Last stop: The end of my teens


Plenty of twists and turns are now behind me in the space between the beginning and right here. I’ve reached that milestone, and I think by now it goes without saying.

Our lives aren’t as captivating or provocative as we like to think they are. Not to brush this off by saying we’re ultimately human. Instead, I think the finality of our lives’ content pulls the veil back from a central and sobering reality: We just kind of exist and do things. We fill empty things with what we like, and a lot of people do this so many times over that nothing is truly it’s own distinct substance positioned on any winning side beyond our own invention.

I think when we try to make sense of life, we’re bound to distinguish between experiences accounting for circumstance (cause and effect) and setting. I use “distinguish” in a very precise way; to underscore contrasting elements of substance that certainly went through the wringer, but impact differently depending on who encounters them. Doing this normally leads us to conclude that the individual experience is as close to relative certainty as we can get. And that seems to always be the goal. To continually overcome uncertainty, being necessary to secure some inner peace. Contentment.

Considering life this way, I’m more inclined to accept how little I’ve done up to this point. I’m more at peace with the conclusion of that period and where it left me. At least my shortcomings existed in a sort of vacuum. But while things in the end are meaningless, this doesn’t mean it’s pointless to look for reason in the madness, or to create it. The absence of meaning is probably a reason to create your own.

So, you’ve acknowledged that coherence will never be given to you on a silver platter, and ventured to derive some from your own experience. Here lies the catch. Personal experience isn’t always pleasant, especially when it’s of the existential sort measured in birthdays, changing shape every five to fifteen years.

There aren’t any answers toward the end to expect. Only angry moments of disappointment and frenzy in real time. Bills. Rent. Why you can’t think straight. Your health problems. There is no time whatsoever to pause and investigate. None of these moments work well with each other, they don’t form a larger whole, and no discernible truth has come from the experiments so far. The cycle eats itself. At the end, you’re really just gravitated to live out the hypotheses without method. That I’m told, is a very liberating point in your life. Where uncertainty becomes the exhale of your whole life, and your desires outlast everything (as far as you know.)

To me, this is the sum of existence. Or at least one way of imagining it.

But I’m not at that point of relief, and I can’t just keep reminding myself that I’ll get there someday. You don’t get a break from hunger by the idea of tomorrow’s lunch. So how do you face the reality that 240 months of your millisecond flash in eternity has gone by? Not disappointed by what you have or haven’t done, but unnerved by the simple fact of time passing and what that could mean for future experiences?

Getting off the brief adventure that was my teenage years feels like the last stop on one or two of a series of travels. A final chance for something significant. An urgent and narrow opportunity to grab something before it expires on me. I’ve talked to so many people who recall chaotic teenage years right the middle of a great social hysteria, while my own are spent at home, all year every year. Alone in small towns, isolated and bland. Mortified of the uncertain. It feels like making up for that in my twenties will bend the fence of my character compared to those I’ll associate with going forward. Should I be ashamed of this, or embrace it?

For whatever reason, I think of Trainspotting (1996) Who am I most similar to: Renton, or Spud? How might I reconstruct this point in life?

Resolving this intimate gloom is different for each individual. It depends on the trades you find yourself invested in, the people you bite your lip for, or the words you write that nobody else reads. For some, this is the end for one set of adventures, probably one where nothing was restricted. For me, it’s a curious glance at what I’m willing to go through for a few tranquil moments before my 30s going on 40s, and where to seek refuge afterward.

None of this is to advocate an obvious point of deterioration. We all rot into oblivion at different rates, but every person has a point in time where they shine brightest. I think it’s worth talking about it, always curious if we’re living it now while admiring the brevity of everything we can ever hope to know. Roughly ten years of elapsed time is good enough for me to reflect on, to chart where things are going; if only for the hell of it.

When you carve a statement into prose about yourself, it’s hard to fool anyone. At least, anyone who matters. You can lie and have everyone know it, but you’re always honest to yourself in the moments between thinking and speaking. You’re the only one who has to bare that emotional labor. You might even take comfort in coming back down to earth. One way or another, truth that only comes from the person living the life in question slips through, heard or not.

I endured new ruminations on what is “ultimate” or “final” in the course of all this. Although I’m not drawing up a final testament before my death, I value the graceful closure of one stage of my life and what I see in it looking back. Maybe I’m just afraid of important moments slipping away, even if I know better ones are bound to come along later. Maybe I genuinely like getting lost in memory, telling myself points A, M and V were the best three out of the others. All neatly sorted with the knowledge that I’ll never have these a second time.

I might have an opportunity to hold my present and future selves accountable to one another, while using past excursions and blunders to hold it all together in the hope of doing better. Though I never want one point in my life to hold every proceeding experience to, there is no safety net of contentment better than leaving a trail for the future self back to a trusted place if things go bad.

After scrawling a few different prefaces, I’m giving myself at least one week of time to collect these scraps of thought and synthesize them into streamline prose; giving the illusion of a consistent and clear thought process behind this article’s production.

I’ll just go through some highlights.

Who is right, who can tell and who gives a damn right now?
Until’ the spirit, new sensation takes hold, then you know

I don’t consider thirteen to have been a fruitful first year of my “teens.” While it was probably the peak of my desire to sort and document things, it didn’t resemble much of the road I still travel, nor is it fully relevant for it.

That said, I like to pay it tribute it for a weird scholarly phase when I learned the basic definition of philosophy. The first name I steeped myself in was Kierkegaard. Either/Or specifically, from Books-A-Million with the money I saved up that summer. At the time, I couldn’t hope to really grasp the concepts of Christian existentialism or Angest and interact with them significantly. But I did gain an impression of the fragility of the charted world’s framework, and it’s poor foundation in the surface level of our minds. Søren’s melancholic charm was also something of a treat for my young feelings toward men.

I’d give it two more years before getting somewhere familiar. I had a number of these impressions stored up with a bit of constructive interaction going on between them. It was just enough to give me a sense of real perspective, first emerging in the social and interpersonal spectrum of issues. I picked these up somewhere between Marx, Kropotkin, Tolstoy and Thoreau. It was exciting that these things had more to do with why things were happening now and how the past informs the present, rather than asking questions about “god” and eternity. The shift from existential and speculative, to immediate and foresighted. A slow, personal divorce from sanctity and a gravitation to realistic projects. This played out at different times: Commending Aaron Swartz and his legacy in online organizing, Internet legislation and the “modern web.” Supporting Edward Snowden’s revelations of global NSA surveillance. Advocating for free culture. My energy had more in common with the present than the present forcing itself on me.

It’s interesting when I think about how my social/political energy redirected over three years. I used to have all my passion stored into Internet freedom: The idea that the Internet is the one thing that people should control and be responsible for, not authorities of any kind, state or private. I think that was a good starting point for my overall philosophy, which meant that it would have to grow out of whatever box it started in. It would eventually find itself side-by-side with ideas that critique capitalism, stratification, expectations of conformity and power imbalance on a variety of axes.

At eighteen, this was changing form through the course of politics that year. Shortly after I stopped taking Bernie Sanders and the election seriously, I was changing political labels and buying different leftist and anarchist literature every three months. Internet freedom was soon meshed with a more general perspective of social change.

Now, just replace the Internet and people’s electronic possessions with every part of life. Whether it’s the joys and spoils of material excess, or the most basic necessities of survival, we have to own all of this and interact with it indivisibly, freely and equally, and establish clear habits to make this arrangement the most agreeable reality. It’s not up to any master to enforce their will upon us at the expense of what we love. At least, it isn’t desirable; yet the conversation gets caught up in whether that thing is or isn’t what someone claims it is. As far as I’ve unearthed, people who advocate against this are in an abusive relationship with something not out of the question to be overcome someday by future generations. Generations of people who had to put their lives on hold for the failures of those before them.

Every logic to the contrary offers nothing. Not a better idea, not a more lasting method. It only wants to pull us back into the tired old misery. It tells us the same thing we oppose in a different way. We have to discard things like this and keep answering to ourselves against all odds. Seeing how right and wrong, whether on a scale of “morality”, “practicality” or “efficiency”, is totally fabricated for the benefit of a variety of elites with only their accumulation of power and wealth in mind, it proved to me that life is kind of awful most of the time. After a while, some questions go unanswered for so long that people can’t hold any self-respect ignoring them anymore. They’re compelled to prove that they’re better than that. To do what feels obvious.

So ends my noteworthy evolution in that regard. The most recent development is probably my gravitation toward an anarchism without adjectives, spelled out nicely by Aragorn! and Voline. One that disregards excessively prefiguring a hypothetical future world. Instead, it favors proactive engagement with the present and associations of individuals living out their desires. It values anarchist projects equally for whatever reasons those involved decide on, and whatever methods are necessary for their common interest. But this has more to do with widening or obscuring boundaries than moving beyond something. A pattern I found myself falling in and out with.

Maybe the emotional sphere of my teens hasn’t been as constructive as I’d like in that sense. There is nil to gain from widening those particular boundaries, reducing oneself to one or two jaded emotional gears after seeing too much of everything. As much as the individual’s contrast with life itself is admirable, it’s often painful. My early to mid teens comprised a web of introverted strains that I’m still working to untangle.

Leaving school in my early adolescence was rough. Although I was being spared a long and grueling few years of bullying, I had little in the way of validating my deepest thoughts and feelings. My refuge was in the imaginative assortment of reality that different writers strung together, telling myself “maybe.” I used those as indicators toward the likelihood of a better day, but I didn’t consider that a better day isn’t synonymous with any kind of redemption.

New relationships built on honesty and intimacy conflict with my adjustment to solitude. If I’m not ungrateful, I’m easily weary of the emotional warmth that I need at different points, only to be overwhelmed by them after a few days of their use. While I need the embrace of my partner, the voices of my friends, and my ever-changing interests, I don’t need them to become the same centerpieces of my conscience as melancholy was. Retreating back to scenes from my old neighborhoods at early morning hours, outraged at the vast emptiness of every day, is one way of reminding myself how stagnant, if not worse, things could be.

“Intense” is one of a few words I think succinctly describe having senses and emotions. Intensity makes or breaks. I fully understand the desire to cease interacting with this reality. But I think there are ways we can get by, if only to numb the pain with vague reassurance. For instance, the belief that being hopeful is reasonable is also incredibly difficult. This difficulty is then artfully expressed through a culture, defiantly mad against the absurdity of it all, understanding that doing so is the means toward accumulating reason to illuminate hope. There is self-evident action in these ideals, and questions only answerable by the one asking them.

What I was hopeful for and what I’m presently hopeful for are steps in the unique process of myself, doomed to cycle back to each other without connecting or forming a stable whole. The chaotic pattern I’ve become accustomed to. I fully recognize the anguish on almost stereotypical levels of romantic sentiment, but I don’t see why anyone should exhaust their energy to cover up the simple fact of life being overwhelming and strange.

And in those moments as if we’re seated comfortably on a hill watching the vibrant blaze of social life in all the cities and towns on earth, we look for a few simple words to decorate the obvious. But why spoil those moments? I’d rather say what I would if given the full opportunity to elaborate on a few scenes from these last ten years. To attach my own reason to a couple glimpses back that meant something to me.

It’s time to go ’round
A one man showdown
Teach us how to fail

For the foreseeable journey, all of my genuinely creative energy is invested in this medium, which specifically entails the pattern of tone one would expect from an author’s usual spiel. I feel like I should consciously tend to that or let the tyranny of legacy set the standard for me. The common themes that fall into place are the first things people read on an author’s wikipedia page; their appraisals, and the verdict of public opinion. It’s the checklist of things likely to be twisted or exaggerated about me. That’s a crucial point of communication left out of my control, if I allow it.

