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I write. And then I eat. And then maybe I'm happy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

OPEN 24hrs: a sci-fi short

Open 24hrs

How much do we need money in this world?

Consider this for a moment...

What is money? Motivation is one. And a form of control, another. Intertwined with it being a form of control, is it is an avenue of (and to) power. But power is secondary, because to gain power you must gain a form of control.

Okay. Do we need money? And that question is not "do we need money" as in "will money make us happy" --- its a literal question. Is money needed in our global village? No.

Which is why I find this who economic crisis funny (hey, I'm having a hard time finding work just like everyone else, I'm in the same crunch. But its still funny). How arbitrary money is. Not the concept of money, because the concept is simply a bartering system. But the actual systems money has set up.

Picture this: You can place a hand on someones chest, or feel the veins in their wrist or neck, and catch their heartbeat. This is real. This is actual. But Wall Street, the Stock exchanges, have to use computers to catch whatever it is their catching. Its fabricated. Its digital. Not actually actual.

As capitalist civilizations have progressed, the idea of a bartering society has reduced. A bartering society exists in Africa today -- you want dinner, but have no money. The clerk could say, "I like that hat. Give me that hat. I will give you dinner. But I want that hat first."

See what this does? Removes power from those select people with money to everyone, as everyone will have something someone wants. But what about those people who literally have nothing? Then they are able to work to gain that which they need -- you need clothing or food? Work and your payment will be in food. Do you need something else in conjunction? Then work for someone who will give you such things. And the cycle continues.

How would it work in America lets say? I'm gonna answer a question with a question. Why can't a person work at an G.E. knowing that the mass majority "needs" electricity? Including theirself. This comes with the idea that people are good people. That they're willing to work not only for "the self", but for the global/national village.

GARY NASH decribes IROQUOIS culture:

"No laws and ordinances, sheriffs and constables, judges and juries, or courts or jails---the apparatus of authority in European societies---were to be found in the northest woodlands prior to European arrival. Yet boundaries of acceptable behavior were firmly set. Though priding themselves on the autonomous individual, the Iroquois maintained a strict sense of right and wrong. ... He who stole another's food or acted invalourously in war was "shamed" by his people and ostracized from their company until he had atoned for his actions and demonstrated to their satisfaction that he had morally purified himself."

This type of system, though not an exact replica, existed in Timbuktu. A very advanced society where the people of the world would come to study in their libraries. So its not far fetched to think people have it in their hearts to follow this idea. People today are conditioned. This is what they know.

The internet should have changed this, as the TV was supposed too, make the local village into the global village, bringing people closer. But those under-represented areas where internet is not readily accessible, causes those areas to continue being under-represented.

In general, most artists work for no money. People have passion projects or hobbies that they do for free. So there are things people will do without the allure of money. I think this is what needs to be tapped. That little instinct is what bartering societies are set upon --- it is built into us and money seems to be building it out of us.

The majority of police officers do not join the force for money alone. Its a type of wanting having nothing to do with money. So you wouldn't have to be so worried about the police vanishing...

Until you realize that people are so conditioned to work with money, that the very idea of changing to a bartering system culture shock sets in. As the very walls of what they know are crumbling. People kinda have a hard time dealing with that.

I can see why.

But built within humanity is adaptability. We can roll with the punches if we want too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

excerpt from NYtimes article, "On Poetry - The Great(ness) Game"

'When we lose sight of greatness, we cease being hard on ourselves and on one another; we begin to think of real criticism as being “mean” rather than as evidence of poetry’s health; we stop assuming that poems should be interesting to other people and begin thinking of them as being obliged only to interest our friends — and finally, not even that. Perhaps most disturbing, we stop making demands on the few artists capable of practicing the art at its highest levels. Instead, we cling to the ground in those artists’ shadows — John Ashbery’s is enormous at this point — and talk about how rich the darkness is and how lovely it is to be a mushroom.'

Zouch. That last line is a killer.

