Spreading Cracks

cracks

Is it possible to pinpoint the moment a connection breaks? Obviously, I don’t mean actual physical bonds but more intangible relationships. I feel like I came upon such a moment tonight.

For years now, I have carried a constant internal struggle trying to reconcile my personal beliefs and understanding of the world with the spiritual and religious beliefs of my family. I was born into a family where faith and religion were paramount above everything else and being raised under such conditions was an interesting experience, for lack of better terms. While I had, and continue to have, some issues with what I was taught and instructed concerning faith, religion, and spirituality, I know that I would not be the person I am without those formative years.

However, the more lectures and sermons I hear from the pulpit, the less connection I feel with my once familiar faith. I have not lost belief, at least not yet, but I question the legitimacy and intelligence behind the words and scripture my family and loved ones clasp on to. I honestly believed that I could compromise my family’s beliefs and faith with my own along with my skepticism and acceptance of science, reason, and logic. I never considered my curiosity and skepticism to be a negative though I could always tell that my family preferred a ‘no questions asked policy’ on certain topics, or at the very least an ‘ask but understand that the answers are set in stone regardless of what you say’ policy.

Tonight, something just snapped. After listening to the preacher, I could see the eventual fracture that was going to occur between myself and my family. I know that their faith is monolithic and uncompromising whereas I am not as unwilling to discuss and debate. Further, i can see no real reconciliation on our disagreements over the differences we see and have concerning faith and belief. I wish I could believe that there will be some sort of ‘happy ending’ to all this, but I know that is most likely not in my future. I suppose that for now I will hold off on the inevitable and be content in the knowledge that whatever does happen I will always love and care for my loved ones unconditionally, even if they do think I will probably burn in hell.

Advertisements

A Voice

Is it possible to fall in love with a voice? Can the sound of someone speaking entrance you? I find myself wondering this more and more with each passing day.

I’ve never met you, and unless either of our circumstances change dramatically, chances are we will never meet you in person. I don’t really know you. I have no clue what your favorite color is. I’ll probably never know if you prefer a rainy day with a cup of coffee and a good book or to be outside among the trees and hills with the occasional sun shining through the passing clouds. You might rock out to the latest radio hit or be a lifetime fan of an indie band that only a few have ever heard. I don’t know whether you would kill for a piece of succulent chocolate or if a glass of dry bourbon is more your vice of choice. I’ll probably never learn these, and various other, little details that accumulate over time from simply being around someone.

What I know, however, is your voice. The timber and tone of your voice as you read the lines of a poem have been engraved into my mind. The way it rises to a near squeak when you become excited. Or how it slows and approaches a silent whisper when you are pensive and introverted. I can recall the music of your voice as you talk and have heard nearly every possible emotion expressed through nothing more than simple sound of your speech.

But beyond the mere melodic intonations, I am privileged to know the words that you have written. In your poetry, I have seen the similes and metaphors that your mind can conjure to create the darkest and most beautiful of imagery. Your short stories have lead me through different worlds and experiences I did not think possible. And the few times you have allowed a peek behind the veil, I have read the thoughts of an intelligent, caring, and creative individual who I stand in awe of. Beyond the sound, I have seen and heard your voice, and perhaps a bit of you, in your writing and I wish to read more.

So I ask again, is it possible to fall in love with a voice?

Is “Bad” a Thing Anymore?

No, seriously that is a question I am posing. Are things just bad anymore? More specifically are entertainment and art, in their various forms, bad anymore or has such a characterization become invalid in the modern cultural landscape?

Post-internet entertainment and art, like everything post-internet, are no longer limited by the restrictions of old/traditional media. In many ways, this is an incredibly positive thing. After all, how many videos, shows, and personalities have you seen on YouTube that would never have worked on television or film? How many artists have you been exposed to through Bandcamp, Spotify, or through simple links sent from friends that probably would have been sucked out of all thought, life, and creativity if forced through the standard production routes of music? Even reading, a favorite personal pastime, has been altered with new avenues of self-publishing and short story outlets like Tumblr and Amazon. Basically, if you want to write Dinosaur erotica (yep, it’s a thing) or start a business revolving around making video game themed tobacco glass pipes, you can do it and have a modicum of success.

Another upside of the new technological advances is location is no longer a limitation. Want to collaborate with that amazing graffiti artist from Japan? Send them an email and just ask. Want to record this amazing album you’ve made but you really want to work a musician on the East Coast? Hit up their Twitter (99% sure they will have one) and see if they are up for it. We are exposed to and consume art from virtually every place on this planet with the only real limitation being our desire to interact with it.

While this offers  unprecedented opportunities, it has also seemingly compartmentalized and fractured audiences across the board. Again, like most things, this has its up and downs. On one hand you will probably be able to find an audience for whatever you create. On the other hand, just because you have an audience does not mean that you have a quality product. I mean a car crash tends to have a pretty decent turnout as well, but we tend to not want to repeat those. Essentially, art has become niche, even more so than before. However, this has also seemingly ended any allowance for negative criticism or discussion to take place. Now, to be clear when I say criticism or discussion, I mean actual criticism and discussion of form, function, merit, intent, execution, usage of structure, space, language, etc. and not the vile cesspool of incoherent bullshit found in comments section of most sites.

