Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Camera as a Weapon

Storyteller extraordinaire, the father of African film, Ousmane Sembene speaks about filmmaking in Africa, pan-Africanism and where it all comes together. If you haven't already and are presented with the opportunity, watch his latest production "Moolade".

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Have You Used Your Voice Today?

We have been blessed with these great abilities to observe, assess, think, respond, to express ourselves! But it's amazing how under-exercised they some of them are. I have lately become very antagonistic toward several service-providers Stateside. But ahhhh, the beauty of Customer Service. Well, not quite. Usually I get through to a machine who obviously can never cater to your individual needs and queries and they are making it increasingly impossible to get past all the menus and options to talk to a real live human-being. What thoroughly frustrated me the other day was the fact that a company like doesn't even have the courtesy to provide customers with a telephone number! No. This was not going to work. Seek and ye shall find and this I did: answers and an excellent example of using one's voice. Peruse and be impressed (or not).

The Pleasure of Unemployment

A lot of people I know have lately been dropping out of the 9 to 5. The parent generation shake their heads and despair for the future of their children. Now, appreciating that everyone’s experience is unique, I cannot help but look at the great potential and world of possibility in a decision like that. Our generation has a lot more choice and often when we take advantage of that fact, we are seen as naïve, spoiled, frivolous and inexperienced. Well, of course we are inexperienced and experience is the only thing that begets experience. So let us jump into the fires we create. They may turn out to be the kind of fires that destroy and they just may turn out to be the kind of fires that create new substances of value. The parents should only hope that they have prepared us well enough to deal with the scalding and to not let it discourage us from jumping in again.

Below is something I wrote a while ago, at a point where I decided grab 9 to 5 (well more like 9 to whatever time or day the deadline is) by the balls.

The Pleasure of Unemployment

On my job search, I have realized that most calls for graphic designers are really calls for either impressionable putty to be moulded to required specifications or for already formed but malleable material that is content to oblige to any required specification.

There is always that point in the interview when I realize whether or not I’m going to get the job. The moments preceding it have been equivocal, either outcome was still possible but then, right then, I realize that everything following is merely formality. That the decision is made. Sometimes that moment occurs when I step into the building, sometimes it happens when the first employee passes by me, sometimes it even occurs when I answer the ad posting the job. You would think I derive pleasure from it as if it is some sort of game. You may think that I’m a masochist who goes around searching out disappointment. The thing is however, it’s not disappointment that I feel. It’s a quiet acceptance and further concretization of the truth that I have been trying so hard to conceal. Now as I start to open myself up to it, it no longer hurts but in fact relieves. This is what I’ve been afraid of. This is why I’ve wasted so much time?

But I don’t look at it as wasted time because that in itself is wasting time. I am brought to this point in my life. And had any single detail been different, I may not have reached this point, like this. Like how? One may ask. Like this: calm, ready, enlightened, excited, invigorated, prepared, confident, cool, thankful. All the experiences and decisions made in my life so far, have brought me to this point and for that, regretting is useless.

I guess the absence of disappointment is explained by the presence of affirmation. When I realize that I am not the kind of candidate that they are looking for, it is not failure, inadequacy or imcompetence that I feel. I know that I am competent. I spent my childhood proving to myself that I could do almost anything that I was really determined to do and that I could excel at if I so wanted. I know that I could do this job they’re asking of me brilliantly. But gone are the days when I am eagerly prepared to spend my precious time doing something that I derive no joy in; something that brings nothing positive to my existence—something that doesn’t celebrate it in anyway. Yes, thankfully those days are past. So as I sit in that interview room, I know that I have a choice. If I really wanted to, I feel I could convince the interviewer why I’m the perfect candidate for the position. It is not hard to make people like you. However, when I realize that the job is not really for me, I no longer see any need in wasting energy to get it. That seems to go against the nature of the universe: going after something which is not for you. It’s obvious that the only thing that can follow that is unhappiness. Of which I want no stake in.

The pleasure of unemployment is not, as myopia may have one think, having nothing to do. To me, having nothing to do is a kind of hell. No purpose, no aim, no satisfaction in solving a given problem. The pleasure of unemployment is the freedom of working for yourself. And I do not mean that merely in the sense of being your own boss. A lot of these people still, in effect, work for others—those they want to impress, those who consume the services they provide, and it goes on… No, I mean the freedom of doing work that is your own. You created it, you go through the process of making it come to life and at the end, you judge it. Though others may too, your judgement is the only necessary one. The only satisfying one. The only one you could care to hear.

