jc.tryps

– feeds your head

Are women humans?

It’s about freedom. Basically that’s what it’s all about. The right to your own life. The right to dream your own dreams. The right to decide over your own actions. The right to decide over your own body and what happens to it. That’s what we mean when we talk about human rights. And how ever we twist and turn this issue there’s no getting away from the fact that if you want to have the full right to decide over your own life you should avoid being born a woman. Regardless of where you look on this planet men have greater freedom that women. Of course there are lot of other things you should avoid if you want freedom; for instance being non-white, non-heterosexual, disabled or poor. But above all you should avoid being a woman. Of all the poor people in this world 70% are women. 99% of the worlds assets are owned by men. Women do 60% of the labour in this world but earn 10% of the money. There’s just no way to shrug those statistics off.

We can talk about injustice, unfair distribution, power abuse, corruption, we can all agree that our world isn’t fair. It’s true. And we do talk about it, but in those conversations we very rarely state that it’s actually also a gender issue. The world isn’t fair, but it’s even less fair if you’re a woman. No matter how bad the situation is in a country, be it war, famine or poverty,  there’s one thing you can be sure of, and that’s that the situation for women and girls will be worse. Regardless of where we are in the world it’s always worse to be a woman. Why is that?

The oppression of women is never the highest item on the political agenda, it’s always one of the “minor issues”, one of those issues that aren’t as important. In all the debates on global poverty the blatant connection to gender is never mentioned, it becomes a sub-issue. Women are made into a “special interest” group whose interests can be pretty much be disregarded. Oppression of women becomes an issue that’s not really important. It’s not one of the big issues on the global political agenda. But 51% of the world’s population are women. How can something that concerns more than half of the world’s population be considered a “special interest”? And when looking at aid initiatives targeting poverty the results are unanimous: if you give the aid directly to women it will reach more people, children, old people, even men, the distribution will be wider and the success sustainable. It actually works. It’s been proven time and time again that if you really want increased living quality, disease and hunger reduction, financial stability and sustainable change for everyone, women should be the target for aid. And yet, this is not the rule, it’s the exception. Even though the evidence couldn’t be clearer, from an economic standpoint, anything else is even irrational, but it’s still not the rule. Why is that?

When we say “human”, what do we actually mean? What’s the norm for a human? What archetype are we referring to? Is it a woman in Rwanda? A girl in Bangladesh? Or even a lady in Brighton? No, when we speak of a human we are referring to a man. A white, heterosexual middle-class man in the western world. That’s a human. Strange isn’t it? How did we end up having a an absolute minority be the norm? And even if we extend it to include non-white people it still doesn’t include women. Women are an exception. We speak of freedom of speech, democracy and human rights. We criticize governments who hold political prisoners, we condemn acts of terrorism. It’s all on the public agenda. And at times, as a parenthesis, we can even go as far as to state that it’s important that women’s rights are taken into consideration. That they get access to education, that they have the right to vote. But in the subtext one burning fact stands out: Human rights and women’s rights are not synonymous. Human rights equal men’s rights. Read more of this post

Advertisements

Why the lack of integrity on facebook could actually be a good thing.

please do.

please do.

This whole facebook, or indeed any other equivalent social networks, integrity debate, I was sitting here thinking about that just now as I was spreading some more political propaganda through my news feed. And I know all about the problems with having your mother or your boss seeing the same things your friends see about you, we all do, so let’s try turning it around a bit, just for the sake of examination. Let’s look at it from a different angle. Let’s forget about the whole “stalking your current or former partners” parts, and look at the more subversive aspects of it and how it could potentially change the whole social game as we know it. Yeah, I said the whole though process got kicked into motion by posting political propaganda, didn’t I?

I’m a very private person. I don’t really like people to know all that much about what I do or where I am and hence I rarely give away information on that on facebook or in real life for that matter. Some people like to inform everyone about where they are, what they are doing and what they had for breakfast, I’m not one of those people. But thanks to facebook I now have a very clear visibility on who of my friends actually do belong to that group of people. Is this a good or a bad thing? I’m not sure. But if a friend of mine posts a blatantly sexist status update it is indeed a good thing because then I can delete that person from my friends list. The same way people can do the exact same thing to me if they are offended by my political propaganda. For instance when I post things from this very blog.

