Primarily a writing exercise, this dream journal-inspired blog is a quiet introspective sojourn into the process that we traverse in going from private dream to public art. I see our dreaming as an internalized mythmaking. As I philosophize and expressively exhibit dreams, both private and public, I encourage and delight in creative language as a way to practice experiential metaphors through a “public dreaming." Writing Theory: Creative Dream Fiction

Monday, 28 October 2013

Globalization and All Our Relations: The Human Family Shall Overcome

Natural disasters caused by climate change by KVDP
"We've been told that climate change is a very serious threat, in fact the most serious threat facing humanity today. Groups like UNICEF and Save the Children are emphasizing the particular impact on young people around the world in developing countries, in the Global South…

….[The United Nations International Panel on Climate Change, representing thousands of scientists from 195 countries] have 95 to 100% certainty that climate change is manmade and that we really do need to be reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are being extracted and burned to get us back to that 350 parts per million. We're currently over 400 parts per million."

Ben West, from a podcast published with The Media Co-op titled, "Vancouver is debating a resolution to divest from fossil fuels"

Recently, I was asked to produce an essay without knowing the prompt, until the moment unveiled the golden word: Globalization. The off-the-cuff piece, shown here within the body of this text, is the result; derived from a deeply studied and well-experienced life as a global citizen, a youth whose formative years traversed four continents. Read ahead:
Living conditions in Third World countries are deplorable. In fact, the term Third World derives from the Cold War, signifying all of those countries outside of the pale of American and Soviet landholdings. Such countries have continued to face irremediable challenges with integration into the global economy. Culturally, such countries continue to embark on a multicultural path, as a legacy of post-colonial liberations. Yet, economic woes remain the side effect of these nations. Common people feel the impact the greatest. "War is the enemy of the poor," said Tavis Smiley and Cornel West during their recent "Poverty Tour" through the United States. 
Neo-liberal economics, spearheaded by American economic globalization, creates insurmountable debt for Third World countries. The Third World is now also termed the Global South, due to the fact that most of these countries are located in the resource-rich southern hemisphere. Neo-liberal economics is a unique phenomenon of globalization, which has essentially led the entire globe down the same path of economic debt and cultural greed as that currently faced by the American people. Yet, unlike in America, banks in the Global South will not be bailed out, and their people will not be "defended" by the most powerful military on Earth.    
In recent weeks, as the snakeskin of nature shed under the turning, cyclical gaze of the heavens, I have ruminated steadfastly, and piercingly into the nether reaches of my mind with one essential question. How is one to live directly? How is one to embrace the very source of life from which their every day nourishments and hungers, joys and sorrows, deaths and rebirths emerge? It is a question asked throughout the aeons, and in the Euro-American tradition of thought, also by the transcendentalists. 

Often times one will question whether they are to live as an urban dweller, bound to the manufactured waste stream that devastates as it deviates all from the nature of truth and union with creation. Simply, one might ask, "How can I live off the land?" Such self-interrogations are, at heart, nothing more than abstraction. In truth, one cannot exist without living off the land. It is our relationship to our life that matters, and by our life, I mean our water, our food, our air, our soil, our family, our Earth.

Pre-historically, human life was a bout of physical confrontation. Where, when life is lived directly, one sees straight into the eye of death, and beholds our own reflection staring back with the quiet and steaming grimace of fate. So, the trials and travesties of inter-human conflict seeded our mind as with the necessities of the harvest. Yet, today, instead of the spear, instead of the omen or plague, we have a curious social phenomenon called Globalization. Our confrontations are buffered by stone and metal walls. Our physical conflicts are transformed into backhanded and conniving corrupted relationships, not only among each other, but with all that we see, feel, taste, hear and smell. The most deviant and malign property of Globalization is that it moves to act upon a sixth sense of unreason and ignorance: consumerism. 

