24 August, 2008

"Antarctica Asylum"

First published here.

Somewhere here, Gwen is commited to the Antarctica Asylum.

This was never finished.

22 August, 2008

Against Romanticism

20th August 2008

It has been a long time since I wanted to write on this topic, but I guess I did not get upset enough, or often enough, to really get down to it. But now I am. Upset, that is. Before I hack and slash into Romanticism, let us define what I refer to exactly.

To most of you, Romanticism is about giving girls flowers and knowing how to prepare a dinner which comprises candles. Know it now, this will not be the Romanticism dealt with in this chapter. To others, Romanticism calls to mind the date 1780-1820 and a few names like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysseh Shelley (what’s up with that middle name?), Lord Byron, John Keats, and others. While the Romanticism whose bung-hole will be enlarged is related to that classic Romanticism, it isn’t exactly that either.

Romanticism, the classic kind, was based on the individual, his or her emotions, feelings, nature, etc. Poets thought of themselves as “translators” of sorts, who tried to put into words emotions and feelings and nature. It is what any teen naturally does when they try to write poetry, and I am not exempt from the dire attempt. In many ways, classic Romanticism built itself upon bases that all of us can share, I guess, but that are pretty stupid, I think. Why? Because the wind passing through the leaves of a tree is not an emotion, and neither of these are words. What I mean is that your poem is a poem, your creation, and not some translation of another entity. There is no poem, or painting for that matter, to “naturally” derive from anything out there. You have to create it.

Let’s take the case of an imaginary young poet. He is full of emotions, who isn’t, and he writes poems. Now, his first mistakes is to believe that his emotions actually have a connection to what he writes. In other words, he believes that the more he feels, the better his poem is. That young poet then shows his poetry to others, who are not familiar with the poet’s emotions, and thus, all they can see is a shitty poem. They say so as politely as can be, and the poet takes offence, and that not because of what the poem really is, but because he does not separate what he feels with what he writes. There’s one major mistake. If you happen to commit this mistake, give it ten years, then read your old poetry again. By that time, I hope, you will have lost the “emotion” of it and will be able to read the actual poetry you wrote. And that’s when it strikes you that this sucks horribly. And I speak from experience.

In these days of glorified individuality, we all have to disenchant the self and actually get to work. What makes a poem is you writing it, not you feeling anything. You could feel a lot, and be a crappy poet; you could have a stone in lieu of a heart, and be a great poet. Those things do not have to be mutually dependent.

The “muse” and other inspirational nonsense have a lot to do with this kind of Romanticism. People expect the “something” to write a poem, paint an image, for them. People share the same sort of nonsense about the “gift”. If you want to paint a great painting, it will take practice, lots of it, not a muse, not inspiration. It’s work, not magic. Of course, people who know nothing about painting and see awesome works of art don’t know that it’s actually work and practice, and they can’t figure out how anyone could possibly paint so well, and that’s how you get the “gift” thing. You could argue the same for “inspiration”.

I will now relate the little event that made me want to write this chapter. I was looking for information on how to buy liquid white, an important ingredient of wet-on-wet oil painting, when I stumbled upon a forum in which some artist was explaining why watching painting lessons on TV was horrible. The artist explained that if you “want a real connection with Nature, you must paint in it. Painting in front of your TV is just really lame, and pathetic.” Nature is another thing to place beside the muse in this affair. And by “Nature”, I mean the human concept, not anything concrete, because as far as I am concerned, it’s all “Nature”. How arrogant do we have to be to think ourselves all that separate from those things we don’t create? We didn’t create ourselves, for all I know, so we’re just as much “Nature” as a squirrel or a goddam bush.

Now, out of curiosity, I decide to look at what that artist actually paints. This guy was spitting on Bob Ross’ method and paintings, and his own work looks like utter shit. Utter shit. But he paints outside, like the Impressionists, and that makes all the difference, except Monet rocks, and that guy doesn’t.

That’s where I put together the Romanticist bullshit: emotions don’t write poems, and painting is about painting, not “Nature” or anything else. I watch TV lessons on painting not because I want a connection with “Nature”, but because I want to learn to paint. If I wanted a connection with nature, I’d go outside for a walk. You don’t need a palette or canvas for that, that’s for painting. All of this seems very obvious to me, but there are assholes out there who need some talkin’.

Moreover, you can’t disrespect Bob Ross, and certainly not in front of me. That other guy, the artist, which I’ll refer to as the Romanticist from now on, well that guy is a moron. That guy seems to believe that if you learn to paint a tree, you will get to know how a tree feels or thinks or whatever. Here’s how I see it: if you learn to paint a tree, it’ll make you good at painting trees, nothing else. And guess what, that’s just what I am going for when I watch a painting lesson on TV or elsewhere. The fact that Bob Ross can paint skies, mountains, lakes, snowy prairies, grass, happy little clouds and bushes without any need for actual references, that doesn’t make him any less an artist than any of you Romanticists. I’m tired of those people wallowing in pseudo-spiritualities which don’t do much except give them some sort of security coat about the fact that they’re not good. Seriously, if you’re more interested about connecting with nature, when you’re painting, then you’re not all that into painting. These aren’t the same things, to me, and they aren’t the same things, period. Of course, you may adore nature and paint it, but these are less related than the Romanticist would like it to be.

Another typical Romanticist is the treatment of pain as food. Here’s how it works for them: you got pain, work it artistically, and out comes a poem, painting, etc. It’s like eating food, and having a natural intestinal process going on. Interestingly enough, the product of both of these processes is shit.

Suffering per say does not add to your artistic talent. If it did, we’d all be amazing artists. A lot of people learn nothing from their pain, it only makes them bitter and worse. Others deal with it differently, and it makes them grow and mature and learn. But that reaction is up to you. Anyway, as for the poem above-mentioned, the more you suffer will not make your painting any better, because pain is not a colour or a shape, and it’s not applicable on canvas. The process is far more complicated, and while pain can be at the origin of your wanting to paint a specific painting, or poem, that’s as far as it goes: you still do the work.