I consider much of this to be necessarily detached from the intimate experiences and influences of the author. The basis of criticism is pointing out and stressing the divide between one perspective and another, always highlighting impression instead of deeper intention, which can only be assumed. This isn’t to say all criticism is faulty because it lacks that insight, but it could probably do well for itself to acknowledge this. Adapt, maybe.

How to actually steer a medium is hard to visualize. I guess it depends on what I’m interested in burning energy over. This particular set of paragraphs and epigraphs isn’t guaranteed to stick the landing and I don’t care. Getting to the destination I set out on is my prime concern. Getting there gracefully is always someone else’s concern. Looking at what I want out of all this, the sacrifices I haven’t made and won’t make, I should preface any attention I get with a disclaimer of impulse: I write the bare minimum notes and do the least possible outlining before steeping in the intricacies of what I want to relay. Only after I judged it in my best creative interest do I go back to overly producing a frame for my prose.

Unless my active project isn’t sorting my personal thoughts, I don’t feel the urge to be scientific about this. I consider it a “moral” duty to transgress as much of the bourgeois how to be a successful writer culture as possible. If I must brave this swirling concrete void, soaking up our decomposing dreams in the humidity, I only ask that my words are laminated before being swallowed by the ocean.

So I prefer to separate that noise from “writing.” I think “medium” is akin to a vessel that makes ideas more engaging and open to scrutiny, while “writing” refers to free acts in the form of text: A few pages of monologue. Two verses scrawled on a napkin. Graffiti lamenting industrial society. With or without attribution, every act of writing is a willful blow to an imposed social fabric (sometimes woven by highly formal mediums), with every pause giving time for new parts to be developed and applied.

Does it follow that mediums lack the spontaneous energy of writing? Probably not, if you build one out of what inspirations come naturally and immediately. Fixing the same revised narratives to a publishing or marketing scheme is just another thing to be avoided when pursuing impression while making a clear case for intention. Most of us are aware of publications (especially with the expanded partner program) that invest excessive creative effort in aesthetic, leavened with trademark micromanaging analysis on culture that hardly makes a case for anything beside completing the look.

The question is not if mediums make us less sincere, or if writing has to take on an insurrectionist vibe for us to have it at its most raw. The question is how the author relates the sum of their work to an overarching profile or aesthetic, and how to change it to fit, if at all. We should ask if we’re actually reading someone’s words, or just admiring the medium.

I prefer to make the medium’s aesthetic from what one might contrast it with, simply because it wouldn’t feel like my own craftsmanship otherwise.

Whatever helps you get by.

I guess I should incorporate the setting I work and live in. There are separate ventures from my personal medium based on such willful acts of writing. Local newspapers and the handful of college zines. While their range is limited, I think that’s exactly what a consciously written medium deserves. A small and manageable project, if only for a short time. At least it could be an opportunity to critique workshops, prepare notes on how to collaborate better and open to participants.

Probably half of writing is just listening to yourself talk or think. Getting familiar with how you think and what habits to exploit. Highlighting a few keywords when brainstorming, slowly building an idea for something. But this process enters new and difficult realms when it’s time to translate to a structure. Align the scattered thoughts into something you can read back to the point of origin. There’s always disappointment in what you read, which is the function of ourselves being our worst critics. This is where it becomes a tightrope.

One might lack a coherent stream of thought. It might be the wrong weather. One’s access to helpful substances might be broken. This is where we get irritable and it becomes paramount to find the right order of words, if only to be rid of the stress.

There have been grueling nights at the looming hours of my own deadline where I’m sitting over my fourth cup of coffee at 3 am working on another draft, hating every word I put into it, nauseated over every paragraph. Why do I do this!? Persisting is the only thing that feels right, making little investment in mental breathing room. I am the pawn of my medium, but only because the landscape uncovered by continually reshaping my writing is one of the most enticing and urgent self-realizations I ever experienced.

Dadda and surrealism were probably manifestations of surrendering to this impossibility, handing control over to anguish. Not expression as science or pulpit, but as a scream or plea.

Bukowski gave his own advice, now beat to death by creative writing students.

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.

I think the safest and most appropriate bet is to work on something according to how much you want out of it. Blogging removed the publishing mechanics of a book from the author’s concern, so people now have a much wider range of options than what he had. A more potent sense of constructive rage is probably to blame, common with “not getting published” during his time, which is now “not getting read.” Still, the basic idea remains.

unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.

I don’t plan to formally publish a book: I’m going to stitch things together as I see fit and throw it at people’s heads for free whenever I can. That said, I’m not opposed to tip jars. Consistent sources of income aren’t as immediate and manipulable as writing, so I think both will be happening simultaneously. Some writers think we should survive on this, but at what cost can this be promised?

Adopting the identity of a writer is an angle (if not a reach) into some intricate sliver of life, either presented by a medium or inserted through writing.

I’m not going to suddenly do more worthwhile things or make smarter choices in my second decade of life, and taking this opportunity to carve out a fragment of a memoir isn’t going to do much beyond leaving a personal record. I feel compelled to do so because the subject exists in the same environment as the creative process. A particularly useful reach into how to make sense of it and leave behind some documentation. When I find myself in the middle of the next leap for the anarchist movement, shift in society or in myself, I’ll consider the opportunity and act on my own terms.

I don’t feel like I need to be compensated, because the part we each play in all of this is a reward in of itself.

We’re off the streets now
And back on the road
On the riot trail

There’s a basic idea underlying most of what I create. I like to think we can imagine that idea in basic terms, knowing it won’t be perfect. That idea is that none of this should have to be complicated.

Every day we could wake up and physically build on our desires, discover new ones, share in the necessary labor for what a group of people agree to maintaining, and find the wherewithal to point out and remove the gunk from life. Sadly, people had to ask if this is idealistic or sensible, falling into the trap.

The more we interact with a toxic web of displeasure and confusion, the more we become the thing we hate: We get into situations where complexity is mandatory, the only thing that space is made for. We meet complication with more of it, playing into it’s own game and recreating the nutrients for social, emotional and existential disarray. We build brick walls around ourselves and keep building higher to try to escape.

Ultimately, nothing is secured in place by our own diluted sanctity. Everything is recycled around the impersonal changing nature of social stratification. But in the moments before that, we can get better at consciously disassociating from its ideals and patters of social organization to make way for our own worlds, becoming more and more familiar with how to overcome.

The prospect of overturning the nightmare is endearing. Perhaps a little more hopeful than I’m comfortable with, but a worthwhile standard to act on. But in the meantime, the suffering and limitations imposed on us inspire more ways to attack. We’re continually inclined to overcome, which seems like a fact of this world being unsustainable on all fronts.

Living a life is more akin to a radiating, shifting mass of energy than a hopeless journey of submission on a straight line of time mapped onto a hollow notion of “progress.” If we enable individual actualization over the blank frame of reality, we can outlast imprisonment in all its forms.

Until then, we’re all basically slowdancing with reality, awkwardly grinning at the horrors staring back at us, catching a few brief glimpses of something interesting in the background, until the music stops and the lights go out.

We all just want to surpass the constantly current mode of “average.” I’m glad to be moving in some direction with people doing the same in their own unique ways.

Twenty years. Huh.

To erase everything from the slate from one day to the next, to be new with each morning, in a perpetual revival of our emotional virginity this, and only this, is worth being or having, to be or have what we imperfectly are.

Last stop: The end of my teens

Pass Me By, 2017

New year. Here again. The late December cold surges once more through the neighborhoods. Jack Frost assaults people at bus stops in Midwestern cities on cruel weekend schedules. The neglected Christmas tree and ice skating rink downtown stand below the overcast and gentle descent of flurries. Corner liquor stores are cleared of champagne. Dirty white tents selling fireworks set up in empty parking lots. Sticker-covered trash cans and thirty-five year-old concrete walls sit where they were yesterday and the day before. Ambulance sirens.

More importantly, it seems, people find things to write about on this occasion; at this uncertain turning point.

Five alarms on my phone wake me up. One after the other, an intemperate decision made four hours and sixteen minutes before crashing. I knew that one simply wouldn’t do it if I was serious about being up. This is perfectly normal.

11:45 am. 11:50 am. 12:05 pm. 12:10 pm. The same android alarm I changed to when I moved into the apartment. I find my way out of bed. To the bathroom, then the kitchen for coffee. My clothes are laid out on the couch next to my backpack, bus fair and wad of bills.

A few essentials are packed for the first trek out in my city after returning from visiting family. When living off two-hundred dollars or less a week, Christmas gifts become apparent as genuine tools for life being a little more bearable.

A pear beckons me from the produce drawer of the fridge. Part of a fancy snack box of fruit, mixed nuts, cheese and summer sausage, a gift from my partner’s dad. I add one to the backpack along with coffee from the french press in a new black thermos, both gifts from a week ago. It feels like trying on new colors for everyday routines.

My familiar Dr. Martens, the creases in the leather coated in dry crusted balm and the dust attracted to it, are then straight-laced tightly. Jackets layered. Scarf tossed over my neck. Down the stairs and out the door into the snowfall, crunching on the pear.

This day is flooded in a particularly pleasing shade of overcast. The sky a distinct pale blue, its brightness subdued by grey clouds. Ear buds connect my phone to my head, playing the same playlist on the same bus route. Indifferent community members fill the seats. The usual people, the usual business.

The same as any winter day. No watermark at the corner of every glimpse that reads “New Year 2017.” It takes me a moment to realize this when I glance at the date on my phone.

Am I dreaming? Is it all really that insignificant?

I go forward, coming home to the one I love when all is said and done. The rest of today will be totally boring and I will love it. I pour some coffee, take necessary pulls off the usual substances, and get to typing an offhand account (for a change) of a lived experience back in town before the seven-to-eight transition, just for the hell of it.

Here we are. The world is the same. It might stay this way next year — tomorrow. Annual life feels less like a spectacular reset of 12 seasonal points of planetary alignments, and more like the expected repackaging of time and events by people who aren’t you or me, gradually set in place over 72 hours of morning news and Trump’s latest tweets.

At least for now, I’ve stopped cursing the informal obligation to offer up thoughts in the form of prose before the new year, as my first thoughts of this year elaborate. I simply decided to act. To observe the moments before and after. Take from them what I might, but take nothing too seriously. Along the way, maybe construct a bumper for my medium.

The calendar starts over. Air traffic controllers and data centers begin the first of their monthly operations. The final digit in date fields of IBM and Windows NT embedded systems changes. The same minute and specific continuation of mass industrial society, constantly directing us toward large-scale ecological collapse. Everyday life.

Whatever happens involving Trump, the anniversary of Disrupt J20 and the whole host of deaths, scandals and social abuses to take course in society, we’re mostly in the same spot we were 365 days ago.

The same people we lose in 2018 — not accounting for their specifics — will be interchangeable with those we lost in 2017, looking from the macro perspective of the closing few years of the decade. The same for the street battles between fascists and anarchists, the oil pipelines and the legal repression.

Thats how most people after us will see this point in time, to interpret and utilize for future efforts. Not much to be worked up for. It doesn’t feel much like a choice. The same uncertainty embraced again.

What can you do? I cursed myself for documenting the first moments of the new year. For not make better use of energy on something that everyone else wasn’t doing. It was useless to be so hard on myself. I realize now that its just more liberating to let things pass you by. To go forward and do it offhand.

Don’t force anything. That isn’t my resolution that everyone advocates against, but probably something I’ll take away from 2017.

We go on in our own ways. I document the one perspective I have control over. Almost like letters to myself, but spaced out between the years and publicly displayed. Like we share in the general idea. I like to think we do.