The objectified Earth, the manufactured life, canned and packaged and shipped and digitized, provokes our habits of overindulgence, not only in the physical, but also in the emotional, spiritual and mental aspects of existence. Our life is one of imbalance when our relationship to the sources of life we depend on are marred by the anxious flux of neo-liberalized, Westernized, and finally, globalized economic growth. In the end, I wonder how we might return, or go forth, into a paradigm of holism, where things are not treated as objectified individual separations of the world (a reflection of our own egos), but as representative of one and all in the cyclical round of being, of nature, growth and fulfillment. 
This path I have tread before. Tonight, the water is more still and tranquil, more at peace with its shores than ever; almost unified with the distant, clear sky, unmoving. Its depths seem parallel with the infinite universe behind the stars, behind my eyes, and I gaze into its elegant, silent motion. And into the moonlit waters, the icy river glows as an unconscious brew, a kindling power unfolding within the heart and source of the land. The river god sways gently in a dance of ecstasy, the slow rhythmic flow is its yearning to be one, again with the sun-fleshed mountain or of the ocean's undulating tide.
In the Spirit of Hermitage at Fu-ch'un River, painting by Wang Hsüeh-hao
A lunar glint in the stone-shaped waters reflects an unnerving presence ahead. One glint so similar from the eye of prowling fur, the catastrophic bend of a predator's spine sends a million shivers into my very human soul. Though many steps away from the water, I feel as submerged in its unforgiving current. The gates of a natural death; the moment when you embrace the Earth in the fullest, and the human form disintegrates in a flash of primordial hunger. The animal, entranced, paralyzed my every last cell, as its tail swung left and right with dizzying grace, as there were two beings of the hunt, in full and impenetrable balance. And then, the Tiger stopped. Her stare, curiously enough, then was warming.

A Kalighat Painting, Kolkata, India, 1875 titled, "Brahmin Kneeling Before Two Tigers."
As captivated by an inward swell, as a yet unfelt emotion, the pangs of belonging, of a friendship undying since an unformed word first sprang from my infant mouth. My heart welled up with the strength of tears wept before the death of the beloved, and its release followed with utmost relaxation, both bittersweet as ecstatic. She walked with me, as two lifelong friends, along the human path. And my gut sank as I heard the footsteps of a band of unweary souls approaching.

Tsezarskaya zabava (lit. "Caesar's joy", Russian: Цезарская забава) by Vasiliy Polenov
She was unprepared to join us as a race, if only to meet an individual of her heart's likeliness. As the unknowing travellers marched forward, they were met by the power of her charged fangs, her open jaw welcomed them as the air accepts a skydive. I fled, not looking back, confused, while with purpose, the scent of strength over the domineering self, over humanity and the narrow stiflings of egotism and myopia in the anthropocentric paradise of modernity.

My sister. My brother. My mother. My wife. My maternal grandmother. My step-father. My step-mother. My great-grandfather. My paternal grandmother. And my late grandfather.

All of them, lived for and with music. Music brought us forth. Music brought us together. Music gave us wings to traverse the open skies, our imaginations, the open roads and lesser-beaten paths. Through music, we know where came from, where we are going, and how we might get there. In the new single by my sister Jesse, "Everything in Between" she brings it all home.

Listen to Jesse's first album, or even one track on it called, Voyageur, featuring myself and my wife. Listen. The lives of countless generations speak through her tones and chords, her voice, her words. Listen, and you just might hear that one that you know like your own. 

The track These Words is inspired by the wisdom offered as mementos, and as initiations into the power and meaning of family, tradition and the value of life. Be Kind, speaks the first of five wisdom truths, as the Five Noble Truths of Buddhism, our father unearthed five from his own suffered spirit, heartened by the stories and ways of our grandfather, who gave him music, and who passed down not only a tradition of sound, but a tradition of respect for our fellow human beings, for the strength and truth of work and its potential to give one meaning, to give one affirmation that their work is good, that even if it largely remains unsaid, the work is good when it is done in earnest in the trial to confront one's own innermost and enduring sufferings. 

In that way, Kindness transcended politeness, the mediocre drab of everyday humdrum gave way to an appreciation that bordered on spirituality. "My religion is kindness," said the Dalai Lama, and when practiced right, resonates and reverberates, and, ultimately, transcends human suffering as surely and directly as the high of a harmonious tune strummed to the effect of an age-old rhythm, not forgotten and passed down through the embrace of one's own blood. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Spring of the South is the Fall of the North: Writing on Liberation

A 25th of January key freeing Egypt by Carlos Latuff
“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state on innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”

“The poet or the revolutionary is there to articulate the necessity, but until the people themselves apprehend it, nothing can happen ... Perhaps it can't be done without the poet, but it certainly can't be done without the people. The poet and the people get on generally very badly, and yet they need each other. The poet knows it sooner than the people do. The people usually know it after the poet is dead; but that's all right. The point is to get your work done, and your work is to change the world.” 

