the vio.l.enc.e of good deed(s)

Click Here to Watch Clip:

“If you think a weakness can be turned into a strength, I hate to tell you this, but that’s another weakness” – Jack Handy, Saturday Night Live

if you do this ONE act you will then be perceived as a saint. if you care for the poor then society will be better, if you feed a man a meal he will be fed for a day, but if you teach him a skill, he will be fed for a lifetime. i think there is something deeply wrong with good deeds and the perverse assumptions that follow after the wake of philanthropy.

but lets start somewhere before an act takes place. let’s start with the idea itself: good deeds.

the good in good deeds assumes also that bad deeds can exist, not just that, to have good deeds there must be bad deeds. but what is good? who gets to define for us ‘what is good?’
is it something benevolent? does it speak of the state of the person or the event occurring? for good to be true of itself something bad must have had to occur prior to the eruption of good. good isn’t something that just happens. it relies upon something former. a catastrophe. essentially, the good disrupts THAT catastrophe. by being what though? by being the opposite of bad? i think that premise does not account for the violence of good acts.

in fact it stereotypes the world into dualistic categories that promotes the shelves and compartments by which we interpret reality and relationships. it is not that good acts are bad in and of themselves but the way in which we interpret them and they in turn interpret us will determine the direction of our society.

this is not some childish overstated case, once we figure out good deeds maybe we can actually participate in the better world that the intention of good deeds might have initially wished for. but if the world is categorically cut into pieces (you are a girl, you live over there, she is a farmer, god is up there, satan is down there, brothers, sisters, black, white and etc.) then all we do is continue the distance in the name of philanthropy. we do nothing more than attempt to embrace the other all the while pushing them further into their self-fulfilled prophecies.

we are all familiar with the story of the pastor who takes some of his congregation on a mission trip out the african bush to do some philanthropic work with some tribes. by the time they leave they have built an outhouse for the tribe to use. when the team returns the following year they are stunned to find that there beloved outhouse has been turned into a storage facility. although, this story represents good intentions, what is good about it? it has taught a tribe to generalize that westerners will do whatever the hell they want just as long as it gives them a chemical high and some pictures to show their local congregation. it also demonstrates that as westerners we think happiness comes in the form of commodities, in the perverse form of having things. it also paints a violent picture that what is useful to me must be useful to you. it obscenely universalises hegemony but hides these acts within a title that seems to convey itself as spirit of well-being.

and then acts, what of acts? what are they?

an action is a form of movement or response. it is the exploitation of time in a moment of nothingness. it is the undertaking of a performance based response. it is the demand that something must be done. something must be ACTed upon.

in the move clip above steve martin’s character attempts to inspire michael caine’s character into a form of what most would deem as a bad act, which in this case, is the exploitatiion of the opposite sex. his act emerges out of a defense that women’s money should be taken. his argument, albeit flimsy is enough to encourage michael caine’s character into a career as a con artist. but do you see what happens.

the act itself has to be inspired by something, it can’t emerge on its own, so the whole claim that someone has pure motives cannot be true. and this is not a bad thing, for purpose can be used for great aims. but we must be willing to push the boundaries further on the violence of good deeds if we are to take seriously the horizon of philanthropy.

Coke Side of Life: Coca-Cola Art Remix

good deeds do not equal contextual awareness
this is the same for good acts, for a bad event must occur before the perceived good act to arrive on the scene. sometimes good deeds provides this idealistic notion that once the act is performed all will be well, this also happens with the christian ideology behind prayer, that somehow once the prayer (‘a good deed’?) is enacted then only goodness can emerge, and we all know this just isn’t true.

the predominant narrative behind good acts throughout history also has a thread running through it, it is the thread of the bourgeois. although some of us might not think of ourselves in this way, i am using this term in the purist marxist sense possible. more specifically, in terms of trying to globalize everything in our path, trying to make everything so overtly accessible and similar that in the end no distinction is even alive.
no, this might not be the intention of globalization, but it sure is the aftermath. it relies upon some context where globalization must emerge from. and good deeds rely upon the same.

the good act exploits a need and attempt to convince the receiver it must have this object (sound familiar? watch a commercial) and after receiving it their need will be met. i think one response is also sustainability, which i think something like micro-financing promises, which is a step in the right direction because the receiver has to work for the object of desire and then create enough revenue to assist another. for me this is a sacred notion. good is however is not, it is a violent notion fueled by the ultimate question: how does this act help me?

again, i am not speaking of intentions here, as they old overused maxim says: actions speak louder than words. as good and noble as intentions might be (a la christian mission trips, international development agencies that thrive on the philanthropic model and etc.) they do not account for the context, in fact, they eradicate the context and the people in it. it is not that they simple sustain the status of the ‘other’, they imply that the ‘other’ is so much the ‘other’ that their opinions do not matter, nor does their voice, history, culture and context. for they are nothing more than a fiction that must be disregarded…

inn.o.cence is a 1968 de.l,us.ion

Click link to watch clip: the russia house

we tend to speak of innocence as something that we either have lost or gained or can quite possibly re-gain. in the movie ‘the russia house’ there is a moment where michelle pfiefer’s character begins a conversation with ‘do you remember 1968?’ – right in this moment, the movie begins a jilted sequence of flash-backs with her narrating what to her might have been a time of innocence.