Pass Me By, 2017

Reflections on Being Bi

September 23rd marks Celebrate Bisexuality Day, on which in 1999, Wendy Curry and friends with BiNet USA created a day of celebration to foster non-monosexual (not strictly gay, lesbian, etc.) pride and solidarity in the post-1960s and 70s gay rights movement. During a period in the movement of bisexuals patronized as “going through a phase” or reduced as “half gay,” constantly lugging behind rainbow banners hoping to be recognized with as much dignity, Curry gave non-monosexual queers a day to get loud and proud without being vouched for by their rigidly gay older siblings.

A little over a decade, new grounds on identity and community have been broken. The “gay or straight” dichotomy is increasingly decommissioned in favor of a fluid, shifting idea of sexual, romantic and emotional orientation. The strict roles of man or woman are replaced by individuals defining their presentations free from strict qualifying castes. Angry queers are on standby to take direct action against the oppression and bigotry that persists, despite liberal appeals for assimilation.

While bisexuals and other non-monosexuals still endure misconception and stigma around their identity, there are strides made in deconstructioning mythology and tapping into pride as a change-making tool. In Curry’s words, “If you really study civil rights/diversity acceptance, you’ll see that people start to respect people once they respect themselves. As long as we were in this endless begging for inclusion, we weren’t addressing the respect issue.”

For me, bisexuality laid a path of self-identity that has been a strange and reassuring force. Well before digging into all the complexities, I had a sense of there being more to it than “liking guys and girls” through lived experience. Emotions beyond romance and sex coupled with self-esteem and existential chaos provided me with the texture of this still young, still uncertain life. Seeing the way people in-between’ed expression gave me a sense of deeper possibilities even before I saw them put down in theory. And ultimately, seeing where I am right now with a truly wonderful and life-saving partner, I don’t ever want to let where I came from lose its influencing power on where I go from here.

In the years of bi voices being amplified, the positivity shared by those who endured community changes, and my own doings around who I am beyond sexual identity, I think now is a good time to lend my own perspective to the conversation, given the occasion.

Growing Up

Don’t worry, there won’t be any irrelevant life story. Though I will say that I grew up kind of hazy, in memory and in what I felt during life-defining experiences. Even if that’s how it should be, it still feels abnormally tangled. The sentiment of things not needing to make perfect sense was always kind of endearing for me.

Considering that I’m at the last stop before my twenties as of writing, we’ll be backing up to the point where a lot of these testimonies qualify as life stories.

I was weird. I still am. I knew I was weird, and I told myself this everyday. It didn’t really become an unhealthy thing until I was about eleven or twelve years old. My weight, personality and learning disability became the foremost things plaguing my nerves when I was in school or around kids my age. I think I tried to build my personality vicariously through the images I got in media, which is a terrible thing to do. Overly romanticized situations don’t serve as a good primer for the all-too real awkwardness of pre-adolescent social exchanges. With that facade toppled, I was on my own.

When I realized I wasn’t as “cool” as I thought I was, the only way I could avoid a breakdown was by repeating apologies in my head to people I had to talk to. “I’m sorry you have to interact with me.” Whenever I could calm myself down and think of something “funny” or “witty” to say, they would kind of just grin, smother a cringe and turn to their friends to snicker. After so many of those over and over again, all my effort to be likable wasted, I finally decided to just shut my mouth for good. I would have asked people straight-up if they would prefer not to talk to me before I even said my name, but that would pretty much defeat the purpose. People were no-go zones.

Around that time I was pulled out of public school after a year of bullying that I left bottled up became known to my mom, and I continued through online courses officially registered as homeschooled. At the time I felt luckier than ever, especially with new methods of education available to me. The school system served, and continues to serve, a dual purpose of devaluing students’ capabilities for making them useful to a boss somewhere down the road, and encouraging an atmosphere of strife and petty indignities among each other. The last part made me not pay a second thought to being removed from easy access to socializing. I was convinced that everyone in my age range hated me anyways, and anyone a few years older than me would always find ways to exploit my social shortcomings for a sick laugh.

By then, the stage was set for my personality to follow. A lot of confusion and angst was baked into my young perception, so I wasn’t really lonely so much as angry and dismissive. A lot of time alone in that conviction made me comfortably numb, reassuring myself with “fuck everyone” whenever I felt envious to the contrary. But everything only worsened with time, and soon I had to come to terms with myself and the world.


I knew what being bisexual meant fairly early, but I had trouble considering myself that. With all the self-hatred going on, I determined my identity based on how “likable” I was; how and if I could relate to others regardless of gender. So for a while, with what juvenile information I had, I considered myself asexual for a brief period. I thought it was the most fitting justification for being asocial more than anything, but I couldn’t deny that I was misusing the label. Then I called myself straight but that I “didn’t like sex,” and then I kind of just stopped trying to name it, letting it be whatever.

All my time at home let me figure out how to transform hobbies into meaningful work. A lot of effort was funneled into writing and learning programming, which is responsible for everything right now. It was humble beginnings and I’m still proud that I made the most of my time alone in my own world, but it also did a great job of keeping me at a distance from things I wanted to go further in. I was too comfortable in front of a keyboard, and couldn’t see how to change that with minimal effort.

Nothing ever felt fair. I rarely got a break from being sad or anxious. There’s nothing to complain about family-wise, but emotionally — in the realm I never spoke about to anyone — I was always in a rut. As far as simply getting people to know and respect me, I was completely lost. A local church youth group was a decent enough sandbox for finding common interests, but sure enough, the same impressions I got from school were rediscovered there. At this stage anger was dissolved into mild acceptance. I was fully prepared to be overlooked, but disappointed nonetheless.

There wasn’t much refuge alone. Oftentimes I would see a close bond between two men in a film and I would feel the worst reeling pain of emptiness and envy I could imagine. Or I would see a bond between a man and woman and feel the same way. I couldn’t make sense of the inconsistency, losing the grasp on reasoning with it in the haze of everything else. Puberty at its finest. I often reminded myself with Wizard’s line from Taxi Driver: “Don’t worry so much!”

Internet friendships and communities were a blessing, a monumental tool for being real with someone dealing with the same things and giving me at least some reassurance that generations before have been dealt this same shitty roll of the dice. Around that point, going through different causes of my misery, it dawned on me that my frustrations had a connection to sexual and romantic orientation worthy of examination.

That particular case was reopened, but investigating it was delayed. It was in the middle of moving to another state that confusion was transplanted in a new environment, stripped of my familiar home town and nothing but long car rides to dwell on things. Temporary residence in a rural area gave me a tranquil place to reset for a little while. A forest to merge with in spirit, a sunny field to get lost in thought staring at — dumb little sentimental touches that were really needed for my weary mind. I think I was trying to reassure myself that it was okay that I didn’t belong in the castes of heterosexuality and conservatism; that I had to put my own convictions first or risk being the same fake type of person I detested.

Eventually we settled in another town, where I resumed my self-examination online with a new outlook. It didn’t take long for me to accept that whatever I was, I certainly wasn’t straight. It might have been the queer gamers and furries (yep) that had my back, but soon I came to embrace it quietly, uncertain of my family’s reaction if they knew.

I must be a magnet for ruining everything, because I couldn’t keep myself from inventing new problems. With some newly won self-confidence, I made attempts at distant relationships which were predictably failures. In my own defense, both parties were young and trying different things with different persuasions, so it wasn’t a foolproof excursion in retrospect. But at the time it meant as much to me as anyone in a face-to-face relationship. Once again, I was crushed. I secured the pain in place with such adages as I’m uglyI’m boring or Its best that I’m not known.

It wasn’t abnormal to find myself fantasizing about draining all my blood via slit arteries or Google searching the highest point near me to jump from. I have to admit these still plague me sporadically. My mom finding out I was self-harming for reasons I kept vague made me want to put every possible thing in existence in one place while I walk away from it all. Torment on top of torment, I dragged on mindlessly. I’m honestly surprised I survived those hectic times.

Getting Out and Coming Out

I got over the bumps in the road. I still don’t know how, and even now when I face similar problems I forget how to start recovery. I think the mind just lets go of things when its ready to, at least in my case.

I latched onto new things and found myself in a refreshed mindset. At this point I was openly bi online for two years, amassing all the advice I could get and looking to generally improve on my existence. I wasn’t free from anguish, but I poured as much energy as I could into my blog and programming to keep myself busy. Working my first job helped disperse a lot of that energy too.

I didn’t stop looking for someone who could care about me, but I played it safe. I was done being desperate about it. I used that familiar misery as the force that brought me back down to earth whenever I could feel myself flying too close to the sun. My teens were spent alone from the start, and I felt like I deserved someone to build prospects with. Nothing dramatic or specific, and in fact I dreamed of an understated but palpably close bond that would become dramatic when it needed to be. I was out for anyone: friend, lover, something in-between — anyone.

A week before thanksgiving, I started talking to someone. At first I rested assured that we wouldn’t go far. That was my mechanism for staying intact. I prefaced our first night of conversation with something along the lines of “I’m not looking for anything sexual or whatever. Just someone to talk to.” If only I could guess at how short I was selling myself. The things we shared were surprising, how well we clicked and understood each other was something I never felt with anyone else. Day by day, good morning and good night texts, I knew I found the one I would take refuge in when everything else felt wrong. It didn’t take more than four months for us to officially begin dating, and two more for me to save up for a plane ticket for us to finally rendezvous.

Minneapolis, summer of 2016. That was when I finally broke from my past and started a new beginning. A solid week of my doubts and fears melted away by love, honesty and adventure in Minnesota. It was a totally alien sensation; all those years of self-doubt healed in such a short time. But even then, questions about ourselves and the future weren’t over. My partner had time to think things over, and affirmed that she was trans. This presented us with new questions to ask ourselves; for her as an individual in a shitty society, and us as a couple to be perceived by others.

Along with worrying for her health, safety and the respect she deserves in the years to come, I was concerned with how I was going to be looked at: As a bisexual guy, or an assumed straight guy, with a girl at my side. This particular revelation opened a new part in the … I became invested in her through the gender I first perceived her as, and now it was a matter of channeling this kind of inertia in a positive and constructive way. I knew that my feelings for her were unaffected, I was just too used to the idea of being seen with someone of the same gender. It was up to knowing the changes, holding on to what was most important and respecting this person who I love above all else.

The trip home was the worst. I never walked through an airport trying not to cry before, but the flight home gave me time to contemplate this new beginning and what it would take to make it flourish into something tangible. A couple weeks passed and I was alone in my room binging on netflix and something unhealthy. My mom checks on me and tells me I haven’t been very talkative lately. I tell her that I’m fine, but that we should take a drive. It was completely spur of the moment, I just felt the urge to get this over with.

We get coffee and sit in the starbucks parking lot. I’m already panicking when she asks whats up. I know I’m not going to tell her everything, certainly not the gender identity of my “friend”, but only the truth of who I am. I shake off the worst-case scenario thoughts of being disowned and get it out: “Mom, I can only hope you don’t hate me, but… I’m bisexual.”

I immediately begin to cry, terrified. “Okay” she replies. I keep crying.

“Its okay!” she repeats. I piece myself together as much as possible, explain my relationship, neglect all the necessary details and retire back to my room after gaining the approval of my mom, the rest of my family to follow. That feeling in your gut, like you took off a lead vest: I felt that for the rest of the week. A long stretch of uncertainty amounted to my experiences translated into a newly public fact about myself. I felt like my reality was acknowledged, giving me my first sense of self-validation.

A year later, after the right planning and timing, my girlfriend and I are living together, making the most of our passions and bringing them to life with our friends in our community. The rest is history, but one that drives doing better everyday, looking for something at the end of it all worth resting on.


I never liked talking about myself. I think I always neglect the richest details that could be compressed into a perfect couple of sentences to save your time and mine, and instead I gravitate toward droning recollections of times that may or may not paint an accurate picture. But there are times when you have to do your best in that to avoid yet another stuffy academic review of sexual identity and derive from lived experiences. I think being real at the risk of sounding sentimental is a lot better than being a jargon machine from one’s favorite armchair.

