that the human's desire to control and manipulate nature is a futile display of ego, since nature provided the human with the tools and the rules by which to "manipulate nature". Humans of the Eastern and the Western traditions seem to follow a human-centric model, arguing that we are responsible for doing things to make the world better. Taoism sustains that the world is just fine and humans, should they relinquish their desire to control and manipulate their surroundings, namely others' experiences, would simply operate in harmony with nature towards whatever end nature was headed toward anyway. A great analogy for this is a tsunami. Human ego can think that the tsunami wouldn't really do all that damage, but the water doesn't care what humans think. The idea that the human doesn't win over nature, or that a particular sect of humanity doesn't win over another sect of humanity is a very scary idea to competitive Westerners and disciplined Easterners. However, since the Taoist knows and accepts that nature ultimately wins no matter what humans think, she doesn't take the human ego seriously...not even her own. But also, the Taoist understands that humans are just another element of nature. So since nature wins and the Taoist is in harmony with nature as nature, then she knows that she wins.
In summation, Westerners run races with each other to get to heaven (hence, the existence of "race"), Easterners sit in lotus positions and chant in the hopes that the perpetual noise will prevent negative karmic thoughts and get them to enlightenment faster, and Taoists don't do shit.
Disregard this next paragraph. It's about African philosophies compared to Taoism and since I didn't put this topic in the introduction, you shouldn't read it. Taoism in its purest form, explains nature as an earth-centric event. Water and other natural phenomena are frequently used in Taoist texts to describe who nature is and how The Way governs earth's nature. This makes Taoism easy to explain to Western audiences. In contrast (but not really, as these things all work together and the goal isn't to beat each other, but to explain to children why they should just do what their parents tell them to), African traditions in their purist forms deal with nature as a cosmic event. The larger cosmic experience of nature allows for a greater understanding of possibilities, widens the playground, and includes the interaction and interdependence of nature with respect to its infinite influence. If the African refrains from attachments, the natural Way becomes the interdependent experience of all infinite possibilities existing in all living energetic forces throughout multiverses. For the Taoist, 1+1 is arguably 2. For the African, or Kemetic philosopher 1+1 depends on what is being added and by whom. For the Kemetic philosopher, time and space become unyielding infinities that go from microcellular energy to macro universal energy while all are the same experience replicating and influencing itself. Energies become much more influential than the sensual experiences humans are aware of. It is easy to think that this would lend itself to superstition, but superstition is developed out of attachments and the need to control outcomes.
At the end of the planting season, if any member of any religious tradition could relinquish control and live in the moment, their philosophy would work for them. It really doesn't matter what you believe. Just get on with it and be happy.

Me as a Motivational Speaker

My young family members told me that I would make a better motivational speaker than Hill Harper (who, though cute, bothers me simply because he has 2 last names. I find that obnoxious).
My platform: how to do you and win! Stuff about how quitters make the best innovators by not getting attached to either outcomes or institutions, but remaining in so far in the forefront of creative thought they they are never in a place longer than they need to be, remaining fresh, enlightened, and transformational in both their leadership and perspectives. Stuff about how competition is for chumps because if you're doing you, you don't have time to know what somebody else is doing. Stuff about how progress is an illusion, so it's best to make your world better now, which has the residual effect of making the world better for everyone around you.
Many motivational speakers emphasize opportunity and preparation: taking advantage: being in the right place at the right time...all the mumbo jumbo that makes a person believe that if they're not kicking it with the popular folks, they'll never amount to anything. I disagree with all of that.
In fact, the most innovative and transformational leaders are folks who are surrounded by mayhem or stagnation, yet are able to quiet their minds long enough to see the missing links. Then, they create something that changes history's landscape. With this paradigm...the paradigm of paying attention to needs that aren't met...the leader is no longer concerned with being in the right place at the right time. She is the opportunity provider and, therefore, every place is the right place and every time is the right time.
Many motivational speakers emphasize the necessity of competition: looking at what the next guy is doing and working to go that much faster, harder or stronger than them...never giving up and getting the gold. I disagree with all of that.
Competition is for show. And if there is no field, there is no competition. The most transformational leaders are not the players on the field, but the providers OF the field. They created the point...the reason we're all here to begin with. They set the rules and gave the competitors an opportunity to show the audience something fantastic. The real transformational leader knows that competition only exists when there are many working toward the same goal. But there are many things that must be done and by not competing and comparing, she is able to clearly see the more valuable goal that everyone is missing.
Many motivational speakers emphasize working hard and trying: rising early and staying up late to be the first guy and the last guy on the scene. I disagree with all of that.
Why work hard when you can just consistently do great shit? Do what only you can do every day and eventually, you're the best in the world. Doing eliminates trying. Furthermore, when you're just doing what you're doing, consistently, you are able to regulate. You can get up at the same time every day, get your work done, eat a great breakfast, lunch, and dinner, play with your cats, and smoke all of the weed in Fiji while still accomplishing more than the guy who burns out after a year of sleep deprivation.