Yes, we do get to know a lot more about our friends these days. And as uncomfortable as that sometimes makes me, I don’t necessarily think it’s bad thing. Because sure, we have to exercise a little bit of censorship, or rather judgement, when we post things, but I don’t actually think it’s uncomfortable or bad if people know my political views, after all they are my views and I should consequently stand behind them, we all should. We should stand behind who we are. Even to our boss or indeed our mothers. I think it’s time to stop the whole acting and trying to fit in to the norm thing, because if we could finally deal with the reality of the fact that we as humans are pretty multifaceted, this world would be so much better and life would be so much more interesting. You can actually be a hugely successful business person and still go to techno clubs on the weekend, and you can actually be on a roll in academia and still live the full gay lifestyle with clubbing and the works and you can be a great parent without having a so-called “organized life” with a 9 to five job. Theoretically you can even be pro the Occupy Wall Street movement and still work in a bank. Because we are in fact a pretty diverse species, and we are capable of having more than one side to our personality. In fact we do. All of us. And I’m not so sure it’s really doing us that much good to keep them as separate as we do. The question is if that isn’t just providing a great growing ground for prejudice. Because if you are a successful business person and your boss can’t see that your partying on the weekend isn’t affecting your work performance and should therefore be of no concern to him, he probably shouldn’t be in that job. The worst thing that could happen is that he has to question his own prejudices if he knows about your extracurricular activities. And if you’re scared you might lose your job because of your political opinion, well then maybe you should ask yourself whether you actually even want to keep that job. And yes, we all need food on the table, but we also need a spine. And if more of us put more focus on maintaining our status as vertebrae this world would probably be a lot nicer to live in. Read more of this post

EU and ontology

the berlin wall

the berlin wall

The other night I was having a conversation about the early 90s, music was the topic and we were reminiscing about the time when MTV was still worth watching (yes, reminiscing indeed). My conversational partner is a bit younger than I and comes from a different musical background, so I was telling him about the wonders of 120 minutes and getting a weekly input of alternative music. As I was talking it all came back to me, that early 90s vibe of crumbling walls and the European dream. I was 13 years old when the Berlin wall fell and I still remember how I felt when I saw the images on the TV screen. How I looked at my parents with bewilderment and asked them if this was really happening. I wasn’t that old, but I understood that this really meant something, that this would change the world. And it did. And for a few years there in the early 90s it really seemed like a new world was possible. That Europe would now truly become one. In my memories, in the way I understood the world, the early days of MTV Europe was a bit like that; all of Europe in one studio. It was all done in London, that’s where the studio was, but the VJs came from all over Europe, there were even Swedish people, and back then that meant something to me because we weren’t part of the European Union yet, but the fact that we still got to be part of MTV somehow gave me hope. Because I didn’t want to be Swedish, I wanted to be European. Or rather, I didn’t really want to have a nationality at all, so being European at least felt like a better deal. That feeling hasn’t really changed all that much, but back then there were moments were I could feel something almost resembling pride when I though about being European, in spite of all the past atrocities it seemed like being European could actually be an ok identity, but today being European doesn’t induce anything even resembling pride. Not only because of the horrendous political currents surging through Europe right now, but also because the idea of a European identity has almost faded away.

I may be incredibly naive, but I actually think the European Union is a good thing. Not the way it’s actually been implemented, or the way it’s working today, but the idea itself. The idea of creating a unity of nations and have the focus be on working together for everyone’s benefit is good. In fact, it’s brilliant. And if this could be the guiding principle for the whole world, that would be even better – working together to ensure everyone is ok. Not just the rich and privileged, but everyone.