Whenever someone criticizes a work now, however minor the critique may be, the immediate response is either they are a ‘hater’ (whatever the hell that means) or they simply do not ‘get it’. This has always stuck me as a nonsensical cop out by artists. Art should be social commentary, entertaining, pleasing, grotesque, difficult, simple, or any combination of the aforementioned and many more possibilities. Nonetheless, art needs an audience otherwise it is merely self-indulgent, intellectual masturbation. Fun but ultimately going nowhere. ¬†So whenever someone utters the flippant excuse of ‘well, you just don’t get it’ to justify their poor execution, they should be slapped across their face; hard. One of the unfortunate aspects of being an artist is the side job of at times having to either explain or defend your work Doing this does not demean your art; instead, it allows for the possibility of expanding your audience and exposure.

Furthermore, (legitimate) discussion of art can lead to improvement of said work, new perspectives, and possible interpretations that could lead to new art and greater discussions. The only way this can happen is that we must admit that art can also be bad. Because if it is bad, it can improve, change, and evolve. Frankly, an artist is supposed to be bad, initially. No one creates great work from the offset. They create crap. For years, they make crap until they find the nugget within the shit and polish and refine it to a presentable and beautiful piece. Then the process begins again and again until the crap becomes less and the nuggets become more. We must be willing, as consumers and creators, to point at something and say “You know what this is not that good. It’s actually kind of bad.” And then back it up with a legitimate, concise, and balanced critique that leads to a nuanced discussion. Easy? Probably not. Worth it? Absolutely.

So, next time you see someone bashing your favorite show, song, picture, or whatever in the comments section, try asking why they dislike it or what they really think concerning said work? If their response is to continue being an ass, screw them. At least you tried to rise above it and be a well informed citizen and person. Fuck those assholes.

TL;DR ¬†Criticism and critique are still good and very necessary. If you are going to have an opinion on something, be prepared to discuss it. Be civil and follow Wheaton’s Law.

New Year, New Job, Similar Uncertainty

So I have technically started a new teaching position at a local community college (getting introduced/shown around, obtaining id, parking space, etc.). I am grateful for the job and honestly believe that teaching at any level is one of the most noble professions one can undertake. I just am having doubts if it is the profession I am meant to have. I have taught before, though admittedly not with this large a course-load, and rather enjoyed the overall experience. I will add that I believe I did a rather good job in the past and have some documentation to back up such a claim. However, I am unsure if this profession is my calling or passion. I know I should be pleased that I even have a job in the current economy and one of such regard, but I have a difficult time seeing myself as a professor fifteen, ten, even five years into the future. For the moment, I will execute the responsibilities and duties of this position to the best of my abilities, but is it wrong to not put my full person into this job in order to work on my own interest and hobbies in the hopes I can convert them into a career? This is starting to feel too much like complaining so I will sign off here looking forward to what I will make happen this year.

New Year

One of my closest friends and I have an ongoing tradition; every year, for the past six years, we meet up for a cup of coffee, play a game against one another (he beat me this year and I am still a little annoyed at that), chat, and ultimately tell each other a few goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. Usually we both fail at keeping most, if not all, our resolutions, but somehow I manage to actually complete 4 out of the 5 goals I set for myself (Not a humblebrag, I swear). Not really sure how that happened, but I was pleasantly surprised and kind of put a small spring in my step as I moved into the new year. I also have a bit more drive and hope that I will be able to accomplish the goals I have set for myself in the coming year.

This is usually the time where people take stock of their lives and set new goals to accomplish. It is understandable. After all, it is the beginning of something new and fresh, no matter how arbitrary it actually is. Within the last few days, I have read, listened to, and seen various media that deal with goals, life transitions, and achieving one’s goals. While they diverged in their overall commentary, the similarities between them amounted to, essentially: Whatever your goal/resolution/intention is, just start working toward it. There will always be reasons and obstacles in your way, but you just have to start somewhere and keep going.

For some reason, there seems to be a belief currently that success, whatever that means, must come by a certain age. If you have not fulfilled your dreams or aspirations during your youth, then you are past your prime. I suppose part of me had started to believe this to be true and had begun to affect my perspective. However, after I digesting the aforementioned media, I realized that this belief is essentially bullshit. There is no final endpoint or measure. You simply start and keep going. That was my takeaway from everything that has happened this past year, that everything just keeps going. It is never too late to start whatever project you wish to complete, but you have to start and more importantly you have to realize that there is no grand prize or finish line, just the continuance of the path.

The best advice I have read on new beginnings/resolutions actually came today. Basically, instead of making a bunch of checkpoints or goals, just always try to be a better person and citizen. A lofty mission, but one worth try to achieve. I think that is enough for me for now. I will try to be a better individual, a better me. I hope that this time next year I can look back and say with certainty that I at the very least managed to improve to some degree.

I don’t know what the new year will bring, but I will try my damnedest to do and be better and work toward what I have set for myself. I don’t know what plans or goals you have set for yourself, but I wish you the best of luck in achieving them this year and every year afterwards. May we all make ourselves and our communities a bit better than how they started. See you on the other side.