Rhyme and Prose

Heroes

I saw a movie about us the other day.
There were worlds rising and collapsing,
Lovers hid behind brave faces but everyone knew.
There were heroes in it too.
In our story we never say anything either…
But if tomorrow the Earth shook and stairs gave away,
if lights flickered and night came to sink our world,
I might think of you and you might think of me.
Given that chance we might make snap decisions
To become heroes.

Rhyme and Prose

I Think I hate you Now: A Poem

There was a time when I was ready
I mean I was READY for you.
they could all see that attitude and BS ozzed off of you like stink off a shit cartoon
but I was there.
all that mess on your head,
I wasn’t trying to untangle it
I wasn’t trying to fix it
I was going to keep it.

I see you now from some distance and I can’t tell you apart from the next damaged soul I don’t give a shit about
sometimes you aren’t even visible.
But back then, I saw your ugly and I was okay
I noticed that something was off
Something  was  amiss
like there was maybe a puzzle piece that you put somewhere and couldn’t find
like there was an oil stain that you didn’t have a remedy for on you psyche
like maybe somebody broke you
like maybe you lost somebody

I wasn’t asking questions
I was giving a damn
I wanted what I knew and what I didn’t
I wanted all of it
Maybe I was a little selfish

You knew you were bad
for me,
for basically anyone close enough to shake your hand.
And hate isn’t a word I use strongly
mean I hate coffee but I drink it everyday
I hate my friends but I still remember their birthdays and make them buy me cupcakes
so here’s where I don’t want you to misunderstand
when I say I hate you now,
I think I mean it.

They say that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference
and that because I hate you now it means I care.
I do.
If you fell off a building, I might still cry
But I might also take the time to climb to the top of that building with you
and push you myself.
Because I care.
Back then I would have somehow miraculously sprout wings and saved you,
I would have jumped with you.
Over a hyphen sized scar that you might receive on my watch, I would have lost sleep.
But everything else you brought with you, I was going to keep.
I was going to keep you.

I’m not sick.
I didn’t like you because you were broken
look around there’s broken people everywhere.
we’re all like sad pieces of happy memories strung together by bright colors of hope
that maybe someday somebody would choose us
so we can sew the fractures together and make a whole.
We’re so insecure because of our showing sharp edges
and mistakes we drag behind us in the line
That we can’t even tell when we’ve been chosen.

I was choosing you.
Maybe I was a little selfish.

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

.

.

.

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.

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Do Human Beings Deserve Immortality?

This entry contains SPOILERS for Dan Brown’s book Origin

PART I

When I received a ping from my news subscription ten mornings ago that smart man Stephen Hawking had died at the age of 76, I decided to play a small game with my Facebook feed called, “Which friend will share the most heartfelt soliloquy”

That was fun.

Then this morning I found a video of his interview with John Oliver from Last Week Tonight at the office and I started to think about things like how does his speech recognition thing work? We make so many typos on our phones. I mean I have a friend whose phone is single handedly ruining his life because it’s a dirty minded piece of crap. I wonder with that speech synthesizer thing using predictive text and receiving signals from the movements in Stephen Hawking’s facial movements, if he makes typos and if there were times he was misunderstood because of it.

I wonder if you’d met him and wanted to shake his hand, would that be weird? You realize how important handshakes are when you’re face to face with someone you respect deeply?

Watching that video reminded me of an entry I’d started when I found out that this one scientist was claiming to have succeeded in having done a head transplant. (or is it body transplant? Because the idea of you resides in your brain? If you changed your body parts and with someone else’s one part at a time, at what point do you stop being YOU? With this I’ve slid into a whole Theseus’s Paradox thing. Wiki Link at the end if you wanna read about The Ship of Theseus.)

So, a mad scientist by the name of Sergio Canavero had put together a project to make head transplants possible. He said he did this to help this man who’d suffered a certain disease that made him unable to use his muscles and others like him. In the article I read, Sergio Canavero was claiming to have successfully done the transplant testing and was very hopeful with what this technology could do for humanity. He even threw the idea of immortality in there. His work is basically taboo everywhere and has been followed by several other medical scientists that say that the science doesn’t check out and that what he’s saying is a flat out lie; that Sergio Canavero has never succeeded in doing a proper head transplant.