If you really want to do that, make sure everyone is ok, you can’t care about borders or ethnicity because the moment you start focusing on those aspects the basic concept is lost. It’s supposed to be about everyone. Every single individual. And of course that’s an utopian idea, but that’s the whole point of political ideas, they are supposed to be about creating utopia, the perfect world. Anything that has “good enough” as the highest standard requirement is not even worth considering. Stagnation, that’s the end result of such ideals. Only ideas that lead to the best situation for every single individual are even worth considering. Read more of this post

Do you want me to sign it?

food for thought

food for thought

I got that exact question recently. I was at a friend’s book launch party and she asked me if I wanted her to sign my copy of her book. Sure. It’s how it’s supposed to be, right? And it was a nice personalized message that made me happy, so in this case it kind of made sense. Kind of. But to be honest, I have actually never understood that whole singing deal. That desire to have your copy of a book or a CD singed by the maker. What is that all about? It’s their work, they actually made it, isn’t that enough? Does it make it more real to have a signature on it? Is that what it’s about? Authenticity?

I had an experience some years ago that lead me to believe that has something to do with it. For a few years in the yearly/mid 2000s Einstürzende Neubauten did a number of tours and at the concerts they would sell CDs with recordings of the show. Like a licensed bootleg. I went to quite a few of these concerts and I got the CDs at each one. A lot of people asked me why I didn’t get these signed. In fact, almost everyone asked me why I didn’t take the opportunity, that I actually had, to get them signed. Same question, repeated a lot of times. And my reaction was always one of complete bewilderment. Why would I have them signed? I got these CDs because Neubauten are great live and they do at least one improv piece every night, plus I suck at remembering the set list, so fantastic deal, right? What the added benefit of also having their signatures on the covers would add I had, and still have, great trouble understanding. Effort was made to enlighten me further: “To show you were there!” Uh, why?! I know I was there and I don’t think I’ll ever be in a situation where I will have to prove that to anyone. I do have a rather vivid imagination, but to think of a non science fiction scenario where that would actually happen, is quite the challenge even for me. Read more of this post

Addiction and the question of use or abuse

pill in hand

pill in hand

When we speak of addiction we usually mean something destructive. We understand the malignant aspects as an integral part of the phenomena. To be addicted to something is per definition bad and something that should be avoided.

If you look up addiction in a dictionary you get the following definitions:
– Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance
– The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or involved in something

The latter is exemplified with fast cars, the former with heroin. And I suppose it’s a pretty accurate way to describe the variations of the phenomena called addiction. Compulsive being the operative word in both cases. But how do you end up there? In the compulsive state? In the case of heroin the addictive qualities of the substance itself is usually put forth as the main cause of the compulsion. Heroin causes addiction, that’s what we’re told. If you want to be a bit more precise the addictive aspect lies in the fact that regular heroin use increases your tolerance level, you have to constantly up the dose to achieve the same effect, and it also causes a physical dependence, your body craves it. When it comes to substances those two aspects are what determine if the substance is addictive; increased tolerance and physical dependence. So how does that relate to the fast cars? Well, I suppose one could argue that you need to “up the dose” here too, it takes more to get the same fix, but the whole physical dependence is obviously not applicable. In the case of the cars it’s all on a psychological level.

Yes, there are of course different types of addictions, some of which have to do with things you put in your body and some that only have to do with experience. The common denominator being the whole compulsive aspect. Compulsive indicates that there’s a lack of free will involved. If we go to the dictionary this is what we find:
– The state of being compelled
– An irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation
So it has to do with rationality, or rather the lack thereof. Again a rather fitting definition, because most heroin addicts probably know that their addiction isn’t rational. Especially since there is a definite criminal aspect tied to the use of this particular substance. But what about the cars? Or indeed any non substance related addiction? Or addiction to substances that aren’t actually illegal? The experience and the physical aspects are certainly part of it as well as that lack of rationality, but to me the most interesting part of this is where to draw the line. When does a passion become an addiction? When does use become addiction? Read more of this post

Oranienburger Strasse at 2 in the morning

"look me in the eyes"

"look me in the eyes"

I just found this text and for some reason I didn’t publish it back when I wrote it, but here it is.