to her, innocence is an idea trapped by/in time. and it cannot be gained again. only in memory or repetition can innocence be regained. for memory itself is form of repressed repetition. we repeat the sequence of events, and in that moment we re-experience the feelings, be they good or bad, we might even remember the tastes, smells and words that were said as if we were there all over again.

let’s think of memory as an absence of the present. for memories tend to refer to some sort of past event. nostalgia fits in this category. when we sit and remember our first kiss, or when we remember our first bicycle, or our first broken heart – its as if we live that exact moment over and over again. we desire nothing more to attempt to perfect moments, and crystallize them into a form of encased reality, but the tragedy of those moments is that we will never get them back. for the most part rememberance is a form of mourning. either through wishing that the moment would re-appear or either through the catharsis of letting it all go.

the truth is innocence in its traditional context does not exist. no one is innocent in that sense. let me explain. we sometimes equate innocence to naivete (some sort of lack of knowledge of either evil or something not beneficial to a person’s development), the reality is, once someone enters the world a knowing of some sort occurs, either through the eyes, ears or nose. this kind of innocence is born out of something that does not exist. which in short, is a delusion.

this also begs the question of ethical secret-keeping. is there such a thing?

do we not tell someone something because it might preserve their ‘innocence’? (much like in the movie ‘the truman show’ where everyone but jim carrey’s character is aware that reality as he knows it is simulated. but isnt that a perverse sense of pseudo-innocence when we preserve naivete? this isn’t to say that we should expose children to obscene pictures of the holocaust, of course, discretion must be employed, but at what or who’s cost must it be employed? the longer we preserve this kind of ‘disneyland innocence’ (meaning that happiness can be obtained through consumerism (i.e., you are buying a ticket to ‘the happiest place on earth’) when in reality happiness is an attitude not a narcotic.

memories of the innocence type play on an absence in that the event that has past is no longer present. it relies on the memory to partake in the illusion of presence when in reality the memory itself is absent. and if innocence is a memory then it can be nothing more than an illusion we repeat.

our culture preserves itself through nostalgia. if you turn on your television and notice the majority of commercials center around age and the prevention of getting old. we want to preserve that which is impossible -immortality. we seek after the fountain of youth all the while knowing this object does not exist. but we need the object to exist to give our life meaning. we need innocence so we can forget how perverse the world has become. but, in reality, the best way to preserve innocence is to work together to remove those objects, systems, beliefs and so on in place that keep us from who we once were. this is not some naive communist notion of altruistic perfect community, but more akin to the jewish tikkun olam where we work together to repair the world of the divine that already inhabits it.

a new kind of terrorism

Julian Assange Wikileaks named Man of the Year by Le Monde

terrorism is that which is an attentive over-saturation of a subject or idea. it is not the commitment to an idea. take for an example, a suicide bomber who erupts onto the scene with a block of C4 strapped to their chest. They don’t want to die, but because of their over-saturation to an idea they must die. this is very different from the traditional concept in the word commitment.

commitment tends to be driven by desire.

a desire either for some type of change or for some type of progress to occur. television is a form of terrorism. because it assumes its place is to provide its audience with an over-attentive over-saturation of mediated facts. it does nothing to enforce justice,relieve poverty, or preserve life.

it is the highest form of terrorism because it commits itself to nothing. it promises only unmediated events yet is mediated by the television, by the act of teleprompting. by some big other. most terrorism is filtered through some sort of perverse other.

take for instance, in the life of one of jesus’ disciples, his name was peter. rome was a natural terrorist, they attempted to control the world – reality is everyone knew it. their terrorism was visceral. any person, object or moment that attempt to destroy another person for their own self-gain is a natural terrorist. one who is led by nothing more/less than simple blood lust.

in a moment of sheer self-committed weakness peter becomes over-saturated by his own self-preservation and fear. his attentiveness to it is what drives his acts and words from that point forward. although his intent might be pure, his actions dictate the ‘other’ that he serves in that moment. for all intense purposes he is one of the terrorists who sent jesus to the cross.

now, this isn’t to demonise peters’ denial of christ, but the reality is that peter is a microcosm of what has happened to the world today. the cliche we have become accustomed to hearing is that bad things happen when good men do nothing. but i think there is a fatal flaw in this thinking.

Terrorism

because it assumes that the bad thing wouldn’t have occurred if the good man did something. even when good men do something, bad things still happen. like in the movie gran torino, the curmudgeonly protagonist played by clint eastwood ends up dying for the neighbours he loves to hate to imprison a set of gang members who antagonised their own family members who he became friends with.

but throughout the movie he encounters other gang members. what the movie does not deal with is the reality that his death was ultimately in vain because it did not deal with all of the gangs. the system in place. however altruistic/salvific (he dies with he arms outstretched, like Christ) his death did not deal with the systemic issue of gang violence.

it simply was a form of vengeance in reverse. true violence occurs when we allow those systems that oppress, marginalize, kill, devalue and destroy any human.

when we repress our innate responsibility not to just act but to dismantle those systems in place that dissolve the human spirit, we do nothing less, in that moment then join in the terrorism that ends the very life we ourselves stand for.

in its most simplest form, terrorism is when we allow systems to overrun how we interpret one another, our value, ethics & desire.

theorist Jean Baudrillard thought that images were evil. that over time the image would become so over-saturated (overused) that it would lose its meaning. and that the image itself would take the place of the object along with the meaning. so, even the meaning of the object would be replaced by whatever took its place. and that over the course of the process the ‘real’ thing would cease to exist in this thing we call reality. and we would worship the image over the pure (untouched object). this has also happened with god. god has been removed from churches, theology and everything in between. the object we are meant to relate to has become the very idol we ourselves choose to interpret and understand. this is why there has been a historical fe

tell a fone

lady gaga & beyonce – telephone

Don’t write anything you can phone. Don’t phone anything you can talk. Don’t talk anything you can whisper. Don’t whisper anything you can smile. Don’t smile anything you can nod. Don’t nod anything you can wink. — Earl Long

the telephone is a form of terrorism. you see this in the movie the matrix. this is the mode of transportation used by neo and the others. what does it do? it diminishes the person into literal soundbytes. it deconstructs humanity down to nothing more than wavelengths. it takes meaning and suppresses it. but most people use a telephone today. i have ventured to regions where there is so much poverty yet the people groups can afford a telephone or a cell phone.

it’s a tool for communication, but is it? we tend to think of communication as an exchange of sorts. while one person talks, the other listens and so on. but isn’t it even more perverse than that, the phone itself mediates our communication. it carries our message from one end of the earth to the other. and so in a telephone conversation you are never alone. this is not about conspiracy theories, but rather about the mediation of conversation. and for the most part because of new technology we have forgotten how to speak for ourselves, why? because the telephone will do it for us. for all intense purposes the telephone is an object of desire.

Inspiration Inside

we desire communication, but not pure communication, for the telephone instills within us the desire to communicate through mediated avenues. but this is so much more than a telephone, the reality is that a lot of our ability to communicate tends to be mediated. what about the married couple who are struggling to stay together? they then venture off to ask for help (aka, mediation) from a local shrink. or what about a person who is invited to speak at an event and they bring ‘props’ with them to make their point, is it not the same that these objects or props speak for the speaker. it is not that thes are bad in and of themselves, it is that we are then mediated by these things under the guise of pure experience.

lady gaga’s song ‘telephone’ (*click the link above for video and lyrics) demonstrates the frustration with a mediated reality. it is in her reaction to the telephone that gives us some insight to freedom from audio terrorism. it is the complete disregard that needs to be taken note of, that the phone is what desires us (yes, i know in the song she is referring to a guy/girl – but what if she was actually referring to the phone itself?) – impure communication (i define this as communication that is mediated for us) draws us in with the promise of pure communication. with the met desires of intimate contact. we might desire the contact while the phone becomes nothing less of a symbol that represents the desire but masks itself as if to claim it is the desire we seek.

The Closed Door

in our culture the telephone has become an icon of communicative connection. but in reality it is a semiotic for communicational dysfunction. it is a constant reminder of our inability to fully communicate. this is not to say we should all go out and throw away all of our phones, but it is a ‘call’ to begin communicating purely. to not rely on that which mediates reality for us.

it is a realization that this object that promises connection is another form of disconnection. it is the fragility held within this object that reminds us of our own fragility. that when we seek out communication we tend to hope for pure connection but in the end are forced to settle for impure connection. we desire the phone because it masks the fear of our inability to speak. we have lost the ability to speak for ourselves. it masks our fears of not knowing how to handle life without technology. and also demonstrates to us the fear of being alone.

poem: same word…

it peers at me from below
whispering to me words i
don’t want to know

in the gap between the silence and
the word
i am the anxiety sweating through your
pores
like the raven: no more, no more, no more
i taste the lethargic betrayal in your tone
and cant seem to run away from the gold
hiding in your bones
you are the system that tries to hide
the home that no one can seem to deny
and there is more to you and me
then meets the eye

if only i could kiss that which i cannot see
would i be more me

more me?

erase all the words that hide me true
and walk into the darkness of a forest
beyond the truth
may i be ruthless in my disdain
and allow breathing room for grace
to rain
and let the water fall on me out into
the drain

i will get up the courage one day
and all will be well
once i rescue myself from this
need to believe in that which
believes for me

release, redemption & betrayal
they all seem the same word