Armchair Philosophy: End of Times, and whatever

the-end-is-near

Overheard some old guys saying the end is near, saying Barack Obama and a series of other event x, y z’s are signs f the end.  Reminded me of something I’d written in the past.  Felt just as right now as when I wrote it.  Did some editing.  Please remember this is my (Kahron) personal thought.  It’s not fact.  It’s a blog posting.

 

There has been always been talk, especially amongst the religious folk, that the apocalypse is just around the corner. That all the signs, specifically our president’s need to control the world and everything in it, ‘terrorism,’ violent changes in our climate….etc, etc. I know some people who, because of these things and more, believe that the end is near, close…upon us….impending in fact. However, I am not in that population – a fellow doomsdayer.

The end all is supposed to be nuclear war…no, the universe is going to implode……no, a climate change that eliminates live from earth….no, trumpets blow and demons from the underworld, or even the outerworld, come to do battle in the eternal deathmatch of Good v. Evil. Depending on who you ask, you could get literally thousands or different scenarios – from a school teacher in London, to a preacher in the deep South, to some new age yoga instructor in San Francisco.

My basic issue with belief is that has been upon us for so long already, that is is pretty clear the any world/universe ending, if it happens at all, is not within our realm of understanding. And it’s not even relatively close. The first question has to be a ‘why.’ Why do we need to have this grandiose ending, or any ending at all? One answer is that humans are built with a clock. When our personal clock stops ticking our lives end, usually in a great sense of loss and anguish to still living, but we expected them to die. Why? Because we know that death is the one certainty we have. As surely as we have lived, we will die…..and the way we’ve lived will affect that death.

Let’s carry that view over into a higher plateau. Just as a man smokes himself into heart or lung disease, he and those around him, know he will meet Death in a slow and very painful fashion….just as slow (or fast) as his that gratifying drag of that Marlboro Red or Newport menthol. Our earth has been beaten up in ways too numerable to name. It will die, just as every human, that has ever or will live, definitely will. I believe people can sense this.

Now before you say “…well, that means you agree that the “end” is coming”.  No, it doesn’t mean that at all. As I’ve said the earth will one day parish, but I’ve also noted that this belief that it is upon us at any second is faulty. The fault lies in our perception of life and death itself. The Earth was no created by us. If it were, we would know the relative end. The Earth and the universe, as far as we can unscientifically fathom, is infinite. Scientists calculated in the billions, but is that really plausible? (Yes, of course it is.) But do we really know the beginning, or do we need to make sense of something to make order in the collective lives of human beings? To create a start date, suggests an end date….the end of time. This notion is simply a show of our selfishness, pure and simple.  Suggesting that the end of time has something to do with us, as human beings, smacks of a cockiness only known to our species – our selfish, greedy, goods consuming, and wasteful selves. Civilization has only been around in the last 150,ooo-250,000 years. Yet internally, we feel that just as we live and die, so shall the earth, the universe, and everything that has ever existed – together with us. We feel the need to trick our minds into thinking it will end with a flip of switch connected to a nuclear weapon.

I also do believe religion plays a massive Oscar-winning role in this farce as well – every religion with a doomsday story/prophesy of some sort. Think about this a moment…..

That a religion, a man-made institution, should dictate, and thus far, incorrectly approximate the date of the apocalypse, should clue you into the stupidity of some human beings, as far as this is concerned. Look at Nietzsche’s theory of Master-Slave Morality. The ‘master’ morality is for the strong-willed, who use ‘good’ (honest, nobility, strength) and ‘bad’ (weak, dishonest, petty) as the primary tenets. There is no approval system in place, for whatever ‘it’ is, it will either help, or harm you. To quote Nietzsche, “…it judges, ‘what is harmful to me is harmful in itself’; it knows itself to be that which first accords honor to things; it is value-creating.”  Slave morality uses subversion to enslave the hearts and minds with democracy and inclusiveness.

The slave mentality is mindset of the weak willed, the self-doubters, the insecure, the oppressed and/or abused. Because the relatively powerful (truly powerful in self, not in our concocted terms of power), are so few as compared to vastly weak and sheep herd-like majority, power is gained in a value system grading upward on what is ‘evil.’ They tend to join what they hate, then use a religion to fortify their standing as a weakling, using it to ‘cleanse’ themselves of ‘evil’ and the sins that each religion says are punishable by death. Slave morality is therefore reactionary, because of the inability of the weak individual to create value, and its dependency on maintaining a love/hate relationship of the creative and powerful values. In the end, the powerful look for ‘good,’ and cast the ‘bad’ away. The weak sees ‘evil,’ and try to pray, be patient, or support submissiveness, all to manifest the ‘good’ to oppose it.

