Monday, July 1, 2013

Meditations on Subversiveness, Volume 1

The following document is not intended to be an academic article or a reserve of privileged knowledge, and as such shall contain no citations. Ideas, once shared with others are no longer the exclusive 'property' of the person who thought them, and as such, declaring any individuals 'authors' of this work or ideas therein would be nothing short of preposterous.

It is therefore declared that this document was written by everyone in the Collective Consciousness, and this document is hereby declared to be released into the public domain in perpetuity.
 -Everyone, January 2013


Only by accepting the limitations of science can we appreciate how important and necessary it is. Science can be understood as 'using experimental research methods in order to find out more about the world and how it works'. Science can therefore bring us closer to the answers of many of life's important questions.

Science works on an additive model of knowledge that is constantly refined and reworked in order to get closer to 'truth'. (in theory, anyway In practice, some scientists are less flexible than they should be, and are thus working against the condition of openness to new thought required by science). What this means is that if a scientist comes up with a model of rules to explain a phenomenon, this model must be subject at any time in the future to testing and revision, and if the model cannot answer for certain conditions, it means that the model requires improvement, or else must have the irrelevant parts discarded (not erased, merely set aside until which point they become useful again). As such, science does not hold any knowledge as sacred or immutable - the knowledge is only as good as the utility that can be gained from it.

An example of scientific progress can be explained as follows:
A long time ago in ancient Greece, the philosopher Aristotle wrote that objects of different weights will, when dropped, fall to Earth at different speeds depending on their weight, because heavier objects are attracted more strongly by the Earth's gravity. He did not, however, test this hypothesis (statement relating to science). Later, the Italian mathematician Galileo did test it, and found it not to be true. What this meant was not that Aristotle was lying, but that this particular statement of his needed to be updated. Methods of science will take this update into account and present Galileo's argument over Aristotle's, judging it to be superior because it holds more explanatory power.

What Galileo was able to explain was that the force of drag explained why some objects fall to Earth faster than others far better than the weight of the objects. Drag is air resistance - when an object falls to Earth, it falls through air, which resists the movement and slows down the object. That is why objects have a property called a terminal velocity - the fastest that such an object can fall to Earth, as at the speed of terminal velocity, air resistance counteracts any further acceleration. To indicate just how wrong Aristotle was, think of this as an example:

A skydiver (person who jumps out of a plane or helicopter with a parachute) can reach a top speed of about 160 km/h if he holds his arms and legs up in the air while falling.
This same person (so no difference in weight can account for the speed) can fall at 230 km/h by changing the angle of falling to be shaped like an arrow - this means that air will not slow the person down as much.

Religion and anarchism

The original message of the great religious teachers to live a simple life, to share the wealth of the earth, to treat each other with love and respect, to tolerate others and to live in peace invariably gets lost as worldly institutions take over. Religious leaders, like their political counterparts, accrue power to themselves, draw up dogmas, and wage war on dissenters in their own ranks and the followers of other religions. They seek protection from temporal rulers, bestowing on them in return a supernatural legitimacy and magical aura. They weave webs of mystery and mystification around naked power; they join the sword with the cross and the crescent. As a result, in nearly all cases organised religions have lost the peaceful and tolerant message of their founding fathers, whether it be Buddha, Jesus or Mohammed.

This should not serve as a reason not to be spiritual or religious yourself, but a reminder to distrust powerful organisations that take advantage of human desire for spiritual counsel by taking your money, organising wars, abusing women by campaigning against abortion rights and legitimising the power structures of patriarchy and government.

Society and suffering

There is no transcendence to be found in suffering. Suffering is to be avoided wherever possible. If presented with the argument that suffering makes a person stronger, not only is it  perhaps that it assuredly does not, but that even if that were true, strength and power is not what one needs, but vulnerability, sensitivity and empathy so that others may suffer less. What suffering drains is motivation. Motivation is that which you need to be energetic, passionate, helpful, optimistic, kind and productive. A motivated person achieves far better than any person that does not care. Suffering makes a person desensitised and in order to cope with the horror of it, people become apathetic -they lose the ability to have strong and passionate feelings, as there is so much pain. The result is that the person no longer wants to try new things - they are no longer motivated.

Prison as a punishment is abhorrent because it encourages violent aspects of behaviour to take precedence over empathy and sensitivity, in order to survive.

In order to flourish, society must align survival and sensitivity, not put them at odds with each other. Society must make an effort to avoid selecting for brutality (artificial selection, cf. war, prison, capitalism).

Discourses are broad categories of ideas, thoughts, attitudes, behaviours associated with a subject. They explain the context into which such entities fit and how they are organised. This article undertakes discourse of anarchism by calling several other discourses to attention and discussing them.

It is important to understand, that while discourses are shared by society to a greater or lesser extent, what they mean to you as an individual will always be 'filtered' through your own experience. Their subjective meaning to you will not be equal to what everyone else thinks, and this is necessary for you to have subjective experience in the first place.

There is no universal moral code that should dictate human behaviour. There is no universal standard of right and wrong. Our morals and values come from us and belong to us, whether we like it or not, so we should claim them proudly for ourselves, as our own creations, rather than seeking some external justification for them.

Morality has been externally justified for so long that today we hardly know how to conceive of it in any other way. We have always had to claim that our values came from something external to us, because basing values on our own desires was labelled evil by 'moral law' preachers. Today we still feel instinctively that our actions must be justified by something outside of ourselves, something 'greater' than ourselves, if not God, then by moral law, state law, public opinion, 'justice',  'love of man' . We have been so conditioned by centuries of asking permission to feel things and do things, of being forbidden to base any decisions on our own needs, that we still want to think we are obeying a higher power even when we act on our own desires and beliefs.

It feels so good to be justified by some higher force, to be obeying 'justice' and upholding moral law and 'fighting evil' that people get caught up in their roles as moral enforcers and forget to question whether the idea of moral law makes sense in the first place.

