Blog · Review

Anon, Hank Green, Glossary of Broken Dreams: This entry ended up being one of recommendations

I saw the movie Anon today. Amanda Seyfried plays what I have decided is an equivalent of someone who does not exist on the internet. She therefore couldn’t be identified in the movie world where everyone is registered in a common database and the concepts of anonymity and privacy do not (or rather should not) exist.

It took me back to a funny video I saw on Facebook the other day of a girl who meets a guy IRL and then tries to find him online only to learn that he does not have Facebook or Myspace or anything and she freaks out. What kind of monster is he? It’s hilarious. Also, I get this girl. Subconsciously, I become a bit suspicious of people I can’t find on social media. I start to think, “Why are they hiding?”

I know many people who would meet people who are not online and are just fascinated by them like, “So how do you make friends?” “Where do your thoughts go?” “What if you see the most beautiful sun set and you are by yourself?” I have also met people whose diversion from social media seems to be like their branding rebellion against society therefore that single gesture of theirs means to them that they are better than you.

There are also those who are on social media under fake aliases or real aliases but with literally nothing about them in their profiles. I wonder if these people get offended when you don’t accept their requests.

At the end of Anon (which I will take the liberty of spoiling because you’re not really going to watch it) Clive Owen’s character echoes my own thoughts to Amanda Seyfried’s character asking her why she wants to stay invisible to the database, what is the big secret that she wants to keep hidden, and she says, “It’s not that I have something to hide. There’s nothing I want you to see.”

Anon isn’t like a great movie with a nice, big plot but this particular line has me thinking about what everything I have put out on social media is worth. All my photographs, poems, opinions, jokes etc… It has got me thinking about all the times I just want to take it all back and wish I’d never known about the compulsive demon called the internet. About the times I wish that nobody saw social media me.

It annoys me how little social media captures the larger, more complex idea I have of myself and yet it claims I am in charge so it is still me in there. All that is lacking is probably because of all the stuff that I haven’t shared to the internet for the sake of what is called privacy.

When I was done watching and contemplating Anon, I then put on the documentary Glossary of Broken Dreams, a funny explanation of big ideologies of our time, of terms like Free Speech, Privacy, Capitalism and the likes. It was recommended to me by a friend. It has weird Austrian folk music in the middle and it’s not really something I would watch on my day off but I put it on and I started multi-tasking, only giving it a very small portion of my attention…until the narrator started talking about what he called Bourgeois Privacy.

The cinematography for this part starts following a guy, the “modern subject” who hears the narrator’s voice and is startled and shy feeling like his privacy was being disrupted because he was being watched. But the narrator goes on to call the man “Big Brother” and he explains to him the history of Bourgeois Privacy, how the telephone and x-ray were once thought to be invasion of privacy and how The Right to Privacy became a thing.

He shows how privacy, especially of the cyber kind today, is becoming looser and looser these days and that even the authorities supposed to protect our private data always fail to do so. He says about the danger to our privacy,

“Privacy is not under attack by some evil outside forces. It is under attack by our own collective behavior. These trends could be stopped only by massive efforts. People wouldn’t be able to share stuff online. […] We would have to get rid of the internet as we know it. But you don’t wanna do that right? You’d make the right choice wouldn’t you, big brother? You wouldn’t sacrifice memes and porn for Bourgeois Privacy…right?

Our information is out there. It’s not by choice. It’s a necessary entanglement and it’s adding up to something big and beautiful- presupposing we take the right actions. If nice things are being made on the mass data collection and utilization, you should have those things…”

About a month ago, Hank Green uploaded a video titled Who is in Control where he highlights that Facebook and social media have become a necessity, tools that provide us with what we want to know about and see and he also talks about the down sides like how the system that provides us with our information online isn’t really a person but a selfish computer program that only cares about getting more and more income for its masters.

There will be a link to the Hank Green video at the end of this entry.

This idea of social media privacy, I think, is vast and significant to our time. If I fall into talking about it now I will not be able to come out. It’s going to get more and more complex as time goes on unless it blows over and we’ve seen the glorious times of social media privacy.

I personally don’t have much to hide. Unlike Amanda Seyfried’s character from Anon, I like to share nice photographs and thoughts on social media that I want people to see and care about because they’ve meant something to me. I like finding things I care about on the internet.

Cat Memes.

There will also be things that I do not share with the internet, not because they are hidden secrets but because when I see someone IRL whose intimate details I know from social media but do not really know in person, I feel weird. I feel like I have looked into this person’s secrets and like the Modern Subject in Glossary of Broken dreams, like somebody could be looking into mine.