Regarding the current situation in Egypt, the armed forces and the police backed with thugs are massively shooting and killing suspected pro-the deposed President Mohammed Morsi in streets, at mosques, and in alleys close to demonstration areas. The shooting is happening in all major cities of Egypt. Many religiously motivated violence and shooting incidents have taken place in Christian populated cities located in Southern Egypt.

In Cairo, the violence is escalating and the death toll of Muslim Brotherhood is soaring as the grand son of Hassan El-Banna, the first founder of Muslim Brotherhood organization in Egypt was shot dead on Friday clashes (Source: Al –Jazeera News TV). Another son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader was shot dead on Friday evening during clashes with the police force and the army. Egypt’s temporary government has declared a State of Emergency, and all citizens, as well as foreigners, were warned by the police and the army to keep away from street demonstrations and public governmental buildings, and to avoid entering Tahrir Square.

As you may know, most Egyptians have aggressive sensitivity to being photographed by foreigners, whether in normal daily situations or during public demonstrations. That is why we saw many Western journalists attacked at Tahrir Square, and one female journalist raped consecutively by a group of thugs in Tahrir square. It seems to me that the current military regime in Egypt has fully determined to uproot the Muslim brotherhood organization, not only in Egypt, but also in the whole region, and that might lead to the unwanted birth of another Syria in the area.

Most pro-democracy supporters insist to protest. The Muslim Brotherhood protesters are still surrounded inside the Al-Fateh Mosque in Ramses’ Square. They want to come out from the mosque but they afraid that the thugs outside the mosque might attack them. The police force outside the mosque is striking the protesters inside the mosque with tear gas after a gunman shot at police forces from the minaret of the mosque (Source: Al-Jazeera News TV. 6:00 pm. Cairo. GMT.)

Mr. Abdel Rahman Siddiq Hashim, Correspondent in Cairo, Egypt (August 17)

            Thirty minutes by car from downtown Cairo, the predawn sky of Abu-Seer village revealed the most ancient, complete stonework in the world. Alone, I climbed the eroding rooftop of my host’s concrete dwelling. Sleepless, I gazed into the unworldly pyramid landscape with sand-blooded eyes. The quiet rustling of goats and chickens from an adjacent rooftop finally subsided under the mounting sun. The cool desert night slowly began to burn in the morning haze. It was as common a start as any to another harsh day in a small village of Egypt.

On the village margins, Saqqara Pyramid decayed in the encircling sands, humbled by the glowing Sahara Desert horizon. A middle-aged Egyptian man, donning a dark grey jellabiya, cautiously rode his mule across the rubble-strewn sands. Then, an airplane flew overhead.

Three divergent ages of human existence on Earth emerged as one, sharing a moment, side-by-side. The eldest of the three appeared motionless. The Egyptian man meditatively attended to morning duties as his forebears had done for over a millennium. The airplane, a symbol of Egypt’s national independence and economic prosperity, vanished in an instant.

Tahrir Square, meaning Liberation Square, invited all with pleasant cafes hailing from Egypt’s belle époque period. Patrons intermingled with families at the KFC, and all coveted the dollar menu. In the square, historic speakers in the Headquarters of the Arab League heard the call of muezzin belting out the call to prayer. Five times a day, the prayer, known as the adhan, ascended above the city of a thousand minarets: El Qahira.

For a twenty-year old student attending the American University in Cairo (AUC), overlooking Tahrir from the east, there was liberation. The first day of my young life in Cairo opened with one fiery orange dawn in the fall of 2007. Sipping a hot ginger tea, I waited for my cab in Tahrir Square. Mohammad, age thirty-three, chauffeured me to what would become my home for the next ten months. Zamalek, an island on the Nile, stood besieged on all sides by a city of 18 million.

In the past three years, the AUC’s Zamalek student residence went through two evacuation processes during the 2011 Revolution, and again this summer. Due to the unsafe proximity to Tahrir Square, ground zero for the infamous belligerence of military and riot police, international students were sent home. The residence became a safe haven for the AUC community; domestic students and staff were offered free accommodation and complementary meals.