In conclusion, wash your ass and be yourself.

Christianity versus Buddhism

I was raised Christian and I've always been fascinated by its ability to drive people mad. I've also been fascinated by Eastern religious traditions since I learned that they existed. I've been practicing Buddhism for just under a year now and through deeper study and practice, I've noticed some differences that haven't been pointed out to me directly. I'm sharing them here for those who may be interested.

This will be succinct because I'm getting ready to go wash my hair and that's going to take a while, so no time to waste. This is simplistic. There are way more differences. But hopefully, this will help to show an element of the fundamental difference in processing of the Christian vs. the Buddhist experience.
Religious systems help people collectively process impermanence and ultimately, our mortality. We're all gonna die. And our lack of knowing the details about that leaves us searching for answers. So religions, when practiced collectively, provide us comfort through faith as we march closer and closer to the grave.
The Christian Story
In Christianity, developed out of the Hebrew tradition, death is fundamentally bad. It is the punishment for sin, or wrongdoing. As a result, death is something that must be prevented. According to the apostles, through Jesus Christ, a man who lived from around 30 CE until 63 CE who demonstrated endless compassion, Christians are able to find eternal life and avoid death. Then, they can find the kingdom of heaven, which is popularly recognized as a place in the sky where the body is renewed and lasts forever in eternal bliss.
The Christian person believes that if she devotes her life to Christ (which means accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior), she will reap the eternal reward of everlasting life. Her path is personal and her salvation is uniquely hers. Furthermore, those who are not Christians or who do not devote their lives to Christ represent the ultimate fear that Christians have: eternal damnation. Out of this dichotomy arises judgment which helps (and I frame it this way intentionally) the Christian to evaluate good from bad and refrain from the path of the unrighteous. If a Christian does wrong, she must repent, but forgiveness is also promised as a result of Jesus's ultimate selfless life sacrifice for the sins of the world.
As a Western tradition, Christianity functions hierarchically, placing a king or Godhead at the top and various members of society at successive rungs on the ladder of righteousness. Christianity was historically used to keep women and slaves (or employees, depending on the master's disposition) in line and keep masters and husbands from abusing their servants or each other. The Christian tradition is easily transferable to Western society. It is the model of having a king that rules all things and delivers rewards and punishments to people who either obey or disobey his commands.

