To hell with respectability politics – keep pushing buttons and one day “Hands up don’t shoot” will turn into a resounding “You can’t kill us all”.
I’m not too big on self promotion. I used to be convinced this was a self esteem issue but upon closer inspection I’ve come to realize that I’ve always been pretty confident in my skill and capability – almost to the point of maniacal egotism. I tend to keep that confidence to either myself or the select few privy to my complete honesty.
This may be as a result of a fundamentally spilt identity. There’s the double trouble pull from the West; the semi-assimilation of individualistic culture coupled with a reaction to the West’s homogenization of African identity have led to the development of a somewhat strong “I”, one that wants or needs perhaps to set itself apart. This influence works against the strong communal sensibilities of the African continent resulting in two co-occurring self constructs: the self that feels as an individual apart and the self that is an inextricable part of a whole. How do I reconcile the “I” with the “one/we”? More importantly can I and should I?
I’ve also managed to pin point another gnawing sensation, a sense that no matter how much I learn I will still be gloriously ignorant (that is, relative to the infinite knowledge to be gained on this our little blue dot, let alone the universe). What some may confuse for humility is simply caution. I want to be sure of what I am and what I say – to a certain extent anyway – before I share it. That’s hard when you consider yours to be a position of perpetual ignorance, thesis constantly crashing against antithesis, forever synthesizing. I can’t sit long enough on any thought without questioning it. This isn’t necessarily doubt in the traditional sense, just me fine-combing my truths in a world that I have come to see as contingent.
Right now I can only learn what is framed by the English and French language, framed by human understanding and perception and by the limitations of the forces in our corner of the universe. This doesn’t make me sad, but I wish I would get over the mental block because if I wish – and I do – to be relatively self sufficient, I better learn to blow my own horn every now and then.
Funnel your resources into systems that benefit you, into businesses that share your values, help your communities and environments. Be aware of what you are funding or you might be paying for your own oppression.
Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” chronicles the life of Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman who wakes up one day transformed into a hideous giant bug. His ability to verbally communicate with others is gone and we witness the deterioration of his family’s relationship with him.
Samsa, having been the primary bread winner for the family pre-transformation, has now become obsolete in his home. His family first takes care of him out of duty but as the story progresses it is clear they no longer see the humanity in him and begin to treat him like vermin. His room is literally turned into the house dumpster and the consideration that used to go into his care-taking becomes non existent. The foreshadowing of Samsa’s ultimate demise is probably this particularly tragic scene where he gets stoned into oblivion with apples by his father, the latter thinking Samsa was endangering his wife.
What makes the story more poignant is that we see all these events unfold through Samsa’s point of view. It is ironic that Samsa has the most human characterization. He is considerate, kind and empathetic to the plight of his family, while they, in return, grow cold and distant when they realize he is now useless to them. To be fair, they’ve been through a change of epic proportions but they become rather callous about the whole affair in no time.
The novella is a fine commentary on the value of a person in our modern day capitalist society. It resonates with the idea that we are all replaceable gears in this giant machine and the moment we outlive our usefulness we don’t matter anymore.
I forget what it feels like to have a mind that doesn’t betray me, a mind where up is up and down is down. I want to be able to control all these thoughts but they have grown wings. They are them and I am me. What did I expect though? I fed them, nurtured them, pruned and shaped them. How could they not want to be free, to wander, to grow, simply BE. They are king now and their word is law. I am only a vessel. I think therefore I am? No – I am and now my thought too, are. They run, jump, explode – a multitude of tiny bombs, one setting off its neighbour unleashing a kaleidoscopic mosaic of memories, dreams and visions all intertwined by some thread I can’t seem to find.
How can I not love these thoughts though? How can I not indulge in their LIFE? It is not without sacrifice. I must first give in to them, only then can I even begin to try to reign them in. But what is flesh against the forces of a great wind? How can I begin to control them when I am only starting to grasp their power?
Continuously learning all I can is my way of doing penance for the mistakes I’ve made. I want to make sure I never repeat them again and to do that I must ensure that all my choices and actions are well thought out and allow me to be in equilibrium with whatever environment that I’m in. This requires a lot of time and effort.
One could say it’s almost sado-masochistic. Intellectual self-flagellation. I go wherever my learning takes me, no matter what it makes me question. I am not afraid to be wrong – In fact I hope there never comes a time where there is nothing that can challenge my beliefs; that would mean there would be nothing left to learn, and what would be the point of living after that?
So I keep learning, keep sharpening myself, not for any gain necessarily but so that all the space I occupy be it physically, in terms of power, et cetera et cetera is not wasted.