Emotionally overwhelming, everyone present will never forget the bloodied streets paved with the burnt skin of nonviolent protestors. “They all have witnessed history unfold and a lot of them went to Tahrir Square. They all left in tears having to abide to the evacuation request,” Fatma Abou Youssef, Associate Dean for Residential Life at AUC wrote via email from Zamalek, Cairo on August 19.

In 2007, through a yearlong study in the humanities, Egypt held a potent charm. For a child of American suburbia, life in downtown Cairo was a true and magnificent freedom; where a dollar bought cab fare through thirty minutes of scorching highway from the Great Pyramids to the fortress of Salah ad-Din. At ground level, the city was not only safe; it was ever so welcoming. In comparison to crime in the average American city, Cairo was exceptionally low-key.

After many captivating hours learning intensive Arabic from a local Egyptian professor or studying Islamic philosophy with a visiting lecturer from England, the streets beckoned with an extraordinary spirit of discovery. Only after minutes of walking southeast from Tahrir Square, I wandered to the shrine of Saint Patron Sayyida Zeinab during the pilgrimage festival, or ‘Moled’, in celebration of the birth of this special granddaughter of Prophet Mohammad.

Irrespective of prohibitive warnings from AUC’s student orientation the day of the Moled, I decided to traverse the uninhibited grounds where Sufis and rural Egyptians (known as Sa’idis) pilgrimaged. I espied characters from a bygone era. Many had never before seen the pale face of such foreign skin. An elderly man without legs moved with the aid of wooden blocks, another with a gnarled cane and goatskin satchel appeared at the end of an impressive journey. One younger man, about my age, carried a paralyzed companion on his back. With equal wonder, they smiled at both having reached the shrine as staring into blue irises.

For the next months, practically every time I set foot in public in the city of Cairo, as throughout Egypt, children ran to greet me, jellabiyad-graced elders responded generously to my regular salaam alaikums. Peers offered a traditional glass of Egyptian whisky – the joke name for black tea served with a generous helping of sugar. Ordering a freshly pressed sugar cane drink (qasab) from street-side juicers became a delectably regular pastime under the all-pervasive sun. In fact, the original word for sugar (sukkar) is derived from Arabic. Similarly, the tamarind drink (tamr-hindi) was served by charming fez-wearing men (hearkening to Ottoman times) on street corners amid the harrowing traffic in Tahrir Square.

First impressions of Cairo were smoothed over with genuine smiles and hearty laughter. The people of Cairo soon became my teachers, more than any university professor. First having sought to learn Arabic from the locals, I then learned of dignity, humility and simplicity through their open hospitality and street-wise intuition. Uniquely, Ramadan became my favorite time, when a piece of unbroken baladi flatbread always accompanied the savored mulukhiya soup; welcoming any blessed stranger, even if arriving from the next unassuming alleyway.  

Rapidly, the most frequented haunts, such as Cairo Club and El-Bustan, saw mounting anxiety. Sugar, oil and other daily commodities soared in price, both in the formal, as in the informal economy. Conversations became more grave, jokes more cynical and youth were feeling the brunt of a serious economic downturn.

One year before the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the air was full of gunpowder. Every whisper seemed that moment, when the spark would light and the very social fabric would begin to incinerate. The deep traumas of colonialism, corruption and fear were immanent, and felt by the overwhelming majority everyday. More importantly, an unruly intensity was felt every night, when the mass of people returned to sleep on the bedrock concrete of Cairo’s sprawling suburban slums. In such an environment, the status quo ceases to quell the rage. The traditional café became peripheral to the cyber café, where social media and youth activism quickened into the perfect storm of 2011.

Three years prior, an incipient sandstorm clouded the streets on a day of mass action in the wake of an inexcusable rise in bread prices, while former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak celebrated his 80th birthday. On that night, we crowded into El Horreya Café & Bar (literally meaning Freedom) on May 4, 2008, as on any other downtown metropolitan night in what was once the Amsterdam of the Middle East. Downing local Stella Beer and chain-smoking Cleopatra cigarettes could not snuff out the bitter cynicism looming like a rickety ceiling fan about to fall and leave the place roasting.

The very earth around Egypt is often as imperious as the social hierarchy itself. The desert becomes part of the inimitable struggle for life in Cairo as trade has nefariously altered the course of most people’s lives around the world, so dramatically in the modern era. One week before the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 commenced on January 25, my uncle, visiting on business, listened with ungraspable curiosity to his Egyptian host talk about the gaining local obsession with Facebook. The word was on its way out, and never to return.