Now I may be venturing on idealist territory here. This is something that I often do and with no excuses. Every one of us has a unique voice. A unique calling and a unique thing to offer existence. If we tune into that, we will find that our work has space to exist. That if we do our work, we will find a place for it to rest, even though it may have seemed that there was no room. That is faith. That is what believing in yourself is all about. We were not brought to life to just use up oxygen. I believe there were more noble reasons. We insult our existence when we make nothing of it. When it is just our physicality that concerns us as if we are machines whose work is just to run as expected. Anonymous and regular, just like every other machine. No, that cannot be what life is about and those who make it so sentence themselves to the very unhappiness that they suffer.

* * * *

Incidentally, I did have this one amazing interview that is hard to even define as such. It was more like an easy conversation between friends—totally candid, totally real. And yes, I did get the job.

* * * *

Confucius say: "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life."

Well, I don't look at work as a bad thing so may I take the liberty (the nerve!) to ammend quote to my liking: "Choose work you love and you will never have a job for a day in your life."
Well maybe it's not quite there yet. My point is, work, to me, is elevating whereas "job" is more synonymous with obligation.

The Lazy Way to Success

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Flabbergasted/Strike Me Down!

I came about this in Psalms (137):

"O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us. Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!"

This? In the Bible. Not some new Quentin Taratino vision but that old good book itself! Good book? Totem of a religion that claims to herald virtues such as tolerance yet intolerance reeks from its every breath? Schadenfreude, vindication, lovelessness. And don’t they tell you to love thy enemy?

Now before I obliviously unnecessarily offend any believers let me state here that I have never studied the Bible, I have rarely ever gone to church and the times that I have visited were mostly out of obligation to wedding parties and folks in need of confirmation. Incidentally, I come from a line of pastors and staunch believers. My grandfather preaching this, his brother preaching that, one uncle preaching the other, one uncle bringing the good book and “holy” music when he visits lest our secular lifestyle should tempt him out of the queue to salvation.

Now when it comes to God, I am a great believer. And I appreciate that everyone has their own interpretation and way of conversating with and appreciating God. Who am I to claim one way is better? Who am I to claim that in this world of billions, each person with different likes, dislikes, mannerisms, lifestyles, mentalities, cultures, identities, opinions…that there is ONE RIGHT WAY to reach salvation (that’s the common goal isn’t it?). Why should I be so concerned about my neighbours’ activities anyway, when my own aren’t necessarily in check?

And this concept called forgiveness? Should I only practice it when some ulterior motive nags me to (e.g.. when I want to justify my own latent shortcomings by accepting them in others)? Should I just claim that I practice it, for claiming’s sake when really I’m harbouring graphic schemes of how, after I have led under false pretences the offender into a sense of security and warmth, I shall blast them out of that naiveté with one deft blow of quid pro quo! (See aforementioned Psalm)

I am here now led to understand that, I should revel in vengeance. That were I to take it into my own hands, I should feel myself overcome with joy. That the sight of blood and baby bits splattered over rocks should bring me satisfaction and a sense of having gotten the job done.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Daily Gospel

"if you can't beat them, arrange for them to be beaten."
(my good friend Spooky)

DISCLAIMER: Not always wise or sane but it is in the absence of these adjectives that great things usually come about.

A little bit of Om

It's so funny/pathetic how it sometimes takes reading another's account/view/opinion/thought to put together in a sense-ical manner those loose canons that have been tearing up cohesiveness and articulation in your mind.

The mind. Such a crazy dark crafty shrewd evil perfect enlightening wonderful fascinating perplexing space. And that different minds can come together in agreeance and better yet that different minds can conflict, destroy, build up again, supplement, complement, compliment eachother ensuing in even more crazy dark shrewd evil perfect enlightening…results!

This blog really isn't about anything, per se. It's just one of those times when I don't really have anything specific to say so random thoughts flock in from everywhere and go on stage with no particular script to follow. It's just me appreciating…every thing and it's own individual uniqueness (beauty, truth).

And it's amazing to realise, when you stop trying to be, that you already are.

Perhaps a little bit of context would help with clarity (but clarity is sometimes overrated anyway).