New blog (Karoo Youth) to take over.

I will be putting this blog on the ice for a while.

Please have a look at my new blog - www.karooyouth.tumblr.com - which I will be putting more effort into, once I make the time.

Thanks.

explore-blog:

The National Department of Poetry – another brilliant (tragi)comic by Grant Snider. Pair with James Dickey on how to enjoy poetry and Coleridge on what poetry is, and Edward Hirsch on how to read a poem.

Demo recording of Rolihlahla (What A Way To Go) at The Melis Stronghold.

Something Like Poetry: Box

You beat the both of us with that fist.
You hit hard like you went for the mirror and missed.
I went to check on your bloodied knuckles and kiss you,
But my tears rubbed into your wounded wrists.

You won’t give me forgiveness.
You won’t listen when I talk or look at my lips.
I went on about how every cut needs a stitch,
But you wanted to bleed when I wanted to assist.

You say my weak knees are meaningless.
You say this is how a best friend benefits.
I went with it like a drunk and willing masochist,
But you left me wondering, Who’s blood is this?

Demo recording of ‘What A Way To Go’ (DJ Provence Remix) at John Rumble.

Demo recording of ‘Rust’ at John Rumble.

Something Like Poetry: Thank The Stars

Weren’t we so happy on our high horse?
Just giving gifts to get rewarded at the gates.

Now, I’m not content on thanking God for anything.
But what name to we attribute to that thing
That’s older than the stars
And bigger than that diamond on your ring.

To be comfortably committed at an age
When adolescence had me at the neck, like prey.

Now, I’m not content on having that comfort missing.
But I can’t avoid the assumption that there’s something
That’s older than the stars
And bigger than that diamond on your ring.

That’s older than the clouds
And bigger than the bond on our wedding.

Just Opinion Pieces: Self-Doubt in a Time of Transition

“Sustainability is too hard, there’s nothing I can do!” It’s easy to throw your hands in the air and just give up. The plight of rising prices and rising risks makes ‘saving the world’ seem like a job left for superheroes. It’s a common excuse. But that’s all it is: an excuse. It is not a fact and it is not a justification to carry on blindly. Of course, it is a fair question to ask whether one person can really do anything to make a better world, but let that not be the end of your questioning. Do not let the scientific disbelief suppress your artistic faith. No-one asked you to make a difference, but you want to, don’t you?  I want to urge you to engage with that restlessness you feel, and to follow that desire to do good.

The game of sustainability doesn’t seem like a game we can win. This is true. Things seem to be getting worse, wherever we look. But why? It’s not like we don’t have the technologies – we do! And it’s not like we don’t want to either – why else would be complaining so much? I think it is because we have decided to not face up to the challenge. We have acknowledged the difficulties and have given up. It’s quite pathetic. The whole thing about sustainability is that it is unreachable, so get over it. No-one knows what a perfect relationship between nature and society looks like. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t get better. We can, and so we should never settle. We may never win, but we can certainly lose – if we quit.

Self-doubt comes from being overwhelmed by the complexity at hand. Everything seems bigger and out of control – out of reach. This knowledge of the world comes across as something new and chaotic, but it has always been there. If you don’t confront it, it can confuse you and complicate things that are already complex. Chances are you’ve been thinking too much. And as a friend often says to me, ‘with over-analysis comes paralysis’. Complexity is a beautiful thing, but at some stage we are going to have to put a frame on it. We are going to have to take the chance and back what we believe is the right thing to do. Taking that risk will be the most responsible thing that you have ever done. Once we get exposed to these complex things – these twisting and turning interconnections and interactions, these rich relationships between structures and systems – we cannot escape the ethics of our decisions. So let’s be positive.

Give in to intuition! We are still so hung-up on glorifying rationality and reason and rules and all that rubbish. Well, it’s not rubbish, obviously, but on its own and without a bit of individuality and feeling, these are things that are not adequately matched in our forever-changing world. When we wrestle with the complex conflicts that we face in times of transition, our moral codes may not apply – what we once thought was Godly and absolute, may turn out to be just religious and absent. There’s no denying the multiplicity of perspectives and procedures when it comes to things like addressing food security or education. But, after your worries have relaxed, what does your intuition tell you? Let your heart balance out what’s going on in your brain. Let’s start engaging more with our consciousness. Let’s exercise our soul. Albert Einstein is always a good person to quote when arguing these kinds of things. He said: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Sounds about right.

The world is changing, our societies are changing, our whole global systems are changing, and if we don’t embrace this then, well, we die. There are two things to remember from this. One, we cannot let apathy get the better of us, so let empathy take over for a bit. Surely, we would want to be remembered for taking on these crises in a positive light? If you don’t want to make a change, you will find an excuse, but if you do, you will find a reason. So let’s! And speaking of reason, this brings us to our second point. We will continue to rationalise things – this is how we make sense of the world, this is how we make meaning. However, it takes a lot of energy. So give this a break every now and then, and just let your thoughts flow and feelings follow. Don’t underestimate your imagination. Where do you think all our rules come from? From experiments that were guided by intuition, perhaps? It’s just a hunch.