The Buddhist Story
In Buddhism, developed out of India, suffering (as opposed to death) is considered bad and should be avoided. impermanence and interdependence are accepted as fundamental parts of the sentient being's experience. A sentient being is recognized as a being that has transient life. Some Buddhists believe in a soul. Some don't. It depends on the school. Since impermanence is recognized as a part of the sentient experience, there is no expectation that the human (or any other being) will last forever in its form. Interdependence implies that though beings are wrapped in individual packages, enlightenment (also known as Nirvana or deliverance from suffering (among other things)) is only achieved all at once among all of us. So no one is enlightened unless everyone is enlightened. This creates a system of accountability for others beyond ministry because if I'm not enlightened, you won't be enlightened. There is a dichotomy of good and bad based in the 8fold path and 4 noble truths (google them). The more good stuff you do, the better a person you become and the less karmic crap you have to deal with, but ultimately, it's in everyone's interest to do the best they can.
The Buddhist person believes that it's better to do good than bad. Enlightenment does not happen in a place outside of the life that we live now, so suffering is predominately the result of attachments to greed, anger, and stupidity. At any moment, the Buddhist could simply do good and not reap the karmic consequences of bad, living in Nirvana and helping others to also find Nirvana (or as close as is possible until everyone reaches Nirvana together). The people who have reached this enlightenment are called Buddhas. There are over 180 different Buddhas in the history of Buddhism, so people choose which Buddha, or role model, they follow based on their personality type. Death is real, but in the paradigm of impermanence, death is just something else that happens. Essentially, a person could exist forever in suffering if they don't achieve enlightenment during their life (or lives...some Buddhists believe in reincarnation. Some don't), but why do that because it would just prolong the suffering.
As an Eastern tradition, Buddhism functions linearly, relying on each member of society to play his or her role towards the ultimate realization of Nirvana. Since there is no real hierarchy, there is no competition to get to "the top." A person of a lower class or caste may be dealing with previous life karma, so this creates a climate of acceptance of certain social dispositions. This also makes Buddhism more appealing to higher caste/class members of society: if you're doing socially well, it's the result of your good karmic practices, eliminating guilt for benefiting in a world full of suffering. However, due to the nature of interdependence, the Buddhist is not off the hook from helping others to achieve Nirvana.
In summation, Christians believe that this life is it. People make mad dashes to Christ to keep from going to hell before the buzzer. Buddhists believe that we're all in this together and that it all ends, but also all begins again and again. So there's no pressure to do anything in particular.
Hope this helps.

PS. This is not an invitation to tell me that I didn't talk about African traditions. It really doesn't matter what you believe. Just get on with it and be happy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

All Labels Are Bad

There's no static label or category that would describe the experience that more than 1 single human being on the planet has had.
I wouldn't say "I'm proud to be an American" nor "I'm proud to be African American" or anything like that. I'm no more proud to have had ancestors forced from their home land into bondage than I am to have ancestors who fought and created a new culture that is bitten by everyone in the world as a result of being forced from their homeland into bondage. I don't feel that this is anything to be proud of. My experience on Earth is no more or less great than anyone else's. In fact, considering the short amount of time I'll be on this planet (relative to the existence of the planet), I don't find it useful to gain pride in the contextual elements of my physical body. If I will be proud, it will be of my participation in a Universe that is constantly moving and changing. It would be in my own experience that is constantly moving and changing; an experience that is unique from that of every other human who shares my skin shade, nose width, hair texture, or reproductive characteristics. Were I to die tomorrow and return in another dimension as a creature that looks or behaves completely differently, would I be less than I am now? Of course not. I am still a part of the ever changing dynamic Universe that takes form in order to selfishly experience itself through itself.

But am I not what others consider African-American-Woman? To them, I am. But when I awaken from my dream, I am none of these things. I am whatever my dream sees. Sometimes, I am a man. Sometimes, I am the blackest, thickest, tallest woman in the world. Sometimes, I am an all seeing eye, observing the interactions of mind, heart and body that my mind imagined in its waking state. I know that because of this view others have of my finite physical body, my person may be more or less safe in certain areas. To care is the beginning of insanity.