P.S In spite of the weird folk music, I think maybe I’ll make time to finish watching the documentary. You should watch it too.

P.P.S We on telegram again FYI at Circling Qalat Telegram

P.P.P.S Hank Green Video: Who is in Control

Blog · Random Thoughts · Review

The Jolly Ride through Subjective Truth and Objective Opinions

About a month ago, I guilted a friend of mine into watching እያዩ ፈንገስ ፌስታሌን with me. While watching the show, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I have never seen anything that made me feel like that ever in my life. It was honesty; it was comedy; it was tragedy. It was amazing. It was a little hypocritical at one point where Eyayu would condemn a journalist for owning a large TV in his tiny rented house implying that the guy has fucked up priorities and yet later he still goes on to ask the audience if they dare judge the value he gives his plastic bag full of what we would think is garbage but to him represents the life he lost. You know, maybe that large TV has some value we do not understand to the stupidly portrayed journalist character.

I think in their obsessive attempt to tell the truth and make the audience question its life with comedy, writer Bereket and Actor Girum missed a few things. Or maybe they put the little defects in there on purpose to see if the audience would completely miss the message and keep on laughing. If it was in fact intentional, this would be the most brilliant thing I have seen done in Ethiopia.

Eyayu Fungus deserves his own blog entry but I won’t do that. I would ruin it. What I want to keep from that show is the last part where Eyayu says something about finding and living a truth; his Truth. The audience went crazy for a little while when he said this. I sat there trying to remember where I had heard that before. And it is weeks later that I remembered that I had read about Subjective Truth in Thomas Flynn’s book about Existentialism.

Before I explain what Subjective truth is, let me take you to Socratic Greece. The great philosopher had been teaching about the immortality of the soul among other things and he’d been sentenced to death by poisoning on the charges of disrespecting the gods and corrupting the youth. He had the option of living in exile but Socrates chose death to prove his point that death was not to be feared because there was an afterlife. So, he metaphorically flipped the court by fearlessly taking the hemlock and bottoms up….

This was Socrates’s way of standing for his truth. What we today call living by what he preaches or putting his money where his mouth is or in this case, his life where his mouth is. Socrates is one of the biggest examples to raise when talking about the sacrifices one may pay for what one believes. This was what father of existentialism Soren Kierkegaard called Subjective Truth; “A personal conviction on which one is willing to risk one’s life”

The speech from Eyayu Fungus’s last words in the show are kind of almost a direct quote from Soren Kierkegaard’s own words from one of his journals where he wrote, “The thing is to find a truth which is true for me. To find the idea for which I can live and die.”

The whole thing seems like such a good idea, doesn’t it? I mean finding a truth you believe so wholeheartedly that you would give your life for it? It definitely gives the implication that this life that would be given to prove a true point, would have a certain value. It would also make you feel less useless when you are living it.

Let me tell you another story.

In 12th grade we had this insanely inappropriate teacher who barely taught anything that I can’t even remember what subject he was supposed to be teaching. Anyways, this man started a discussion on religion one time in our class of like 24 diversely religious students. It was very weird for us. But he kept talking and he said that one of his parents was Ethiopian Orthodox but the other one was a Muslim but he himself was a Protestant because, he said, he had weighted both religions and chosen one that he believed was true.

It seemed like he had done this speech many times because he went on to compare religions to us. Some kids took the bait and they started debating but oddly enough I didn’t say anything which is seriously out of character for me. I love me a good debate but the thing is, I didn’t know what the teacher was trying to do. I didn’t know if he was trying to turn us on each other or if he was trying to convert us. I was a little annoyed.

Then the bell rang and one kid that I have always admired and respected in spite of our differences, and whose name I will never include in an entry because I fear him a little too, who had been sitting quietly listening to the fool, finally spoke up and said, “There is one truth. There can’t be a scenario where my religion is a truth but yours is too if we believe two completely opposite things.” And with that he just walked out of class. What he said would go on to be my argument for many things, and not just religion, for the years that followed.

This was added to when my PHD in philosophy wielding professor friend from Mekelle, John, said in one speech, “The Truth is Simple. If you complicate it, you do not understand it.”

So, the concept of truth has sort of been like a slippery soap for me for a while. Yes, I said soap and not slope because I mean that it has been very hard to grasp.

I have come to dislike many people because of the things they do with complete disregard to their surrounding while they throw their truth around like it has to be everyone’s truth and I have also seen the intensity with which they protect their truth. Which should impress philosophers like Soren Kierkegaard. But that is not the case. Soren Kierkegaard’s argument was not that one should believe whatever they want to believe and then be willing to die for it. That kind of shit is what results in religious extremism or the type of stubbornly annoying loud mouth that I used to be.