Just Opinion Pieces: Environmentalism - Out of Tune

Let’s break bread and reflect. Every now and then, we need to look at where we’ve come from and ask how we’re doing, because we’re always doing something wrong somewhere. The modern environmental movement has come a long way since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and its philosophical penetration into the public sphere in the seventies. Environmental issues are in the headlines more than ever. The facts and statistics continue to grow and are available to a wider audience. Yet, almost everything is still in crisis, and all we are doing is pointing the finger. There is something inherently wrong with this ‘movement’, and we only have ourselves to blame. Where is the unity that once defined environmentalism?

Morally, we deserve a pat on the back. We have stood up and fought for that which has no voice in our markets and courts of law: nature. However, we are not achieving enough – it seems like we are only slowing the rate of collapse. This is like one of those ‘quantity versus quality’ arguments: we can have as many environmental policies and plans as we want, but if there is no consistency in our actions and attitudes then we’re doomed. When environmentalism lost its glue, it lost its structure. And now it is in disarray.

As a movement, it comes across as idealistic and bigoted, far-fetched and narrow-minded. There isn’t even a consistent language – we confuse each other with our own metaphors and concepts, and as a result, misunderstand each other completely. Advocates and activists are at each other’s throats, instead of aiming their crosshairs at the problems and the people that made them advocates and activists in the first place. So, is it a ‘movement’ at all? There seems to be no togetherness in environmentalism. But environmental ethicist Bryan Norton says we are looking in wrong place – we need to be focusing on common goals and objectives. Surely what we share is that we are looking to restore the skewered relationship between mankind and the ecological systems that have given us life? The fact is this: we can’t remedy our relationship with the world if we can’t even remedy our relationships within environmentalism. We need to come together again, and not just pursue our personal passion projects. If we cannot agree on this, then might as well be in a house on fire, arguing what caused the flames.

Here is an analogy that might seem inappropriate and one that I will probably immediately regret: the environmental movement is like a boy-band that has split up … Let me elaborate and don’t let your music taste put you off. Also, if the feminist in you is raging, just replace ‘boy’ with ‘girl’. Right then. Say, for instance, a bunch of kids from different walks of life come together with the common aim of making music. Now, let’s not be cynical and jump to the conclusion that boy-bands are there just for the money – imagine there was still integrity in the music industry. Anyway, so these kids form a musical group and write beautiful songs that are heard and supported by everyone. But as time moves on there are bitter arguments and disagreements – the struggles of success – and the boy-band breaks up. Each kid goes their separate ways. There are no longer any pleasant harmonies between them. Some of them are forgotten, even though they are musically-talented, and one or two others jump on the monopoly of their initial success. Are you seeing the connection? As long as you get the idea, I guess. The movement of environmentalism began with many issues being brought together with the general concern for re-establishing a harmonious relationship with the natural world. It gained momentum and made some ground – influential individuals voiced their support and influential organisations were set up. However, as academic and institutional disciplines remained isolated, a battle for funding and priorities ensued. And this is where we are today. This is no basis for environmentalism. Everything is connected and our efforts should be too!

Considering this disunity in environmentalism, I believe that we need to look for space where we can talk. We need to concentrate on our common goals and concerns – our common ground. Of course, there will be disagreements, but this opens up conversation and that is how solutions are formed. The environmental movement is one that should acknowledge the interconnectivity of our earth systems, and thus, should always be vigilant in fighting any fractures and cracks that form when working towards a better human-nature relationship. The boy-band needs to get back together. There needs to be a reunion. If we’re doomed, then let’s go down hand-in-hand – let’s leave on a high note. 

Just Opinion Pieces: Sustainability After the Suicide of Aaron Swartz

In a mind-blowing interview with Chicago Public Radio, a programming whizz-kid called Aaron Swartz spoke confidently about intricate computer theory and (accurately) predicted the future of the internet. He was 14. Years later, as a hacker-activist and political commentator, he was releasing public records and academic journals to the world, and crowdsourcing support to shut down the invasive SOPA and PIPA bills in their tracks. But in the beginning of this year, after being driven to depression from political pressure, he hung himself.  He was 26. So, what does the death of an internet genius have to do with sustainability? Nothing personally, I would think. It is, rather, the culture of political oppression which surrounded his death that is worrying.  So, put differently, what does internet freedom have to do with the consolidation a sustainable future?