I walk as though I have somewhere to go. I create as though I have no limits. I speak as though I am not afraid. I smile as though I know that this is all bullshit. I make friends as though friendship is easy. I eat as though I intend to taste the greatest combination of sweets and savories that tickle all the parts of my tongue and mind. This is not a black experience. This is a living experience.
And as a living being, I will fight for the rights of other living beings to exercise their creativity freely in a world where they are viewed as less-than by others who are deluded and sick. I will not join forces with the sickly ones simply because they have shinier stuff. It is their shiny shit that they must create in order to prove their superiority to themselves. The Earth has provided us all we need. What use is shiny shit? Are we so detached from reality as to neglect clean water and air in favor of shiny shit? Have we lost our ever loving minds?

And as people of color discover their power, if they should become oppressors, I will fight them as well. This is not a battle for power. This is an insistence on creativity. Any force that aims to limit my creativity or the creativity of any other living being on this planet is a violatory force and I will not support it no matter what it looks like or who it considers kin. Believe that shit.

And believe that if the creativity comes from a black American versus an African versus a Chinese English versus an African Caribbean versus a foster child versus a child raised in a blended family versus one who grew up wealthy versus one who grew up in the projects...these differences matter and should not be dismissed. This is a new form of art that we know nothing about. This will give us another opportunity to either learn or retreat further into denial. We will never know every experience. There is no category that we can align ourselves with that will represent any of us all of the time. If we want our story told, we must tell it and no matter how unique, it will connect with every human experience if it is authentic and honest. And if we must categorize things in order to wrap our puny minds around them, then we will categorize. But if we understand the dynamic and constantly moving creative experience of the Universe, then we participate in the constant opportunity to change with it. If we have a problem, we fix it! If we don't, then we shut the fuck up and have an orgasm with somebody because this will all be over soon enough!!!


On "Concept Blackness" and Why it's Ruining Humanity

I'm not a fan of the "concept blackness" showing up in movies and TV shows. It's unidimensional and uninspiring. Scandal is a great show because the concept is multidimensional. How to Get Away with Murder also has a well developed concept. Fresh Prince, Cosby Show, and Boondocks followed the stories of families and communities and left impressions on our global culture. Greater dimension allows for character development and dynamic storytelling that reaches beyond its target audience. Art that is organized around a superficial concept is amateurish and shows how desperate broadcasters are for content. All the money in the world won't produce better art when artists are lazy.

I believe that it is good to distinguish between black art and mainstream art and Latino art and LGBTQLMNOP art and Indian art and Chinese art...and even to distinguish between black American art and African art or Japanese vs. Japanese American Art...or African French or Polish Jewish. Black American creativity is very different from African creativity. Polish Jewish is very different from American Jewish. It is just as dismissive to discount the history of one's ancestry throughout migration and the creative perspective that derives from that as it is to dismiss one's blackness in America through the "I don't see color" eye. These things matter. These things show up. Any story that deviates from white male heterosexist supremacy is a revolutionarily different Hollywood story. For example, Olivia Pope would've simply been First Lady had she been white. Then, there would be no scandal. It is in her being black, and the way blackness is seen as a blemish on America's white supremacist image that outlines the subtext of that story. Analogously, creating a great concept in the context of cross sections of social laws is to creating a concept around "blackishness" or "letters to white people" as putting a spotlight on the elephant in the room is to pulling an elephant into a room and yelling "hey! Look at my elephant! Now fund my indiegogo campaign."

When Issa Rae created Awkward Black Girl, I sent money to the kick starter campaign because her perspective was comedic and relevant. Her webisode sparked a movement of heavy handedness that was needed at the time to counter the fear black people had of showing human flaws. It was perfect and it set the greater culture up for the modern stories of multidimensional humanity lead by characters that represent our experiences. I champion that trend.


The Problem with Women

You know what's wrong with you women? Ok. I'll tell you:

You think that if you look like the next best thing on the magazine cover, it's going to increase your likelihood of finding happiness and love. Bitch, please. If you can't be happy fat and nappy, then you can't be happy skinny and blown out either. Your looks have nothing to do with your happiness...but happy bitches be fine as hell because happiness is a good fuckin' look. If you want to be happy, do what the fuck you want to do with the people who want to do that shit with you. Fuck a magazine cover.