But too late, the panic has been struck. I remember getting into a conversation with the guy who’d shared this article on his Facebook newsfeed and he was all for it. He said any power can be abused so why take the idea that the disabled man could finally command his muscles away from him? A lot of people are for this technology from a medical perspective, but I didn’t know how to not think of how the human body could be commoditized further.

I discussed this with a couple of my cousins. One of them said a head transplant can’t really be the only key to immortality because it’s not just our bodies that wear out. Eventually our brains do too. The head transplants would make sense for accidents. I have seen one Episode of Altered Carbon but that I think it has a vaguely a similar idea of replacing one’s body.

Anyways, the idea my cousin raised was a basic one and I sighed in relief and felt annoyed that I hadn’t thought of that but instead decided to panic like Immortality?! What! No!

Many older tales and even recent ones speak of immortality as a curse. It’s all hypothetical of course because there hasn’t really been an openly acknowledged human known to have lived forever. My favorite immortality story is that of the Vampire in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. His story comes in how he is a slave to his immortality. There are people who’ve lived very long lives. The oldest person alive today according to Wiki is a Japanese woman by the name of Nabi Tajima who is 117 years old. But there are others who say that they have forgotten their ages and cannot verify it. Same cousin from above told me about a video he had seen about another old Asian person (can’t remember the gender) who said that the secret to their longevity was a quiet life. They are vegetarian and they eat one meal a day. They spend a majority of their time sleeping or meditating.  With someone that old I don’t know how you’d tell the difference though.

There are a LOT of blogs and websites with “tips for longevity”. Some even scientific and with the way some people reacted to Sergio’s I’ll-make-you-immortal-with-my-science type comment and with the way people generally feel about death, I wonder what would happen if we did find a way to live forever.

I wonder, is the ultimate goal of science to stop people from dying?

The science of longevity is taken very seriously. There are researches dedicated to learning how we age, if there is a way to stop the aging process or even reverse it.

Let me share with you an ironic idea I found while trying to research if they have found a subtler “Elixer of Life” type thing to allow us to live longer or even forever.

We age due to a phenomenon called Senescence where our cells after dividing so many times, stop being able to divide anymore, and they reach what is called a Hayflick Limit. Senescence is normally achieved in human beings when puberty is complete. i.e when we become old enough to reproduce. (Remember that part in the movie Lucy where Morgan Freeman talks about how an organism will try to be immortal if the environment is not favorable but if it is, it will reproduce and die? Without our conscious thinking our “essence?” will try not to die out.)

At the Hayflick Limit, a human cell stops dividing when it stops being able to replicate the small non-coding DNA caps at the end of each chromosome called Telomers. Every time a cell divides the telomers become shorter and shorter so aging starts when the telomers become too short to divide and the cells start to die without replacement. Scientists are trying to see if there could be a way cells could divide without running out of telomers and it turns out there are such cells. They are called Cancer Cells. We all know what Cancer cells do. They kill. Don’t you just love irony?

Let’s go off topic for a second.

One of my favorite authors in the entire world happens to be Dan Brown and I’ve had a conversation one that time that went.

Friend: Favorite Authors?
Me: …Dan Brown…
Friend: No I mean like real literary authors. Not like Dan Brown.
Me: DAN BROWN IS A REAL AUTHOR YOU STUPID BITCH!!!!

I guess you have to be reading Hemmingway and Bukowski to be “literary” and “sophisticated”, but the thing is Dan Brown doesn’t use much mystic, wordy symbolism. He uses realism and he gambles with your reality to give you big ideas to think about. If loving Dan Brown makes me unsophisticated then I gladly embrace that I am an unsophisticated hobo.

Inferno was a phase for me. It stands one of my favorite books ever. In his book Inferno, Dan Brown addresses a topic as bone dry as population growth in such a beautiful and artistic way and he explains how lack of resources for human beings can drive people to desperation so that the world we know basically becomes hell and that’s how I learned that the only description of hell we know and believe actually comes from the poetic work of fiction by Dante Alighieri we know as Divine Comedy.

So, let me tie my above question of Immortality with Dan Brown’s Inferno for you but it might only make sense to you if you’ve read Inferno and remember the conversation Robert Langdon has with the silver-haired WHO Director lady.

If we say that a high population can drive people to desperation and hell with the lack of resources, what will the discovery of immortality do?