I think two things determined how I went about self-discovery: Autism and internalized self-restraint, or, more formulaic: my perception of the world multiplied by the effects of the world on me in return. In this light, this applies to a lot of different stories with different names given to the variables. For me, one thing was very good at fortifying the results of the other: I had a preconception of people, I had a preconception of the right ways to act, their responses were things I held too sacredly, and I instilled them in myself because I trusted others’ judgment far more than my own. This bolstered the whole cycle during new periods in my life when I felt like trying again, more or less giving new reasons to stop again because of responses following preconception. Putting it simply, I was hopeful, disappointed and confused in that order. My naive belief in better things over the horizon sabotaged by the realities others lived.

Self-discovery happened in different parts in different places. A lot of it took place alone with what I had to dwell on. It wasn’t healthy, but it was the only option when I didn’t want to risk a panic attack. I mostly just hated bothering people, but every once in a while I could refresh what specific types of interactions had the most effect on me. This included how shy I was around masculine people compared to feminine people, how intensity changed with people’s age, and the personalities that I felt threatened by.

Soon I noticed that boys my age with relatively outgoing personalities caused me the most tension, while girls fitting the same descriptions were just a hair more fear-inducing. I can easily see connections to who these people reminded me of during negative interactions in the past, e.g., girls telling me that I’m “gross”, or boys telling me I’m “stupid”, but further down the road it went from simply “bothering people” to the likelihood of never being able to make a bond with anyone. Now it was a question of who I desired bonds with the most.

I was always juggling who held sway of my preference when I was realizing myself as bi. Before that, I had a boundless admiration for anyone with the right amount of charm, wit and kindness. It didn’t connect with sexuality and take on a certain form until I hit puberty, where I was mixed up by everything I started feeling. I never got to be face-to-face with any of this until meeting my girlfriend, but I think years of observing and stewing alone from a distance was ultimately worth it.

I eventually judged myself to be a four on the Kinsey scale, essentially saying that I prefer people of the same gender while maintaining a fair attraction to those who aren’t. My girlfriend’s identity gave me an interesting lesson in what you’re attracted to and who you love; not as things that necessitate each other, but as things that indicate one’s sexual capacity separate from long-term emotional standpoint, and what you do to consolidate those feelings in a healthy way. I didn’t surrender my attraction to men, but I arranged my committed relationship and my expression of attraction as non-conflicting spheres with every parties’ consent.

A lot my tribulations can rightly be blamed on hormones, but I’m not going to deny that for most of my life, and as it continues now, I’ve always taken emotional responses and the meanings in things I can’t fully grasp very seriously. Overlaps with social anxiety, uncertainty, self-disgust and feeling bad for everyone I talked to made me more conscious of my interactions. They held me accountable, and I think even if they made me more self-conscious than I need to be, it made a thorough process of knowing who I was without much left to guess on.

It wasn’t a way to say “I know I’m bi because…“, but a way to show the inspiration behind the style of bisexuality I invented for myself.

Why Bi Day Matters

“Pride already happened.” This was one person’s response to me advertising a bi day celebration in my city. Aside from the baked-in aggression against queer voices, it reflects one of the reasons why sections of the queer community value their sovereign days of celebration, sometimes more than the massive annual parades and festivals of rainbow capitalism.

There was no serious usage of “LGBT” as a unified group of people in solidarity until the late 90s. Even afterward, the appearance of a cohesive community of non-heterosexual and gender non-conforming individuals is a pretty new thing. I think in the wake of bigotry expressing itself in neoliberal America, LGBT sections urgently crystallized in a way that shrugged off past injuries, and pardoned new ones in the name of “progress.”

Before this, there was a lot of conflict in legislative and community organizing that cut deep into trans and non-monosexual hidden figures, whether it was after Harvey Milk’s death or the damage control after the stonewall riots. Today that tradition graduates from negligent organizing behaviors to the ongoing assimilation of gay people into state apparatuses of domination and mediation, who expect the rest of us to go along with their victories as trans and non-binary people of color are assaulted or killed by the same cops they march with at pride.

Gay has become a trademark with a standard set of attributes, and if you aren’t “gay” or “straight”, you’re certainly queer in one sense or other. We, obviously, are looking to make the gay community militant again — not to shun every monosexual as a liberal traitor. But with the circumstance of it all, rebuilding ourselves requires amplifying those who are left to the back of the parade line or asked silly questions about their identity.

Bi, trans, non-binary, intersex, asexual and other days of celebration are all occasions to hold our communities proud and independent from the history of liberal assimilation into rigid legalistic frameworks. Its about having the self-respect to determine one’s own sense of pride specific to their identity and how its expressed to others.

A Better Relationship with Sexuality and Gender

The relativity and fluidity of gender content is something that can’t be dismissed for much longer in today’s world. As the gendering of behaviors becomes increasingly brittle with each person living them, its clear that laying down a basic idea of contouring ourselves with others is easier and more fruitful than everyone trying to fit into something that won’t budge.

I’ve often been asked the question when talking about gender followed by my own sexuality: “If gender is about self-identity and not ‘how many genders there are,’ how can you call yourself bisexual? Doesn’t that imply that there are only two?”

When thinking about bisexuality, most people jump to the conclusion of quantities meaning “how many genders this person is attracted to” instead of considering what quantity even relates to. Dealing with quantity is more or less visualizing people’s scope and flexibility, using quantity to refer to points that start and stop boundaries. It should be obvious that nobody should submit to any elementary analysis and surrender their identity just because there are differences on what quantifying adjectives mean.

For a basic example, we can think of two (bi-) poles that start in one place on a spectrum and terminate in another. These poles encompass a specific area of presentation that an individual is attracted to, instead of having two mutually exclusive types of people our inclinations will be limited to like the traditional idea of bisexuality suggests. Its more like covering all bases by looking at the two ends of a region, which are sometimes simplified as masculine, feminine and what is between them.

This model might work accordingly with other non-monosexual identities too: Polysexual individuals might envision multiple sections encompassed by multiple sets of poles, while pansexual individuals have no visible divides at all, embracing the entirety of identity spectrums.

I think this is key to expressing any sexuality without coming off as binary about gender. Bisexuality is a way of people defining the scope of their attraction in relation to the sum of their preference, and not so much the “number of genders” they prefer. Even with straight or monosexual people, there is no correct way to be any of those things; identifying the areas of attraction doesn’t take any prescribed form of roles or numbers. Its about presentation and who it resonates with.

Going Forward

We decide what life looks and feels like. There are collective and individual aspects of that reality; people can get together to make societal changes, and individuals can establish the facts of themselves through which to interface with life. Joining or conflicting, relating potential to each other accomplishes more than we think. Its all in knowing ourselves, what we want and what it all means in the end. Doing our best and staying relentless.

Happy Bi Day. Remember Scout Schultz.

Reflections on Being Bi

Making the Best of Better

Along the [ongoing] process of figuring myself out, that is, gaining the existential foothold to work through life in what comes natural, I figured out that I took a lot of direction from the people who lived bits and pieces of what I was encountering. They more or less built their observations on a similar problem that could be applied to something I was mulling over or struggling with, and finished with a grinning, careless retraction back into the tornado. I could never tell if that attitude was the signature of experience and bravado, or a defeated scoff of “I’m already dead, but I may as well keep going.”

Very quickly it became apparent, in a curious and morbid coincidence that always frightened those whom I told, that those who I found most humanity and sincerity in where those who truly gave it their all, and immediately afterward, through whatever circumstances — emotional, mental, legal, financial, — found it prudent to take their own lives right at the end of their peak or the middle of their downward spiral.

I have an odd relationship with the sentiment of suicide much more than the act. The act is a functional taboo, but the sentiment is a vast and rich ocean of reasons because it underpins all we do — even the disdain of it means something. The awful, mournful turn in our stomach connects to the cruelties we strain ourselve to ignore which caused a death, instead encouraging people to talk about their problems which have no words to satisfy one faction in the no-win situation of simply being done.

Its only right that we don’t leave it to one hypothetical factor, that the possibilities and torments could have been plenty and overlapped significantly for those who did it. We can never properly appraise if it worked or not. But my approximation is that all these factors could have been under one emotion or sense of the change in the wind that influenced a finishing of both their life and work as one.

Let’s imagine something. What different outcome of his life could we derive if Di Vinci’s best work wasn’t lost in any great fire in Florence, but was displayed perfectly all through the world and simply invalidated; rejected? What would be worse for him and better for us?

The sheer energy from all human reserves can only churn out so much, and only so much can exist in the social and spiritual fabric of each other’s collective web of purpose, meaning, whatever… to comply with the point, the germ, the seed of the creation from those human reserves. The creator works in hopeful blindness, without clear reason or measure. Above all, overarching those factors was the noncompliance of the social fabric with the human output. That your work was unrequited or made for the entirely wrong audience.

So if you made the best thing for the right audience, but it was all lost to the flames, is that really so much a loss compared to your own personal masterpiece, with all the right combination of words and aphorisms to save the world a thousand times over, written in your own language separate from any other human tongue? Imagine coming up with a cure for cancer in the stone age and try keeping any hope.

It became clear after years of sleepless nights and aching, dark-eyed mornings that its a lie and a curse to be any kind of “best.” I never strove to be a best, and I think I’m still working to justify both why I can’t be one and why thats the best thing to settle for. For one thing, “best” is effortlessly subjective. Your best is not Tom in Ohio’s best or Linda in New Mexico’s best. And if its not someone else who you imbued with being the best, its yourself. Setting the goal for yourself to be the best, or a best, is how you guarantee failure in yourself and corruption in your work. The drive clouds the input and perpetuates that for everyone else, making a fickle social fabric that only the worst people will benefit from. The reason for this still perplexes me, but my best answer for now is that most people just have terrible taste and judgement.

Now, don’t get the idea that you should set out to fail in order to succeed, because reverse engineering the cycle won’t work. You won’t reach your destination by driving in the wrong lane. Its apparent that valid participation requires playing by the same rules that contradict what we intend to get out. The only road to travel on to the only destination claims so much from our work along the way. To accomplish what I want, the solution is to change course.

By saying that, I’ve been invalidated, outed from everyone else. Creative people and communities strive to be the best at the same time and its just one race without a finishing line. Any other model is a fantasy to them. Institutions, jobs and coevals all have a winning and loosing spectrum that basically defeats the validity of people being themselves for being the best.

But even if you get to that in some way, the title invalidates any substance and contradicts a “best”. Even if you’re the most honest and substantive figure in a field, you’re still only seen as the best and not the most substantive person. Rank defeats merit always. The way things are set up won’t settle for less than a rigorous passion to what you do. Anything else makes it a mere “hobby”, simply because the quota for dedication and procedure wasn’t met.

Best only finds a way to kill itself. Best doesn’t last, a new one comes along and it happens so easily that you’d think its programmed to do that. So my goal became to subvert the robotic instruction of catching fire and being rained on. To become a different element that can withstand, but also be relevant on my own terms.

I simply want to act in what capacities I presently have, and make the most of what I can produce. To matter because of what I can easily do to with a clear, working mind; and for the content to stay fresh with time and comply with the social and spiritual fabric of our various sense of meaning.

Its probably impossible to separate this particular angle in my own conscience from different issues, but since my developments in looking at social systems generally, my contention stays the same in all matters, including how content and merit flows: That there isn’t a vertical structure of bests and mediocre types, but a level playing field of autonomous and unique entities sharing their anti-best sentiments in harmony.

Coffeeshop open mic nights and workshop readings are probably the best places to see this play out. Theres real community there, real mutual appreciation and security because there is no best or competition in sight. Contrast this with the unspoken bonds of writing on a certain subject among ten or fifty other people, or trying to become poetic in a new way.