So much bloodshed, deception and aggression has already been perpetrated in the name of right and wrong. The bloodiest wars have been fought between opponents who each thought they were fighting on the side of moral truth. The idea of moral law doesn't help us get along, it turns us against each other, to contend over whose moral law is the 'true' one.

A system of ethics might be preferable to the 'moral law' as described above. It is my contention that humans learn, both culturally and instinctively, from a very young age what is 'right and wrong', but then learn to discount that knowledge because of 'moral law'.

So to go back to the rather simpler way of thinking, one way to approach ethics is in the following way:

1) no harm
2) the most possible good
in every situation.

To unpack it, 1) is: never act in such a way that increases the likelihood that anyone will suffer.  This is the first 'rule', however, if you think about it, it is more like common sense than a rule. The thought 'do unto others as you would have them to do you' descends from this line of thinking, but I believe that it is more important to do no harm than to act the exact way you would choose others to act upon you (which might be harmful).
2) is a bit more complicated, but see it like this: You as a human being have the means, in many situations, to improve the lives of others. This can be as simple as having a kind word for somebody, or as difficult and complicated as raising a child from birth to adulthood. This 'rule' thus suggests the following to you: look at your situation and decide whether you have the means to help the person, and if you do, then help them. A person might truly not be able to afford to give money to a beggar even if they appear to be rich. The point is, this person is not obliged to help. The only thing that person is obliged to do is not harm. However, if this person does have the means to help and does so, that is a testament to the ability of people to help each other.

It is my hope that some day, the majority of people will be able to take responsibility for themselves yet still be interdependent on one another's kindness and helpfulness. It is my belief that capitalism makes it harder for people to help each other rather than easier, as it rewards selfish behaviour such as hoarding, intrusive advertising, and competition over co-operation.


Do you enjoy being controlled by others who don't understand or care about your wants and needs? Do you get anything out of obeying the instructions of employers, the restrictions of landlords, the laws of magistrates, people who have powers over you that you would never have granted them willingly?
How did they get all this power, anyway?
A potential answer is Hierarchy.
Hierarchy is a value system in which your worth is measured by the number of people and things you control, and how dutifully you obey those above you. You're afraid to disobey those above you because they can bring to bear against you the power of everyone under them, and you're afraid to abdicate your power over those below you as they may end up above you.

It is our hierarchical system that teaches us from childhood to accept the power of any authority figure, regardless of whether it is in your best interest or not. It is hierarchical values that are responsible for racism, classism, sexism and such prejudices deeply engrained in society. It is hierarchy that makes rich people look at poor people as though they aren't even human, and vice versa. It is hierarchy at work when your boss makes sexual advances at you and you can't do anything about it, just as it is when police flaunt their power over you. For power does make people cruel and heartless, and submission does make them cowardly and stupid, and most people in a hierarchical system partake in both.

It would be wrong to see anarchism as a 'world order' of sorts. Anarchism is more like an orientation of self. It is taking the decision to think for yourself rather than trusting authority. The refusal to accept the 'god-given' authority of nation, law or any force as being more significant than your personal autonomy. It would be an instinctive distrust of those who claim to have some sort of rank or status above the others around them, and an unwillingness to claim such status for oneself. And finally, a refusal to place responsibility for yourself in the hands of others, to demand that each of us should not only be able to seek our own destiny, but to do so actively.

We have been conditioned over thousands of years that we need bosses and masters to control our behaviour, to tell us when we should work and when we should take breaks.
Perhaps today, in several work situations when the boss isn't looking, very little work gets done, chaos ensues when governments fall, and violence sometimes occurs when police aren't around. But are these really indications that there is no better way we could organise society?
Isn't it possible that maybe the workers don't do their work when they aren't actively being prodded because they are used to being treated in this way - they resent being inspected, instructed, condescended to by their managers, and don't want to do anything extra for them than they have to?
Perhaps if they were all working together as partners toward a common goal, rather than being paid to take orders, working towards objectives they have no say in and that aren't interesting, they would be more productive.
Perhaps not everyone is ready for such a change in society today. However, it is likely that our 'laziness' is conditioned rather than natural, and in a different environment, we may find that we don't need bosses in order to get things done.

While it is extraordinarily difficult to come up with a universal definition of an emotion such as love, which is surely represented in infinitely different ways by different cultural narratives, one may start with a biological understanding.
In this paradigm of knowledge, love is an emotion. That is to say, when you are in love, the following statements hold true:
you feel a strong attachment to a person
you desire positive outcomes for that person's intents and goals, and take steps to
maximise the happiness of the person
you feel excited, passionate and motivated, with thoughts of that person being the stimulus for these feelings
Love thus acts for humans, I feel, as an impetus to be good and to act for the good of all humanity, because the happiness of the person you love makes you happy too. Not that acting for the good of humans that you do not love cannot engender happiness, but rather that you have a direct 'reward', in that you get to feel the positive emotions because you come to regard the person you love as being an extension of yourself.
And that is the dark side to love - coming to depend on the other person to supply those positive emotions for you, even at the expense of their own emotions. This is why some relationships can start out fine but later become abusive and one-sided.
I believe a way to conquer this is to always take responsibility for your feelings. Always. It's a very tough thing to admit, but if you really love somebody, it will be better for both of you in the long term to know that you alone are accountable, in full, for everything that you feel. That way, if you or the other should feel that it is better to end a relationship, either of you has the complete autonomy to make this choice. The relationship cannot be said to be a sincerely loving relationship if even one of the people in it would be happier out of it. In that way, people who stay together despite not loving each other are undermining the power and beauty of love.
In this way I can summarise that love is a good emotion, and one of the most likely to produce lasting happiness if done well. It is vulnerable to many pitfalls along the way, especially because of how powerfully obsessive the feelings can become.
While love might be something you can feel in your body, especially your stomach, it would be helpful to see how your brain processes it. I keep referring to love as an emotion because that's what I believe it primarily is. The person you love is a stimulus for brain activity rather than the cause of it. While the mechanisms of love in the brain are extremely complicated and much research still needs to be done, here are two brain chemicals thought to be responsible for (different) feelings of love.

-Dopamine: This is the one most likely to come in first (when you start obsessing about somebody and associate multitudes of positive emotions with this person, those happy feelings are strongly influenced by dopamine. Dopamine functions like a 'reward chemical' because it makes you happy and motivated, and in this way helps you 'learn' what to do in life.
-Oxytocin: Apart from facilitating easier childbirth and rearing functions for women, oxytocin (in both sexes) promotes a feeling of trust, ease and attachment for one's mate.
In summation, therefore, love is one of the most positive emotions in the human repertoire, and one of the most powerful, too. As such, it is important for anarchists to fall in love and express it as a way of fighting against the apathy produced by the system, because of the way it can motivate people.


While it is certainly possible to enjoy sex with someone you do not love, there is no doubt that if you do love the person, the sex will be incomparably more enjoyable.
On a physical level, sex is contact of (certain) organs between people. I hold that the most important sex organ, however, is the brain. Sex and orgasm are likely to result in increased dopamine production, and in the case of established relationships, increased oxytocin production as well.
If done well, sex can result in many hours of ecstasy following the act, as well of a strengthening of a bond. That is why it is important to ensure that the person you're having sex with is someone that you want a stronger bond with - otherwise, unequal expectations from the participants will soon result in unhappiness.

It is really important that every sexual act you ever perform, 100% of the time, is done with the full consent of anyone involved. It is aberrant to force anything sexual upon anyone, as for sex to be beautiful and meaningful, it must respect everyone's autonomy, that is, they must choose it of their own free will. Doing it any other way undermines the beauty and importance of the act.

It is not for me or anyone else to tell you that any kind of sex is immoral or wrong if it does not violate the principle of consent. As with my point on love in the previous section, sexuality is represented in many many different ways by different cultures. If anyone tries to convince you that an iteration of consensual sex is wrong (likely examples are gay sex, lesbian sex or BDSM, but there are an infinite number of other examples) then not only are they lying to you, but they are disrespecting the potential of sexuality itself. Disregard any such advice.

Capitalism and the 'free' market

The dominant economic system in the world right now is capitalism. It is a system where money is strongly proportional to power -that is, the more money you have, the more power you can accrue. Money thus takes on a symbolic representation of being a person's 'value to society'.

This representation is wrong.

Capitalists claim money flows based on supply and demand. This would only be true if everyone held the same opinions about money and value, and everyone were equally (and well) educated in the system of economics.
Instead, what money flow comes to rely on is perceived supply and perceived demand, leading to perceived value. My point though is that value is necessarily a consensus variable and not something that exists in an objective reality to be translated into a dollar or rand value. Value can only have meaning in context. Furthermore, systems such as debt, inflation, wasted tax, planned obsolescence and exchange rates further complicate matters to such an extent that money is a very poor indicator indeed of a measure of a person's contribution to society, and an absolutely useless measure of what a person 'deserves' to receive. No other person should have the right to decide what your needs are and what you deserve.

And as for the 'free' market? This is where capitalists are most duplicitous, for it should be patently clear to even the most elementary of observation processes that the market is not free. The less money you have to start with, the less able you are to seek skills that allow you to make more, and the more likely you are, for a multitude of reasons to become distressed and dissatisfied with life, and to work as hard as any manager, CEO, doctor or lawyer does, yet never get paid as well as they, nor respected for it. This is not fair, life should not be like this. We as a whole human race deserve better.

Aberrant behaviour

One of the most prevalent images of a 'villainous' character in Western history is that of Adolf Hitler, the president of Germany from 1933 until 1945, when Germany's army lost the city of Berlin, he committed suicide. He is considered villainous because the Nationalist Socialist political party ('Nazi party' for short) was famous for its genocide of Jewish people, gay people, gypsies and political dissidents. In an extermination programme called the Holocaust, 6 million people were murdered, along with the massive death and suffering created by the war that was happening at the same time (World War 2).

Any student of history will know that this type of genocide is not unique to Germany during the war period. Indeed, certain conditions absolutely have driven people to murder each other by the millions (cf. Josef Stalin's Russia, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, Genghis Khan's military conquest of most of Asia, and many others).
What one needs to remember is that all too often, Hitler is represented as the person that did all of that.

The massive task, logistically, of killing 6 million people would require a substantial effort from thousands of other people.
Hitler may have organised, commanded and subsequently approved of the mass slaughter. But it needed to be performed  by what one might call 'ordinary people' - people, just doing their jobs, doing what they were told, i.e. a Gestapo officer could say "it is my job to rid the world of people my leader considers unworthy, and I need to get paid, so I will do that".
So the problem is not that a single man such as Hitler could be so evil. The problem is that a person with evil intentions can accrue so much power, people were forced to obey.
It wasn't Hitler they were obeying. It was power.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Minimalist Filmmaker's Ethic

I orignially posted this on Facebook on Tuesday, 3 July 2012.

The following are some points I'd like to share about filmmaking. Feel free to disagree with my points, obviously. The point is that each of these must be interpreted subjectively by you, the filmmaker. What counts is the ethic behind it.

I found the 'rules' of Dogme 95 a little... dogmatic. Here are some more reasonable guidelines.

1. You shall endeavour to spend as little money as you can possibly on the project.
2. You shall hire actors and actresses for their talent and convenience of location and contact, not for their level of prestige in a capitalist industry.
3. You shall use natural lighting whenever you can. Limiting yourself to a single studio light would be a good challenge.
4. You shall keep your film environment safe, both physically and emotionally, for all involved in the project.
5. You shall not claim undue credit for your 'work' - filmmaking is a COLLABORATIVE process. Auteurism is a MYTH. The film is made by everyone who cares to contribute towards it, not 'just' the Director or Production Company etc.
5. You shall license your work under the Creative Commons and never charge exploitative prices.
6. You shall not rely unduly on special effects or gimmicks. A good rule is that no effect should ever be used to supercede the plot.
7. You shall build sets of minimalist props and minimal physical alteration to the existing environment as possible.
8. You shall endeavour to use the least possible transport.
9. You shall not be dissuaded to film where you 'can't get permits' - just be creative and use guerilla techniques. Bureaucracy hurts you - do not support it.(Obviously, it is easier to film in places you CAN get permission to do so, but you should never be forced to pay or wait - both confound the minimalist ethic)
10. You shall use the equipment you have and can procure through friendship and favours, and make the least possible use of capitalist lenders' services as possible.
11. If you cannot source a copy of professional editing software, use Kdenlive - it's free.
12. Do not criticise films that don't use the most glossy technology - the access to that technology is controlled by capitalists and an industry who has a fundamentalist bureaucratic body that wants to influence filmmakers (the MPAA)  and we should dissociate ourselves as much as possible from film elitism.
13. Do not shoot an excessive number of takes. If your actors repeatedly make mistakes, they may well just be stressed out by the environment. Change THAT rather than wasting time. Time is your most valuable resource, and everyone brings that to the table. Remember, people more often WANT to help you and be productive, as long as you don't make it a horrible experience to do that!
14. Denounce the Academy Awards. They are run by a panel of 4000 elitists that are 70% male, over 90% white and have an average age of SIXTY-THREE. Representative of the movie-watching public? You decide....
15. Do not be a perfectionist or a prima donna.  Perfectionism is usually a recipe for abuse. If you wish to argue about something, either do it at length in pre-production (better) or quickly and summatively during production (not as good) but in either case, do so ethically and kindly.
16. Do not source a soundtrack from an expensive composer. Rather collaborate with a local one. Do not rely overly much on non-diegetic music. It has its time and place but should not, as with effects, supercede the plot.
17. Be open to new suggestions during production. The people doing different jobs from you are also gaining different insights that you would not have without their input.
18. Love what you do and share it with as many people as possible. Film is beautiful and fantastic and has so much potential as an art. The last thing we all need is for it to be supporting anyone's materialistic greed.
19. Shoot!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The nature of reality and perception

Hello all

A few days ago I made the following post on my facebook wall:

"What is reality? If anything, it is a collection of paradigms and discourses of interpretations of the collective consciousness and matter, a collection of ideas that hold the most weight - this alone does not qualify them as the 'best' or 'right' one. Reality should allow itself to exist alongside 'unreality', as the systems are mutually dependent."

The response I received was surprisingly positive,  and although I've made posts about things related to these concepts before, I've never gone down this particular alley of thought in any great detail.

Today, this will change.

Before I begin, here is a supplementary media list (or films I think you should watch if you want to explore this point in your own time)

A Scanner Darkly
Dark City
The Matrix
Waking Life

And also, before reading, please make sure you understand ALL of the following words.


I find the idea that there is an external world that our perceptions are subject to, as human, sentient, conscious beings, as unprovable at best and dubious at worst. Therefore, when I make statements such as "Reality does not exist" I don't mean that in an absolute sense, but rather that I want you to consider that you MAY be living in a sort of consciousness in which reality does NOT exist and that currently we have no way of knowing. The reason it is important to consider the non-existence of reality is because it would likely change the way we act and behave toward each other in fundamental ways. 

When your senses perceive a stimulus, that is you interacting with the outside world - or is it? So says common wisdom. But think about it - what proof have you ever received, apart from your own perception, which is very obviously trickable, malleable and most importantly SUBJECTIVE, that an objective world, outside of your own, exists at all? 

One alternative would be that you, with your consciousness, instead, are the root of 'reality', and that everything in the system of life is a result of you thinking it into existence rather than it having been there before? This is called solipsism. Or perhaps YOU are not the agent, but rather someone else is? My considerations allow for any source of consciousness to be its root, I do not presuppose that my own consciousness is the root. I can theoretically conceive of my own consciousness being the root of all consciousness, but I cannot prove it.

Rather, I want you to consider that such a thing may be POSSIBLE. 

Everyone experiences life through subjective perceptions of their own. If their own perception were all that existed, we might think to treat them better, when formerly we might have accused them of not conforming to reality - now once we consider that reality doesn't exist, perhaps these people are not doing anything wrong to begin with? 

The paradigm I'd like to explore is to consider reality in a 'relative' sense. In the same way that gravitational acceleration works more strongly for heavier and closer objects than lighter and further ones, an idea that is believed by more people will have more weight in the collective consciousness, and therefore be harder to overturn than an idea with fewer supporters.

This is why it is crucial to have an earth of happy and healthy people, because then the weight of the ideas of happy and healthy people will overwhelm the negative ideas. The keys to happiness and health are education, meaningful pursuits and meaningful personal relationships. Essentially, being a hedonist - a person who chases joy and pleasure as high values, would mean that you are spreading the good will.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Practical Solutions

This post is aimed at anyone that thinks our current economic system is doing more damage than help to people. By people, I mean the majority of people. I concede that perhaps 8% or so of people in the world may honestly benefit from capitalism. They are the ones that have broken past a certain barrier, so that instead of being behind the wave, they are ahead of it. Effectively, 8% of humanity is swimming downstream and the other 92% are swimming upstream.

I can already see the knee-jerk reaction to this: "But that just means that those 8% were more hard-working and just took all opportunities available to them, the other 92% are just lazy/ineffective/inefficient!"

In fact, inherent in capitalism's design, 92% of the world's people MUST support the other 8%. It is the effort of swimming upstream for the 92% that provides the slipstream for the other 8% to swim downstream. Therefore, if you are lucky enough to be born into the elite, you will, barring seriously terrible life events, remain there. And if you are unlucky enough to be born poor, again the economic system dictates that one should remain there.
And of course there are exceptions. Occasionally, someone DOES slip through the cracks. It happens. What doesn't happen is a person making that alone. It takes the effort and sacrifice of several people to push just one through the cracks. And  then all too often, the person that has made it to the 'top' or at least improved his or her social status, forgets everything and everyone that helped him or her there in the first place. Those of us that are not necessarily rich, nor poor (the 'middle' class, perhaps the people that belong in between the 90th and the 97th percentile) are a very insecure bunch. We are constantly reminded that all the poverty we see around us, could just as easily BE us. And for this, we are conditioned to dissociate ourselves as much as we can from anything that may 'bring us down'. We are taught to hate the poor and see them as responsible for their situation.
And that is why class mobility is not the answer. It is too slow, and only an absolute minority of people can ever achieve it. The rest of us are left to drive the economic engine. The fuel of the engine is your labour, your happiness, your success. Can you see it burned away in front of you, all in the service of someone else?

So all of this begs the question: What are we going to do about it? Those of us who are well-enough educated to see that a crisis is looming, but not well-resourced enough (at least alone) to fix it? Those of us who are morally opposed to the way capitalism dehumanises the majority of people, but don't see any clear solution?

What we have to understand is that those of us who are in this small band of people are a minority. The reason, of course is that the authorities (who are in service of the elite, as always) have tried their utmost to prevent anyone from graduating into this class of people. They have done this by only making career options available to people who follow the capitalist system. Sure, there's an education out there for you, as long as you want to be an accountant, an advertiser, an investor, a doctor or an engineer. As long as you're the kind of person who they're sure will become corrupted by money and not become a problem to them (because what you think of as 'looking out for yourself' is actually looking out for them), then they will offer you a career. 

Those of us who can see that it is only getting worse in capitalism-land and have the skills to do something about it, must therefore serve as the early adopters of a new system. Early adopters are often ostracised by society as a whole, because they are seen as attempting to fix something that, in the minds of society at large, isn't broken. We are so conditioned from a young age that capitalism is the ONLY economic system that could ever work - because hey, look how badly the Russians, Chinese and Koreans fucked up communism? That happened, according to the propagandists, because any opposition to capitalism is doomed to failure. What they have done is create a strawman (dirty commie! hippie! anarchist! terrorist!) and played word association games with it, and introduced a false dichotomy, as though there were only TWO possibilities of economic system in the world - capitalism, and whatever those weird people did.

What we need to do, as the early adopters, is start a new system. My suggestion for this is to do some research into what exactly it takes to run a functional, self-sustaining eco-village. How many people, how long our project is expected to take before we break even, and what outside help we need. We need to break the association between rural villages with backward-thinking and conservative people. We need to redesign 'rural' life into one that embraces change, forward-thinking attitudes, dynamism (see my earlier post on this) and most importantly, TECHNOLOGY. Technology is, in my opinion, what will improve our lives to the point that there no longer needs to be physical labour and the unhappiness that comes from doing that. Technology drives us forward, towards progress. 

Once we've worked out how many people we need, we must then recruit multi-talented people who can help us realise our goal. We can buy farmland by putting our assets together, and use the farm as a place to start our new society. It is time to get out of the overcrowded, polluted city. It isn't doing our health any favours to sit for long periods in traffic and constantly experience all the frustration that comes with having not enough space. The city is a fundamentally inefficient place, because it has been stretched to its logical limit and beyond. The frustration of this will set us back so much that we should no longer tolerate such conditions.

Some of us in South Africa  may have seen films such as Zeitgeist and wondered whether the only sort of support for these claims stems from an international base. In fact, I recently came across a book called The Human Alliance, written by Michael Ruppert (who is from Midrand) that deconstructs how a far more humanitarian society could be established, how it may function and what flaws may arise. I would recommend having a look. The book is updated and reprinted frequently, which represents the commitment to an ideal of dynamism in the sort of way that is helpful to understand it. If you can find a copy, read it. (The books are still in the process of distribution). 

In closing, I would like to say why this is all so important to me: I am of the opinion that once humanity evolves past the need for money, we will be a species of more tolerant, helpful and happier people that  will continue to improve and excel, no longer at the expense of any other species or members of its own. It is therefore something of a personal goal, a goal that is forever evolving, to becoming as unreliant on the capitalist system as possible while maintaining a healthy and happy standard of living. Or stated another way: Having the sort of life that I would truly be happy to bring children into, to the point that I would intentionally aid the process of creation of life that the collective consciousness has given rise to.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My absence of late, the myth of the lone innovator, patents, and pot

Hello there

I know it has been a while since I have last posted anything. The main reason for this is that I have been back at university, and every time I get inspiration to write a post, I tell myself that i will be giving in to my procrastination habit once again, which this term I have endeavoured to improve upon.

You guys be the judge of how successful my attempt was, considering I am writing this when I have 2 assignments and a test due in the next 11 days.

Another reason I've been silent was that I've simply had so much go on in my life in the last 3 months. I've spent a lot of my free time with my friends the monkey, pixie, snail, vampire et alia. We've done activities like visit the roof of Beattie building, the interior space of the library ceiling/roof, the zoo roof, the zoo floor, the forbidden path at Kirstenbosch, the Beaverlac mountain rocks, the cottage haunted by the c(o)ps and fuck knows where else. This kind of thing has the habit of being so enthralling that I am simply not at home a lot of the time.

Anyway, now that I've finally decided to write this post, I thought I would settle on talking about how important these connections with people that we all have are. The auteur and lone inventor characters in fiction are simply that; fictitious. I'm prepared to make a strong statement here: No one has ever accomplished anything productive without, in some way, shape or form, the assistance of others. People raised in the wild are usually too dysfunctional in society to learn a language past the ability of a young child.  Everything you have ever done or will do was made possible by the assistance you received.

And that is why, if for no other reason, we need to have a creative society that refuses the use of devices like patents. Patents supposedly 'protect' inventors by allowing them to sue anyone that uses 'their' ideas and schematics, but it immediately assumes an adverserial economy where unscrupulous people may attempt to benefit off the effort of others. However, patents limit creativity by restricting who may work on an idea. It wouldn't matter who did most of the work on the idea (and even then it would be a team of supporters as well as the named 'inventor'), it would matter who made it first to the local Patent Office.

What we need is to move past the notion of idea-theft and intellectual property, when we realise that single sources of innovation do not exist. Everything that you and I have ever learned has come to us courtesy of the collective consciousness. Your work on an idea is a gift to the consciousness as a whole, not your ticket to easy profit.

If you still think your life is a self-made, completely independent system, then answer these questions. Do you plant your own produce, grow it, harvest it and eat it yourself? Do you source your own water for your showers and bottle it, and then heat it using electricity you generate yourself? Was your  house or dwelling built entirely by your own hands?

Of course it wasn't. Living such a life would be completely inefficient, in any case. As human beings we are interdependent on one another - so how about we learn to think in ways that promotes a spirit of mutual giving and teaching, instead of  ways that promote adversarial relatons between people? Nationalism, religion and war are overt examples of such promotion, but there exist far more subtle ways too.

The simplest way to state it all is thus: We are in this together, we are on the same side. Now what should we do to make this living thing work?

The final point I wanted to make, was that it would be great if we could raise the consciousness of people to the extent that they understand that we are all one. And I feel that the use of pot, when hanging around with your best friends, is a way to promote this sort of attitude in the collective consciousness. Pot, in my opinion and experience, fosters feelings of togetherness and happiness when in groups of other people, and a contemplative yet kind outlook when alone. When I attended the marijuana march on the 5th of May of this year, one of the crowd's yells was 'It brings people together!' I believe this firmly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Solipsism, imperfection and hypocrisy

I wish to extend my apologies in advance if the following entry sounds disjointed, confusing or very non sequitur-like, as I wrote this draft yesterday afternoon and wish to be as faithful to it as possible.

This is the sort of post I would really appreciate some comments and suggestions for. The point of most of the following is to open and promote discourse. We urgently need discourse. Volunteer some!

Each small inconvenience done to myself or others seems to be a constant in-your-face reminder that seems to yell at me: Your visions are not congruent with what your senses observe. Why not? Why the failure at perfect happiness, each time? It seems so unjust.

I cannot avoid taking it at least somewhat personally with my theory of weak solipism (which I mix with basic idealism, try and figure THAT one out, I could try and explain but I still need to work on concept confidication).
It seems that solipsism is useful sometimes, but not entirely plausible.

It seems to follow Occam's Razor though.

If I am solipsistic indeed, why do I feel the need for validation? (I'm making this post. I obviously want to dissemminate it and have it appreciated).

I think I'm trying to reconcile my senses with my desires and am upset every time I fail. (This is not healty).

The problem is that, to reverse this trend, I shall need to bear the potential slippery slope of permitting imperfection. It will need to be done in secret, so that I may serve a good example to others.
It must not corrupt me and prove me hypocritical.

For though I try as often as possible not to be hypocritical. Hypocrisy seems to be the ultimate failure of the self (to be congruent).
It is very painful to be a hypocrite. (assuming you do not use denial)

One must necessarily use operant conditioning to 'punish' (in the context of Operant Conditioning) hypocrisy from all others, in order to discourage the behaviour and hopefully cause extinction.

Since congruence of experiential states seems to produce happiness - should be not embrace non-hypocrisy as a guiding principle, as with efficiency? It should keep everyone's states as happy as possible, which weill result in the best kind of growth for humanity. Humanity's purpose is then achieved, as the greatest net positive result has been sought, aspired to and completed as well as could have been done under the given circumstances.

Friday, February 3, 2012

In Defence of Popularity

This should be a short one, because, for once, the point I'm making isn't that complicated.

When I posted a status intended to encourage debate on facebook, I had a short argument with somebody (mercifully not on the status itself) over whether I was trying to win a 'popularity contest' of sorts with the status. I wasn't, not by any means, but I did think about it later - if the status was unpopular and therefore ignored, it wouldn't serve its intended function (to start a debate) now would it?

Those of you who knew me in high school wouldn't exactly refer to me as 'popular'. And by no means did I want to be - popularity in high school would have required championing ignorance as a virtue. (I'll make another post exploring this one of these days). However, I have a much more solid friend group at university, and even a fairly wide aquaintance group, and I've clearly expanded on my popularity. However, I haven't done so nearly as much as certain others - who by virtue of their large numbers of weak ties between people, they are better networkers. Simply, popularity then is not so much about your strong ties (close friends, family etc.) but more about your weak ties, and how you handle acquaintanceship. Nobody who was ever successful became that way alone. While successful people certainly can be said to have had skill and worked hard for their success, there are just as many, if not far more others that have the same skill and work ethic, but they lack the third item necessary - luck. And the more connected people are, the more luck they can have, simply because there are more people to provide opportunities for them. (Thanks to Malcolm Gladwell for a lot of this).

Returning to my orignial point, people who are popular have more opportunity to show that they are hardworking and skillful than equally skillful and hardworking people that don't have an audience. Having an audience IS important. And that's why we need the internet - it makes every person connected to it a potential audience member. Communication can happen on a level like never before. Physical borders and distance are irrelevant. For people that don't have an audience, their ideas often don't get discussed and improved , because nobody is listening.In this way, we lose out on a lot of potential ideas in the world.

So then, find an audience, if you can. Become popular, but never sacrifice who you are to do so. Popularity is just ONE of the important things. If you find yourself changing who you are to suit other people, you need to find some new friends. Listen to other people and be a critical, engaging and kind audience for them, and they will (hopefully) return the favour. Let the intelligence and sincerity of your words attract people, rather than any social coercive method. THAT is the kind of popularity we could all use.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The argument for Standard Definition

Hello all and welcome back to my blog.

I was having a brief thought this morning which I believe should be shared amongst all of the film community in and out of Cape Town, as well as everywhere else. As we all know, the film industry is a difficult one to enter because of the high costs involved in film production. And right now, these costs are the barrier to a lot of aspiring filmmakers. This is a problem - effectively, those not rich enough to make their own films are being silenced.

And I think I know why.

You see, when I was in Film Production class at UCT, our generation seemed to be obsessed - and I literally do mean obsessed with production values. Production values ostensibly refer to quality, but I think they actually refer to how 'polished' a product looks. What that means is that when we see a feature film created by Hollywood, we're often seeing something that has been shot on actual film, scanned onto a computer, edited and printed back on to film. That gives their pictures a visual quality we long to match.. which is something that can't be done without shitloads of money. Everyone knows I have my issues with Hollywood, but surely I can't be bashing films that look nice?

Well, I'm not doing that either. It's wonderful that we have visual masterpieces on film. Two of my favourite films ever, Sin City and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow are on my favourites list mostly because of the production design elements, which look the way they do because of expensive equipment (although I would like to point out that Sin City was shot in HD and not on film).

So here we have a new generation of young filmmakers, most of them without large cash deposits longing for their films to look like those, and in the process scorning films with so-called 'low' production values. THAT's where the problem lies. So concerned with production values were we as a class that most groups, for our final graduation project, refused to shoot with a Sony NX5 (1920x1080 at 24 Mbps, this is full HD at three megabytes per SECOND, so a 10-minute film weighs in at 1,8 GB), despite the fact that we could get hold of this camera for free. Instead, we went with the Canon 5D Mark II, which shoots at 38 Mbps. For this we paid R400 per DAY - at a 90% discounted rate (the original rate being R4000/day - all this for the camera BODY, with no lens).

The problem, again, is not that we are making films that look beautiful, but that we are continuing a trend in which visual quality is more important than content. This is likely to hurt freelancers with older equipment especially - they will not be hired because they haven't yet saved up the R100 000 necessary to buy all the latest stuff. And we are feeding a capitalist industry that just loves to tell us how bad Standard Definition is.

When I uploaded the aforementioned film, Nje Ngathi to Vimeo, their specifications for the upload were 640x360 at 2 Mbps. And rightfully so... imagine how long it would take people with South Africa's shitty internet to buffer it in full HD? The point is, here I am uploading a version that is 1/19th of the original's quality - and that's just OK. It still looks good enough.

So the point, then, is not to stop recording movies in HD - after all, we do need technology to continue to expand, become cheaper and more accessible. What I'm suggesting is that production values, which are not limited to picture quality, but in fact cover many aspects of video production, scale in diminishing return - the more you spend on making them right, the less output you get for each rand you spend. And if you have little or no money but still want to make a film, you'll be derided for not matching the production companies' standards. That is how they stay in power and keep you out of it.

What we need is a realisation that glossy finishes do not make good films. That content is more important than visuals. The next time you see an independently produced film in SD, don't shy away from it just because its visuals aren't as impressive as Avatar. Remember that over 2 billion rand was spent on that film - then the fact that it's visual quality is only 20 times better than an SD film produced for less than R1000 starts to put it in perspective for you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Neurotypical Emulator

The following post is based strongly off a conversation I had with a good friend. You know who you are.. thanks man.

Understanding of this article will be quite strongly biased in favour of those who have a decent understanding of computers and programming at their most basic levels. If you struggle to understand the terms I use, it would really be better to look them up as I can't predict in advance how many terms I'm going to have to define for different members of my audience. Of course, you can always just ask me what I mean, too.

Hypothetically, aspies run different operating systems to neurotypical people. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. And there are many more NTs (neutorypicals) in the world than aspies, so NTs by default are running different variations, but with mostly similar source code operating systems. Aspies have a different system. Neither should change their native OS, because their native one is the most efficient type of system for their neurochemistry. (This is far from suggesting neither should IMPROVE their OS or use different examples as a way of learning), but that the building-block source code does not necessarily need a vendor change.

As Linux (an open-source OS) has Wine (an emulator designed to run Windows applications), aspies need a sort of emulator, or virtual machine to run NT apps. Exactly which applications constitute NT status are very disputed, and I will not attempt to list them in this post. That is a story for another occasion. What I would like you to remember though, is that the more tired the particular aspie is, the more bugs will be present in his/her NT emulator and the less effective that aspie will be in communcation. When the NT emulator crashes, the term 'meltdown' is used to explain the condition.

That is all, as I have to run.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I've met many people over the course of a lifetime who, oddly enough, seem to have humanity all figured out. I usually ask such wise people to share their insight with me, and am most often met with a result suspicously similar to one of the following.

-People suck
-People are cruel
-You shouldn't care too much about people because they will always disappoint you in the end

When I ask for proof of such assertions, I typically get answers such as Nazi Germany, Russian communists and Internet trolls. Basically, their thesis is that because there are this many shitty people in the world, that shittiness itself is the lowest common denominator following humanity itself.

The simple truth is that yes, while there are extreme examples of human cruelty and inaction in the face of extreme violence, there are also extreme examples of selflessness and goodness that all too often go unnoticed because they are performed by everyday people. As such, they are not 'newsworthy' and slip under the radar.

No extreme examples are going to tell us very much about human nature, anyway. They are outliers. And it is my belief that humans are in fact inherently good, but can be easily corrupted. Most people WANT to be good, they just don't know how.

Why don't they know this? I think you can see where this is going. Goodness is easy to corrupt. If you make people believe that if they are good, they will be walked all over and bullied (which is easy to do if you are one of the bullies) but convince them that if they look out solely for their self-interest (which all too often ends up being the interest of the upper-classes) they will be OK, then perhaps they'll try it. And in the beginning they may even appear to succeed. For they arent being bullied anymore, which negatively reinforces their behaviour of supporting the man. It doesnt matter if the man was the one bullying them in the first place.

See, people really WANT to do the right thing, but are corrupted into doing less because they believe it is the only way they will see results of their actions. Wake up. The system was not created for your benefit. If you want to do the right thing, then do this: Spread this information. Wake other people up. Educate. Be a leader. Save that person from the bullies. Intervene. You may just save their life, and then that person could one day become someone influential that saves the world.

Because the world needs to be saved. There is too much preventable unhappiness in the world at the moment, and we have all been conditioned to accept this state of affairs, lest it be us suffering like that.

It doesnt need to be this way.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dynamism (hey is that the correct term?)

I've just looked up both the words Dynamism and Dynamicism to figure out which may be the better word for what I'm about to describe. My lookup didn't help, and I have an article to write, so I figured fuck getting the title right.

This is a quick one, and this article asks the question of you: Where do YOU think this could go? What are YOUR ideas? The simple truth is, I don't have those answers. But we can build them if we have good suggestions and brainstorms.

The startting idea is, as humans, we need structures. Please don't get me wrong, I am NOT saying we need hierarchies, or at least how such things typically play out. But we need ORGANISATION. It is because of organisation that we have engineers, scientists, system administrators, educators and many many people that are working a lot of the time to make our lives easier. Organisation is very clearly an important ability to possess.

I believe very possibly that humans can collectively build not so much a Utopia as much as a Dynamic Mutual Society whose very founding principle is that it is dynamic. It embraces change and new learning. And to build such a society, we are going to need ridiculous amounts of organisation. Think of space shuttles and the number of engineering variables that need to be taken into account when you send humans into motherfucking space. Fourteen people are dead as a result of  minor things that went wrong on space shuttle missions. While this, quite frankly sucks, it proves the point of the necessity of organisation when complex systems are being dealt with. Sociologists study the way humans create societies, and they will explain that human societies are quite as complicated and intricate as advanced engineering. Or you could ask neurologists, most of whom believe that the human brain is the most complicated and intricate 'machine' that science has ever discovered.

The point of all of this is that societies not only can, but SHOULD be engineered. And I don't mean engineered by shady corporate interests. I mean built, quite literally from nothing but intellect and great organisation and the participation of everyone who chooses, out of their free will, to join the society contstruction project. For example, The Venus Project. Please note that by including this, I am not suggesting this as the ONLY or CORRECT solution - just an example of people who decided to start thinking seriously about reconstructing society and why such a thing is necessary. Even if you hate people like Jacque Fresco and Peter Joseph with a passion, if you honestly believe that you wouldn't learn something new from reading their drafted manifesto, which is available from the previous link, then you are one seriously ignorant person. Always remember that you determine your own level of involvement here. I think that Fresco and Joseph do a very good job of explaining these important ideas for us all. One thing they are certain to mention is how they understand that they are not looking for utopia, but rather a society that is always under maintenance, constantly being improved wherever possible in the name of efficiency and greater achievement. In the end, we're all after the same things. Happiness, reached potential. Success at the cost of nothing but well-used effort.

Things to aspire to, in my opinion. And to build such a society, we have to learn to think dynamically. That means, embracing change - understanding that change is not only inevitable, the only way to make change good for us is to seek constant improvement. That is the essence of dynami(ci)sm. If you remember nothing from my message except this, then remember this: EMBRACE CHANGE.

This is probably not an original idea, but I don't give a fuck, so: Why not call our society Dynamitopia?

As I said in the beginning, I don't really know how any of this could play out and therefore seek constructive conversation about it.

Good night.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Starting at the middle

Okay, so I just graduated recently. Know what that means?

I'm now legally unemployed. That's not so good. It means that I need to take responsibility for something I'm not entirely sure I know how to, and something I am entirely sure I don't want to.

Everyone knows how much I hate the capitalist system. This should be no surprise to anyone. I'm sure many of you have also heard my defiant opposition to 'starting at the bottom' of the film industry, or whatever that means. The idea is that, after graduating, the natural path is to go work for some assholes by making them coffee whenever they ask. And somehow, this is supposed to signify that you are a competent individual - because you can follow orders, or something.

Well, I think that's total crap.

I think the employment/company system does this to people because they consent to their oppression. They consent to have their experience and knowledge devalued, because the entire capitalist system has been doing this to them their whole lives. The system has convinced them that their skills and talents - those they spent 3+ years learning in university - are worthless and that all that counts is 'who' you know and to meet these people, you must consent to being a cog in their machines for an indefinite amount of time.

I also think that's total crap.

These assumptions are implicit throughout university. In a way, it's a masochistic, self-destructive backlash. The thinking is "So why the fuck did I just spend R 100 000 and three years on a degree that won't even get me a decent job?" and the only way one's brain deals with this cognitive dissonance (look if up if you don't know) is said self-destructive behaviour.

I have a slightly different plan. I don't think that anyone should ever 'start at the bottom'. This is inefficient. Don't believe me? Then try it, and see how much of your potential is wasted. However, in this disgusting capitalist system, education is rationed off to the highest bidders. So if you are in a lucky enough position to have a good education, don't go and waste it by spending 8 hours a day fetching stuff for assholes. Instead, work at something else and do indie projects on the side. Try and become known in the community as someone who values the input of both yourself and others, to the point that hierarchies cannot be adhered to. For hierarchies limit creative potential by giving ideas by certain people guaranteed primacy. Think about it. This cannot be right.

So, to my readers: I'd like to work on building some sort of indie film collective - a not-for-profit group that does film on the side while working for yourself on something that does generate income. This way, we are assured of finding collaborators when we need them. All we have are each other, our work, inspiration, motivation. We are the ones who can do something about this 'hierarchical film industry' nonsense.

To end off, think about this. If you could have it your way, would you STILL start at the bottom? Or would you look somewhere in the middle?