I don’t doubt that human beings believe to have the capacity to figure out the immortality question. Either death takes us over or we take it over. One of these things will happen and in a scenario that Immortality is somehow achieved, I don’t have a doubt that those who will probably be able to afford it won’t be your average nine-to-five working Joe. It will be the one percent. And if we feel that the one percent is reaping the values of the rest 99 as it is now, what would happen if they happen to have the code to immortality as well?

Do human beings really even deserve immortality?

PART II

While Sergio’s allegedly fake news came out, I’d also just finished reading Dan Brown’s Origin and that book has a weighty idea of the dangers of AI. It asks questions like “Where did we came from?”  and “Where are we going?” Dan Brown gives a very vivid insight into where we stand with religious and scientific beliefs today. If you haven’t read that book yet, I don’t know what in the hell is wrong with you.

Dan Brown is always putting implications of the dangers human beings make unto themselves in his books. The celebration of technological advancement plus the preaching of the looming dangers they bring with them is falling on deaf ears.

When I took pre-engineering, one of the first things I was taught was that my job as an engineer was to make life for human beings easier. The work engineers and scientists are doing are solving problems. But aren’t they creating others? We can now kill each other in much more advanced and sophisticated ways. We don’t need to smile and woo each other because have you heard of those very life like glorified sex dolls they are calling “robots to keep you company” that you can aspire to fall in love with?  We have Facebook to communicate easily with each other but at the risk of cat fishing and depression. We now have easy access to medicine and electricity and plumbing and skyscrapers and sugar (kinda) but at the risk of the environment and falling to the perils of capitalism. I mean you still gotta grovel and earn your living by working for your man Moloch (see Allen Ginsberg’s Howl) so you can afford Tylenol and Pepsi and a bed, right?

I’m Sorry. I’m sorry I sound like this. I don’t want to be the person who says these things but you know…

The advancement of AI technology is to make small metallic slaves for Human Beings, so our lives would be easier right? (See Season 4 Episode 5 of Black Mirror for how this can bite you in the ass. Actually watch all of Black Mirror to develop a love/hate relationship with your phone like I did.) ATM Pharmacies are about to become a thing now. I saw this on the news by accident last night. (By the way did you know ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine?) What happens to the pharmacy sales clerk when people become too anxious for human contact and they prefer the ATMs? What happens to Human Beings when all their jobs have been automated? What happens to us? Dan Brown thinks that we are going to evolve and morph into what he called a kingdom called Technium; where technology will not just take over humanity but “mix” with it to form a certain hybrid. It’s fiction of course but some fiction has a history of being a bit prophetic. You can see how you feel about Tvs and Books when the film Fahrenheit 451 comes out sometime this year. If you haven’t read the book by Ray Bradbury, now’s your chance.

If you think about how you are without your phone telling you when to wake up or your computer singing to you as you work, I’d say that Dan Brown has used fiction to send us a very good shadow of our reality.

Ending

I read another article that we have created a society so complex for its own good that we can’t even figure it out. They don’t know what to teach in schools now.

But…

Maybe like Dr. Who said,

Just Maybe…

“You lot [humans] you spend your time thinking about dying- why you’re gonna get killed by eggs or beef or global warming or asteroids but you never really take time to imagine the impossible. That maybe you survive.”

Maybe we’ll make it in spite of it all but I’ll be honest with you, I just want some sign that it’s alright so I can sleep better at night so I can make it to a time when  I don’t wake up at all.

P.S here’s the link about the Theseus Paradox. A real mind fuck. Trust me.
Theseus Paradox

P.P.S You can use qal@circlingqalat.com to send me an email of your thoughts or answers if you have them or you can find the Facebook page at Circling Qalat

Good Luck!

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Growing up Part Five: Existentialism and Evolving Problems

During the first decade of my life and I was living at my parents’ house, there was an old man in our neighborhood. He was from somewhere rural and he was an old man for as long as I’ve known him. He didn’t really have a home. The few things I remember actually belonging to him include a thin walking cane he carried everywhere and the long tailed khaki coat he wore all the time. Later my mother would give him a hefty gabi that had once belonged to my father and a silhouette of anything resembling a tall, heavily wrapped human being holding a cane will forever remind me of him.