Religion very clearly plays well with the weak and needy, the mental and emotional invalids, incapable, or more likely, unwilling to create ‘goodness’. I said earlier that the end of times story/prophesy is in every religion. Therefore, you have literally billions of people either praying, proselytizing, or killing, in the name of religion, a man made institution created to combat the ‘evil’ in society and life as we know it. Surely then one of these people have an understanding of what the end is. They know because it was taught to them, it came to them in a dream, or all the “signs” point to this happening.  It is obviously self-evident, in every context.

I believe that there is no end. Life and death are inevitabilities we have no control over, nor fully understand. If we cannot fully comprehend our own existence, how can we hop, jump, skip into knowing what the earth or universe will be doing in the next few seconds, much less the next few hundred years, decades, eons. Life is made to be lived, to be enjoyed, not to be “end-thoughful” to the degree of nothingness we wish upon the space around us just because we know surely that we will not be around to see it parish according to your imaginations, whether biblically based or any other basis.

The powerful will create life and cherish it. The weak will look forward to its end, and they will uselessly guesstimate and scare themselves into believing the supposed circumstances and dates to prove it.  We don’t know anything.

Live life, without fear, as purposefully as you can.  Be powerful.

Review: Kool A.D. – Word O.K.

Image

“Best rapper in the world…….best rapper in the world…..best rapper……best rapper.”

Kool A.D. references Nas (a lot), in saying that “there ain’t no best.”  So the above would seem to be purely aspirational.  Maybe.  The Oakland native and former Das Racist member has a very past/present/future appeal.  That is to say he reveres the past, embraces his present place in time, and it also looking toward the future of what is possible with rap music.  The album features lo-fi/lo-freq production in line with this thought from new(ish) producer Amaze 88, Toro y Moi (who also co-features on “The Front”), and even Dame Grease.  The interesting samples used match A.D.’s stream of consciousness/brag raps:

“Young culture worker, the role reverser
The holy churcher, the folding furniture
The golden purse herder, the hearse hurdler
The turf surfer…”

Dude might not be the best in the world, but he’s pretty dope.  “Tight” and “Life & TIme” are the strongest tracks, featuring dope features.  Personal fav Mr. Muthafuckin’ Xquire is his normal nasty self on “Tight”.  Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Ladybug Mecca put vintage verses on “Life & Time”.  Unfortunately, not all the tracks hit.  “Hickory” would seem like a sure thing, but the ‘eh…’ chorus and Boots Riley’s ‘eh…’ verse bring it down.  Talib Kweli couldn’t do enough to save the track.  “Special Forces” is just a boring, junior bass song.  I’m confused on how this even made the cut.  It just feels like something is missing a lot.  A.D.’s verse is even lackluster.

Overall, a decent debut, with a couple so-so tracks, and two completely skippable joints.

Favorite tracks: “Tight”, “Open Letter”, and “Life & Time”

Not favorite tracks: “Hickory” and “Special Forces”

Download link on Bandcamp – it is free.

K.

Review: Garnier – A13

As stated many times, on plenty of publications, Laurent Garnier is a legend in the field of techno.  The Frenchman has decided to make a series of EPs, venturing across other genres (and labels – this one released on Musique Large, run by Fulgeance).  The project, which include five original tracks with accompanying remixes for each, has very unique takes on downtempo, hip hop, and sample-based beat music.  “The Rise & Fall of the Donkey Dog” sounds like something that could have made Danny the Dog soundtrack.  It’s heavy, packed with a dense drum/synth arrangement that could make Massive Attack a little jealous.  The “single” is “Revenge of the LOLcat”, which sounds like an opener for a dystopian near-future sci-fi flick.  The remixed back end of the album proves as fulfilling at the originals, showcased by the almost diametrically opposite, bass heavy Baron Rétif & Concepcion Perez produced take of the first track.  The entire EP is immensely re-playable any time of the day, managing to fuse old and current sounds of electronic music.  Garnier outdoes himself once again.

Favorite track: The remix in the video above

Not favorite: Fulgeance’s remix of “Revenge of the LOLcat”

musiquelarge.bandcamp.com

laurentgarnier.com

K.

My favorite books about cults…(D)

I have always been intrigued by cults. I  have an anti-cult personality, if you will, but I do find the psychology of it all fascinating. Groupthink, a charismatic leader, martyrdom for a cause etc… I was recently rereading the novel Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk  and decided to make a list of my 5 favorite books about cults (in no particular order). Fiction and Non-Fiction cult books are listed here so if you find cults as interesting as I do, then you should pick up any of these books! Obviously I haven’t read all books about cults so if you have suggestions I am always open to them…

 

1. Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

survivor-chuck-palahniuk-audio-cover-art

 

Survivor is arguably one of Palahniuk’s best novels though I am sure many will scoff at that declaration. I think its safe to say his more recent work has lost some of the edge and abstruse plot angles that made his first 5 novels so lauded. Picking your favorite of those novels would be likes picking you favorite Wu Tang song or Michael Jordan dunk, it’s going to change day-to-day and they are all really your favorites. Anyways, the Creedish Church it one of my favorite cults in literature. If you haven’t read the book, the Creedish are similar to the Amish but they eventually sell every child after the first-born into slavery to rich people.

 

2. Last Days by Brian Evenson

Last Days

Much of Evenson’s work seems to be grappling with the idea of religion and the thin line between belief and cult. Evenson is an ex-communicated Mormon who was  fired from BYU because the school/church/cult decided his  first book was too violent and gave him the ultimatum to proceed with publishing it and be fired or keep his job as an english professor. Thank Buddah he chose to publish and continue writing fiction. Last Days is one of his most disturbing and graphic novels and its about a crazy ass cult, so you know I liked it! I will call the cult in this book  The Brotherhood of Mutilation, because that is the name of the original story Last Days stemmed from. The Brotherhood centers around an interpretation of a bible verse about how self amputation brings you closer to god. Therefore this cult of people slowly amputate appendages or have others amputate appendages because they believe it brings them closer to God. There is way more to the cult and also to the story which is a hard-boiled noir detective novel on top of everything else but I don’t want to give anything away. Just read the book and thank me later.

 

3. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek

The words classic and masterpiece have obviously been cheapened in the age of the internet so I will not use them to describe this book. I will just say if you love fiction and you read this book but don’t like it, something is wrong with you. The Auturans are the featured cult in this book. Geek Love is the beautifully unsettling story of a family that own a traveling carnival. Due to fetal manipulation with various toxins and substances the children of this family are made to be “freaks” so they can take part in the carnival. Auturo the Aquaboy is the oldest son who happens to have flippers for limbs. He is also pretty crafty and eventually creates a following of people who see him as a God and begin to augment their bodies to become more like him. The best part about this cult is it’s just about Auturo’s megalomania and nothing else. He just creates this following because he can but it comes to a horrible end.

 

4. Underground by Haruki Murakami

murakami-underground-cover

I don’t really remember anything about the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 perpetrated by Aum Shinriyko except for some images on TV of people running out of the subway and crowded hospitals where tons of Japanese people are coughing and wearing face masks. Haruki Murakami’s Underground is essentially a compilation of interviews that read like a novel. The way they are pasted together form this narrative where you feel like you were on the train yourself. The most important thing about this book, and also the most controversial, is the fact that he actually interviews the cult members themselves. Murakami spent a lot of time defending himself to the Japanese media for allowing the members of Aum to share their side of the story in an unbiased form. Murakami’s bravery in the respect leads to some incredible insight into the mind of people of participate in cults and also what happens to those people once the cults are broken up? Can they integrate back into society?’

 

5. Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Free Masons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many many more by Arthur Goldwag

cultsconspirsecorg

I mean come on the title says it all! Goldwag is the foremost expert on all things conspiracy and cultish. He also keeps a close watchful eye on hate groups. His book The New Hate is a mind-blowing historical account of how right-wing culture became so powerful in our country especially in more recent years. This is just a really fucking interesting book…That is all!

 

Evian Christ – Waterfalls EP

Website

This is a way to capitalize on what can come with working a Kanye West album.  You keep working on new material for potential use with other famous rappers, and put out decent individual work like this.  Joshua Leary’s (real name) initial output, including a promising “whoa” track, led to subsequent work on “I’m In It”, a standout on controversial Yeezus.  A couple of the tracks on this extended play have circled the net for a few months.  This, however, is the first ‘set’ he’s released, and it shows continued growth in size of his sound.  The main feature of this growth: the increase of low-end frequency.  This is festival bass and it weighs a ton on this record, which is also the negative.  It’s a little too reliant on it, and trap sound in which bass is primarily featured.  They will bang out in the truck, but there really isn’t anything new happening.  You could basically separate the tracks and drop them into mixtapes or live mixes, and each track would give you roughly the same effect.  The low end tends to swallow up the ethereal sound, and make them secondary.  Good for a party, but not so much for progress.  His earlier work shows us he can definitely do more.  All that said, perhaps that all he really wanted to do.  Nothing inherently wrong with that.

Favorite track:  “Propeller”

Not favorite: “Fuck Idol”

K.

Review: Oskar Schuster – Sneeuwland

Schuster is newish, very talented composer who blends music that could be found in soundtracks of more fantastical film, with bits of electronic music.  Sneeuwland juxtaposes vintage keys with glitch, fusing your memories past with your present day.  Each track seemed to be one of Schuster’s own memories playing out, perhaps reading another man’s lost journal of daydreams, on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I felt a certain sadness pressing the back of my mind, as it helped recall memories, good and bad, of my own.  This is interesting, given my background wasn’t set in Berlin, Europe, somewhere even remotely “nice”, and definitely not some surreal plot set in a movie.  I believe this was his specific intention – the music box conjuring up images of a faded, always inaccurate recall of innocence past, whether you were running in a country field or a latchkey child.  Imagine you’re with your brother or close, long time friend.  “…remember when we used to…”  “….great times…”  “…that was a sad day…”  “I wonder what happen to her…”  This album encapsulates these feelings.  “Lumehelves”has the same start, but with a wrinkle – a pixie-voice woman, a singer named Possimiste, imploring a child named Oliver to “ever, don’t give up your dreams.” The track’s aim is true, pricking a temporary hole in the clouded glass house you call your memory.  The message, too, processes truth.  Remembering is good.  Remembering to move forward is better.

Favorite track: “Lumehelves”

Not favorite: none

K.

He’s not setting us back. You are.

(First posted on my tumblr – but I’m recharging this blog for more medium and long form work and reviews)

Today, I heard and read a few things about how some people black people are setting the race back to some random date in the past.  It’s usually into the Civil Rights era, as it is seen as some sort of reset period (which may need a short post of its own.)  Specifically, I saw a tweet from nobody cat downing Bomani Jones for going on ESPN and “setting (black people) back 25 years.”  I’m going to put in my very amateur, semi-educated two-cents as to why we do this.

As it usually goes – a black person does/says something completely ignorant, in wide view of white people.  Black people, and “enlightened” non-blacks throw their collective arms up in disgust, and say “this guy/woman/bitch/nigga/nigger just set us/progress back 25+ years!

First of all, that’s stupid.

If I got out in the middle of traffic, pulled down my pants, and shook my man parts in the intersection, that doesn’t create regression with black people.  It doesn’t undo what Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X did.  It makes me a candidate for a tasering and testing for crack cocaine, but it doesn’t take forward progress away. (See what I did there?)

Second, it’s regressive to even believe that a singular act could set a group of people back.  That line of thinking dates back to when we (I’m a Negro) were slaves.  It was engrained that good behavior would create favor with the plantation owners.  One step out of line by an apparently rebellious or degenerate slave, and all us gone gettit fruhm massa!

This is something we are continually repeating, and because it’s been in our collective psyche for so long, we parellel everything said or done,right or wrong, to those ridiculous and outdated contexts.  It’s that post-slave mentality that I see from a lot of the supposed black leaders that hold us back.  (Like right now, it’s more about “Let me put on this suit and do my soft shoe in the name of Trayvon Martin/whatever shit I can get into to stay relevant.”)  They want to be seen – not by other African Americans in this context – but by the mainstream media – which is controlled by white people.  We are still putting on the face, unnecessarily denying assuring that black people are still good wholesome people, even after a negative act a black person does, while completely exclusive and singular.  ”Taht was just hem, massa….whee dount all acks lahk dat suh.

It lends to a greater question of how black people view themselves (and to an extent how others view us).  People are first individuals, with their own moral systems, regardless of cultural upbringing.  Does Jeffrey Dahmer or Adolf Hitler or some rambling trashy bama represent all white people?  Obviously not.  So, also obviously, some gangbanging Vatos doesn’t represent all Latinos.  Why are they never said to be setting back their races?  The reason and differences lie solely on the fact that blacks were slaves.  That realization isn’t always made in current times, because it was such a clearly cruel act that happened long ago.

But what I personally believe is that black people are still getting over the trauma of first being slaves, stripped of identity in the Passage.  Then, suddenly, we weren’t slaves – but are tagged with a new identity as the progeny of slaves.  The descendants of 3/5ths of an actual person.  So no matter how singular an act is, it’s a black mark on the entire race, at least psychologically.  When we doubt ourselves as a group, that is when others openly and/or subconsciously (and maybe subversively) doubt the viability of our existence, and we feel it.

But there isn’t a reason for us to do that anymore.  It’s about holding individuals accountable, to the man or woman, not to a race.  ”We’s free now!”  We need to act like this was always the way it should have been, and not that we are lucky to have made any progress at all.