(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Breaking out of my shell

I've decided that for the duration of fall quarter (or what remains of it anyways) and for winter quarter, I am instating campus as a no-headphone-zone for myself. Everywhere from the Fairhaven dorms to Nash-Higginson during class hours is off limits for mp3 listening.

I'll admit that it's nice every once in a while to float through the world, existing in a sound-proofed bubble of untouchability. People see the dangling cords and are hesitant to interrupt. There's a power in your step as you walk to the beat of someone else's drum.

But aren't we supposed to have a song in our own heart, march to the beat of our own drum? Be original and blah blah blah.

So I say this to all you people on the Western Washington University campus, I'm pulling out the earbuds, I'm walking (and because it's me, dancing) to my classes sans-music and I'm going to look you in the eye as I walk past you. I'm going to smile. I'm going to nod. If I know your name I will say it. Hell, I might even stop and chat.

I'm grounding myself in you, offering my presence undistracted by the media mindwipe.

I'm not asking you to do the same.

I'm asking that you look back.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Fourth Wall is Breaking

There's a fetishization of high school happening in pop culture right now. It's called Glee, or rather Glee is the symptom of the larger pop culture movement perpetuating and stereotyping within the masses.

Granted, this obsession with youth and targeting of the teenage demographic has been a staple of visual media for almost as long as television as a medium has existed, but starting around the time of the High School Musical franchise, the global network of marketing genius known as Disney further transformed entertainment into the kind of consumer-based, multi-platform spend-a-thon that has paved the way for Glee.

Glee as a consumer item is no longer a product, but an interactive experience. The show doesn't stop with the rolling of the credits, like a virus, it has infected our day-to-day lives. The music follows us, a zombification of hits long past, chasing us down with the rich baritones and flutish altos of fresh young faces.

The bloated body of the Glee phenomenon reeks with the corpses of stereotypes and television tropes rehashed in every wholesome teen drama from the Brady Bunch to the failed remake of 90210. Every character, if not a stereotype of one kind is a mash-up of several. Every issue they face is taken directly from the files of every afternoon special since the original Degrassi.

But Glee isn't the only mechanism in this globalization of Western society. All of pop culture has followed suit. Music takes its place, shaping and reflecting the civilization that creates it. Lady Gaga?

Where postmodernism confirmed Shakespeare's aphorism that all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players, the current shift in the pop culture clime not only seeks to reaffirm it, but to shape reality after it.

For the past year or two glee clubs have been popping up on school campuses across the country as the infection has spread. Gleeks rise proudly in misfit solidarity, singing their experience acapella and accompanied, performing to rabid audiences. Reality is becoming the fiction. We conform to these stereotypes in efforts to mimic the triumphant underdog status of our media heroes.

Earlier this month, there was a news story about costumed crime-fighters patrolling the streets of Seattle.

I titled this post "the fourth wall is breaking" because we're becoming the characters in our own story. We're reading about ourselves.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Love poem from flame to a log

all I want to do is touch you,
consume you with each caress
lick you, stripping away flesh.
melt for me.
spontaneously combust, and I will grow --
blossom into a thousand tiny flowers
shedding petals to the air with
each passing gust
-- I lay you bare. exposed
for the cold carbon oxygen doesn't want.
ashes to ashes you fall,
swept beneath the rug when I depart
passion undoes us, the
exhibition breaking bonds
of taboo temptations
hold me tight and I promise
I will bring you out into the light

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Walt Whitman, Privilege and my Frustration with my Peers

I'm slightly unnerved in my 18th/19th Century American Literature class. 

The last few days we've been talking about Walt Whitman's Song of Myself.

It's a great poem, kind of long and I'm never sure which edition people have looked at. For my class, we read the 1855 edition: http://www.naturalawareness.net/songofmyself.pdf

Over the course of our class discussion, we talked about how what Whitman seems to be trying to do is to deconstruct hierarchies within society and represent the "I" he refers to in this poem as an operative everyman. "I" am the working class, the lowly, mundane, earthly everything of existence, and "You" are me.

"E pluribus unum" or "Out of many, one." We are all equal. We are all beautiful in all our dirty little lives. 

"I do not press my finger across my mouth,
I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

I believe in the flesh and the appetites,
Seeing hearing and feeling are miracles, and each part and tag of me is a miracle.

Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy whatever I touch or am touched from;
The scent of these arm-pits is aroma finer than prayer,
This head is more than churches or bibles or creeds."

But I think what Whitman fails to recognize in this inclusive, generalized optimism, is that he is speaking from a place of privilege. Whitman is an educated, white male of the upper-middle class. He can afford to deconstruct and challenge these societal norms. Where someone like Phyllis Wheately whom we read earlier in the quarter had to heavily veil her messages within her poetry and exclusively use a Christian discourse in order to even be considered the legitimate writer of her work.

As I understand it, the American Trancendentalist movement of the mid-19th Century as a reaction to the intellectual Empirical style of thought of the late 18th Century, transitioning away from Romanticism and creating a more "American" style of writing was still confined to the intelligentsia. Much as Whitman would like to pretend he's the ants and dirt and grass and his appeals are meant to represent one in the many, I can't accept it.

I realize I'm coming from a distinctly modern perspective, but to say "Look at yourself and look at me, we are equal" delegitimizes the differences of identity inherent between them and what's more, as a person with privilege, Whitman, in saying this,  reasserts his privileged position. Thus, his entire discourse is a fallacy that contributes nothing towards the working, poor, socially stigmatized people he seeks to celebrate. He glorifies them without doing anything to change their position.

I will accept that for his time, Whitman was pretty radical in embracing and creating a wholly American style. And this was needed to pave the path for future discourses, but how is he so different from the 18th century abolitionists parading around freed slaves like Frederick Douglass?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chains of love got a hold on me

I reposted this video on Facebook the other day:

It's a message, a message of love, and more a call to action. Love is a verb. I will love you with all the strength of my being, love you enough to change the world.

This summer I did an independent study project about messages, messengers and the self. While I am by no means anywhere near finished with it, I remember mentioning the classic children's party game, telephone. And in reposting this video, I started a round:

I reposted from Khari. Stephany reposted from me. Rebekka reposted from Stephany. Sam reposted from Rebekka. And finally Bob reposted from Sam. And I'm sure there are branches, tangents from other people borrowing the link along the way that I'm not enabled to see. This isn't the first time I've seen these kinds of threads, a link travelling between common friends, some of these same people even for that matter.

This particular link caught me because of the nature and subject of the video. Love.

It's a simple concept with complex connotations, love. 

There are days when I think of love and I feel like it's a chain. Not so much a shackle attached to my wrists or ankles, but we are links. In a great chain of being we are the products and progenitors of love tangled together like a litany of spiderwebs rolled together, the connections so fine you cannot tell where one ends and another begins.

This chain of embedded video links is just the start of our connections.

To paraphrase what another friend who I have often found in chains much like this one once said: "And Allah said to the whole of creation, are we not lovers? And we replied, Aye, we are love."

We are love courageous. Love fierce and proud and strong and soft and tender. We are love and love will change us and change for us and change with us. Because through love, we know. We know we do not stand alone.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hide yo kids, hide you shame

C'mon Bellingham, I expect better of you.

The number of "hide yo kids, hide yo wife" references I'm seeing on Facebook and other social media after this afternoon's attempted armed robbery is disgusting.

The references are tacky and socially inept. Funny (and catchy) as it is, the original "Bed Intruder Song" video was objectifying and appropriative of a culture and place most of us can never even dream of seeing in person. We're in Bellingham, people, which by virtue of being a college town directly translates to "privilege central" at least in the areas in question. The scenarios between this situation where a young man was assaulted in broad daylight and those presented courtesy of Autotune the News video aren't analogous at all.

As a fairly progressive area, I thought we could be a little more socially conscious. kthnxbai

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Grocery Aisles

dance with me down the grocery aisles
make the produce jealous with our tartan tangos
at the cue of the frozen entrĂ©e orchestras, we can
salsa sashay with hips so generous that
no lie would be big enough
and it will be ballerina twirls past boxes of cereal
canned veggies can do the tootsie roll
following at our feet in a two-step touch
the wheels may be stuck,
leaning leftward with the momentum of a grocery list long since forgotten
but it doesn't concern us
the grocery cart menagerie is the only audience that matters
if you dance with me down the grocery aisles