Remembering Cairo before the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, and in light of the escalating crisis, life will obviously never be the same. There is irrevocable damage, and if the people, who lived and worked in the downtown area, survive, they may never return, and if they do it will be to a different place. Tahrir Square has become home to a near impregnable military, a scavenger’s paradise of the most lowly and vicious of thugs, a place of smoke and blood, where tear gas blinds and the storied hangouts of a bygone era are stained with the outrage of a military coup in broad daylight. In its wake rests a throng of massacred civilians.

Will the bartender at El Horreya Café & Bar return, he, who snickered and grimaced with local spite, subtly disproving yet overtly encouraging Egyptians’ mixing with European, American and African socialites over incalculable packs of Cleopatra cigarettes and football? Will the papyrus painter return, who gypped me out of a small fortune, cleverly convincing me into becoming a rare arts collector? Will his son return, learning his trade not only for the trade, but also for the tricks; he who walked with me past the now besieged Ramses’ station mosque to deliver my papyrus paintings home to America? Will the mythic female taxi driver return; she, who dazzled our imaginations by crossing the gender line into such a masculine space as the world-infamous streets and thoroughfares of Cairo’s largely unregulated (or, self-regulated) traffic?

As social critic Tariq Ali wrote this July for counterpunch, an independent investigative journalism source, after all is said and done, “Who will take the Army away?” In the intermediate period between the first Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and this year’s ongoing protests, which began with the presidential coup of Mohamed Morsi on July 3, the Iranian Green Movement receded, while Bahrani and Syrian social unrest continues to derail. After the ecstatic hype following the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, weary voices from the Middle Eastern diaspora warned of immanent crisis. Westerners scratched their heads when the Muslim Brotherhood ascended to power.

As a foreigner in Egypt, one learns that a human connection to anyone on Earth, to anywhere on Earth, from anyone and anywhere can be learned simply by walking in public, in the street, and more importantly, the square, with an open heart, engaging in dialogue and being present. When we listen, we observe how everyone has a backstory, which does not merely explain one’s present situation, but supports and rounds it out with a complex spectrum of life experience.

Today, this truth is more than possible; it is inevitable as more and more people are forced out of their homes, out of the comfort of their lives in their countries and cultures of origin, whether by war, civil unrest or the urge to change things, to meet face-to-face with another, and see the clearest reflection of one’s own life. The deaths of Egyptian protestors are not isolated incidents. They are part of the larger narrative of one unified history of all people. In another two years, will they have fallen in vain, or will everyone empowered with the knowledge of the uprising ensure that they have not?

On returning to the U.S. after three months in Cairo during the summer of 2010, the adage from the American Revolution curiously repeated in my head: No Taxation Without Representation. The city streets should see my sign, I thought, held up on display; the Revolutionary slogan of 1776, concluding with the statement: Stop Funding the Militarization of the Middle East. That sign was never raised.

After over a year of living on the ground in Cairo intermittently from 2007-2010, I had about enough of armed forces on every street corner. As an American, I felt complicit with the military presence. An iconic moment from the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 revealed the ugly face of global militarism when a demonstrator exhibited the “Made in the U.S.A.” stamp on canisters of tear gas.

As in the ancient materiality of Saqqara, the medieval trot of the mule and modern flight were spawned out of an instant on the archetypal sands of time. An airplane summons the precarious future in all its speed, might and, finally, in the local historic context, its fleeting insignificance. The pyramid, now stationary and unascending, contrasted with the way of the mule and the plane moving in the same direction.

Yet, as with today in Egypt, the very power and speed of the plane overhead not only outmatches the mule’s strength, arriving at their common destination first, it leaves nothing behind for those arriving at a deliberate pace, as allegorically, by mule.

The people of Egypt seek development through truly democratic means, as opposed to Western democratic means, i.e. foreign aid, sanctions and war. For Egypt, as with most of the world, true independence is a long-awaited, and as yet unfulfilled promise. When allowed to proceed at their own pace, in step with tradition, and an engaged contemporary society (as demonstrated in the revolutionary context), the people become aware that the plane overhead is exactly as distant and unconcerned as it appears. Contrasted to the pyramid, or the mule, the plane (and the elitism it represents) consumes the country’s (human and natural) resources with it, and all in a passing instant.