Soren Kierkegaard says that there should be different criteria that one should probably use before choosing to believe something as one’s own truth. He doesn’t deny that personal want and feelings go into the choices that we make. In fact, he calls this Passion. But he says that one should weigh all possible outcomes and not fall face-flat into just any truth you choose or your truth is just bad faith and you’re an idiot.

I like Kierkegaard’s ideas and all this remind of all those opinions that we throw around because they are our truths even though they aren’t supported by any fact. The dictionary definition of the word “Opinion” according to the Advanced English Dictionary as is relevant to this article are,

1. a personal belief or judgment that is not founded on proof or certainty.

2. a message expressing a belief about something; the expression of a belief that is held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof

.

.

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6. a vague idea in which some confidence is placed.

Which now brings me to my favorite kind of truth. Objective truth. There are certain truths that you can’t argue like that fact that the socks I am wearing right now are red. If you could see them, you and I will see the same thing. As opposed to Subjective Truth which depends in the existence of the believer to be true, Objective truth doesn’t. Regardless of my existence or yours, the socks remain red.

But when it comes to knowledge and more abstract ideas like religious beliefs or other ideologies and “opinions” that are turning the world over today, Objective Truth doesn’t exist.

According to Nietzsche (whose name I butchered a few times writing this because what the fuck is that spelling?!), all knowledge has been interpreted and every knowledge or truth, when written or taught, had been personalized by the writer or the teacher. So, every text/ knowledge has a personal subjective footprint of someone else. This excuses mathematics and history which have a certain characteristic of staying the static through time and people (although I think one can make a case that history has the teller’s truth in it and it changes)

So basically, what I am saying here is, Objective Truth or the more likely Objective Opinion can’t exist because taking a leaf from Edmund Husserl’s idea on phenomenology that there is no outside or inside when it comes to the world, we are not capable of having a completely detached and unbiased, third party observer’s opinion about something because we are of the same world with our lived experiences and our personalities be it physical or mental. Everything we know as true always comes from somewhere else. And in order to have such opinions, we need to exist first with our experiences and our hormones or whatever. Am I making sense? ]

People who are responsible for the transfer of knowledge through time are people like artists and writers and if you were an artist of some sort, your life would mainly be driven by Soren’s idea of passion. It’s amazing how long I have gone using that word not even really knowing what it means. But this other guy Jean-Paul Sartre says that people involved in literature have a certain responsibility. And I don’t know if he and I are thinking the same thing but I also think people responsible for the transfer of knowledge and art do have a responsibility to tell the truth but also to not trigger violence among people.

A lot of people don’t know if that is possible. That includes me. This is kind of like when you wanna say nigga because it’s in the song but it’s gonna offend a Black American or when that one Teddy Afro song came out and there was his artistic truth in it and he was using his Right to Freedom of Expression but it ended up inciting violence completely out of his control and he was blamed even though it likely wasn’t his intention. So my point here would be if you know that you work, your expression, your art, your way of preserving knowledge would turn men against men, should you suppress the truth or is it a fuck society, let them all die kind of thing? Is this a paradox? Did I just come across a paradox by accident while free writing?!!

Anyways thank you for reading all this mind fuck through. Sorry I might have bullied some of you into it by adding you without your will into the telegram page but the rest of you need a life.

Oh and P.S if anyone feels like this entry was about them, I fucking triple dare you to confront me.

P.P.S I have come to realize that there’s nothing I genuinely love like being proved wrong so you’re welcome to do that and I’ll be nice about it. I promise.

P.P.P.S I’m never going to get better at titles. At this point I’m doing it on purpose.

Blog · Review

Just Go Watch the Link at the End: I Promise You won’t regret it. I mean you might but please just watch it.

Yeah the first thing I need to do before I start writing this entry is clam….down.

Calm down.

Calm…calm…

calm down, girl. 

Okay I’m calm.

Kinda.

It’s another Black Panther entry and I’m not sorry.

I still haven’t had the chance to watch it again because I refuse to go without someone I can annoy in the cinema and everyone is backpedaling from that. I’ll get you though. You’ll see.

Anyways I haven’t seen it again but that didn’t stop me from keeping it in the back of my head and I can’t stay off the internet even though I swear off it every morning. The internet is all Wakanda now.