I’m on my way home from a friend’s house. It’s about 2 o’clock on Easter Sunday. I’m at the very end of Torstrasse and the combination of having no clue what the S-Bahn situation is like since it’s a public holiday and the fairly warm evening, makes me decide to walk to Alexanderplatz. Walking down Oranienburger Strasse is the fastest way to get to Alexanderplatz from where I am so it’s very much the natural choice, but I still hesitate. I’m not really sure I want to expose myself to that walk tonight, but the option of taking another route isn’t all that appealing either. Especially since Mitte tends to play tricks with my head and make me confused about where I am at times, something that has every potential of leading to rather time-consuming detours and I really don’t feel like that either right now. So I go with the natural choice and start heading down Oranienburger Strasse. The first few blocks are easy, they always are. There’s too many restaurants crammed into too little space for there to be anything but eating and drinking going on in that part of the street. But as soon as you get close to the Synagogue it starts. And I brace myself, try to prepare for what’s to come.

I see her coming towards me. Dark hair, white tights, no heels, that’s unusual, and the ever-present fanny pack. Worn on the front of the body, never on the hip like in the techno crowd. She appears to be somewhere in her early twenties but she’s wearing too much make-up to really be able to detect any age. We don’t look at each other, we just pass like the strangers we are, pretending not to see each other. As she walks away behind me I can feel my anxiety levels rise. I look up and in front of me I already see the next one. She’s having a conversation with a man clad in pastel colors. He looks very gay, nothing like the usual punter, and I catch myself wondering if he’s her pimp. A few steps away there are two more. Blonde hair extensions, dressed in white and with corsets. They all have corsets and hot pants. It’s like a uniform. And at that point I just feel like crying. Across the street there are two more girls, also blonde, they are surrounded by a group of teenage boys and I’m happy I have my iPod so I don’t have to hear anything of the conversation. What is going to be the outcome of that situation? Is this the night when these boys will learn that you can buy access to a woman’s body? I want to throw up when I think about it. Read more of this post

It’s too long. (No it’s not too long, it’s your attention span that’s too short.)

bridge

bridge

“It’s too long.” I get that often, about things I write. And I do think about it. I do try to shorten stuff, cut away things that aren’t relevant, just keep the essentials. Take the criticism to heart as they say. And yes, sometimes it’s true, the texts do need to be shortened, but sometimes it’s just a load of bullshit. A thing people say because they are too lazy to make the effort it would take to get through the whole text. I hear it about books too: “No, I haven’t read Dostoyevsky, his books are too long.” And no, I’m not comparing myself with Dostoyevsky, I’m just saying that by being lazy, you’re most definitely missing out. Sure, some things can be said in just a few sentences, but some things really need a longer and more elaborate type of argumentation. Some things are too complex to allow themselves for brief summarized types of presentations. It all depends on what the theme and the topic is. For instance, it’s really easy to define the meaning of life, in fact all it takes is one word: enjoy. But if you want to dig a bit deeper and really examine what that would mean you will need a lot more words. It all depends on the objective.

But I suppose the objective is indeed the issue. If you really want to give readers an opportunity to think for themselves you have to give them a bigger set of facts and/or arguments. I was reading a humungously long essay by Arundhati Roy in India Online about the Maoist guerilla in central India (here) and even though it took me well over an hour to read it I guarantee that this essay couldn’t have been any shorter because that’s exactly how complicated this situation really is. And if the objective is to provide your readers with an understanding of the level of complexity in this situation, which I’m pretty sure is the case, you have to give them the fully story. If you don’t you’ll just be another voice in the choir of ignorance. And as a reader, my obligation is to take this information in and draw my own conclusions. To use my own intellectual capabilities to try to make sense of it all in my own head. That’s the whole point; to actually think. It’s what we’re supposed to do with information; process it. Use our brains.  Read more of this post