I believe a serious artist, no matter what art, must focus on the art itself, and leave alone those phoney ideas. A connection with nature will not make you a better painter, but painting lessons will help. I could spend ten hours in a forest, I would not come out of it knowing how to paint any better, unless I spent that time observing the trees from a painter’s perspective, but notice that, from a painter’s perspective, not from the perspective of someone who tries to connect with nature, whatever that means. And yes, you can learn to paint, it’s not a gift, it’s a skill that you can practice, and it has techniques that you can learn. It’s not magic. As Bob Ross said, you didn’t jump in your car the first time and knew how to drive: you had to practice. It’s the same with painting, and most things, really.

So don’t be a Romanticist, but please use the term because I think it’s pretty nice, and will not be confused with Romantics, which we’ll reserve for the classic poets and others.

21 August, 2008

Generation Y & False Rebels

30th September 2007

To make sure everybody knows what I’ll be dealing with here, I’ll begin by a quick summary of some terms. And a little bit of history as well. Right after the end of World War II, people made lots of babies, who would later become hippies. Those people had dreams, and mostly, everything failed. Those people also had children, the next generation, who would later be called the X Generation, or Generation X. Roughly, these are people born in the 60’s and 70’s. One of the most famous Generation X people is Kurt Cobain. The ideals of the hippies having all failed, these kids grew up in an atmosphere of failure, and in what historians call the 20 gloomies (it shall be said that I’m perhaps utterly wrong on that term), meaning the 70’s and 80’s, in reference to the 30 glorious years between 1940 and 1970.

The Generation X people also had kids. That would be my generation, even though my parents never were hippies; this doesn’t work on a case by case scenario, more of a global rendering of ideologies shared by many. The Generation Y – people born between the late 70’s and early 80’s, roughly – is us, even though the name isn’t yet official nor clear. It takes a lot of distance to be sure about history, and a lot of retrospect, which we don’t have yet. There are other names going around for this generation: The Digital Generation, kids growing up with internet and videogames, and many others I forget. It all depends on what significant events you select to categorise a generation.

I like “Generation Y” for two reasons; first, there’s a cool pun; second, it makes us serial; as if we were just the next generation of nobodies without dreams and hopes. The Generation X was the first nameless generation, and now we don’t even have that, we’re just the next nameless generation. But that is likely to change. Some historians close the Generation Y at the year 2001, because of 9/11, and so it’d go from 1980 to 2001, roughly; but this is much debated. Making up generations is of course a matter of abstract thought and structural ideals, never absolutes. No one will ever entirely fit a given profile for any generation, but, overall, some things are shared by most, if not all, even though the said things may not have reached everyone individually. Suffices that it changes the world in which you live, and you’re in.

What I notice to be pretty unique in this generation is that, I think, we are the first to look back so much. Never before did people pay so much attention to the past, to the literal exclusion of the future. Many young people dress like hippies and listen to bands of the 60’s and 70’s, and while I understand one can appreciate music from any given period in time, I think there’s more there than just musical taste. I think there is a strong sense among us that “history is over” and that basically we just look back, feel nostalgic, and try to get some of it. Think of all the bands which dress like it’s the 70’s and play like they’re the Velvet Underground. I’m not here to condemn or condone that, it doesn’t matter, but I think it’s interesting to note. Other bands went even further into the past, with the use of those round hats from the 19th century. The past is always more clear and more structured than the present, and its distance from us gives it an air of inaccessible sanctity. Indeed, since we can’t affect the past in any way, it is invincible, it won’t change, it can be trusted. If you worship Bob Marley, you have no reason to be worried that he’d suddenly start making crap music and sell out to Pepsi. People who worship Britney Spears know what I’m talking about. Distance creates sanctity of time.

And now to the false rebels. The biggest way to conform today is to be a “rebel”. People who are rebels, are rebels according to 19th century standards: they hate Christianity and the idea of God, they’re sexually libertines, they scorn institutions and nations like it’s 1914, (different century, I know), and they think they’re romantic marginals, some kind of modern day Baudelaire with a Che Guevara T-shirt. The point these people are missing is that being a rebel means you’re going against the grain of the current paradigm, and our current paradigm and mainstream dominant thought and ideology is exactly what “rebelism” is about. Religion-less, unless it’s a watered-down version of Buddhism, freely sexual (as long as you’re not too involved with the people you fuck), materialists to the point that they no longer know what materialism is. And meanwhile, the true rebels are perceived as if they were the safe-keepers of traditions. Being a rebel is not cool, by definition. Thing is, nowadays, it is commonly believed that rebels are cool, when in fact it’s the direct opposite. Being cool means you fit in with what is popularly thought to be the best standards, and that, of course, is the direct opposite of being a rebel.

The current paradigm draws a lot from Darwin. And that doesn’t affect, or infect, evolutionist theories alone. Up to Darwin, there was a sense that life had some meaning, that there was a sense to things, and that we just didn’t know it. With Darwin, it became possible to envision a world where randomness and accidents were the driving principles. If you truly understand the implications of this, you know how frightening that is. That ideology pervaded every other domain of thought. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Darwin was wrong to do what he did, but I don’t believe in Darwinism entirely, though I believe in evolution.

To give a quick portrait of the current situation, let’s say that most people are atheists (which really means they either never gave much thought about God or think the issue utterly useless) and yet, each atheist thinks he’s somehow a rebel and that the main structures are religious, even though there is no reason to think so. This applies to many European countries, and I’m aware it doesn’t apply to America. Some even force it, trying to see Christian conspiracies where there’s really nothing: it wouldn’t be quite as cool to be a rebel against nothing, so they blow up Christian dolls to shoot at. See Dan Brown for further information.

It can’t be this hard to understand that a true rebel goes against the majority. A true rebel, today, is someone who believes in God, in many cases. When the majority doesn’t, or doesn’t care to, the rebel is the one who does; it’s mere mathematics. Being a rebel on standards that belong to another time than ours is not being a rebel, but a drama queen.