YouTube is like my morning news so I was looking forward to some comical and real rip apart of the Black Panther Movie but I was also afraid that many wouldn’t do reviews fairly objectively because of the fear of being called racist or because having an unpopular opinion is not cool. But then there’s MatPat. That guy is the love of my YouTube life. It turned out that people weren’t afraid to rip it apart. It was just that me and my posy had seen it before the rest of the world.

I still love the way the story was told and I took it like the story it was; A marvel Superhero movie made to make black people feel good and boy do I feel good. Is movie movie orgasm a thing?  It must be.

But even through my busy day and night, I find time to scroll through the internet so I can piss myself off and give myself migraines by how people who happen to be my friends on Facebook found ways to be angry at the reality the movie portrayed with Africans not really being famous for helping each other in the battle field or how peaceful power transfer is really a rare event. Wakanda might have seemed like the perfect African land but it isn’t. We should take the good with the real. There was treachery and without the conflict, there wouldn’t be a movie. What the fuck where people expecting? That it be this democratic land where milk and honey flow in abundance? Yeah no.

I stand by what I said about the plot being solid and after watching this MatPat video that I’ll add down below, I’ve never been so happy being wrong about people being afraid to objectively criticize.

And me I’ll keep on remembering random facts in the middle of the day and reacting weird to the internet in real life and giving my coworkers more reason to think I’m loose in the head.

Enjoy the link below and tell me what you think.

YAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blog · Review

Black Panther is racist, they said.

SPOILER ALERT: I don’t think  you can spoil Black Panther really but if you haven’t seen the movie and you plan to, you probably shouldn’t read this entry.

A note to make certain readers feel better: I jump across several ideas in my blog posts because I do a lot of free writing. It’s not because I’m incapable of “controlling my fingers” or because I “don’t care”

Let’s begin.

So Black History Month is a thing that happens in the west in February where black people have been taken in mass against their will hundreds of years ago to work as slaves and now since the enslavement of people of color has been abolished (sorta) there are people who would wish that the bad history of the abuse die and never be told. However, trying to suppress history is usually a bad idea and African Americans were being upset about the misrepresentation of black people’s roles in the American history when taught in school, so they came up with Black History Month to tell real history about Black People and to celebrate the achievements of those who’ve done great things.

Now when we come to my Ethiopian community, we hear about this Black History Month but it’s black history day everyday here, so no big deal. Those of us who don’t even know what Black History Month is about, find ways to either be offended by something so far, far away or we embrace it as ours even though it usually really isn’t.

Okay. So, let’s go ahead and complain about something far, far away.

Black Panther came out this week and I was the person I normally hate in the cinema talking excitedly throughout the movie and then being annoyed when my friends watched it again the following day without me. I watched it the first day it came out because all the hype had gotten to me. The first time I saw the trailer, I was sitting on the balcony at In N’ Out right in front of the big screen at Edna mall.  I saw the trailer on that giant screen and I literally started getting upset by how slowly January was going. Then a few days before the movie came out I was starting to be afraid that it might disappoint me because of how thrilled I was.

I lost a bet there because I wasn’t disappointed. I was the loudest sigh when the credits were rolling, and I think I hit a bunch of people in excitement.

I watched the movie judgmentally, picking at generic lines and wondering why the man in the green suit had a plate in his mouth because I thought that was something that Mursi women did and then I figured maybe that they’re doing a move on gender norm breaking thing. Maybe that Wakandan lord is a liberal. I don’t know.

Then because I never learn, I went on Facebook and found articles claiming that certain white people were offended by how much of the Black Panther cast was black people. This is so absurd I feel like maybe someone is making it up just to make white people look bad.

The two white men in the movie were a slight addition. The character of Ulysses was the embodiment of a greedy colonizer. His defeat in the movie represented something historical. The other white man was the good Agent played by Martin Freeman (I swear I saw John Watson the whole time) who was in the movie to just tie Black Panther to The Avengers. In my opinion, the movie would still have a solid plot with no white people in it. And still there are people with the guts to be “offended” that there weren’t more white people in the movie Perhaps because they couldn’t relate to it. One point they raised was how when previously made movies had a majority of white people cast, black people were offended.

Black Panther is set mainly in an African land hidden from the world. Where the fuck would the white people come from?! While most movies that people of color were offended by because they were excluded are set in a world realistically composed of all types of people. Making it wholly white doesn’t make a lot of sense there but I don’t know if that should have been offensive to black people either. And everyone these days is finding small reasons to be offended. Someone was offended that a Turkish company named a chocolate bar Negro and there was a whole bunch of people being outraged in that comment thread about the word Negro. I forgot to respond to that thread when it got stupid, but I guess those people hate all Spanish speakers too because the Spanish word for black is…Negro and no, it doesn’t mean slave. It just means black and if you are black of skin then to a Spaniard, you are Negro. Embrace it.