But it isn’t out of any romanticized vision of the underdog that leads me in this direction as much as a desire to have my cake and eat it too. To be a sort of Wallace or Swartz or Thompson, and the suicide is instead a peaceful retreat in my confinement where best doesn’t have power, ideas can traffic in and out of me, and leaving that place lets me know that we’re all just creating and sharing like an infinite commune of doers according to our ability with every bit being important.

Call it a cheap study in mediocrity or a disgruntled young creator among a thousand other hapless fucks rushing to the next unclaimed special point in culture, but it all comes from appraising what the cycle is for me: what drives me to do—and what I do to put back in it. If I could formulate any meaningful change, it would be where the ambition and the content bounce off each other instead of content alone being the gamble. People won’t evolve to read minds or archive the emotions of the guy who wrote his seminal novel, but they can value the best of all the individual puts in, than appeasing a best within the whole. Where everyone can become better, and not the best.

My guess at the end of all this is that those creators who took their lives were experiencing the realization against bests and greats as a component of the social and spiritual fabric, but also an impossibility in reconciling a substitute form of expressing ambition. Additionally, with the other problems they were confronted with, having the projected meaning of their life and work as nothing important or valid to the public, they caught that infamous train we’re all compelled to by being revolted by it.

Existential crises, creative insecurity, conformity and invisibility. They mix and build the worst barriers between an idea and breaking through. Instead of driving through those barriers and failing when you’re killed in the crash, let’s just go around them. Let’s be better, and avoid best.

Making the Best of Better

Annual Discontent

My first hours into the New Year, 2017… I hate writing these kinds of things, because for one thing its an incredibly cheap and easy topic for any writer. Any moron with a language to work with can start one of these things and get attention for it. Secondly, I know that halfway through the year, when everything will either turn out worse than expected or take on a totally different nature (rendering prediction and analysis mere egostroking) I will feel like I wasted my energy on hope and idealism than using it for real-time commentary. However, all this considered, I didn’t do any preparation for the turn of the year, being emotionally scattered and indifferent, and so I think that gives me a better look at how things might go in the sense of just riding it through, than going into it with a set list of expectations and things to compare it to that will add insincerity to the experience.

I awoke this afternoon from sorrow the night before, and into the common bustle and noise of this place, but enveloped in a new foreboding. Even now as I write, I was totally unaware of any breaking news or trends, save some drama over Mariah Carey botching a performance somewhere. The only thing I could guarantee was changed was the 6 to 7, and the annoyance of needing to ingrain that in my mind when filling out a date field in a document. I climbed out of bed carefully, like in a new place altogether, got my coffee and sort of just shut myself out of Twitter or any other source of news, contemplating what stood before me and how I would communicate that to prose.

Lets take a second to acknowledge two concrete factors of being: 1, We don’t ask to be here, alive, in general. And 2, every person deals with that fact in vastly different ways. In the existential, adolescent sense, we sometimes make that blindingly clear to our parents when the world becomes too much. In the middle-years of adulthood, a time for reassessment of everything you got involved with as a younger person becomes unavoidable. The outlooks are bound to shift as experiences and reactions do, forming long-term conditions and emotions as we keep moving, nonetheless they are still the mechanisms for dealing with what we didn’t ask for.

In my case, every person is a representative of some company that is trying to sell me a product, and every moment consists of them telling me that with enough work, with enough effort, with enough ritualistic motivation and a healthy approach to it all, this product (life) can work out great for me. But who wants a product that you need to take constant care of, especially at this point in time? Do you want a device or an appliance that requires insane amounts of maintenance and responsibility, where all that effort takes over from the enjoyment or use? Of course not. Why then is life exempt from this standard? Is it because we fail to quantify what we can control of it, and so we surrender to inevitability and prescribe methods of dealing with that? Can we just not be bothered to change immediate and artificial difficulties, because apparently they make us stronger even when they just kill us? I have to deal with what I didn’t ask for, and when the collective attitude for dealing with a burden is more burdens, it defeats itself and then some.

All this restarts with full stamina after New Year’s eve. Both the question of what I will make out of this year, and the understanding that the time and place to make something good are totally arbitrary, collide and, if nothing else, emphasize the inescapable difficulties that we are thrust into. Its all going too fast as it is. I need a minute. Let me just breathe and hope to god the shit from last year doesn’t carry over and take shape again.

I chose to go in blind, because I think learning of yet another beloved musician’s or actor’s death or a story of the new president-elect will conjure up the bias of “here we go again” in that vein sense. So while I’m somewhat uncorrupted with whatever is currently happening, if I can convey a general sense of what I think should be the case for this new start prior to the year filling itself with continued drama, I think I can get through this well enough.

Every year I can’t help but think of the desperation and bickering that must go on in the media companies and figures responsible for providing the cultural condition of a step in time. The friction and combination of ideas in an effort to appear viable and worthy of the stature they have, to give to those waiting the attitude to follow or the new human clay to mold something out of. Their desperation, the newly found stress of this generation that haunts every one in their time in the sun, is bleeding through when the pressures on every side close in. This does two things: renders the previous product obsolete or at least dated, and gives the idea for the next. A statement or movement runs its course and lays the way for its inheritor.

I have some issues with this model. Although I generally approach problems in a linear manner, the linear order of finding the new approach is just that; the new approach… for the next approach. The distraction on itself takes over any attempt at bettering social life.

What good are new developments in anything if they’ll simply become part of the zeitgeist, and dismantled in a few decade’s time? Why do we pursue things we’ll just get tired of before we have time to rejoice? If we can’t make up our minds on principles which will remain and adapt to every smaller development throughout time, what good is there in rewinding our anger to redo what could have been done and over with a century ago?

The process is one of passion, not urgency. Each generation hates itself for being socially stagnant or sedated by individual comforts as injustice continues unscathed. But its action is simply for action alone than for urgency: the historical obligation to find something to be angry about and develop new ideas to follow, because their parents and grandparents did the same, so consequently so must they. Expand or die is the implication: manufactured and forced, blindly hurried to the next checkpoint. If these people truly care about doing things differently and expanding reality, why don’t they consider the very framework in which they do things? Why don’t we consider when or if we will be able to stop and actually be satisfied?

This is not to say there is no urgency now, but for me the actions I want to take need to be universally encompassing changes, changes that will settle into our social framework and guide every individual shift for as long as we uphold it. A great and socially omnipotent simplicity that enables more complex things under it. Meanwhile, everyone else seems to actively desire a situation where we will need to do things over and over again, opposite to a single massive reconfiguration to take place that will conform to and welcome the smaller, decentralized changes in perspective and association. The opposite seems to be the case for most people, where they desire many small changes in an effort to satisfy a benign, almost nonexistent encompassing configuration. Tiny organic units instead of organic universality to be the mode of life. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of both the exploiters and the tail-chasing opportunism of those against them to a point where the two blur and mesh into a new oppression; an oppression of direction. Do you or do you not want a better order of life? Than stop pussyfooting around and make direct change on something. Alas, with this new step in time, we will only find what cultural product will lay way to the next.

For half of last year, it took me a lot of agonizing thinking, more fittingly called mind-consuming depression, over what I believe and feel, what those who are striving toward what I seek think and feel as well as if they would agree with me, to come to any sort of conclusion on my own direction. At this point, I’m not certain if it won’t be something I will think about forever until the gland in the human anatomy which produces the feeling called anxiety can no longer take it.

I think if there is a meaning or an aim in what I do, it is to come to a point where people can do and be as they want while all the functions of social life are in a state of respectful indifference or mutual support of it, no more and no less. Everything before that is a struggle to overcome the structures rooted in one side against that idea to continue its domination. Be it a condition of socialism, an equitable reconfiguration of present society, whatever. If you can be you and I can be me, and there has been an effective elimination of institutional exploitation, artificial complications and desperation as a result, I can’t help but feel that my work in that range is arguably finished, and that I can begin work elsewhere from what that has left. I don’t see any current means of convincing me otherwise that that idea is the enveloping change which I desire, and possibly what every person who shares my political alignment seeks when boiled down to its essence.

And maybe these New Years are outer layers of the same mindless cultural production. They repeat themselves until we acknowledge the broken record and actually initiate change instead of just suggesting the idea, reformatted to look and sound new and interesting, to make the best of the crumbling relationship hanging by a few threads. Otherwise, it isn’t the fault of causes but life itself. Just another thing we didn’t ask for but have to deal with. Ride it through without expectations that make it feel insincere.

Annual Discontent

Content’s Phenomenon

Its quite remarkable to see the planning phase, the execution and the reflections or footnotes afterward in the course of creating any type of content. If we lay all these out in one straight line, we can read an entire month’s or decade’s time of work as a single sentence, and take a shortcut through a huge part of following a creator. This is slightly like memory as well, when we consider ourselves 365 days previous to where we are now; how much we’ve learned and grown in that time, and how those all made us the person right now. Perfectly listing all the differences that emerged in that course of time would probably leave one dumbfounded. Studying this in media certainly will, when we replace the constraints of time with the vastness of mediums, and the person in question with the odd and manifold forms of thought

The creator often never has a perfect idea mapped out, even when a synopsis and several drafts are done. All the notes implemented and weird little bursts of “Damn, thats a good line!” included. Putting it all in a main draft and piecing things together is still just winging it, all things considered. This is why a lot of times the final piece is very different from the original concept, and even after that there are leftover tidbits to add in interviews or comments on one’s own work when its become known to a group or shared the world over. The understanding that the source is ambiguous about the core and the insightful ridges of the work leaves a lot of questions open about its meaning and flexibility. To think that the one who created that great movie or wrote that long, epic story is vulnerable to any degree makes the observers feel as though they have an equal amount of power in determining the direction of the content. It also supports the notion that a story conveys itself by its various perception than by its solid form.

Film and books experience this phenomenon way too often. So often in fact that it ought to be incorporated into that sector of expression altogether. “When I wrote [so and so] I had the intention of conveying X, but ended up seeing the deeper meaning being Y when I looked at how people were reacting to it.”, “The film took on a totally different meaning when it reached the audience.” and so on.

The way life lessons collide with us in a sudden and resonating way have become a similar unspoken trait of creativity. The work doesn’t seem to end until the viewer has a long, introspective moment to assess what was just absorbed, as with the author when the instruments of creation are put away. The work, however complex, is perhaps only the vehicle for getting the viewer as close as possible to the intended message, than for one to follow through objectively.

My modest thought experiment is this: Lets assume a writer has a concept for a book — but he wants to explore the deeper themes of the work in a published assessment of real instances of that thing. Having taken the essay into consideration, basing most or all of the book on that, the larger body incorporates the findings of that publication and perhaps expands on it when the author has time to step back and examine it under a different light. The book is complete and when its reception blows over, the author recounts what went into making that and notes the interesting values learned upon second, and now, third, glance. With all these three steps: The initial essay, The story based on the essay’s concept, and the remarks encompassing the two previous steps, is it wrong to say that the third step is the most pure and complete instance of that whole cycle of ideas? We can arrive not only at three, but at five or ninety or five-hundred instances of that third step after so many of the first two have been done — constant expansions and developments that take us someplace else after each other. Of course, after a while this would be cumbersome and annoying to keep up with, but nevertheless its still a form of filtering out the abstractions and getting to the purest batch of that idea. Ringing it dry.

The when its all said and done effect seems to be what trails off of finished work, being the spore that plants the natural continuation, or at least the afterthought, of media. This isn’t so unrealistic on the surface when we consider the reverse of Symbolic Self-Completion, e.g., doing less, or at least not enough, and being left with more to add.