‘Internet freedom’ is a term I am using loosely. I would like to think that I know much more about ‘freedom’ than I do the ‘internet’. However, when it comes to the sad story of Aaron Swartz and how it relates to sustainability, what I am referring to is this: we have the means to freely share information and knowledge with the whole wide world, namely through the internet, which can help us as a global community come up with suitable solutions to fight the crises of our times. When ensuring a sustainable future, fighting corruption and dirty politics is as important as fighting the extractive industries that are destroying our ecosystems. So, when young idealists are punished for believing and dedicating themselves to this ‘internet freedom’ – to the extent that they are so traumatised that they kill themselves – we, as a society and keepers of our futures, we are both shooting ourselves in the foot and stabbing ourselves in the back.

Aaron Swartz represented the zeitgeist of our time: the youth are fed up, voicing their opinions and ‘we’re not gonna take it’. Internet activism – or hacktivism – is now a common way of resisting oppression and the stagnancy of power hierarchies. We have seen this with the Arab Spring and we have seen this with Anonymous. Yet, as we can expect, the politicians that have been bought out by lobbyists and the so-called ‘captains of industry’ – those that are seemingly unaccountable – they will do everything in they can do to destroy anyone and anything in their way. The SOPA and PIPA bills argued to protect intellectual property and privacy, but were in fact crude attempts to keep secrets hidden from the public. These bills would have also made it possible to suppress any internet freedom fighters that wanted to expose these secrets. After the initial victory over SOPA, Aaron Swartz commented that “we won this fight because everyone made themselves the hero of their own story. Everyone took it as their job to save this crucial freedom.” But Swartz’s heroism would be made an example of, as was openly stated by the USA government. The tragedy of his death represents exactly what is wrong with the world today, and what prevents us achieving a sustainable future. 

This kind of political oppression is not unheard of, unfortunately. Bradley Manning and Julian Assange have shared a similar fate because of their support for ‘internet freedom’. Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has had his movements completely restricted after literally being cornered and trapped inside England’s Ecuadorian embassy. Manning, the soldier that leaked the ‘collateral murder’ video – showing the brutal massacre of Iraqi civilians by American forces – has since been detained, without charge, for over 1000 days. What kind of culture is this that punishes those that confront injustices? What message are we sending out to the other young idealists out there?

In South Africa, we are also continuously challenging our own government’s aims to keep secrets from the people. The freedoms of our people are currently jeopardised by the controversial inconsistencies of the Info Bill. Are we living in an autocracy or a democracy? The bad memories of apartheid censorship and political secrets should be long gone. We should be celebrating a democratic culture – one consistent with the Constitution. Our nation has so much potential that is being delayed by our government’s efforts to keep us numb, dumb and uninformed. And we don’t have the time.

Africa has the leapfrogged the world in terms of mobile phone market, and given the rise of smartphones, internet access will only increase. If this is Africa’s century, we need to use this to our advantage. We need to use this to help build a sustainable future based on the free and open access of knowledge and information. We need another Aaron Swartz, another Bradley Manning, another Julian Assange. What we don’t need is another questionable suicide. 

Seriously Short Stories: Taster

Red wine on your lips, like a slut from your second year of university. Always in your periphery. It’s too easy to turn and you’re still as curious as you were when you were a teenager. She stains your teeth. In the morning you want to make her a memory. You want to brush your teeth away and not smell those cigarettes. As much as you don’t want to remember, there are bottles on the window-sill, there is a feathery earring under your pillow and your head wants to hurt you. Consequences are for post-graduates. All you see is the label, the front of it. You’re not sure you want to know about what her history will do to you. Your friends – the ones who stay behind at the bar – can tell when you’ve had a careless night, but only you know when you worry about tests before exams. You let the bottle empty herself. You’ve been thirsty. You’ve been in a desert drought. The doorbell rings before the door knocks, and you turn whatever music is playing louder. The name doesn’t matter, as long as a trick is done, and as long as you last. Your drunken lust is the only rationality you can come up with. It was always going to happen. On a night like this, for months alone, and slightly sad because of it. Another kiss, to make amends – a means to an end.  These are the moves you make. She doesn’t open her mouth, but she doesn’t stop herself either. She’s been here before. She has other hopes. You want to be too drunk to care and she just wants to be looked in the eyes. I spin you around and finish you off.

Demo of ‘Commoner’ recorded at John Rumble.

Something Like Poetry: Second Kenyan Haiku

Rounded-off right-angle bends.

Hollow huts on hollowed-out hills.

In your periphery and on the horizon.

Something Like Poetry: First Kenyan Haiku

The rain drops like a dripping tap.

When it stops, it tip-toes back

To the tradition of rivers off maps.

Something Like Poetry: That Talk

I can’t keep my class
Listening to your exploits -
Your history.
Another party.

I can’t keep my cool
And let you not know it’s not me,
If it’s not already.
I also have stories.

I can’t keep on holding
Onto one breath only -
I’ve little lungs
And run-over teeth.

That talk.
That talk.
That talk of irresponsibility.

That talk.
That time you were so tired,
I took it incorrectly.

That time that I impressed.
Do you remember?
I can’t keep up with your timing.

That talk is tiring.

http://snd.sc/10v69kN