How the Financial Market is stealing our civil rights

satire

satire

Remember the Crisis? You know, that big crisis that threw the whole world off balance and made lots of people lose their jobs and cost everyone lost of money. Remember that one, back in the 1990s? Or was it 2001? No wait, there was one 2007 too. No, I mean 2009. In fact, is it over yet? That crisis that started some time in…uh 1900 something and went on till… well it’s actually still going on, isn’t it? All this talk aboutThe Financial Crisis. Yeah sure, but which one?! Because it’s not like there’s been only one in recent decades. In fact, once could argue that it seems to have become a permanent state, this whole financial crisis business. If one didn’t know any better one might think that there was actually something fundamentally wrong with the whole system, but one does know better, right? Because surely we’re on the right track, we’re real close to fixing it all now, aren’t we? Yeah, for sure… I mean just the other day the spanish prime minister said the growth is positive, just very slow. And I’m sure the people of Spain agrees, right? Real close to fixing it now you see. We have a solution you see.

But it’s rather interesting to notice how the solution is always to sell off the rights of the citizens. A more flexible labour market, selling state-owned businesses, upping the retirement age etc. It’s all very much in line with the commandments of capitalism: money talks and he who has none shall shut the fuck up. And it’s always promoted with the propaganda of fear. “If we don’t fuck you over a little bit now we’ll all end up being totally fucked later. So bend over people!” But are they really telling the truth? Read more of this post

Ascending from the hole.

escalator

escalator

I’m working on a text about art and creativity right now, and part of that text is about the holes in life. Those plunges one makes from time to time. Or at least I do. And I usually refer to these periods as being ‘in the hole’. A dark, lonely and very nasty place to be. These days I usually manage to keep these visits short, I’ve had enough practice climbing up to have developed a certain proficiency by now, but even a short stay is unpleasant enough.

The biggest problem with being in the hole though, are the distorted perspectives. Things just look really different from down there. Twisted and weird. And it’s almost as if logic isn’t able to reach you when you’re there. Everything takes on distorted proportions, becomes enormous, monstrous, unsurpassable hurdles and even simple household chores morph into Sisyphean tasks. It’s all just a big, gargantuan mess of shit piling up threatening to fall down and crush you. But on some level you still know it’s all because you’re in the hole, that it’s just the perspective fucking with your head. And that’s when shame sets in. Because if you know, you should be able to just shake it, right? But you can’t. And therefore, you suck. That’s the summary of how the whole situation looks from down there. You suck.

So obviously you have to shut up about it, because if you tell anyone, then they will also realize you suck and getting external confirmation on that would pretty much guarantee that the shit will indeed fall down and crush you. And that’s why you start pretending, putting on an act, but being in the hole with the whole perspective distortion going on, you’re not really able to pull it off. The performance as your preferred version of yourself doesn’t turn out very convincing. In fact, all you manage to pull off, is an unreliable, slightly erratic and rather grumpy version of your least preferred self. You don’t return calls, you don’t respond to emails and when people confront you with it you make up vague excuses about having “been busy”. Yeah, right… Read more of this post

Becoming yourself in a different language.

utilities

utilities

I am what is commonly referred to as an expat. I.e. a resident in a foreign country. Another word for this is immigrant. And I’ve written about this before (here), so I won’t go too deep into the absurdities that reside within that concept in this text, but let me just say that people aren’t plants. We don’t have roots, we have legs. We move. But when you do move there are a number of things you are confronted with, and one of these things is language.

I live in a country where I have to live my daily life in a different language, a language that isn’t my mother tongue, German. I already knew a bit of German when I moved here 5 years ago, so I wasn’t that worried. I knew it would take a while to get a flow, to feel secure and at home in the new language, but I wasn’t really prepared for what an impact it would have on my identity and self-image. Because every language has its characteristics and in these characteristics also lies a world view. The words you have in a language say a lot about how you perceive the world, what concepts are relevant. And as you slowly start conquering the language you also get an insight to the world view that comes with it, and you start relating this to your own. You start reflecting on the differences and compare them to other languages, other world views. I use three languages in my daily life, or to put it differently, I live my life in three different languages. I have a few more at my disposal, but three is what I use in my everyday existence. So essentially I have these three different world views coexisting in my head on a daily basis. Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: