infinity on repeat

"It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality. It seems, in the last analysis, to have something to do with our self-preservation; and that, no doubt, is why the expression of it, the sound of its words, helps us to live our lives.”

Tag: culture

“every way of seeing is also a way of not seeing”

I am what I see.

I become every detail of my surroundings—looking closer constantly, obsessively searching for patterns, meditating on the curvature of peeling paint, morphing objects by changing angles.  I like how billions of people inhabit this earth and if time stopped for just one second, every single one of those people would have a different image in their visual scan. I like how no one can own the thing being looked upon.

I am hyper-aware the materials around me, and even more so when I travel. Some of the hyper-awareness comes from my unfamiliarity with the place & from paying extra attention so I don’t get lost… but mainly it is the sheer freedom to indulge in my gaze, to revel in the feeling of floating anonymously, almost invisible. It is pure ecstasy to wander alone through a strange city and feel yourself slowly disintegrate.

Loving to see also means loving the limitations of seeing. I know I will never capture the air condensing, and I know I will never capture the essence of a person in an image. I am starting to understand why some people believe taking a photograph of a person is an attempt to steal a part of their soul… photographing a stranger without asking is robbing them of their self-definition, because whatever story that photo will go on to tell will be the photographer’s story, not the subject’s. Telling a true, whole, human story is the spirit of making films, so as a filmmaker I have to take constant care to avoid voyeur. This is even more dangerous in still photography… I’ve noticed that in the past months, faces have appeared less and less in my photographs. Of course, I will take pictures of my friends and family, but we use pictures of our loved ones to celebrate our histories together, not to trap them in space and time.

But people love to take pictures of other people. A part of me wonders why that has become such a common practice, especially in tourism. Tourists take pictures of locals as if they are statues in museums. I really hate it. When I took the above photo, I had been filming the waves wash in on the shore of Puerto Morelos. The two girls approached me and started asking me questions in Spanish. I love kids so I liked talking to them even though we really couldn’t understand each other. They wanted me to take their picture… I pretty much always do whatever a kid tells me to do, but I felt vaguely guilty about the situation. I asked them what their names were, but I didn’t have anything to write with and I have already forgotten what they were. So now, like tons of other tourists, I own a picture of a face for which I have no name.

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Mexico in American newspapers~ half the story, at best.

The mainstream news coverage of Mexico fluctuates between presenting Mexico as a glorified luxury getaway destination, and a place of socially deviant mayhem. That, combined with the tourism industry Americans rely on while visiting Mexico, creates an awful sense of otherness.

While I was waiting for my flight out of Atlanta to Cancun, I a USA Today at the newsstand with an article titled “Authorities find 49 bodies dead on Mexican highway” on the front page. This is classic sensationalized journalism. Rather than covering the social, economic, and political structures that have contributed to and sustained the drug‐related violence in Mexico, this just lists the result—casualties— and presents them as mere numbers. There is no history, no narrative, no detailed investigation. Just a blatant statement that drug cartels in Mexico are violent. Which is, of course, all most Americans know about them already. This sort of shallow coverage, I think, contributes to the fact flocks of Americans travel to Mexico every year, yet rarely stray out of the “safety” of the all‐inclusive resorts in Cancun. Most of the money spent by tourists in Mexico only sustains the tourism industry, which is largely owned and operated by international corporations. Perhaps the drug cartels and violence is a result of a starving local economy? I don’t know, because the system that robs Mexico of economic autonomy is the same system that regulates the media that covers it….. But I do know that I never felt unsafe or threatened during my sixteen days traveling the Yucatan peninsula and I never stayed in a resort.  Before I left, countless people warned me that a “little white American girl” walking the streets alone in Mexico was doomed for rape or kidnapping. I was suspicious of that type of generalization even before I put it to the test.  And when I did put it to the test, I realized how deluded our perception really is. Instead of danger, I found friends who I could connect with beyond our language barriers.

I also read an article in the LA Times before my departure called “Disenchantment may keep Mexicos Young Voters on Sidelines”, which I think is a much more thoughtful and humanizing coverage of Mexico. The article gives a brief history of Mexico’s 71 year long one-party rule, and discusses the new generation of voters who are extremely critical of all political parties after having witnessed both sides of the cultural revolution. I spent a few nights at The Mayan Pub in Merida getting to know some local guys who had all recently finished up the equivalent to high school. They were extremely knowledgeable & critical of Mexican politics, and most said that they were not going to vote in the upcoming presidential election. They shared my largest critique of American media & politics, which is the refusal to vote for a candidate without having the adequate information to feel fully informed of the implications of my decision. However, I noticed a huge difference between these guys and my American peers. Rather than falling to apathy, they were activists. They didn’t want to vote, but they sure as hell were going to be heard. And the political demonstration I saw in Merida confirmed that… most participants looked like they were younger than 25.

My new amigo, Orlando, & I having a chat.

 

a travel guide is a tourist’s bible

Before I left, I looked at media representing Mexico–especially media directed toward foreigners and/or tourists. These are some travel books I found, and I think each depicts a specific type of “tourist gaze”…

1. Mexico Chic This travel book represents the luxury gaze. Like Ury and Larsen theorize, the tourists’ gaze depends on his or her own sociocultural ‘centre’–their culture, language, beliefs, daily routine & practices, economic, racial, and social status. This book caters to the contemporary American fashionable female. The implied reader’s lifestyle is heavily influenced by visual and sensual pleasure. The book presents Mexico as an oasis that is isolated from a daily routine of work, offices, and suburban/urban landscapes. It entices via large, colorful photographs of hacienda suites, resorts, spas, and fine dining– all with an “authentic” Mexican flair. Tag-lined with the phrased “you can’t get it at home”, the tourist is lured into an ideal of escapism. Mexico is only partially depicted, as a place void of actual people with actual jobs and actual lives, etc.

2. Graham Greene‘s Another Mexico

PalenqueThis book offers an historical viewpoint of Mexico: a mix of travel writing, social critique, and religious protest written in the 1930’s. After converting to Catholicism, Greene traveled to Mexico and explored the religious landscape. He described Catholics as a suppressed people, ignoring the history of Spanish colonialism and imperialism. Mayan culture was significantly changed by the infiltration of Catholic Spaniards, prompting Mayan religion to take on aspects of Christianity. This syncratic practice is a key notion in the study of Mexican culture.

3. An Archaeological Guide to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula, by Kelly Joyce

This book approaches tourism through a scholar’s lens, offering the tourist a how-to guide on a more academically grounded, therefore ‘authentic’, experience. The book emphasizes visually compelling aspects of the Yucatan as an anthropological and archaeological field, and invites the reader into an insider perspective on Mexican culture. Tourism scholars could criticise this book for perpetuating staged authenticity, as the sites listed are all run somewhat like cultural theme parks. The scholarly authority imparted by the voice in the book seems verified and objective, which could be dangerous for a tourist audience.

4. Lonely Planet: Cancun, Cozumel, and Yucatan

 

This is what I would consider a “classic” travel guide. Lonely Planet produces hundreds of guides for destinations all over the globe. The information is a survey of the Peninsula’s hotels, restaurants, museums, beaches, and cultural sites. The design has a visual and photographic emphasis, once again, with historical/cultural information in captions. The book is a self-described authority on “how to get there and get away”, and the place is presented as exotic, foreign, and other-worldly. The American tourist is instructed to see difference primarily, and there is not much about the people who inhabit Mexico today–perpetuating voyeuristic pleasure.

puerto morelos, my mexican dream cloud

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” -Henry Miller

I was dreaming over guava juice and sandwiches outside of the internet cafe with Allie. We made friends with a dog and fed him chips and took pictures of him. There are so many gentil doggies that roam around Morelos, and I’d been wondering if they’re strays or just have chill owners. Turns out the chill owner theory is correct, as told by our second new friend of the evening– a shaggy haired guitar-playing cutie named Bryan. The dog’s name is Bongo. He and Bryan are friends because they both come to the cafe often, but Bongo has an owner whom Bryan has only seen a few times. Bryan is from Mexico city, and he’d never seen Mississippians in Puerto Morelos before. He said since he moved here a few years ago, he’s seen tourists mainly from Canada, and the few from the states are mostly from California. I asked if people came to Puerto Morelos because it’s beautiful, or if some came because of the Mayan presence–some, but not many. The ones who do come for the Maya know their stuff, though, and have inspired him to learn more about the culture. He described this distinct mystical energy– how he is continually amazed by the way things unravel serendipitously here.

Spirits are swollen. Dreams are the blurry film on our sunglasses after a day on the beach.

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I am ready to melt under the Yucatanean sun.


The Mayas Facing 2012~~ from Yucatan Today 

Today’s Mayas look ahead to December 2012 as a critical point in the history of humanity; and they see time as a variable which has a great influence on life on this planet and our existence.

Not for a single moment have the Mayas feared the arrival of this date; on the contrary: the ancient Mayas have always told us to wait patiently for a change in consciousness and the evolution which that change will bring.

Human beings don’t exist by chance or a work of fate, they are part of a plan to carry out a mission in this part of the universe. Nor is the world totally complete in its creation and perfection; mankind has a job to do on this planet and must be a part of its conservation. It could be said that life on planet Earth depends on humans and what we do during our existence.

The Mayan prophecies announce the change of time. The Popool-Vuh is their book of advice and it tells us: “It is time for a new dawn and to finally complete the task.”

We are at the beginning of the ending of a period of the Sun which lasts 5200 years, culminating with some hours of darkness. After these days of darkness, a new (the sixth) period of the Sun will appear. In each period of the Sun, the planet adjusts, causing changes to the climate, social, and political changes. The world, and life, both transform, and we enter a period of understanding, of living together in harmony, and of social justice and equality for all; there is a new way of living. When there is a new social order there is a new kind of freedom, a time when we will walk like the clouds, without limits and without borders; we will travel like the birds, with no need for passports; we will flow like the rivers, all toward the same place, the same goal.

The Popool Vuh tells us that there have been three eras: the era of the gods, the era of the heroes, and the era of mankind with an increase in decline. But what does all this mean? It means that within the Mayan prohecies, we can see a return to power. The interesting thing is that within this long-awaited change, it is also expected that there will be a reawakening of the Mayan world in all its complexity, with an appearance of the ascending Mayan spirits who will come to bring the people back up. We will fulfill the famous phrase “that no one will be left behind” and also that “we always return to where we came from”. This means that we are facing great changes, great powers which never have been seen on the face of the earth.

We have an opportunity to experience a change of conscience which will help us to evolve as a species, protecting the natural resources which we need for our survival, and bring about the long-awaited, urgent social equity, finally understanding the importance of the human being in the universal order.

We will wake up in the conscience of change.

FROG SEEKS HELP WITH ANGER MANAGEMENT

by Dean Rader

It all began the morning Toad greeted him with What up?
Leave it to Toad to turn breakfast into performance.
But, then he forgot to Tivo Dancing with the Stars.  Again.
You can picture the scene: a remote, a fireplace. A lavalamp,

a hurl. See glass and gloop shatter. See Toad and wall weep.
Rage is the mother of beauty, thinks Frog.  But, tell that to Toad
who got punched for spilling beer in the fly pudding.  See Toad
watch Oprah. See Toad pray for guidance. Hi God, it’s me, Toad!

The ecstatic conquest of the awful leads to salvation. Just ask Jesus.
See the Christ’s whipchord. See the Christ drive the tax-man from
the temple. Go ask Jesus about thaw and burn.  Better yet, ask Frog

about the socket of desire.  Woo-wee it’s dark in there. See Frog want.
Rage is the stepson of ruin; the fuckbuddy of sorrow.  See Toad deal.
See the peace that passeth.  Tell Toad it’s not about survival but resurrection.

a wasteland

found poem. twitter cycle. a timeline still . no end
quite yet .
 )

#Ibelieve some people should
have to pass a test to even work fast
food. You have to actually read
the order…Look Darnisha, I’m sorry
you probably graduated from Antonelli
College and now work at Byram City
Hall, but there is no need to be sassy.
When I see I’s dotted with heart
my initial thought: a fifteen year old
African American female wrote this.

God, white people are so annoying.
Sometimes I find myself making fun
of white bitches with my African
American friends and I think I’m okay
with that. Sometimes when black people
say things, I have this sudden white
girl urge to say Amen in a really
southern African American voice.

Lookah’ here old skank, I’m sorry you’re
pushing 40 years of age and working
at a tanning bed, but there is no need
to be bitter with me. When you scramble
to lock your doors at a gas station in south
Jackson because “brothas” start walking
towards your car. When I hear a rap song,
I think the lyrics are shit. When wanna-be
thugz tweet the lyrics, I still think they are shit.

#I’mNotRacistBut I never leave my valuables
alone around black people. #I’mNotRacistBut
it’s a job requirement at Dunkin’ Donuts
to be as dark as the coffee. #I’mNotRacistBut:
What does “Real Talk” mean? Competency
isn’t his first language #I’mNotRacistBut why
do black people’s relationships work so
differently than white people’s? #statutoryrape

I cry about 9/11 , who doesn’t? Fuck
those Arab scum, #I’mNotRacistBut
how could they, those heartless pigs?
Fuck you Bin Laden. I will never get on a plane
with people that are not American.
Sorry, #I’mNotRacistBut you never know…

Threats of another attack tomorrow.
I’m not racist but Muslims
should not be allowed out
of their houses. #thisisamerica
I’m not racist but this Indian guy
beside me smells like… Oh god!
I’m not racist but black people
are ignorant and uncivilized,
that’s why you cant ever invite
them places. I’m not racist but I hate
when white people sing
the star spangled banner.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Shall I at least set my lands in order?
London bridge is falling down falling down falling down
Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam uti chelidon
O swallow swallow
Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymos mad againe.
Datta.  Dayadhvam.  Damyata.
                            Shantih      shantih     shantih