These white people unhappy by Black Panther have found ways to try to be offended without sounding racist. That didn’t work. Now we all just think they are stupid.

I don’t really get people being offended by the way movie characters are presented. There aren’t enough female heroines, they said so they gave us Wonder Woman. There aren’t enough black heroes they said so they gave us Black Panther. And I won’t lie, I didn’t like Wonder Woman too much, but I saw how the internet sighed in relief at the inclusion. I didn’t feel anything for Wonder Woman. She was a bad-ass woman. Good for her. And I don’t think Wonder Woman was even made to appease feminist complaints, but they didn’t fail from endorsing it as theirs. Why is it necessary to “own” these heroes though? Why can’t Wonder Woman just be a woman who is also a hero and why can’t Black Panther just be an African hero too? Why is the entitlement necessary?

When Okoye was doing flips and kicks in that long ass red dress, I was losing my mind. I trip walking on plane fields in a dress. Them making such great characters is insanely awesome but I didn’t just like Okoye because she was relatable even though she was. Before Okoye, I have loved characters like Hermione Granger and Scarlett O’Hara. Unrelatable in some ways but still great characters to aspire to.

A big plus that people probably haven’t considered when they were being offended that there were too many black people in the movie or how even after all that African representation and depth of story and detail that it was basically poetry, they still managed to not give enough emphasis on how Wakanda could be helping other African countries instead of just going straight to the US with that spaceship at the end of the movie, is how aspiring writers like me who appreciate well formed stories or other types of story tellers wholly African, could be motivated and know that great stories like that are possible and be inspired to tell some of their own.

I am not really a comic book fanatic because I haven’t been exposed to them. I do love good stories though and this one was insane. I will probably never do a flip in a dress but is the types of inspiration you get from these things really just what the authors said you’ll find? Remember how authorial intent, whether we like it or not, just gets lost along the way? Can you think of how the Black Panther you see could be completely different one from the one that everyone else sees because what you see in it might just be something different from what everyone else sees?

P.S People have a lot to say about Hollywood being racist. I don’t know that it is. But Black Panther was NOT racist. It was realistic….I mean I know it’s a super hero movie so that’s a stretch towards realistic…but you know what I mean.

 

Blog · Review

William Bullard

I got off work early yesterday, so I went to this Photo Exhibition at NALA despite my painful shoes. I got there late and I left quickly but I got enough spark to write this entry.

The Exhibition was titled Rediscovering the American Community of Color: The photographs of William Bullard. They’re doing a bunch of stuff this week at The American Center with respect to Black History Month.

William Bullard lived in the 1900s and according to the small leaflet they forgot to give me, he took about 5400 photographs and left behind large collection of glass negatives which have had a better chance of surviving time than film or print would have. And among the 5400 of his photographs about 20 are up for the Public viewing until February 26th  at the American Center inside the National Archives and Libraries Agency aka ወመዘክር.

In every reference I tried to find on this William Bullard, they referred to him as an itinerant and I didn’t know what that meant so I looked it up. It means traveler or wanderer. So, this man traveled in the 1900s taking photographs of African Americans and keeping a log of the subjects.

The woman who was giving an explanation at the library yesterday referred to the photographs as “a story of people of color claiming their rightful place in society”. The photographs show black men and women posing with their families or one that stuck out to me of a man just sitting by a tree. These were photos taken after the emancipation and black communities were just starting to settle as free folk or after having migrated to the slavery-free North.

It made me think of what awe worthy luxuries things like sitting by a tree or owning a garden were at the time. Having a family was an act of declaring your place in society? The fact that this exhibition took place for over-thinkers like me to stop and appreciate the value of freedom and having choices made pause a for a bit.

It isn’t new information but it was definitely something to think about.

IMG_3922.jpg

p.s. My thought process might have been following a certain theme as it lead me to this photo exhibition. I just finished watching The Handmaid’s tale and immediately there after went on a hunt to find the book by Margaret Atwood. If you haven’t seen the series SPOILERS (I think) but the idea of how the ability to make choices makes one feel powerful was portrayed heavily in this story. The women who were, for lack of a better word, enslaved to be used for breeding would try to take their own lives and they would be denied of even that choice of dying rather than living in that fucked up community. But that last part where June is being led out of the house because she made a choice that could have severe consequences, with her head held high even though she had no idea what kind of hell or salvation she was going to, yet knowing that whatever hell she was about to face, she had chosen despite everything, made me sit in silence contemplating the idea of freedom for a long time.