Take the Pope for instance. Is there anyone who actually cares to see what the man has to say before bashing him? I don’t condone or condemn him because I don’t know enough, but at least I’ll suspend my judgement until I can sort out a thing or two about him. Not everyone is as cautious as I am. As a symbol, the Pope is an easy target; he does stand for Christianity, albeit the Catholic version, and so he’s available for every joke and attack you want to apply to him. That’s ok with me, just don’t think you’re being a rebel for doing so, when the large majority does too. Maybe you are not aware of this, but Christians are not the majority of people, and long gone are the times when the Church had real executive power over the people and the laws. You’d be a fool to keep pretending that things are the same as they were during the inquisition and the conquest of the New World. Things have changed, there is a very real separation of Church and state, which doesn’t mean religious people can’t work in the state, don’t be stupid.

The falseness of coolness is most obvious when you realise that being cool is its own reward, not the ideas you fight for, or simply have. In times when death penalty was used (in Europe), you were a rebel to be against it; today, you’re just conforming to the paradigm, regardless of whether the death penalty is a good or a bad thing. Being a rebel, per se, or a conformist, isn’t a bad thing of itself, or a good thing; it all depends on what you believe in, but my point here is that the status of being a rebel shouldn’t be abused or misconceived, which it is, and allows many to fight for the mainstream thought with the validation of the (false) minority. It’s like all those people going on plastic crusades against racism. Believe it or not, but most people aren’t racists, and you’re preaching to the choir 95% percent of the time. Proof of this is that when you listen to what anti-racists say, you realise that no true racist would ever change his mind because of what they say. People have a tendency not to listen to those who insult them. So it’s just masturbation.

Like it or not, Neo-Nazis are rebels. And as I pointed out before, being a rebel, per se, isn’t de facto a good thing, as in this case, but they’re rebels nevertheless. A paradigm is never as strong as when people think there isn’t any. No one, in Europe, thinks that there is any influence of the higher structures about the idea of the non-existence of God. Everyone thinks they reached that conclusion of themselves, and that they weren’t influenced by anything, no matter that no true religious education was given or any religion truly explained to them. Whenever someone strays from the main path, they get seriously scorned, almost deprived of their human status, as Neo-Nazis are. If it makes you itch that I seem to defend Neo-Nazis, then you’re right at the heart of the problem. True rebels cause itching. Just because I don’t agree with them doesn’t mean I must think they are pieces of shit, and even if I did think of them as such, it wouldn’t mean they are. I’m not concerned about my opinion of them, just the status they are given within the current paradigm. They wouldn’t have been rebels under Hitler, I think we all understand this, but they are under the contemporary situation.

True rebels are shunned like the pest nowadays. Everyone hates them, as rebels tend to be hated. Religious people knocking on your door to save your soul, those are your contemporary rebels. And I know most people think of them as sheep, in some cases that’s what they are, but not every time. Everyone is somebody else’s sheep. Which leads me to my next point.

Under our current paradigm, we tend to think that we’re entirely free of imposed opinions and thoughts. The idea that most take for granted is that there’s such a thing as a neutral zone, and that things like the idea of God doesn’t belong there, for instance. This being said, though, the problem is not so much about what is thought to belong or not with the neutral zone, but the very fact that such a zone is thought to exist. It’s never neutral; you live under beliefs at any time. Belief in God is a belief, but atheism is also a belief. In either case you just believe in a worldview, with more or less doubt. It becomes dangerous when you are not aware that you’re under a paradigm, and not in some neutral zone free of premade beliefs and ideologies. As for the “rebels” who think they belong to the minority when in fact they’re pure conformists, people under paradigms whose existence they are unaware of are more likely to show a ferocity rarely seen from people who are aware of being under a paradigm. They have the fury of the self-righteous, because they genuinely believe they’re not promoting or fighting for any ideology.

The important point here is to realise that educating a child under the paradigm of Christianity, for instance, is no worse, or better, than educating a child under what is thought to be no paradigm, the neutral zone, when in fact, it has every bit of a paradigm too. You’re forced to have opinions on things, and more importantly, beliefs. I insist on the term because nowadays, with the arrogance of science, a lot of people allow themselves to be sure of many things. Science is the Church of the day, make no mistake. It’s all the more dogmatic as it doesn’t claim to have dogmas, but it has. That is why I say that atheism is a belief, and until someone comes up with a proof of the non-existence of God, it will remain a mere belief. Proving God is an entirely other subject which would deserve its own chapter, so I won’t talk of it here. There is no safe way to go about paradigms, in the example of educating a child, except that of offering several worldviews and making it clear that it’s unsure for most of us and for various reasons.

Abrupt transition now. Back to our generation and why it looks backwards. I heard a critic say that our generation failed to invent its own revolt, and thus fell back on past ones, because we didn’t have the cultural background, due to bad school, that would allow us to overthrow the values of our parents. I personally don’t give this much credit, because the critic who uttered it was French, and his analysis and interpretation were about the situation in France, and he misses the point that the same thing happens in many other countries, regardless of the quality of the education. Besides, I tend to think that these days the kids have more culture than they ever had, if only because they have a lot more access to it.

My own interpretation, for what it’s worth, is different. I tend to think that, perhaps, the reason why people fall back to past icons and references is that there’s a shortage of them in our own era. And that would be due to the poor quality of our cultural stars. It’s hard to feel flattered looking at Britney Spears; I mean, she’s alright for what she does, but for someone to take the iconic place of cultural reference, a cannonic place, it has to be a little tighter. So, maybe, in reaction to this, people fall back on safe values, such as dead people who, like saints, can’t do wrong anymore because their time is up. Hence Elvis, hence Cobain, hence Marley. And I am by no means implying that the above mentioned had no merit of their own; of course not; what I am saying is merely that the reflex, in the face of cheap plastic icons, is to fall back on safe values.

So the media would be the ones to blame. Perhaps. The thing that one cannot deny is that there is more room for Britney Spears and the likes than there is for the Pixies and Sigur Ròs. To be an icon, a solid one, you need to have the talent and the exposure. If you’re a tremendously talented person, but only your walls see you, you won’t be an icon. If Ani Difranco had played for her cat only, she’d not have become the icon she is now, but she would have had the same exceptional talent and genius either way, that’s understood.

But to be honest, I’m not very sure of all this. It’s hard to tell. Perhaps the fact that the media are so numerous today has diminished the power of the mediatic beam and as a result, the same people who would have gotten all the spotlight back in 1973 just get a show or two now and that isn’t enough to cause a hype.

Another critic suggested that the forced conformity of rebellion was caused by the media recycling any subversive movement into a buyable product. I’m not too sure of this version either. Whoever owns the rights of that Che Guevara picture must surely makes a lot of dough, but I don’t think half, if that, the people who’d buy them would actually know so much about Communism and Guevara in details. It’s not really the fault of the media or of the market if people don’t look up something in details before buying into it. I don’t think this comes from the market or media world at all, and, in general, the market only recuperates you if you let them.

I don’t know when I’ll end this chapter, but I want to quickly mention this slogan: think for yourself. If you don’t have a smile on your face at that, please read it again and focus somewhat. Think for myself... because you tell me to? In psychology, this is called a double-bind, because if you actually follow the order – it is, after all, an imperative – then you are in effect not thinking for yourself, but merely following somebody else’s thought. And then again, truly thinking for yourself will make you follow that order too, even if you were already thinking for yourself before it. Pretty silly eh.

The thing I dislike most about those cheap slogans is that somewhere behind them someone thinks they’re saying something that’s actually original, or that needs to be said. As if there were people among us who believed that we shouldn’t think for ourselves and just follow what anyone else says. I’ll fall back on the Pope now, to just let you know that any Catholic follows the Pope because he or she has decided to; if you don’t want to follow the Pope, well, you don’t; it’s as easy as that. Other cheap slogans like be free suppose that we don’t already want to be “free”, whatever that means, and that some of us would rather be slaves; which, it shall be said, if it was their true desire, then they would be free to make that choice, wouldn’t they.

Albeit for a loose connection, I am reminded of advertising against AIDS and unprotected sex. Interestingly enough, invariably, the models posing on those advertisings are hot. I know “sex sells” as they say (or rather, suggested sex sells) but perhaps, just perhaps, trying to arouse the viewer with an advertising about AIDS is bad taste. I already think that selling milk products shouldn’t have any reference to sex in commercials, because the connection is so inexistent that they have to make a semi-porno exposure of the milk-products, and let’s face it, I don’t want to think of sperm when I’m drinking milk. Sperm is fantastic, but come on, don’t put sex into everything, my glass of milk included. And you know I’m not lying! How many times did I see a hot model wipe off milk from her lips? And yeah, I know the usual defence line: you have a perverted mind to see such things in our advertising. My educated response to this is the following: fuck you. I’m tired of them taking us for idiots. How many more ejaculating bottles of champagne will it take? Anyway, I’m off topic for the most part, but I enjoy digressions and I will always stand up for it. I’m also pro-looser essay structures as you can see by my way of writing those things.

How to conclude this. Strictly no idea. See, when I write academic essays, whose structure has to be tighter than a sewed shut asshole, you got to write the introduction, the development, and then the conclusion. That’s the trinity of essay writing in the academic world, and arguably enough, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end to everything. But I think there is room for something looser, more wild and free. I think of Montaigne for instance, whose essays had titles that rarely matched the actual subject of the essay. [That’s an exaggeration.] I don’t like the idea that an essay which doesn’t fit a given pattern has no worth. There is more than one way to express ideas, and, this is important, structures shouldn’t be used as a password between elite people to recognise one another and one another’s worth. Structures are there to help express ideas, they’re not secret handshakes.

Kurt Cobain’s Suicide

19th January 2008

Probably the most well-known icon of what is called the X Generation, Kurt Cobain remains an artist devoutly adored, if not worshipped, by many. Like many other iconic artists, like Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, he too died at the age of 27 at the height of his career and fame, although all, arguably, sell more music today than they ever did. The one difference, generational, if you wish, is that Cobain committed suicide, while the others, for all we know, merely overdosed. Also, compared to the rather peaceful means of dying used by those 60’s folks, Kurt’s shotgun blow to the head is in drastic contrast. Kurt Cobain was no hippie, and for a reminder, the early punk movement was a reaction against the hippies; and as Kurt was a child of that generation whose ideals and dreams all failed, he was, like most of us I suppose, a child of a global failure and grew up in the shadow of that dead dream.

Did Cobain really kill himself? The question remains open, though its official judiciary file does not. Many believe that the leader of Nirvana was in fact murdered, and most point towards his widow – Courtney Love – as the most likely culprit. Some of you might have seen this documentary called Kurt & Courtney if my memory works well, and it is known that she did all she could to keep the movie from being viewed, which naturally failed, and forbade the director to use Nirvana’s music, whose rights she owns.

I think that was not such a good move, because, until I saw that film, I believed that Kurt had been assassinated. One of the main “facts” that made me think so was that, according to Tom Grant, the level of heroin Kurt had in his body at the moment of his death was so high that even a heavy heroin-addict couldn’t have been standing on one leg, let alone shoot a gun. In Kurt & Courtney, it is proved that a regular person, of average weight, no heroin-addict, was able to stand on one leg for over 20 seconds (or something) with the exact dosage of the illicit substance Cobain had in his system, if not twice as much.

Who to believe? And if Cobain was wanting to kill himself, why not peacefully overdose like those ancient Rock’n’Roll heroes? That’s an interesting question, and I saw it before. The reason, I think, is this: people don’t always just want to die or kill themselves when they commit suicide. Sometimes they want to utterly destroy themselves. Otherwise everyone would use overdosing as the means to die. Now, let’s have a quick overview of the weirdest suicides I know of.

The most striking suicide of all is this case where a man tried to kill himself by... introducing pebbles into his rectum. I am not kidding. What makes a man considering death by anal pebbles? What makes a man consider death? If the latter was always a mysterious question, the former was rarely even asked. Certainly, pebbles aren’t the first thing I think of when I consider dying. But know this: the man did eventually die. His odd plan functioned. How do you die from inserting pebbles into your butt? He literally exploded. After a good many pebbles, something broke, and he got internal hemorrhage.

Another odd suicide is this case of a man thoughtful of his friends and family, who wanted to die, but did not want to shock them. Thus, he refused to disfigure himself or any part of his body with a gunshot, and so he resorted to shooting himself where Nature had already endowed him with a hole: the anus. That’s right, the man shot himself in the ass so it’d leave no trace. It worked, insofar as leaving no trace was concerned. As to death, the poor fellow did not die, and his doctor told him kindly not to force that much when introducing suppositories in his dark regions. [There is a lame joke.]

But let’s not get you all cheery about the misery of some of our fellow humans. Know that suicide can be committed in the most fearful ways. To wit, the case of people who kill themselves by ingesting sharp objects. Imagine this: a woman swallows 14 forks and 7 knives, causing her stomach and throat severe injuries; all of which eventually end in death, through internal hemorrhage, I presume. Surely, there are easier ways to go.

Other destructive suicides include death by fire, self-immolation, crashing from heights, etc. And of course, shooting oneself. Suppose Kurt Cobain did want to die and his death is the result of his suicide; then maybe it would not be so surprising that, having lived his life as a “punk”, by which I mean the older punk philosophy with its anti-hippie nature, he did not want to die like a hippie, or let anyone wonder whether he really committed suicide or overdosed by accident. A gunshot to the head is a pretty radical and direct testimony.

Maybe Kurt didn’t want to have his dead face all over the news and decided to destroy that iconic feature of his, which maybe he felt was stolen from him as it became the poster face for a whole generation and more. And indeed, I am not aware of any post mortem photograph of Kurt Cobain. [The only photo I know of is the one where you can see his dead foot, but that hardly counts. Also, Cobain's face was entirely destroyed due to the gunshot.]

Either way, we will assume here that Kurt killed himself, even though there still are things I’d like to know about in that case. Why did Kurt wish to die? This question I will try to answer, though it is not something I think can be easily explained, even for well-known cases.

Moreover, I am definitely not going to say that Kurt was depressed and sad and a sensitive person and all. He was definitely a sensitive person, and had considered suicide before (in Rome, but also in his childhood, if his Journals are to be trusted). One thing I never read anywhere else but in his Journals was his stomach condition.

Cobain was against heavy drugs and specifically condemns heroin in the before-mentioned Journals of his. That much is true; but it is also true that he did use heroin, and when he wrote that, he had tried heroin already. So why did he keep using heroin? The stomach condition. Apparently, he suffered extremely horribly from that stomach pain, and no doctor ever found a reason or a treatment for that. They all gave up on his case, and short of any other resort, Cobain used heroin because it was the only thing that eased his awful pain. Those of ill will may consider this an excuse, but I don’t think Kurt would have needed an excuse to do heroin if he had wanted to do heroin. I don’t recall verbatim how he describes his stomach pain, but I think he compares it to having a Hell inside, or that it burns; at any rate, it was a pain of the incapacitating kind, and obviously intolerable.

Of all the theories, no one mentioned this stomach pain as the possible reason – or rather, one of the reasons – for Cobain’s untimely death. Do you kill yourself because of a tummy ache? I can hear you, people. My answer to this is definitely yes. I’ve had some overwhelming inner pains and however short they were, the idea of dying to avoid such atrocious feelings was already there, not as a plan, but as a sure exit. I also know of someone who was afflicted with terrible stomach aches that no doctor could explain and solve. This kept the person awake at night, continuously suffering, never having a break from it, for years. This person seriously considered suicide. The person was a child when this happened, and so he could not resort to heroin like Cobain did. Eventually, however, this person found a solution and his pain went away before it was too late.

I am sorry that a stomach ache for cause of suicide is way less romantic than a general and existential torment, but I am not sorry at all. Suicide is not cool, it is not beautiful, and it is not something to make you dream or make Cobain look like the icon he became in spite of himself. And yes, reasons to die are often a lot more “trivial” than you may like. But if you had those insane stomach pains constantly and ceaselessly, you’d quickly understand how your life would be seriously ruined.

I did read somewhere that “Cobain sanctified his music through his suicide”, as if Kurt had killed himself to give his art some special aura. In effect, it might have, though Led Zeppelin still live, and are no less of a legend because of it. Nevertheless, the idea that Cobain killed himself for that reason is preposterous: that is no reason to die. Nobody kills themselves for a reason like that. Least of all Cobain. He didn’t seem very concerned about being famous, in the sense that he could very easily live without fame, and so I doubt that robbing himself of so many years of life to “immortalise” his music for who knows how long would have been a reason. The case remains open.

Rest in peace, Mister Cobain!

20 August, 2008

Gay Marriage

29th September 2007

I am currently being quite ill, and thus, it provides me with a sufficient excuse to tackle this much debated issue. If this sucks, it’ll be entirely because I’m ill.

I will begin with my own opinion. My opinion is that, for instance, when two beings have spent years living together and being intimately related, they have a right to be considered family. That is, if one of them has to be hospitalised, the other should have the right to be considered family by the hospital staff, and that for every other issue, such as death, taxes, etc, they should have access to the status of a partner. You don’t have to believe in homosexuality to understand the need for this measure. So I’m pro-civil union or whatever they call it. It’s the least that can be done, and I believe that even George W. Bush is for the civil union. Get back to me on this if that be not the case.

Now, another thing you may have to get back to me about. When people talk about gay marriage, what are they talking about exactly? I see two sides to marriage nowadays: the civil side, at the courthouse, and the religious/cultural side, at the church or some other place convenient for a crowd. That’s what I see. Politics only deals with the first of these. If you’re a Catholic, the country and its president have absolutely no say in your situation because there’s separation of Church and state, and so these are two entirely different things. If as a Catholic you want to marry someone of the same gender, you will have to talk to the Pope about it, the president can’t do anything, and moreover, he is not allowed or entitled to.

Perhaps there is a difference between a legal marriage and a civil union – and quite frankly I wouldn’t know about it – but it seems to me to be fairly the same thing. It’s a legal document, binding two people together which offers them both new rights and duties. It’s a contract. Depending on where you live, it can open doors to lower taxes, specific options, new rights, etc. But it’s basically merely a change of status according to the law. I believe that should be an option to every couple, homosexual or not.

The important fact here is that politicians are not entitled to talk about marriage in its religious aspect. I mean, they can, as people, but they have no specific authority about it in their roles of politicians. No politicians is a relevant actor of the Catholic faith, for instance, unless he also happens to be a priest or some other member of the clergy.

That is where I wonder about why all the fuss. If homosexuals are allowed civil union, what more do you want? Religious marriage? Well that’s all fine with me, but you will have to address actual members of your given religion for that, provided you’re actually religious.

It certainly offends some people that the Catholic Church forbids gay marriage. But let’s be serious for a second: the Catholic Church forbids its followers to marry someone of the same sex, and if you’re part of the Catholic Church, then you must share their beliefs (otherwise you would not be a Catholic) and if you do share its beliefs, then you don’t want to marry someone of the same sex because you know why the Catholic Church is against gay marriage! For those of you who don’t know, the Catholic Church believes that sex should only be used to procreate, not for fun or any other reason. An orgasm that doesn’t find its end in creating a baby is inherently sinful, from the Catholic point of view. If you don’t agree with this, then you’re not a Catholic, and therefore you don’t much care what the Pope has to say or thinks about gay marriage. Right? So there’s no problem and no reason to bitch. The Pope can’t force anyone to believe in Catholicism, and, it shall be remembered, he has no political power of that kind. Being Catholic is a free choice you make, or not. Otherwise you can be a disagreeing Catholic and then you just make-do however you can with your clerical authority, but that’s quite another topic.

Back to some more fundamentals about gay marriage. Nearly every argument I heard against gay marriage was ridiculous. I’ll try to list a few from off the top of my mind (which is all nebulous with flu-esque fog):

It’s a danger to humanity in that it will decrease the number of humans being born.

It’s sick.

It’s a danger to children in that an education given by homosexuals may turn them into homosexuals too.

It’s disgusting.

They take it in the ass! It’s sick!

And many others I naturally forget. Let’s tackle with those. The first one is just lame; we are not living in a world where decrease of our number is a real danger. Quite the contrary, and everyone knows this. Secondly, just because homosexuals can’t marry doesn’t mean they will fall back on a woman (or man) and make babies. As an aside, if homosexual couples were allowed to adopt children, they would do the job of any parents. Which leads me to my second point.

If homosexuals are allowed to educate children, then people are worried about the impact on the kids. It here must be said that a homosexual is a homosexual person and that this defines only his or her sexuality. You don’t define yourself by your sexuality, or so I hope, and whatever you happen to prefer sexually doesn’t bear much of an impact on how you’d educate a child. Would you say loving big boobs has any influence on how you’d educate your son or daughter? I would not. It doesn’t mean anything; it doesn’t matter a single moment what I like sexually with regards to my skills as an educator of children. This is the problem of homosexuals today: their homosexuality is perceived as more than just a sexuality; and to be fair, many gays play along. I don’t think it helps the homosexual cause to try to put more to homosexuality than there is. Many think it’s a lifestyle and everything, but no, homosexuality is just a sexuality; if you turn it into a lifestyle, that’s your choice and responsibility, but being homosexual, essentially, is just a sexuality. You’re attracted to people of your gender, and that’s all there is to it. I wouldn’t think it’s important in raising a child, and if anyone disagrees, then let me know what part of your sexual life you think would influence your children with regards to the education you give them.

The idea that homosexual parents would raise kids who’d become homosexual is preposterous. Most homosexuals had heterosexual parents. Secondly, to make a remark like this you’d have to assume that being homosexual is bad, and perhaps it is, I don’t even discuss that point here. I don’t believe that children need to have exactly two parents of exactly two genders and whatever. I think a child adapts to whatever his or her family happens to be. If we lived in societies where we have 3 fathers and 5 mothers, we’d get along fine. If we lived in societies where there’s one nominal mother for the kids and every male in the tribe is a father to them, we’d get along fine as well. There can only be a difference if, in a given society, you have either less or more parents than others; but it’s only comparative and so, in reality, it doesn’t affect the children very much. There are other factors which would affect a child a lot more. Say having abusive parents, or unloving parents. Best to have one good parent than two bad ones. Best to have two homosexual loving parents than two unloving heterosexual ones. So the deal is this: if you want to forbid parenthood to a certain category of people, homosexuals, then I want my own categories not to be allowed parenthood too. That would include idiots and unloving motherfuckers. I think an idiot would do a lot of damage to a child trying to raise him/her, and so that is ample reason not to allow that person to be a parent. Sounds unfair? Well, perhaps, but no more than forbidding a homosexual person to be a parent.

Where the thing becomes a total joke is here: homosexual couples can’t adopt a child, but a homosexual individual can. You are allowed to adopt a child as a single person, regardless of your sexual preferences, but not if you happen to have a partner. In reality, what every homosexual wanting to adopt a child does is to adopt it on behalf of just one of the two. So it comes down to the same, except that only one of the two gets to have legal rights over the child, and that’s not an optimal situation for the child, or the other partner.

By the way, if paragraphs don’t quite link, I don’t care. They surely do on some level or other, even if just loosely. Bear with me, I’m ill. So, what now. Should homosexuals be allowed to marry? Let’s see what happens if they are: instead of living together as concubines, they live together as married people. Big deal.

I understand that most anti-gay marriage people are so because they believe homosexuality to be wrong, unnatural, sick, perverted, etc. But even if homosexuality was all this, would that be a sufficient reason to forbid homosexual marriage? The question is worth asking. I don’t have a problem with saying that homosexuality is abnormal, and don’t you get all shocked and call me a Nazi. Abnormal means not normal, and normal means within the norm, and the norm is just a mathematical thing, it’s a number. It’s all just a comparison of numbers, there’s no moral judgement in that statement of mine. If 6% of the population is homosexual (that’s the number I hear most often), then it is definitely not the norm. That’s all I’m saying. There are many more things with even less people and it doesn’t make it intrinsically perverted, make no mistake. I’m just saying it’s counter-productive to try to pass something abnormal as normal, because it just isn’t. Call a cat a cat and down with political correctness. I’ve used the word homosexual more often than the word gay because I see no demeaning aspect to the word homosexual. Things go wrong when we start to assume that everyone means more than the words they use.

See, even if homosexuality was a problem, something to be cured, well I would still not condone a ban on homosexual marriage. Mental illness is a problem, and if homosexuality truly is a problem, it’s definitely a mental one, and people who suffer from mental illnesses aren’t forbidden to marry. Maybe that’s too far-fetched, I’ll concede that to you, but you get my point.

I don’t believe that homosexuality is a choice because I can’t recall choosing to be heterosexual. It never seemed an option to me, and so, instead of believing that homosexuals make the choice of being homosexual, which is, to heterosexual, a choice against their liking, I’d rather believe that homosexuals and me just don’t have the same original tastes. Disgusted heterosexuals are so because they think that homosexuals feel the same as they (the disgusted heterosexuals) do about sex with someone of the same gender. Mistake! You guys aren’t given the same bases. I wasn’t given what it takes to sexually desire another man, so I can’t relate to a male homosexual, but I know enough to know that there’s a basic difference and that the different taste comes from there, and not from choice, which would be just absurd. Besides, why would anyone choose to be homosexual? I don’t see anything that would make that condition so appealing.

I agree to the idea that perhaps we are all mostly bisexual and define our sexual preferences because of the environment we live in, but with caution. I don’t think that the environment can be so influential, as proven by homosexuals who grew up in heterosexual contexts. In most civilised countries, it’s relatively ok to be homosexual, and it’s not like you have to tell the whole world about it, and so there’s little trouble about being homosexual; which means that if societial pressure was the only reason not to choose to become homosexual, then a lot more people would make this choice. Thing is, they don’t, because it’s not a choice. You’re either gay or you’re not, and people who came back from homosexuality are just bisexual. This is a lot more gradual and graduated than commonly perceived.

Now a word for Christians and non-Christians alike. Generally, Christians are supposed to be against homosexuality, but I would like to stress out that Jesus Christ never spoke against homosexuals, and talked very little about sexual matters, because, I believe, it’s just details really. I do not appreciate Christian beliefs being used and abused to excuse psycho-rigidity and other farts of the mind. So that’s for Christians and non-Christians alike.

If homosexuality is a problem, then it must have a solution. But it hasn’t a solution, meaning that you can’t change someone’s sexual orientation. I don’t see how I would be made into a homosexual, for instance. I don’t think I’m solvable like that, nor do I believe homosexuals are. So what can we do? Force homosexuals to live a fake heterosexual life and be sad? That doesn’t sound like a good plan to me, on every level of it. Whether you think it’s a sin, a mental disease, or anything, the fact remains that it wouldn’t help to force homosexuals to be deprived of the love they need. And don’t you tell me that love has nothing to do with sex, otherwise I demand you start dating people of your own gender (if you’re heterosexual) and tell me later on that it doesn’t matter what body your date had. But then again, love has nothing to do with sex, too, and so it doesn’t matter what genders loving people have. Right?

That’s the thing with marriage, I see it as the union of two souls, if those exist, and I hope they do, and for all I know, souls don’t have bodies, and thus don’t have genders. I readily admit I could be wrong about the angel-like state of souls as being genderless, but let’s keep it that way for this here paragraph. If souls aren’t gendered, then it’s just your body that is, and so it doesn’t really matter intrinsically what bodies you’re attracted to physically as long as you love correctly.

Meditate on the following: if we had no sexual desires, we would be neither homosexual nor heterosexual.

Then what else to say... Oh yeah, back to why gay marriage is so dangerous. That’s something I hear often, that homosexual marriage is a threat to marriage, nation, and everything. How is homosexual marriage a threat to the values of marriage? Do they change? The values of marriage, I think, are about devotion to the other in love and respect. Whether there are two penises or just one [or none] doesn’t seem to make a difference in that deal. So which values are under attack?

Generally, the idea is that the homosexual couple is a threat to marriage, nation, society, etc., because they cannot procreate. But see, that’s where it’s stupid: sterile couples would then be a threat to marriage, nation, and society too, which is just equally ridiculous. And as I pointed out earlier, homosexuals couples can’t raise children because they are not allowed to do so as a married couple, or just a couple. If you don’t allow them to raise kids, don’t blame them of that too! Dammit. Being a parent means a lot more than just shooting sperm down a woman’s sex, right? In fact, that alone is not being a parent, just a fucker. Being a parent means being there for a child and educating him or her and providing for his/her well-being. That’s a parent, and your sexuality has little to do with it.

Do you think heterosexual married couples who enjoy butt-sex are worse parents because of it? If yes, I am dying of curiosity to know how and why.

I think I said most of what I wanted to say. I’ll conclude on reminding you that homosexuality does not define people, but people’s sexualities. Don’t let someone’s homosexuality pervade throughout that whole person and define everything about them. You’re only homosexual in your sexuality. Collecting tea-cups is not homosexual, it’s just collecting tea-cups (and I use that example because I’ve seen it on TV in some silly show). Even butt-sexing someone isn’t per se homosexual. Take me for instance, I could butt-fuck 20 males in a row, I’d still not be homosexual. Know why? Because I don’t desire males! No matter how many I’d do in the butt, it won’t change how I don’t feel about them. Being homosexuals is only about that: desiring people of the same sex. Being a man and doing another man in the ass is a homosexual act, but that doesn’t mean you are as a person (although, granted, you’d have to be pretty weird to do a man in the butt if you’re not homosexual, but I’m talking theoretically to get my point across).

I’ll end this in those beautiful words of mine: you’re only homosexual in your sexuality.

On Painting

Circa 2005

I was never naturally gifted at either drawing or painting. And this is true and you have to believe me; many don't in view of my recent work but I assure you I had no more gift than any balls-scratching monkey out there.

I first started with watercolours. Since I was sadly hopeless at drawing anything that looked like reality, I decided to play around with water and watercolours. This would be most of the watercolours paintings you can find in my gallery. I started that in 2001. I wanted to paint but I wasn't naive as to my actual skills, I had none. So that was the result of a will without the skills. But I'm still quite happy about these, I knew what I wanted to do and it mostly worked out fine, I think.

The real trigger to improvement was when I started trying to draw faces. That was very hard because I knew I had no skills, and like most people who "can't" draw, I thought I didn't have the necessary "gift" for it and that trying was merely pretentious and pathetic. But I'm stubborn. So I tried. And the result was horrible. I had tried to draw a most beautiful woman's face, and the result looked like some horrible tiger-looking mongoloid alien from Mars. I was gutted and felt like utter shite, but I'm stubborn. So I tried again. New results were still horrible, but slightly better. And I kept trying and trying, seeing a little spark of progress.

Then one day, Hallelujah, something looked like something. The real trigger was to realise that it's not in the hand, but in the eye, and that the real one true way to learn how to draw/paint is to LOOK. Look closer, then things appear. And that's when it becomes really fascinating: you start to see more in your every day life. For instance, when I tried to draw portraits, I paid high attention to shadows and stuff; consequently, I started to be much more aware of those shadows on people's faces in my daily life. And I swear that's more impressive than it sounds. I'd look at teachers and then I'd see how the shadows were shaped on their skin. And that's like some sort of mind-expansion sort of thing. Quite trippy in a way. Really fascinating because it's something I never expected to learn from drawing/painting.

So that's basically when I realised that probably everyone can draw and paint. And since then I pushed everyone I knew to give it a try, and I explain how it worked for me and how it could work for them. I can be quite a pusher. Remember, it's in the eye not in the hand. That's the most important thing I learned. Technically you all can manipulate a pen and a brush, there's nothing magic about it; the real trick is to look at something and see more deeply than you would in an every day life context. In your every day life you don't need to see exactly how shadows are shaped on people's faces, so you don't pay attention. That's how our brains work, there's so much information that it needs to select stuff in the raw material of vision and dispatch it into bigger baskets just so your mind won't explode into an LSD trip from hell. Using your eye to look closer is the opposite process; you try to see what's out there in its infinity and all its details. And that's a fascinating journey, believe me.

Computer Consciousness is Crazy Crap

2nd May 2007

Yes, I like to make up cool titles, even if the accuracy of them as far as the chapter is concerned may not be of the highest quality. This is something I hear often in these modern days, that in some near future, computers will be conscious.

That is no little claim. First of all, who does understand what it means to be conscious? I don't. I am conscious, and I never understood how this was possible, and how it could ever work at all. I could literally spend hours just trying to analyse my own consciousness; and despite this worthy effort, I would still not figure out anything whatsoever.

The scientists who claim that computers will some day be conscious tend to think of the brain as the seat of consciousness. They think the brain is a machine, which it is, and that this is the only thing there is to consciousness; and thus, in all logic, that a machine can somehow create consciousness. I am a total ignorant of informatics on that level, I'll readily admit to that, but I think that reducing consciousness to the fruit of a machine is wrong.

How do you create consciousness? Computers are very dumb, which itself is an anthropocentric comment. They are mere machines. No matter how much you multiply the operations they make, they will always remain nothing but machines. Even if you managed to create a brain, and have it function like a human brain, it would still remain nothing but a machine. I cannot picture how a machine would produce consciousness.

What is at stake here is the very nature of humanity. If machines can be made conscious the way we are, then what are we? If your memory and thoughts can be transferred into a machine, then we will be immortal, but will we really exist? Maybe there's a way to transfer human ideas and brain data into a machine, but I'm not convinced you'd still exist, even if there was a machine that seemed to think just like you. This pseudo-scientific notion of the brain and consciousness implies that there are no souls and that our consciousness is purely material (which I'm not saying is an idiotic conception, but I don't think it's the only way). I base most of my idea that there are indeed souls on NDE's (Near Death Experience) and everything we have on ghosts and spirits. Maybe that sounds shaky to you, maybe not. But the fact remains that people whose brains were clinically dead without any activity were still able to recall moments and exact details as seen from outside their bodies. What this entails is that consciousness can work outside the brain, and more importantly that the brain is not the seat of consciousness, but a useful machine for it.

I'm not talking with much authority here, but I think that even without those considerations on souls we can still say that making conscious machines is impossible. Consciousness can't be an addition of maths! I don't care how many trillions of operations you have a machine make, that is no direct cause of consciousness! There is no reason to think, as far as I can see, that mechanical operations somehow create consciousness in the long run. I just don't see it, and no scientists ever explained that one. I'm familiar with this stuff about "firing" neurones and all, but that too doesn't explain consciousness.

I might be wrong but I see no good explanation on why and how we are conscious. I'm familiar with Jung's theory on how consciousness evolved, though, and I think it has a point, but that doesn't explain how we had anything to evolve in the first place. You can have your consciousness analyse itself for years and still never know how it works. It's like driving a car from the driver's seat (where else...), you'd never find out how the engine functions.

Moreoever, I'm really against all this crap that scientists want to do on us, apparently. They think of updating our brains with computer material, to give use bigger memories, and more abilities. Well, I don't want to have humans mess with my body in that way. I don't trust humans as much as I trust nature itself. The human body is a pretty damn well made thing, and to mess with it on such a high scale would be both pretentious and irresponsible. We don't know all that much about things, so we shouldn't alter so radically something whose entire set of functions we mostly ignore. They say we are unaware of 80% of what the brain does; I don't know if that number is true or what, but if so, that's pretty big an unknown.

We have to remain humans, and, I think, have more faith in what we are than in what we think we know. I also think, on another level, that scientists should concern themselves with the topic of souls much more seriously. I may be wrong, as often, but having souls is the only way I explain consciousness. It's nothing but magic! It's beyond our understanding, apparently. I emphasise that I might be completely wrong on this, but so far, I don't see any other edible explanation.

There is probably a reason why our brains function the way they do, why we have an unconscious, and there is probably a reason for every mechanics of those cortexes of ours. I don't think it'd be wise to go meddle with this stuff before we have a full understanding of it (which we may never have). Here is the problem: if I have a computer which doesn't work as well as I think it should, I could consider opening it up and messing with its electronic innards, but, since I am no professional of computer engineering, I would certainly not try that. Why would you go on about altering a complicated machine whose functions you ignore? That is, I think, where the scientific community in general falters. While they claim to be objective and empirical, they completely set aside certain questions, and that for no objective or empirical reasons. The question of souls comes to mind; I never hear of that one when it comes to computers becoming conscious.