I suppose its safe to say we’ve found an exploit for media; until, perhaps, we invert the phenomenon I proposed and not-self-completion, and we end up just making another mess. I guess time will tell if we get this one right.

Content’s Phenomenon

Hiatus Break

I wanted to write something quick to break the silence. Consider it a placeholder at the end point of a series of events spanning a month and a half, and the start of getting back into what I was wading through previously. I’ll do a sort of rundown of each notable thing thats happened since, though this won’t be very interesting. I almost feel foolish posting this to my actual blog and not on tumblr or something, but considering I’ve only been inactive here, it should be appropriate. Is it counterproductive to be breaking your hiatus with a rant on your hiatus? Oh well. Thats what I’m doing. Here’s your chance to exit if you don’t want to read uninteresting personal nonsense.

I’ve been questioning my integrity as a writer since I let so much get between me and my craft, even though this is totally at my own will. Every previous meddler in this brand of striking on the earth’s surface had some level of higher commitment, jotting things down in worn notebooks when away from their primary tool, rushing to grab a napkin to write something down at a restaurant when something grabs their attention. Whereas I barely even think about it when I’m out of my lonesome space, making me wonder if I’m only aboard this to have an idle placeholder for who I am. “I’m a writer, but the last thing I wrote was two and half months ago” which is always the case.

I guess the closest excusable factor is that I’m part of a generation based on doing a lot in a lot of different sectors by diverse means, and not a lot of people keep up too well, especially the absent-minded ones. Some forget or lose things, some drag behind in the productivity realm.

This, and I’m ashamed to admit that it takes me significantly longer than others to complete anything. Something that could take a columnist for a paper of any status about an hour or two takes me two weeks to a month. This is of several reasons. Firstly, I sometimes spend a whole day re-reading and re-writing paragraphs because I’m highly self-critical of my structuring, phrasing and use of devices and literary figures, as if any mistake would swell and corrupt the whole work and make me a dupe to the grand total of two readers. Correspondingly, I can’t exactly produce poetic, eloquent sentences in a moment’s notice like many honored authors can. I can make it appear so if I invest a month’s time in it, or get lucky enough to have a burst of creativity and a free flowing mind, but the whole work you see before you commonly takes a ridiculously prolonged period of time. Even this took a few days, even though its “short.” And thirdly, I’m too easily swayed that I can put off work for a day to play a video game or spend time researching a different matter with a subconscious knowledge that I wouldn’t produce anything worth leaving in anyway. This is greatly problematic when this becomes my default mood for a whole month, requiring another month to get back at it.

Now obviously anyone who read that would guess that I’m new to writing and I have some further development to go on. Thing is, I’ve been writing on a scale I do now since I first knew how to form sentences. Going in and out of it, being sidetracked with work in programming and shifting from different paradigms involving typing, has probably worn that dexterity from when prose was my lone craft in its purest shape. Not beyond repair, just into a state of confusion that gets readjusted from time to time. Breaking the cycle normally relies on a single instance of having the perfect idea at the right moment, and following that idea to its end and acting on it. I have plenty of ideas in my notes, only a small handful of them will be revealed to be fruitful and interesting enough to follow to the end into a story. I think a lot of people rest on that rift. We pretty much have the ideas at the ready, but the manner in which to execute them are still up in the air. Drafts within drafts.

Being open about such things is probably for the best. The truth sets you free and all that noise, but this also gives an audience a sense of your inner workings as a creator. We all know what to expect from Scorsese or Tarantino when they release a film because they’re open about their quirks and flaws and fixations in their medium. Now you guys know to expect one blog post per month from me because I’m a tortoise of an author who can’t leave alone the fact that I haven’t written anything for a short period of time and I just have to write about that even though nobody really reads me. Great.

Alright, so onto the main explanation I intended for this.

Minneapolis, June 2016

I couldn’t write anything for June, I made some notes here and there, but no actual work done, as something I’ve been longing for for arguably my whole life happened on the 16th when I flew out to finally meet my lover of about five months, though we’ve had something special for about a year. I could drone on and on about how sweet and wonderful and fucking gorgeous he is, and how my life honestly depended on confirming the reality of this splendid love we share, but I’d prefer to leave that part up to the summary that I was on the cusp of throwing my life off a bridge until this angel among people came into my life and swept my heart up.

The week was primarily spent going to different shops and places of interest in the two cities, seeing the Mississippi river, consuming different substances and junk food, and cuddling and making out. Lots and lots of cuddling and making out. Perhaps not enough, but that will be corrected next time around.

I came home with a heavy heart and started drafting an overall telling of the experience. I couldn’t just let this be something to look back on from memory, I wanted it documented somehow. As of now its still in development, and it might just become a private memoir of our first meet between the two of us, but a better idea of the whole thing can be conveyed in the first draft which is worth publishing.

Leaving Minneapolis

Take off from SDF shoved my anxious tension into my chest and forced me down into my seat. All I could do is watch the shadow of the plane become smaller as my heart pounded harder, and later burst at the seems as I finally touched down in St. Paul 94 minutes later.

I was going to rendezvous with someone particularly special. Of the romantic variety. Someone who I’ve come to love on a level not simply of physical attraction coupled with an admiration for character. This individual was keeping me alive in ways I still don’t fully understand. Keeping me moving forward in resolving lifelong emotional issues I had forgotten about. We gradually formed this relationship online in November of last year. Each passing day of chatting with each other got better and better, more and more deeper in subject and personal outlook. I think we started saying “I love you” about a week or two into getting well aquianted. From there on out I knew I wanted this person and not any other soul.

Let me put it in perspective. Since I turned two digits old I’ve never had a genuine friend in my life; let alone a love. Ditching public school for a cross between homeschooling and self-education at 11 years old ruined any chance of forming an important relationship with anyone. Around this time I started learning more that I liked boys, and that I also still liked girls to a very small extent. Upon entering my teens I accepted myself as a bisexual male. Knowing this, all I could really yearn for — in total isolation, as if expressing loneliness was the greatest sin of all — was that of a loving friend. Not even a boyfriend, just anyone who would honestly care about me and hug me when I’m miserable. Seven years later, I’d get more than I bargained for.

Baggage claim 9. Thats where the lonely chapter ended when I looked over and saw him walking toward me. A solid second of my heart arresting and all the memories of sheer isolation evaporating before my mind’s eye preceded a beautiful smile and a first awkward hug. That goddamn Hawaiian shirt he wore. It was dorky as all hell but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. His hands in his pockets, his shoulders scrunched together, a nervous little grin on his beautiful face as he stepped closer. I think I mustered enough in the moment to simply exclaim “Dude!”, and fell into his arms. That sweet embrace I had dreamed of for half a year had finally come, the rift between building the foundation and standing on its peak had been crossed. Five seconds in, holding him by his shoulders and getting his scent in, I pulled out as if I had done something wrong. I stared back at the empty carousel, him staring as well. An excited grin on both of our faces said the same thing. “Holy fuck, its real.”

I can’t remember the awful small talk we conjured to break the ice in those initial moments, but I do remember jumping into the back seat of his friend’s car at the airport and him immediately going into cuddles for the whole way back to his place. This was especially wonderful and terrifying in the first five minutes. I sat there with an uncontrollable smile on my face as this lovely person was hugging my arm and nuzzling my neck. A virgin to all things delightful coming from another person freshly thrown into the fire can only handle a little at a time, but I’m glad I didn’t burst *too much*.


Things go by way too damn fast, especially when they’re the best moments of your life. When they’re spent with your life’s love, in a new and splendidly chaotic environment. Why is time so cruel like that? I never wanted to not be driving to an airport so badly in my life. Just seven days ago its all I wanted to do, now I wished every airport in the world suddenly disappeared. Anything at all to keep this person’s arm around me forever and ever. Anything to stop the mile-by-mild progression toward the best week of my life coming to its end.

“This isn’t the last time”

“I will see you up ahead”

We exchange a final hug before I break away to get this shit over with. I pick up my bags and go to check in for the outbound flight.

“I love you. No looking back”

Now that I’m back into my usual cycle, I’m of course introduced to new life obligations outside of writing and work – related to money, housing, family and where this relationship will take us. Consider this the part where I say that only my best efforts in balancing my responsibilities with my self-endowed responsibility in converting ideas and events into neat text will be at the helm of my life for the remainder of the year. Normally in a week I would have sorted through my notes and drafts enough to gain direction, but to be safe I’ll give myself the remainder of the month to have everything sorted. Thanks to all those who stick with me and those similar to me. Its the small lights that inevitably shine brighter than the greater, shallow ones.

Hiatus Break

Author’s Burden

If only the product of my own internal discord as a meddler in the written word, I’ll at least be satisfied in having it documented and available to the public – though I feel like for every issue one person experiences there are at least eight-hundred more to make the same claim.

To do something in any creative field, a basic sense of drive is layered behind it. But this doesn’t provide a cause, a goal to accomplish. The fuel doesn’t necessarily dictate the direction of the vehicle. This is probably the first important distinction when becoming self-conscious as a creator of any kind, the second is understanding obligatory creation based on social currents and that derived from genuine inspiration or personal investment.

The task of journalists specifically is to follow emerging issues and situations and develop reports on them. Give the news, more or less. This being a job is naturally an obligation to create stories on whats happening. But does personal interest play a part at all in this? The progressive newspapers of the 1960s and 70s were personally invested in covering the development of the American civil rights movement, while divisions of mainstream media such as CBS and ABC at the time were burdened as part of their job, not influenced, to cover this particular emergence and be as cold and unemotional (objective) as professionally possible all the while. So its easily possible to meld assignment with passion in an environment where your job may collide with your political or social alignment, but is it practical? Moreover, does it give an advantage in creating a story?

If we take the work of Orwell for instance in covering the 1936 revolution in Catalonia, its easy to see how his experiences transcended his correspondence with The Labour Leader and became his most abounding political account, Homage to Catalonia. Orwell’s placement in the left-wing secured his vigor and integrity in documenting the situation in Spain. He needed to witness this uprising on a personal level. Through his sympathies with the Spanish anarchists, he gave the outside world perhaps the best possible account from the front lines. We see the same in the modern case of Chris Hedges and the Iraq war.

So maybe we could conclude that if you mix your interest with your job, you reach the best place of authoring ideal extensions of the current world, where your interest is your motive. But if, for example, we look at corporate media which day in and day out covers how great their economic hopefuls are apparently doing, they don’t seem to go on to expand on such things in writing which draws in the common man in the same way as others. Jim Cramer’s ridiculous books didn’t really make any millionaires since his time with Mad Money – but he followed close enough the same formula as Orwell and Hedges.

What of unfettered freedom in writing? Thoreau answered to no master and felt no outside impulse to put pen to parchment, and his work was a pure output of his heart’s surge in Walden. Likewise regarding Kropotkin or Goldman. Their cases were made free of third-party supervision or direction. Does this then serve to say that without the eyes and ears of an intangible current of literary and critical demand, the influx of new works is more wholesome and virtuous? But is a raw outpour of thought good by default? We can easily say that Mein Kampf was also a free expression of the mind. It becomes a question of chaos or order in this field, I think. A suggestion if something is correct or not, which is never totally certain one way or the other: Do we write about what other people are alking about, or do we seek to go beyond that?

When something new happens, we record and share it. We have vague ideas about why we do it, but we mostly know that we just do. The premise that coverage of events or other developments in a society is what we should pursue is correct insofar that it is helpful or provides a unique perspective – or so we would assume. We aren’t dependent on a central responsibility of people. We have unlimited means to get information nowadays, some better than most. The development of the information is the most delicate process where ensuring not only objectivity and accuracy, but personal integrity and worthiness of honor is essential. Works made with passion and ardor have been among the richest of their division, while those lacking fell short of its goal. It seems the former is rarely guarded in places where its needed most.

Covering what should be covered becomes coverage in order to be an excuse to flaunt personality and sensationalism. In TV news, for ratings. In online publications, for traffic and ad revenue. If this is the inevitable end, what good are the means if wasted? Why should we write about what we should if that sector is in constant turmoil? And striving at resolution often does us no good. Insisting to cover whats new draws new desperation. The higher the demand, the shallower the output.

In my own little realm, I sit where I am now with text editor open and feed of the world’s trending chaos and conversation alive. I don’t exactly keep the last one open to get my blood boiling and find something to comment on like most people do, but rather to poke at that curiosity and see if I should reach out and add my voice to it all. Rarely I do in any notable manner, since I meditate what my honest reaction is to if the most active corner of the world is worth writing about in that specific instance – it usually isn’t. Aside from a political panel, event or intersection of pop culture and copyright or capitalism, I don’t often follow most writers in chasing the crowd. Maybe I don’t quite understand their outlook on it either. I’ve always found that whatever happens over there, which I usually don’t care too much about to begin with, is in better hands. To be among the last ones to spit out whatever fragments of something previously relevant is totally pointless, unless I was the first to sound the alarm at the first glimpse of something interesting.

I suppose the maxim I tend to follow is that whatever one independently witnesses or expresses, they should write the original record; then everyone else is in a better position to branch off of that with critique and expansion, instead of writing about that same thing but in another light. Not that this should be a convention or law, the world doesn’t operate on a first come, first serve basis which would be terrible. Instead, it could be the most ideal instruction of conversation wherein many different versions of one topic can exist seemingly interconnected, instead of multiple, carbon copy discourses piled on top of each other, as if in competition of who can be the most pretentious or witty instead of holding valuable contribution.

The mainstream current of journalism or eloquent craftsmanship is tainted, in my opinion. The gonzo league of storytellers always inferred this. Maybe that’s the sole purpose of a “mainstream”: To incentivize the honest channels. In any case, the whole sphere in this millennium is entirely predictable – the attitudes and approaches, not so much the stories. I feel like all the postmodernist, self-appointed challengers of a made up status quo are the ones writing what gets read. Each story feels like a self-important 20 year old with a shitty attitude going “No, this is what we need to be talking about” when, no, we really don’t. Like they know they’re going to save the world with their passionate conjecture. But this isn’t so different from previous times. Many authors before have hijacked the report of current events in some manner for their own agenda. The Red Scare afforded McCarthy his witch hunt and thus the propagandizing of Americans, 9/11 and the Iraq war warped patriotism into imperialist, tribalist fury, and now the current 2016 election allowed corporate media to grasp onto Americans’ love of everything being a joke and whats trending on social media by making a new reality show for Donald Trump.

This is probably the gleaming reason why standing apart from the most restless subjects of coverage is best when faced with how everyone else is dealing with them. An individual can remain loyal to a basic sense of honesty as the rest of the world is spiraling into excess. The figures who actively opposed the crowds of reporters stumbling over one another to carry on a hollow crux of events are now the ones cherished more than any Walter Winchell or Barbara Walters. Instead of reporting again and again the same crisis or stage of politics, express the solution more ferociously than the status. Assign yourself a responsibility to widen consciousness, not to be a servant of a media model. Tell the people that those whose job it is to make the news are corrupted by contract and pay. Show that the media outlets people run to are owned by the creators of the very problems they report on. Explain why media is common property, not the sole duty of private entities. Yes, everything sucks. No, people don’t need an update, they need guidance and honest judgment. But what do we write after we made our great escape?

I think its pointless for someone in my position to write about what someone a hundred times bigger than I already has. I don’t try to be like, or outdo, someone at The Daily Beast or wherever else. My work is my own which serves people who would agree or otherwise be looking for a second opinion. I think this is the principle that people moving in this direction should embrace. To an extent, the point of this course is to make you a no-name vagrant who is occasionally unearthed in the heaps of noise by any given wanderer who exposes a few others to what he’s found. A small, honest unit in the cycle of discussion. A hidden gem. To express and structure casually is the practice, in the same form you would if you knew the intended reader. The theme contours to all of this – your rant about what artist matters more than people think, the situation in the Middle East, or what have you, exists free of the corruption which deafens the inspirational honesty that larger outlets base themselves on. To write freely; not in the sense to avoid objectivity, rather to humanize what is objective both in story and in reaction. It adds up ideally to those who know what they’re after, though not everyone does. People often aren’t as immersed to any degree in the social and ethical roots of media, and so they seek the closest outlet which seems intelligent enough to tell them whats what, which is any major publication or TV news network. They go to these places and not your own, and when constant, you’re a very small voice.

We wonder if having the largest, broader attention is favorable, or if maintaining a smaller, specific audience is. Truthdig doesn’t seem to mind that it isn’t as recognized as The New York Times, but if they hold true that they’re the honest outlet, surely they would have a larger audience than now. But this isn’t their own fault so much as it is domination by major media over what gets attention, even with something like the Internet, theres bound to be a small central focus and not people at large paying attention.

The writers aren’t in chains or beholden to any discernible demand, but it seems what one writes about dictates their scope of attention. You’ll be paid more attention to if you conform to what people are chatting about. If you deviate from this and talk about something else, you find a lesser audience, but a very specific demographic. The obligation is rooted. Common sense. Because of this, I think a distinction between size and impact is needed. You can easily have 25,000 readers who go about their day not paying a second thought to what they read earlier, far less likely to expand on it or put its proposed actions into motion. Or, you could have 200 to 500 readers who are so dedicated to a subject that they’re significantly more likely to act on it or rally others into their association. The crossroads becomes choosing empty size or a wholesome minority. But looking at the present issue of the public understanding urgency and simultaneously being idle and content with their current world, there is much greater potential in the condensed forgotten groups of commentators and spokespeople who, even if lacking in the dust-gathering power of the empires before them, they have a unique devotion to their subject which no greater party can claim. Their energy employed in media acting as the construction of their monuments, as they acknowledge them with modesty. The smallest and most unknown groups of authors becoming the cult icons of media in a decade’s time. The legitimacy of an audience rests with what they put forth for what they have subscribed to. They’re merely onlookers without a stirring in their hearts, if they haven’t been accounted for in a sense of impact.

This is why questions of raking in traffic, subscribers, etc., don’t concern me. If anything they horrify me. I’ve seen the lifeless rot in dozens of upstart magazines and blogs which garnered enough attention which replaced the initial goal of the authors. We have all these followers and views, but absolutely nothing is happening. My concern is if I can strike a chord in the most genuine way in a single individual who can ratify that what I wrote has made the impact, making this practical and real.

But then I wonder if our attitudes thus are too egotistical and individualistic to do the function of writing any good. Do we neglect this burden in being this way? If we assume that countering the mode of writing about current things is to be opposed to them, we are true insofar that they become writing’s own enemy. When reports about a blatantly authoritarian presidential candidate gradually warps into the latest addition of sensationalism for the sake of ratings and traffic, and not substantive reviews of new emerging statements (being reduced to mere footnotes), we should oppose any further coverage beside denouncing the figure on a substantive basis from a unique perspective. When corporate tyranny is reported only to the extent that it doesn’t “send the wrong message” or make the company look bad, we should suspend all related corners of beating around the bush and resort to direct literary action against the causes of the event.

We neglect the burden of tackling news to the extent that it begins eating itself. To slow down the train so it doesn’t miss the station. Or crash and burn.

So yes, there is an ethical demand for expressing the current conditions of a society and relevant opinions. But the extension to this would be to provide not only the best possible state of these things, but also the purest means of doing so. To do away with an obligation to report on for the millionth time a saturated and depraved chain of events which do no good other than angering the most conscious individuals by further pacifying the many, and a strict attitude against harming a money-making quota of so-called journalism by breaking the chain with a human moment. An obligation to resurrect a lost state of nonconformity and anarchy in media – not the same branded and sold nonconformity™ of young pseudoliberals – and to oppose a decade-by-decade mold to conform to in desperation of being heard on a hip, trendy platform.

Outside of the entire cluster, we already know there is nothing but unlimited liberty. Become a reporter for a major outlet or join the level of small commentators with a blog, or anything else. But when faced with what the society or mindset after the fact would expect of the architects before, what would it be? At present, those who we run to for news and commentary are suppressing the effective anti-establishment drive which was the genesis of great social movements. They present domestic and global events in humanly devoid and careful ways, cloaked as objectivity through neutrality, which people begin to think of as the only way to inform. This is how they neglect the obligation to honest writing, as we neglect the manufactured burden of conforming to frail words and standards of limitation. The society would base their information on looking at their impact and into the horizon instead of the traffic, conventions and revenue.

Those who assume the renegade character in media must grow beneath the mainstream until ultimately collapsing the system’s purpose. To transfer audience and heighten impact. The goal is not to inherit the whole thing, but to remove the need of competitive news networks and bogus no-spin figures. To inherit all of media means to change who is the enemy. Instead it is to inherit, or rather reclaim, the meaning and spirit of it.

Author’s Burden

When you’ve made it an Industry, You’ve killed it

Putting pressure on a channel of content normally gives you filtered, bitter and normally undesirable results. Like everything that came previously is recycled and polished to appear new. At least, this has been my own experience in the last several years. This is the case for modern commercial content creation and mainstream consumers as a whole being fixated in that particular direction. The pressure on that channel is profit quotas, marketing excess, and – as seen in the contemporary film industry, god forbid – reboots of another overdone franchise in some new light because the previous cow has been milked dry. Its a tragic, in-your-face assertion of what we’ve become. It goes beyond annoyance of lack of originality, its an insult to those who love the crafts and want to see progress in them rather than it being a means of vain money-making.

We’re making music, movies and TV shows to make money. For no other reason whatsoever, and we will feign ingenuity and a desire to build upon something to get you in the theaters and to get revenue from Netflix or Hulu or Spotify, and then we’re going to expand our profits in merchandise in other fields and run this ship into the rocks and start all over again when its exhausted.

This is the case for when I recently saw the latest Batman v. Superman film on a goof one night. The entire film may as well have been a single, stagnant image containing text, reading “We’re making a franchise to compete with Marvel’s Avengers and you’ll be seeing the same crap from us similar to theirs”. It felt like all the essentials of storytelling, character development (as well as contrast, Superman and Batman were both basically the anti-heroes) and a concise plot were the last burdens of the writers and producers to fit in there among the monuments of branding which they initially constructed, among other shortcomings that comic book fans more versed in the universe than I were especially disappointed to see, letting alone that the entire superhero film subgenre has seemingly become the center of this phenomenon.

It seems the entire wasteland of creativity has made an impact on the amount and scope of content elsewhere as well by making any independent creator a no-name with no chance unless they conform to the insidious system which they’re likely avoiding. Everyone in the usual atmosphere of content are conditioned to enjoy new media solely from artists or outlets thoroughly directed by money-dominated interests, which constitutes the more desirable means of delivering that content, e.g., streaming services (YouTube Red, Netflix). The whole network of money inflow creates a border which the consumers contribute to building around the actual content. The vicious circle is that average people dig the grave of sincerity in culture as the industry overlooks them and rakes in the cash. Its equal parts consumers’ fault as well as the enterprises’ for all of this.

Right about here is where you’ll begin hearing the groans of people who don’t care about this aspect. “If its a good movie or song or TV show, and people like it, who cares?”. I wonder if people’s tastes have degraded along with the standards of mainstream content. Like they’re linked; like the quality of content determines the consensus of “good” nowadays. More often than not, it seems I’m right. Nikki Minaj is terrible. Taylor Swift is garbage. Beyonce is over-hyped garbage because of name recognition alone. All these artists are shit. No, that isn’t me simply making a jaded, subjective proclamation. Of course art is subjective, but compare any of these artists to the likes of Vivaldi or Bob Dylan in terms of dedication to the craft, passion in the actual work and the disparity between how much money was behind them and I think it becomes easy to understand why I declare this so easily. The glaring vanity is what kills any right to call it art. Michael Bay’s films are perhaps the shining mecca of this phenomenon in regard to cinema. Again, compare his work to Scorsese’s or Welles’ in the same ways, how one set of creators employ genuine themes of humanity, internal struggle and social commentary, and the other literally only uses product placement, atrocious cinematography methods and something resembling a plot or humor.

Something happened progressively in time at which the demands of commercialization outweighed the demand of innovative original content; and at the current time, I think, we’re at its highest point and the masses are totally pacified to it. I’d like to think this became an early recognizable spike on a hypothetical graph around the Reagan era when TV, Film and Music were experiencing a renaissance and outside companies jumped on that action quickly and saturated media with product placement and merchandise in different areas, not to mention the political and social atmosphere which rendered every man, woman and child a cheerleader for the free market.

For me and likely others, this concept goes beyond the entertainment industry being lazy and desperate and bleeds into the more broader issue of capitalism. It exhausts and wares everything it touches for the benefit of the few who own its means of development and delivery, keeping the consumers satisfied just enough to ensure the system working and the masters happy. The outputs in mainstream media we’re seeing now are the dwindling supply of the bourgeoisie which exploits the submissive cultural proletariat who has accepted the same origin story after origin story with a few tweaks here and there to not anger people too much with the same old. They’ve accepted yet another fucking break-up/love song or celebrity drama ballad from Taylor Swift or whatever other trophy for record labels and the RIAA. Yet another insufferable season of that one series we enjoyed in the beginning, which is now past death. In leftist circles we often talk about private forces ravaging the ecosystem for profit until collapse; I think we’ve seen a perfect application of that in entertainment media. The quality thereof is far beyond disrepair. Palpably lazy and annoyed. Just waiting to die… after one more Spider-Man reboot.

For creators, it comes down to one of two choices: Attach yourself to a foundation of corporate income for your content (a good half going to shareholders) and demands to revise the original nature of your work, or pursue a medium in a way which people will adore untouched by incredible profit influence, thus retaining the integrity and honesty of the content. Moreover, we should abandon this notion of intellectual property and copyright which suggests that ideas are material objects able to be kept as commercial property, and that copying and sharing are the same as theft. In the time before the industrialization of media, content circulated in common was not only prevalent, but the default state of culture and ideas. Renaissance scholars read Aristotle freely, musicians played without need of permission or purchase from the original song’s creator, visual art was open to all across the world. Centralized, individual ownership of a work wasn’t conceived because the work was rightly considered in the minds of all and thus the shared ownership of all. I can’t fathom any other reason this changed so radically other than money having come into it all. “Starving artists”, a snarky defender responds. Eliminate money and a dominant market economy, and nobody will depend on arbitrary dollars and cents.

Normally we hear about this subject around a cafe table of insufferable Tarantino-idolizing twenty-somethings who listen to vaporwave and don’t do anything about it. I think this should be among the headlines of major news outlets and not simply a matter of comment by no-names like myself, to be perfectly honest. Its a tragedy when greed has blinded the continuation of sincere art – a universal concept which replenishes and refreshes emotions and outlooks on life and society through narratives, moving us forward with a sense of meaning and inspiration. That being replaced by “Explosions! Brand-name mindlessness! Coming soon to DVD and Blu-Ray! Streaming now on Hulu! ALL THIS FUCKING MERCHANDISE! BUY. BUY. BUY.” makes me physically ill. Industry is a cancer. Money is a plague. Underlying material incentive that exploits a medium is among the unspoken horrors of our modern times.

My faith rests in those who create content and make the material gains the last thing expected. Those who still believe in some lost noble essence in giving an unconditional instance of pleasure or entertainment to the world, as the bards and minstrels of our time. Who toiled for quality merriment and music, not for a carbon copy of the thousandth pop song and 5 dollars upfront. This basic concept being expanded and dominating corporate distribution of entertainment is what will truly unleash creators and consumers as the masters of their crafts.

When you’ve made it an Industry, You’ve killed it

Standing out

You’re born into this world, you grow up year by year, go to school (maybe college), get a job, work yourself sore, meet someone, get married, maybe have some kids, maybe work some more, save up for retirement, and then take a dirt nap for eternity. And its not all guaranteed to be pretty along the way, either. The last part is the only thing thats certain, if nothing else.

Its a cliche and overused concept to challenge and reject this pre-packaged, stereotypical set of life events, but a valid concern and pursuit nonetheless. Countless books, films, music and other works have used this existential battle of a perceived, undesired fate as the basis for a story or to establish a message. It critiques the conformity in the course of life, the mundane and ad nauseam nature that infects newcomers to this world — and asserts that there’s more to this life that we’re given than bills to pay and jobs to attend. That more vast possibilities to pursue await us over the horizon.

This is all well, but my own concern in this regard more than anything is seeing how this plays out in civilized society per the individual: The actual application of rejecting all the garbage (something out of Fight Club or Office Space) and pursuing what you want in the midst of everyone else dragging their feet, doing what they really don’t want to. If one can live amongst the passive sheep while being something of free and feral hound.

It should first be understood that what we’re talking about can be summarized as a system. Be it a corporate, political, social or cultural system, to varying degrees, each aspect appears to intersect and form an underlying mode of normalcy which the majority of people default to as the constitution of life at large. This mold then becomes the burden of each person born into the world. The idea of going to college and having a miserable job and eventually settling down with a spouse and children is the most common example. We could go on to argue that society is determined to give an advantage to those who follow this, but I’ll allow that for one who would dig deeper before the actual object of practicality in resisting that system is comprehended.

I’ve always disliked the idea of something like school or work dominating a fair majority of my time. I’ve never been comfortable with a consistent burden hanging over my head and staying with me through a period of my life. I need underlying freedom from associations if I’m going to stay sane. The burden serves a purpose, however. School, as intended, to teach you. Work to supply money, and then money to obtain goods. But like anything else, we can circumvent the middle step and go directly to the end goal by our own initiative. As of writing, I never completed public school; I taught myself basically everything I know now step-by-step through encyclopedias and the Internet. In toiling for a wage, I don’t have to work nine hours at a job I hate to get what I need/want; I could always grow my own food, mooch off parents or roommates for housing and other such things. If I wanted to risk it all, I could always just steal everything I wanted or obtain money through unlawful means. But for convenience sake, I do work that job because having that paycheck is the most immediate and universal means of getting through the world we’re in now with markets and ups and downs on currency. It is what it is, and I don’t care too much about that particular aspect to go through the trouble of leaving it, but the idea of doing so interests me.

But I’m still tasked with that one stupid thing hanging over my head each week. From here it becomes a question of being either half involved in the system to get the bare essentials or goods out of society, or to remove yourself completely from it all and go through the world on your own devices, albeit probably missing out on some things. In a way, the former is how I have it right now, if I can keep it that way through adulthood. How it is for those who are fully and not half involved in the humdrum machine along the lines of a full-time office or factory job is something I can only speculate on. If their human side remains, what contemplations of overthrowing their bosses’ ownership of their toil they may have had, what thoughts they may have expressed to friends or co-workers so honest of their deepest feelings that it frightened them, what small glimpses of freedom they may have had, only for them to fade away each passing day.

So many people have made a definition for their world with jobs and compulsory responsibilities as the real world, I assume to distinguish the dumbass hippy dreamers who seek a way to breathe fresh air into life from the people who got it right who want to hang themselves deep down inside after working nine to five, insisting that they’re fine with it all. I find it prudent to be as relentless as possible to those who repeat that belief through asking if their natural human habitat was the recesses of corporate servitude and if their emotional health relies on such environments. If the weekly paycheck holds the same innate importance as oxygen to them. If there is truly no line between the empires built on misery and stacked on top of each other, and the open spaces and infinite skies of independence all around the tangible spaces of the earth.

In totally abandoning the system, or at least to the most possible degree, we often see it done in a single, romanticized act of courage or outrage when depicted in media. Something along the lines of what Nicolas Cage’s character did in Mike Figgis’ Leaving Las Vegas: Cash all your checks and head out to a den of hedonism (to drink yourself to death, but you might not want that) as one big fuck you to life. But overall, its a sort of drawn-out suicide than a departure from civilization with a moral background. For that, we can look to the ventures of Thoreau as recorded in Walden, where his truest joys are had in isolation and simplistic living in harmony with the rural area of Concord, Massachusetts. In what minimal interactions with shops and farmers he can survive off of, as expressed in Economy, he basks in the independence and clarity of his own spiritual and intellectual agency. His mind, body, spirit and cottage by Walden Pond are his sole possessions and obligations. This is practical, Thoreau himself was proof of it. It being practical now is another story. In the 1840s, before land basically became swallowed up nation-wide by either public or private entities, when the United States was still fairly young and had plenty of room to grow, it was only one of the most common practices to set off in your own direction and establish yourself somewhere, perhaps with some form of tax on land depending on the circumstances, though Thoreau most likely resisted them, given his background. Now, its all mostly bought to become a new Walmart or gated community. If you manage such an endeavor in today’s conditions, you’ve circumvented the impossible.

Those who live on the road or on the run are perhaps the only ones closest to what human instinct we have left in us from over a thousand years ago, if one can establish his or her life, or at least a period of it, on the principle of having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. Constantly shifting. Continually absorbing new environments, walking the length of railways and city streets, covering miles of pavement and highways in cars and planes, dominating landmasses around the world with their presence, all with what possessions they can carry on their backs and the infinite determination moving them forward. Where they go or what their global direction might be is irrelevant. The object moves three steps forward for every one made by the saunterer, and if nothing else, this is the one meaning in the whole affair. To travel, to make friendships and learn and do all that one can. This is perhaps the greatest example of hanging off the last thread connecting oneself to the entire course of systemic life, if he or she has the peace of mind knowing of potential debts and lost responsibilities piling on top of whatever is left of their name. This is possibly the purest form of freedom in modern existence. The most practical and obvious, the one course of life that isn’t (entirely) illegal or regulated. If you can dedicate at least four years of your life to being homeless and scrounging what you can to survive in all manners of direction and location, its correct in saying that you’ve lived.

In the historical quest to rally human beings into a society with layers upon layers of systems which act as the property of a few to employ the many into dependency, in conjunction with social defaults and norms, have we made ourselves a prison for our souls and our individual and collective capabilities? This isn’t to say that society is the problem, but that the seemingly mandatory way of existing in it has fostered a burning sense of hopelessness in those who have their own destinies to make while the system fights them each step of the way. There is no option to thrive or exist happily without a bank account; to enjoy peace from the grasp of enterprises or capitalism; to leave your own mark on the world without it in some way benefiting the system overseers and regulators.

We should acknowledge oncemore that the entire concept is a tired one, often used as a placeholder for a rebellious character in a film. But far too rarely do we actually step back from what we’ve moseyed along into and ask ourselves if serving the few for a fraction of what we’re capable of is worth it on that same level. If doing something we hate, not ‘hate’ in the sense of brief inconvenience, but a responsibility which we physically and emotionally loathe, and for the outcome to be a pathetic wage, is truly the only way to flourish in our own agency.

I don’t write this to explicitly endorse a rebellion or the methods propounded by anarchists or socialists, though I’d be lying if I said this didn’t take influence from them, but instead I seek to put the truth of our hearts’ desires and our sheer potential front and center, and that standing out in the midst of a century’s worth of conditioning into employment, capital, systemic participation and abject submission is the hallmark of humanity restored. For true personal liberty, for genuine happiness and clearity, for unfettered potential and progression.

Standing out