During the daily commute through Tahrir Square, one of the largest public insignias near to the square’s Omar Makram Mosque stood out: “Everything Should Be XX” (meaning: everything should be 20th century). Before the revolutionary fervor, quotidian time in Egypt screamed with the anxiety of delay. The rushes of traffic, the strength of the black tea, and the overconsumption of sugar were offset by fitful exhausts, religious rituals, and the sun; and now, an army, sponsored by the most militarized, energy-rich and power-hungry nation in the entire world. Nevertheless, as countless Egyptians stage sit-ins, many say the people of the unmoving Saqqara still live and walk in the streets of Cairo.

NOTE: This article, titled, Fall of the Arab Spring, was published with The Media Co-op on October 16, was produced in partnership with and the Arusha Centre with the Calgary Working Group initiative to establish a new local of The Media Co-op in Calgary

Read our other recent pieces produced by the project: 

"Vancouver is debating a resolution to divest from fossil fuels"
The 3rd of October
Egypt's War on Terrorism and Extremism
Hayseed Magazine
Corporations in our Heads
Working North
It was our last night. The sirens of Death displaced the air with an eerie silence. The dissonant projection moved us with a most unsettling scream as from the constellations above. In an incomprehensible language, the alien voice bore down on our skulls as through our entire skeletons with the most devastating form of spiritual dread.
IsraHell's concentration camp by Carlos Latuff
Neo-Nazi ghosts awakened to round up non-Aryan cattle from their millennial imprisonment under the northern cross. Before the first ounce of blood was spilled, I eyed the forest beyond the edge of the encampment, where concentration then turned to liberation. For a reason unknown to me at the time, I saw my way out. Others noticed as I ran through the fencing, bewildered by the transcendent feeling of freedom beyond the barbed hatred that confined my elders, my children and brethren of closest kin.
The Gaza Ghetto by Carlos Latuff
Out into the wayward plain, I fled, alone, veiled under a new moon. The sky enlightened my distance with steps unheard inside the emptying prison. Yet, I could hear wails. As I moved into the dizzying silence, my heart muffled by the fear of no-return, I wept. I felt my skull crack at bearing the guilt, the shade and the humility of survival among my most honoured family and friends, of my blood and spirit, they left behind to suffer excruciating gasp of liquidation.
We are all palestinian - Native Americans by Carlos Latuff 
The sky filled with light, and as the fog of my vision cleared, a field of people opened before me, as with the harmonious revelation of a smile. Youth prayed and rejoiced under the morning sun, strong with music, to greet the day with endless festivity. The glow of the Earth radiated as a face after being kissed by a warm lover. The air moved softly, and my skin pulsed with gratitude. I enjoyed the music, spontaneous and ambient, as if I had heard music for the first time. Then, a face stared into mine.

Forgiveness by Carlos Latuff
They recognized me, where I had come from, my origins and imprisonment. I wondered if they had escaped as I had. My first reaction was to run, yet, as the moment passed, I felt their empathy. The young woman, working as an attendant to the open-air music festival, expressed her concern, and showed me the way to a bus station near to the edge of the forest. From there, I could travel on and farther away from the destitute evil of my past.

Che Guevara wearing a keffiyeh by Carlos Latuff
As I approached the station, others noticed me, with fearing eyes, saddened with the truths of human compassion, they earnestly helped me along. I couldn't decide where to go. The schedule was complicated by the tightness of the knot in my heart. Where would I go? What would I do? Should I return and face the death that had me in its embrace, and that had since now consummated its passion with everyone I had ever known? I remain, immobilized. 

Listen to live recordings taken from the Trio's debut performance on October 18th, 2013 in Self Connection Books (Canada). More on Jasmin's brilliant skills, gifts and about her amazing Crystal singing bowls please visit her today at Singing Bowl Music. This live album was produced by Vi An. Funds from this album goes towards artists involved and especially to fund future endeavours together as a collective, to rent venues, promotional material, transportation, meals, accommodation, etc. Thank you for your amazing continued support of these fine artists.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Fall of the Artist in Transformation: The Moon at Dawn Exhibit

Full Moons and Dawn's Crepescules
"Do we break rules all the time? All the time. Do you stretch the rules, break the rules, all the time, and in the theatre in particular...It's the difference between working against the world we don't want and deciding to work towards the world we do want." David DiamondCorporations in our Heads: Theatre for Living Tours New Production to Calgary

Two Octobers ago, when the seasonal round turned, the leaves of many pages filled with the love of language. Foresight and impermanence intoned a name: SoJournal. After the first year, this weblog had reached 10,000 lucid pairs of eyes, and now one year later, the lucidity has tripled in the pupils of innumerable dreamers; thousands and thousands of imaginations sparked, eyes opened and minds revealed as the clear movement of subtle knowledge - that supernatural creativity embedded deeply within, slightly beneath the folds of memory, as the enchantment of rain through the glass of consciousness, falling with near-silence, full of potent harmony, of life and renewal. The seasonal cycle returned. 

And so, as I began the creative journey of SoJournal with Cyclical Wordplay - a visual and literary purging from the spiritual gut of language - I now celebrate year two of this virtual space with the sixth artwork representing the collection, Full Moons and Dawn's Crepescules, in a seven-series cycle of visual, literary and musical collections/exhibits/movements. The elaboration of dawning abstraction unveiled as the phases of a moon, coloured as with the foliage of a cosmic fall from space into the mind of humankind; as formed of ethereal dream creations engulfing and erupting with the pangs of a voracious heart. 

So, the above quote is in reference to an assertion from David Diamond's fascinating book, "Theatre for Living" that in order for art to be transformational it must break the rules. In dreaming, we break the rules of identity. Everything is us - and yet we are curiously not - somehow bizarrely connected with the inner world of all that dwell in the subconscious netherworld of Spirit. In my art (visual, literary and musical), I am inclined toward the same effect. Dissolving boundaries is the practice, and the technique is the creation of art that ascends to transcendent heights of unity with the source of creative energy - the instinctual centre, before reason, simply to the joy, wonder and love of creation. 

In, the artwork, Full Moons and Dawn's Crepescules, look through the wintry window light into a charged, otherworldly space where the boundaries of inner and outer dissolve, where the moon cycles around and within our perspective, where we can look through and into a realm of potential, where harmony is interpretive and the veil of beauty and truth is lifted to reveal the nude face of raw creation. As with Present Sound, Silent Space, there is an accompanying collection of written works. For now, read on, through earlier altered states of visual writing below, and into the mergence of Sketches of Style in the form of sound. 
Electro-Acoustic Improvisations
Cyclical Wordplay
Evocations: Cyclical Wordplay
Exotic Settlers

Evocations: Exotic Settlers
Evocations: district.Columbia
Double-Mirror: Truths of district.Columbia

Sketches of Style
Present Sound, Silent Space
Sketches of Style is the fourth album in a seven-work cycle of art, writing and music. Experimental, ambient, improvisations through an eclectic blend of world instruments (darbuka, frame drums, xaphoon, shakuhachi) synchronize together with original electronic beat loops conceived on very basic virtual drum pads.

The addition of electronic beats offers a new entrance into sound art that differs from the three albums preceding in this cycle of seven works. Three supporting and leading instrumental tracks are co-intoned together with voicing abstract, improvisational language - as in selections from the written form of Sketches of Style.

Firstly, the bed track of original electronic beats, under the name "Grey Sky Jump" figures well into a mood of autumnal ambience. The orchestration of world percussion added to the repetitive regularity moves the listener through a hypnotic, ambient xaphoon melody. The vocalization, abstract and experimental, gives way to a light, almost humorous, vibration of the incipient curiosity that sparks prior to the experience of absolute wonder, and finally, open-form astonishment at hearing the raw flood of creative instinct that pours boundlessly through every last aspect of our innumerable senses of visceral and noetic perception. 

Visions of Outer Conflict is a five-poem chapbook opening and setting the stage for the Sketches of Style collection with explorative extroversions of the spiralling mind. Through stories of perception into the paradigmatic movement of humankind through themes of diaspora and extinction, the chapbook then ends with Cajoled Spine-Tap, which alludes to a surgical procedure whereby the spine is alleviated of pressure to relieve a debilitating bodily experience. The aspiration is for the chapbook to have a spiritually resonant effect as the procedure, effectively allowing a clarity and relief from the pressures of normalized thought and predictable emotion.  

Monday, 7 October 2013

The Wild Path: An Oceanic Reunion of Musical Discovery

New Government Road, Lillooet, B. C. by William George Richardson Hind
"I get privy to an area that most people have not seen and will not see, and that's just amazing, and I get to see it at this point in time before any of these projects go through whether they do or not - maybe they don't get approved by the NEB [National Energy Board] or maybe they do - but if they do and these pipelines happen, the places that I visit this summer or next summer or the summer past, they won't be the same as they were when I saw them.

It'll have gone through an irreversible alteration and not for the better. For the betterment of some human notion of bettering the Canadian economy, wealth, or prosperity but not for any betterment of the land." Ian MacNairn, Working North: Calgary Worker Speaks on Labour Conditions in Northern Alberta and BC

In two years, I hadn't seen the ocean. The epic grasslands of Alberta prairie filled my pupils with daily life, lived fully and for the present. Answering to no one except Father Sky, Trickster Napi and the Bow River, I moved humbly through the auspicious momentums of friendship, solace, distance, rootedness, and foresight. The elegant plans of my life incinerated like a vintage map under a breaking candle. In the bitter hours, I wore my bone to nothing but pure face. And the ocean called. At summer's end, as the leaves slowly dying with bursts of peace said in the silent flesh of wood, I broke past the unanswered din of prairie sky mind. The expanses narrowed with focus of sight, and the road stretched on through mysteries immemorial: a land of hidden truth and naked passion. The Earth spun on a gamble, and the sea rose. 

In two years, I hadn't seen the ocean. Firstly, through goggles of tires and binoculars of steel, I then moved through mountain fog to sail toward the island shore. Orcas lifted above the snowy crests, as solar rays burned through the misty sky raining a refreshing, and most rejuvenating, beautiful life. Water flushed my spirits in a spiralling lust, unafraid to lick the clouds and skim atop the brightening ocean. In the rain, I sang and wept oceans of longing fulfilled. The inner world lost its axis and at a loss for balance whirled in ecstatic harmony with the chaotic ring of Beginning. As the sky opened, arriving closer and closer to the island shore, my mind lunged with feline prowess over the horizon, to feel my own heart stretch across this watery earth in a divine embrace of superhuman love, of imagination and unity. 

In two years, I hadn't seen the ocean. The cedar hat and drum vibrated with untouchable grace, as I remembered the northernmost step I had taken arm-in-arm with the coastal peoples of the Canadian west. How their drum sang with opulent harmonies only so sweet as when filling the cold air above the tear-blending Pacific. Under the first sun, my friend, a luthier of fine wooden drums (harvested locally) led me to meet the Black Bear, wise fool of the gentle, lazy, clumsy earth. We found sacred fungi and cooked and smoked and bore down with rhythmic intonation over the self-built family home. The forest spoke with a voice to shelter our lives with the hard woods of a door and staircase, of walls and rooms of birth, childhood, adolescence and maturity to the soft woods of art, passion and a work to spell freedom from the burdensome street of poverty, class, race, addiction and anger. 

In two years, I hadn't seen the ocean. The night sky breathed light, streams raged in the subtle beyond as death called us inward to sleep under the reign of the green dragon tincture, a home concoction of herbal divinity. Sea lions surfaced to the call of the drum skins reverberating madly over ocean stones. Overlooking the snowcapped island range, we viewed the lush orchestral arrangement of oak, cedar and pine as nearby eruptions solidified into earth-bound communities, moved by the crafting of local life as it etches its place on currents of stone and seed. And so I left, speechless from the first mountaintop days ago as the journey from Alberta started, and from where it ended. To see the ocean, and to sing with the opening sky. To drum along the banks of the island range, seeing snowcapped mountains stare into the distance, over local life as it thrives and nests behind the silencing waves. 
at home in the woods
from where the rain begins
full speed behind
horizontal moments
the daily unground
the first time we sang
the reason we left
to openness we come
the way of the blue unnamed
afterwork time
She came
She saw
She conquered
Video Description: So far the only 36 stringed zheng, Taiwanese made long zither in the world. Great innovation it was about time this was invented(?), innovated at least, because this is my first time improvising on one this grand of a size! Grateful to the luthier and to Sonia Liu of Vancouver's "Crystal Gu-zheng Centre" for allowing me this great honour to share.