Some of the neighbors had decided to give this man a job and so they let him stay at one man’s unfinished home while he served as a guard for our neighborhood. He could visit anyone’s house for his meals and they would raise his monthly salary collected from each house. He would take that and spend it all on Tela and Areqe. Once in a while you could hear his drunken commute and his loud angry rants in the middle of the night. The neighbors knew it was him so we all slept silent. He wasn’t so much a strong man, like he wasn’t strong enough to fight an armed thief or even a young unarmed one really. But I think the whole point of having him was so he could notify the people somehow should some problem arise. No one really liked him. He wasn’t a very polite man. His hands were like hard rubber and the smell of Areqe mixed with the river down the road from our house followed him.

When the house he was staying at finally got finished, the owner had to move in so the old man was sort of kicked out. Right outside, they build him a nice corrugated iron sheet house that would only allow one man to sit or stand and he started living there but then the woman next door complained that he was making too much noise and waking her baby in the middle of the night when he got drunk so she wanted him gone. Somehow it got bad and the neighborhood got into a huge argument about what to do with him. The neighborhood had grown safe and they’d got barbed wires for their fences so most of them wanted him gone too.

My mother said she wanted him to stay. So, she had his one-man outhouse style corrugated iron house moved and rebuilt right outside our door. She gave him some clothes and told him if none of the other people would let him into their homes, he could always come to our house for food.

The old man didn’t really change much. He still got drunk and often got into petty altercations with my mother. She would ban him from coming into our house but he would always come back. And if he didn’t, she would ask me or the maids to take a plate of food and some water or tela for him.

Years passed and I left that neighborhood. My parent’s house was rented to strangers but my grandmother and my aunts made sure that the old man was taken care of by the rest of the neighbors. Whenever my aunt went to check on the house, she would check on the old man too.

One afternoon a few years ago, I’d just come home from school and my grandmother, in the most casual way, told me that the old man had died. He was found dead in his one-man outhouse style corrugated iron house right outside my parents’ house. I didn’t feel like I knew this man very much. I was a child then and he was just another grownup character that did grown up things and for the most part of my life, I forgot he existed. When my grandmother told me he’d died however, I felt great sadness that I couldn’t really show my family because they wouldn’t know what it was about. The truth is, I was sad because this man was utterly insignificant. I don’t know if he had a wife or children or siblings. I don’t know if a photograph of him existed although with my father having been something of a photography nut, there must be one tucked somewhere in the sea of photographs my father took. Still, it’s not often that I come across a silhouette of a tall heavily wrapped human being holding a cane so I thought miserably about how the man would be forgotten so unceremoniously. I was upset for a few days over this. Then I forgot about him too.

***

Existential crisis is a thing now I guess and it’s not really a very happy road to go down. It is the thought that there might not be a point to doing anything because eventually we’re all going to die and be forgotten. Because life has no purpose or meaning. I envy those who have found purpose in chasing after success, or love, or God. I like how my aunt talks about how much she would sacrifice in life because there is a heaven and that idea is enough for her. I can’t exactly imagine heaven being this everlasting happy place where there is no need to do anything. Just be with God and be happy. I worry when I’ve been happy for a whole day. Even through content afternoons laid back taking in caffeine and sunsets, my heart only gets to swell a little. I’m always reminded that moments are fleeting and memories are editable, fragile and perishable. Even doing things I love, I find corners to think about how on a bigger picture, it all really is pointless. The little moments in life that I got to enjoy by myself and not tell anyone about, or the ones that I made whole stories on, all the laborious hours I have spent hoping to make something, they’re pretty much like my little cousin building with Lego bricks. When they have to clean the house later, they’re going to break it apart and put it away.

Philosophy has a name for what I am doing when I try to do certain things thinking to find meaning. They call it The Absurd; trying to find answers when there are none. I’m always doing something to try and feel a little less like a slab of weathering stone; avoiding things that hurt and trying to project something onto others that might just make the world around me a little better.

In his lengthily titled orange book, Mark Manson mentions this guy Ernest Becker around the end when he talks about death. Ernest Becker thinks that we have a dual existence kind of like photons (both energy and particle). He says there is the physical us and then there is our “conceptual self” that lives on after we have died; that is kind of like the memory of ourselves that we leave behind. He says that everything we do in life is because we recognize that we are mortal beings and we make things on earth in an attempt “to never truly die”

The animated movie Coco covers this very well. In that movie, when they die they just go to this underworld-like place where they just get to live on pretty much decent lives as highly functioning zombies. But when they are forgotten in the real world, then they die from the underworld too and that’s when they are truly gone. I don’t know if this movie is just telling us to remember those who are gone lest they really be gone. But the cold hard truth is unless you’re Shakespeare or Hitler or Jesus, you’re going to be forgotten very easily and very soon. But I’m a Nerdfighter so every now and then John and Hank Green remind me that there will come a time when those men will be forgotten too. That’s where we come back to, if even Hitler will be forgotten then what is the point of trying to be nice to that idiot that I don’t like, what’s the point to giving the beggar on my route my taxi change, what’s the point to smiling for photographs or even taking them, what the point to anything?

I told you it was unpleasant.

Some people I know recognize this alongside a certain theme of existentialism that is the fact that if you stand back and look, you’ll see that you are free. Everyone really is free to do as they please. And this isn’t really as nice as it sounds and it’s not that political lie that you believe either. You are free to do as you please but so is everyone else. That knowledge that you are completely free to do whatever you want also makes you take responsibility for the things you do in your freedom and how they circle back to you. I’m one example. I dropped out of school because of this liberty that I recognized. Now I suffer the knowledge that if I somehow end up at the butt of society, it was because of a choice I made in my freedom. Most of my friends see this so they have fallen into this hedonistic blackhole where in seeking quick and easy pleasure, they self-sabotage. It’s a sad site to behold how many people believe that happiness exists in a bottle of beer or in a woman’s arms or a good cup of coffee and a warm sunset.

Mark Manson also wrote about Happiness in the orange book. He says that happiness comes from solving problems and after the last time I blogged about happiness, I had decided to believe that eternal happiness isn’t a thing. If God really is good and willing to grant me that place called heaven well, I’m ready to see that but in the meantime, I was willing to let myself be happy in little moments while not succumbing to extreme hedonism. Only a little bit. Because thinking about it, everything we do is a form of seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. I took it slow doing small things. Drinking coffee outside and watching the sunset from roofs and balconies, reading good poems, listening to good music and like Mark Manson said solving my problems. And lately I’ve been thinking about what my problems where some ten years ago or even some five years ago and while even as a young girl, stumbling over some unfortunate events was kind of inevitable and something I couldn’t help, problems don’t seem to get better or go away. They mostly just…change. So, we have an endless supply. Mark Manson is right. There is nothing like the feeling of hashing things over with friends you broke up with some four years ago, or finally finding that movie you were looking for or even finally making it to a Sunday after a busy week and sleeping in all day. Although there are things you can’t really control like when you lose people you care about or when the person you like ignores you, it might help to know that it’s not okay now but it will be eventually because forgetting is also a gift as it is a curse.

Ernest Becker basically implies that the “cure” or the “bitter antidote” to existential crisis is coming to terms with it and accepting the inevitability of death or oblivion, accepting that we will be forgotten. I’ll admit I struggle to accept my insignificance. I was raised believing that I had to be something great, that I have to carry my family name in great things. Yet Hank Green argues in one VlogBrothers video that we all play small parts to change the world in our insignificance and perhaps he’s right because my taxi change probably adds up to feed that beggar on route to work, to solve his problem and make him a little less sad. The fact that I exist gives my aunt the hope that should something happen to her I’ll be there for her sons like she’s been there for me. The fact that VlogBrothers exists makes my days a little bit better and the fact that coffee exists makes sure that I’m a pleasant person to the people who get on my nerves. The fact that Daughtry and Kaleo exist make my mornings feel like powerful movie montages and Chris Brown and Jason Derulo make sure that I don’t give up at the gym. Books like the one by Mark Manson or Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn or even Harry Potter give me small things to think about and keep the cycle of inspiration going.

I’m thinking that perhaps the insignificant and forgettable things we do could benefit so that the world doesn’t become worse if not better. I don’t want to be the old man in my old neighborhood but I remember him and will keep on remembering him now because I myself fear insignificance often.

So there’s life’s irony for you.

Blog

March 8 and November 19

I think it was back in the second grade when our social studies teacher went around asking what we thought the March 8 was about. I remember a lot of students answering the teacher saying that it was a day where girls could do as they pleased. Like it was our birthday or something. We played a lot of Abarosh in second grade so I distinctly remember the girls not having to go to “eser bet” when we played tag on this day.
I don’t remember the teacher ever correcting us about the day.

The other day, I was in a taxi and I was explaining to the driver where to go and I mentioned the women’s square around Abware as I was giving him directions. It’s a fairly recently named place so he didn’t know where it was but he laughed and asked me if that meant that every other square belonged to men. I’ll admit it’s a funny joke. But it also means that a lot of people find it unnecessary to name things in such ways like International Women’s Day, Feminism, Black History Month, Ethiopian Women Memorial Square…..
This is either because they see it as redundant or as being unfair to men but either way, I think these people miss the point.

I tried to wiki International Women’s Day this morning and it says that this day stands to “commemorate the movement for women’s rights.” It was first held in New York in 1909 and was suggested to promote equal rights as women weren’t granted equal rights to participate in voting and getting proper representation. From then it has grown to stand against violence towards women, equal opportunities in education and work and now the theme for 2018 is “Time is Now: Rural and Urban activists transforming women’s lives.”

Lord knows I have my fair share of disagreement with self-proclaimed feminists and otherwise. Also, I’m not sure who to blame for the circulation of self-victimization that I and many others now have. The day before yesterday I was walking to down bole road and these two guys, super high on khat (quat?), were having a “conversation” and just as I passed by them, they got really loud. It was a total coincidence, but I found myself preparing to defend myself and get pissed by “cat calling” and “unwanted attention.” But then I realized that their thing had absolutely nothing to do with me. And this wasn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen. I’ve been a part of and seen things were we, women, have found ways to make things that aren’t about us into a problem for everyone and I am not belittling the fact that there are real problems. I’m saying that there are enough of those out there without the ones we make for ourselves.

The internet is like quicksand so while I was reading about March 8, I came across November 19. That’s International Men’s Day. I showed it to my colleagues, made jokes and laughed at them for getting excited about the fact that there is an International Men’s Day. For ten minutes I laughed feeling like it was a joke and absolutely refusing to let the men’s day make its point. It only kept for 10 minute though because they might have started this day because some 80 years before that, women had decided that “everything had to be about us.” But then I realized that I was doing what the that taxi driver had done and completely missed the point.

One website for men’s day says right in the landing page,
“Objectives of International Men’s Day include a focus on men’s and boy’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. It is an occasion for men to celebrate their achievements and contributions, in particular their contributions to community, family, marriage, and child care while highlighting the discrimination against them.”

Just like IWD, IMD also has real themes and the theme for 2018 is “Positive Male Role Models”

The theme for 2016 was “Stop Male Suicides”. Now I started to think, maybe this is a legitimate thing that needs to happen because I’ve read the statistics that violence against women is higher than in men. But also, male suicide rates are higher than women suicides.

These things are not here to create a divide but rather to commemorate that which needs to be commemorated and to remember that there are problems that need to be solved. We should not create problems where there are none. I believe understanding and empathy are really important albeit difficult to do.

If I forget to write a remember November 19, I apologize to my brothers in advance but today is March 8 and I’ve remembered. I’ve remembered to think of fallen women fighting for their rights, I’ve remembered to not feel like a victim all the time just because the statistics say I am and create problems for myself, and I’ve also remembered my vow to women from last year. A vow I made because I’ve seen how a lot of bad things happen to girls and women because there is no one to listen and help. And so with reason, if you need someone to listen to you and help you, I am willing to do all that I can.

Happy International Women’s Day

Blog

A Bunch of Stuff You Should Know About ADWA

እንኳን ለዝክረ አድዋ በሰላም (?)አደረሳችሁ አደረሰን

And now here’s a bunch of stuff that you should probably know about the Ethio-Italian war of 1896 (European Calendar) All I did to write this entry was refer to my Grade 10 History Text Book and a bit of Wikipedia. I did bookmark a bunch in my copy of ዐፄ ሚኒሊክ እና የኢትዮጵያ አንድነት by ተክለፃድቅ መኩሪያ for further reading although I’m really sorry to say I didn’t have the time to read that book entirely before I could put together this entry.

The Unsung Hero of the Ethio-Italian war: Atse Yonannes IV

When Italy first came to occupy Ethiopia, they didn’t jump straight into battle. First, a private Shipping Company bought the port of Assab from local chiefs in 1869 and then transferred the land to the Italian government 13 years later. From there they expanded inwards and settled, violating the first article of the Hewett Treaty aka The Adwa treaty signed in June, 1884 by Britain, Egypt and Ethiopia. This article stated that there would be free transit of all goods, firearms included, into Ethiopia through Massawa and this was to protected by Britain.

But when Italy settled there to block the entry of firearms into Ethiopia and taxed Ethiopian Merchants too much, Britain turned a blind eye. The king at the time, Atse Yohannes IV, wrote to Queen Victoria of Britain about Italian control over Massawa and as my text book put it and this made me laugh, she wrote back to him saying he should “live in peace with the Italians.”

Ras Alula aka Aba Nega, the governor of Mereb Mellash, did not appreciate the Italian advances so he marched to Sa’ati and attacked an Italian fortress. No, actually he ambushed and attacked said Italian fortress. This is known as the Victory of Dogali. It was a very embarrassing event for Italy.

Following their defeat at Dolagi, the Italians started recruiting “fans” in Ethiopia. They began befriending oppositions of the throne and enemies of Yohannes IV and among them was Menelik, the king of Shoa. He was the strongest opposition so he became the more attractive force to befriend. He signed “friendship” treaties with Italy and agreed to strengthen the Italio-Shoan trade and even gave them space to plan their agendas at Let Marefia. What the Italians intended here was for Menelik to attack Yohannes from the South as they advanced from the North. But Menelik was not willing to side with them to fight Yohannes even though they promised him firearms. He was instead down to mediate peace between Yohannes and Italians. They did not want that either so they settled for an Agreement of Neutrality where if they were to have war with Yohannes, he would not help the king. They did not want war with a regional king they had been arming so they played nice. Menelik agreed to the Neutrality Agreement on the grounds that “Italians would not take an inch of the Ethiopian land.”

Poor Naïve Menelik.

In 1887 Italians brought their own mediator from Britain; a Sir Gerald Portal. This Sir met with Yohannes and presented him with the Italian terms that he apologize for Ras Alula’s surprise attack on Dogali (where they were shamed for the world to know in a land they came to occupy) and they also asked for protectorate-ship over several Ethiopian territories.

Yohannes said No.

Yohannes was also severely disappointed in Britain. Again, he wrote to that Queen Victoria telling her how disappointed he was and that he was ready to wage war before he would let Italians sit on Ethiopian land. He also snitched to France about Britain’s indifference.

Small note about Atse Yohannes IV, I remember my history teacher in 10th grade telling me that he’s also known as the Monk King because he was super into religion and also because he chose diplomacy over war. It goes like this. Atse Tewodros was the hot-headed war dog, Atse Yohannes IV was the Zen monk who liked diplomacy but Menelik was the mix of the two. He’d learned from their mistakes.

So you know how bad it is when Atse Yohannes says he would go to war and he was very prepared for it too. He called his troops and the country responded well, (except Menelik’s troops of course) and he marched to Sa’ati to fight the Italians in 1888. Read closely this next part is important.

The Italians built a huge fort and refused to come out and face the large army.

They stayed that way until the army grew tried probably from all the Shelela and of course they started to run out of provisions and the army had to return home to their families. While Yohannes was dealing with the Italians up north, his competitions to the throne down south were advancing and also the Mahadist Sudan were invading Gondar. So, he went to fight the Mahadist first and there he won that battle but he died.

So Menelik became King of Kings of Ethiopia and the Italians joyously continued to expand into Ethiopian territories.

Wuchale Article 3 and Article 17

The Wuchale Treaty was signed in Wollo in 1889 with Pietro Antonelli representing Italy. Menelik signed this because he knew what was up. His hold on the country was not strong enough yet so he feared that if he didn’t befriend the Italians, they might go around arming his enemies like they had done for him. He compromised in giving them the north. He gave them as far as Asmara but they were not satisfied. By late 1889, they had pushed as far as the Mereb River and controlled all of Eritrea. Menelik complained about this but they didn’t care much.

When we come to article 17, we all know that story. It was contradictory in Amharic and Italian and basically engineered to mislead and give Italy control over Ethiopia’s foreign relations. So after the signing when Italy declared that they had protectorate-ship over Ethiopia’s foreign relations, the world accepted. France and Russia weren’t so sure.

Menelik complained to King Umberto of Italy and Umberto obviously said no and so Menelik revoked the treaty and declared that he had done so to the world in 1893.

Here, the Italians attempted to recruit northern locals to join them and with some they succeed but they were also hit by rebellions in Eritrea and Tigray by the likes of Bahta Hagos and Ras Mengesha.

Adwa

Menelik began mobilizing in September 1895. Taytu also mobilized her women and materials. They marched north with men and woman and people from all the corners of Ethiopia, an army of allegedly 100,000; Menelik at the head of a united Ethiopia. It’s said that the battle took 9 hours; some say it’s a full day.

They didn’t turn away Taytu’s tactics because she was a woman. Her tactics drove the enemy out of Mekele. They won Ambalage. And by night fall on March 1st, 1896 (that’s Yekatit 22, 1888 Eth. Calendar), they had won Adwa.

Today

Sitting here today 122 years later, I’m overwhelmed by this. When people say that they died for us to live sovereign today, it sounds so cliché and it makes me wonder how many people actually understand it when they say it or even when they dismiss it.

Menelik might not have been thinking about me or you when he led that battle. But he won nonetheless and for that reason, I can allow myself to relate to Wakanda, what they called a sovereign land. (But note: I see some of your posts. Please stop. Wakanda is a fictional place. T’Challa is not Menelik. T’Challa is smug because he has Vibranuim. What Menelik had was pride.)

I couldn’t watch TV today because watching my peers in traditional garments like the ones they wore at the time, performing Shelela and Kererto and dancing on stage and basically even talking about it, that broke my heart. It made me cry in front of strangers and it made the strangers cry too but I could not tell you the reason because I do not know.

On the eve coming home from work, I saw a vigil at the Adwa Dildey and I got off the taxi to watch. An old Patriot that we’ve all seen on TV too many times was holding a wax taper and singing his heart out, head to the sky and I just stood there unable to lift my phone to even snap a photo because something about it just hurt. I’ve interviewed this man a couple of years ago and he doesn’t have any hate for Italians but he slapped his spear to the ground in anger when he told me about how wrong it is for people to feel entitled over something that does not belong to them. He meant Italians invading our land but my mind went elsewhere.

Today, 122 years later, all looks like performance. It is a performance.

I don’t actually like that entitlement we feel towards those heroes who died in the battle. They were our forefathers, yes, but they are not us. We don’t get to feel entitled over their sacrifices. The Battle of Adwa was a gruesome, bloody war where not only did they kill their white skinned enemies but they also had to kill their brothers because Italy did succeed in turning some. It was not a stage performance. It was not like yelling into a mic or hiding under an alias and spreading propaganda and then feeling like a hero. It was real.

I don’t appreciate some of us feeling that swell in the chest because it is misplaced. If that were today, we couldn’t stand together like they did…or the way they tried to in their own ways. We don’t deserve that swell in the chest. You and I didn’t earn it.

But we must always, until the end of time, pay vigil to what they have done because it was much,much bigger than them whether they meant it to be or not. They were protecting their homes. They probably didn’t intend to stand for a people whose common struggle even today comes from sharing their color of skin.

After Adwa

On Adwa, there was victory because the enemy either died, got captured, or got pushed to the Italian Colony in Eritrea. My history teacher told me that had Menelik attempted to push further into Eritrea as well, the Italians might have had the chance to get help through the border. Adwa might not have been a victory and so I don’t even know if calling Ethiopia a completely sovereign state is historically accurate. Menelik stopped at Eritrea because he was smart. It was his compromise. Eritrea was held until 1941. It was also used as a base for another attempt at colonizing Ethiopia in 1935.

Italy might have recognized Ethiopia as a sovereign state and agreed to respect the borders in 1896 but only to go behind Ethiopia’s back and sign the Triparite treaty with Britain and France in 1906 when Menelik fell deadly ill.

P.S We all know about them by now. The biggest vigil for Adwa is paid by young people who march on foot from Addis Ababa to Adwa covering over 1000 KM on foot. I don’t know. Maybe you or I will have the initiative to pay that big a vigil to the heroes someday. But for now maybe we can start small by recognizing the history and keeping in mind that it is really just history. Today is different. Today we fight completely different battles.

P.P.S I’m going to share with you a favorite poem that my second grade English teacher told his class one time and the last line stayed in my head for about a decade before I learned the first line too. I don’t really know who it’s by but it’s either from WWI or WWII. I don’t care when it’s from. It’s beautiful. Here goes:

When you go home, tell them of us and say,

For your tomorrow, we gave our today.

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.