Thursday, September 12, 2013

False Idolatry 2013

Whenever I am disillusioned with something, or no longer having fun, I tell myself “Everything is a learning experience.” That’s how I have managed to cope with heartbreak and loss, embarrassment and shame, feeling out of place and ostracized, and everything in between. This year at Burning Man, that was my mantra.

I am well versed in the perils of expectation and well aware that the Playa can provide both ecstasy and misery, sometimes back to back. Last year, I rode through the week on a cloud, only coming to a crashing halt when my campmates (new friends with whom I had bonded deeply) and I packed up to leave. We adventured in tight little cells, streamed through the crowds on the way to the burns, screamed “Orgasm!” in unison at the top of our lungs, miraculously found just the right places, huddled together with our crew, bladders full of piss and hearts full of bliss.

This year's Burn fell flat in comparison. I felt so far away from that candy-coated cloud I had navigated through the desert in 2012. I felt alone, disheartened, and disconnected from most of my campmates and the sea of drugs that they were swimming in with joy and abandon. It was a tripper’s paradise, and this year I had turned down the Kool-Aid. But then, I know the perils of comparison too. I adjusted my perspective, repeated my mantra, and looked for the beauty in the breakdown.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Butterfly Circus


The Butterfly Circus - HD from The Butterfly Circus on Vimeo.

The Butterfly Circus, directed by Joshua Weigel, is one of the most beautiful and inspiring short films I have seen in a long time.  The film tells the story of a troupe of unique performers, all of whom had to fight their way through very difficult circumstances before finding happiness in the traveling family of the Butterfly Circus.  "The harder the struggle, the greater the triumph," says the ringmaster.  We see this theme played out as the newest addition, a man without limbs, struggles to escape his past as a sideshow curiosity and embrace his full potential.  This is a must watch.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sounds of Late


Blackbird Raum

Agent Ribbons

The Devil Makes Three

Florence and the Machine

Friday, April 8, 2011

Words of Wisdom

Excerpts from “What I Believe“, J. G. Ballard 1984.

“I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen. . .
I believe in Max Ernst, Delvaux, Dali, Titian, Goya, Leonardo, Vermeer, Chirico, Magritte, Redon, Duerer, Tanguy, the Facteur Cheval, the Watts Towers, Boecklin, Francis Bacon, and all the invisible artists within the psychiatric institutions of the planet.
I believe in the impossibility of existence, in the humour of mountains, in the absurdity of electromagnetism, in the farce of geometry, in the cruelty of arithmetic, in the murderous intent of logic. . .
I believe all excuses.
I believe all reasons.
I believe all hallucinations.
I believe all anger.
I believe all mythologies, memories, lies, fantasies, evasions.
I believe in the mystery and melancholy of a hand, in the kindness of trees, in the wisdom of light.”

Sunday, March 13, 2011

After the Quake





When a catastrophic natural disaster occurs in a globalized society such as our own, it affects us all. The recent earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan has caused incomprehensible damage. The number of lives lost is still incalculable, and the full repercussions of the destruction are not yet known. The physical structure as well as the zeitgeist of Japan will be affected for years to come, in ways that I can't quite fathom. Thoughts of the suffering there have haunted me for the last few days, jarring me out of my usual delusion of security and comfort. The truth is, disaster can happen anywhere, at any time, to any of us. These thoughts led me to pick up Haruki Murakami's book of short stories, After the Quake, a book I have had for a while but never finished. The book centers around the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, and it's effects on a myraid of characters. Note that the Kobe quake was over 3,000 times smaller than the one on Friday. Murakami uses these stories to explore the fragility of life, and of the self. In doing so, he illustrates the bittersweet truth that this kind of disaster forces us to confront. There is order in the world, but there is also chaos. There is justice in the world, but there is also tragedy. All that we can do is try to move forward, spreading as much light as we can.

Donate at Global Giving or Red Cross.

(Videos via Youtube)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Global Relationships: Wong Kar Wai's Happy Together



In my junior year of college, I was fortunate enough to take a class in the in the history of Asian art and visual culture taught by the amazing Professor Deborah Stein.  This class, like the best ones always do, transformed my understanding and left me with treasures.  Among these treasures is Wong Kar Wai's masterpiece of film, Happy Together.

One of the ways that Happy Together can be understood is as an allegory of globalization. The film does not provide a cohesive narrative, but rather a broken sequence of events and images. Gaps in the story are frequent and must be filled in by the viewer. On the surface, the film is about a gay couple from Hong Kong, Ho Po-Wing and Lai Yu-Fai. It follows the trajectory of their emotionally abusive relationship over a period of two years. We are provided with minimal narrative in voice-overs, but long sequences of pure imagery and music allow the viewer to imagine the particulars of the narrative.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Strange Culture



The film Strange Culture tells the story of Steve Kurtz, Assistant Professor at University of Buffalo and member of the collective Critical Art Ensemble. Critical Art Ensemble is a group of 5 artists whose work involves exposing the dangers of genetically modified foods. They also explore the ways in which the military-industrial complex uses science in ways that are ultimately damaging to the health and well being of the public in the name of profit. Kurtz became a target of an FBI investigation when his art was deemed a terrorist threat.