You know what else is wrong with you women? Ok. I'll tell you:

You compete with other women for EVERYTHING! That's dumb ho shit. What the fuck are you competing for? What the fuck is the prize? And if you get it, do you think that it will still be there if you slack off for even a second? If you do, you's a crazy bitch. Stop competing and pay attention to what you like. Then create that shit. That's what you're a woman for. You create. Women create. That's what we do. That's what we're for. That's how we're made. So please, stop the dumb ho shit.

And you know what's REAAAAAALLLLY FUCKING WRONG with you women? Ok. I'll tell you:

You will turn to every fucking source in the universe for information about how to get a man or lose weight or find happiness outside of the source that you have right betwixt your ears. Stop letting these crazy assed dudes tell you how to get into heaven or how to get a man in 20 days or how to cut fat in half. Bitch PLEEEEZE! Muthafuckas have made a living off of telling you what the fuck to do with yourself. There is literally an industry designed specifically to make you feel bad so that fools can sell you shit you don't need. Now tell me this...and uh...tell me this: with all your self-help booklets and pastor anniversaries, has your life actually improved? Go 'head. I'll wait.

If you want the job or the man or the weight loss or any of the other shit, you've got to do the work. Ain't nobody ever lost weight reading about how to lose weight. Go dance. Go cook. Join a sport club. Mentor some teenagers. Teach a step team. Work at habitat for humanity. Do standup. Read your poetry at the next open mic. Learn to play the bass. Babysit one of your single mother friends' kids for a few days. Get your head out of the ignorance that is your stagnation and join creation with the rest of us who are bustin' our asses to try to help you understand that you're beautiful just the way you are. Kill them insecurities. Yes they should die. And I hope they BurN in HELL!

The Problem with Men

You know what's wrong with you men? Ok. I'll tell you:
You think that because you find someone appealing, they're supposed to be interested in meeting you. WRONG! WRONG! You might be ugly as hell and nobody wants to look at your face. If you want someone to find you appealing, you have to BE appealing to THEM. Not just find them appealing.
Know what else is wrong with you men? Ok. I'll tell you:
You think women give a shit what you look like. Look: women are perfectly fine having a poster of Djimon Hounsou on their bedroom wall and masturbating to it every night. We're so good with the mentals that we can create an entire fictitious relationship that keeps us absolutely content for the rest of our lives. In fact, unless you look like Djimon Hounsou or Dwayne The Rock Johnson, you will never live up to our standards of beauty, so forget about it. Outside of our vivid imaginations, women respond to how someone makes us feel. But in order to make a woman feel good, you have to observe that woman and what she responds to. This takes time and intention. Every woman is different...just like every man is different. And you have to actually appreciate the woman for who she is. Then, you can give her exactly what she wants and she will love you in return.
And you know what's REAAAAALLLY wrong with you men? Ok. I'll tell you:
You think that you can just talk your way into the panties. Look: if you can talk your way into panties, then you're gonna be in a ho's panties. And if you get a ho, don't be all on facebook complaining about women this and women that. Tell it like it is: hos this and hos that. Stop comparing women to hos and stop thinking that just because you don't know the difference, all women are hos. If you want a real good woman who's going to cook and clean and birth your babies barefoot in the kitchen all by herself, then cut the umbilical chord and clean up the mess herself, then you need to cook, clean, and be prepared to raise, educate, finance, and protect your family while you're holding her from the back and massaging her feet as she births them chilluns. Then, build a deck, patch the roof, cut the grass, clean the basement, and take her to Jamaica once a year.
If you want a life partner, you have to be a life partner. If you want hos, you need to get your pimp game right. Half assing either of these will leave you alone and in the cold complaining about hos on facebook, then getting "likes" by more hos that you have no idea what to do with.