On Poetry - The Great(ness) Game by David Orr

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mega phone 'The Happy Burden' & Seatbelt: visual poem #1 & #2

I have attempted a series of visual poems. At first, my idea was to continue using words in shapes from a poem I wrote roughly 6 years ago called SMOKESTREAM, where the words formed a plume of smoke from the bottom of the page to the top. Late last year an idea hit me -- MEGA PHONE, SEATBELT, BINOCULARS, and a few others. I was gonna publish them as a chapbook. Something simple. But then I came across some artwork which inspired me into a new direction. A young lady by the name of Deanna and visual poems at www.poetryfoundation.org.

Whenever I write poetry, sometimes, the poetic idea may come to me months or years before I actually write it. Its kinda like I'm at the microwave waiting for the machine to beep. I told myself I'd wait until I could get to a computer for more than an hour, and not have it be an internet cafe (they tend to speed up the time, the bastards). Well, I got to a laptop, had it for 24hrs plus... but the poems never came. See, originally I was going to use simple borders to outline the words in the shapes of the objects. So it would be easy to just do it in 10 hours or such and be done. But other poems came. Many others.

These visual poems were always in my head, but off to the side where the stack of covers and pillows are in my room. See, I just think that the poems were waiting for me to be inspired to go in the direction I went (re: the above pictures).

I'm not all the way happy with them. A little tweak here, there. But it was fun. Something I've never done. Including the ghazal I wrote a few weeks ago, I'm on a good run of trying new things creatively.

I slept, I ate, and now I'm happy. No maybe. For now...

Aww shoot, it just wore off.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Living Single is Friends before Friends was Friends

Yeah, so you have the same structure. I think even the same city. But you have three women living together, two male friends next door. You have the somewhat ditzy, good hearted friend, the hard working responsible one, the kind of rich/slutty one, you had the goofy guy who wasn't good with the ladies, you had the ladies man.

Now, with the lawyer friend Max you have a kind of anomaly. You could say she's Ross. We, I guess you should say that. High education, good ass job, intense, kind of crazy.

You had the same storylines, (two friends hooking up, throughout the show run, big 'are they aren't they' thing)...

Both survived, but one got a horrible death when it shouldn't have, the other lived on for ten years. Why is it? Was it too brown for people to relate too? Naw...

No idea what happened.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

excerpt from non-fiction piece Homeless In Long Beach

Once, I opened a pack of instant oatmeal and found worms squirming through the dust after I poured it into my bowl. This has nothing to do with the year I spent on the streets of Long Beach, but I’ve always wanted to tell the story and never got the chance.

I left North Texas on a whim. Whim. When you use whim people usually think less of the action, as if little thought went into it. When you tell them the impulse felt like a rope you grip and pull on, but instead of whatever is on the end of that rope coming towards you, its reversed. There is an inevitably about it. And then when you tell them how, in that instant, it felt forever written, forever declared for you to hop on the train and go to California with only a pocket of cash and a bag, no guarantees… you still seem crazy. And I figured whim took up less space.

I lived in California maybe ten years prior to my exodus, in Whittier. Can you believe the only time I had been to Long Beach was for 15 minutes, off of Junipero, to pick up a friend? It’s true. I circled around it, spending time in Compton, Watts, Norwalk, name it. But understand, I’m sure I can live on the streets of Whittier and realize I likely never knew my own city until that point.

After my mom left for North Texas and I hitched a ride, my own other family was my sister, who found an apartment near Downtown Long Beach she referred to as “so cute”. I hopped off the train early in Pomona to catch a ride from a buddy in Diamond Bar. I never carried on my bag which was in cabinet-storage on the way to Union Station. I didn’t worry about it.

I knew my sister could put me up for a little bit while I figured a way to make all the impossibles less un-impossible. A couple of seconds after closing my friend’s cell phone and repeating what my sister told me (“Uhh, I don’t think so Michael.”), I didn’t think anything. For a moment, I wasn’t there. Whatever separates our consciousness and the atoms of the universe, for that moment, disintegrated, or maybe, finally, fully integrated and were finally one.

The next day we spoke and she told me I had a month to get things together. I think we lasted less than that before I walked out, no longer able to deal with the already toxic and strained relationship my sister and I had.

My first night on the street wasn’t frightening. I just couldn’t believe it had come to this. I remember sleeping, rather, trying to sleep behind a Vegetarian cafĂ© called Zephyr. It really wasn’t a good idea, as the space is a narrow pathway with high walls, which breathed in the cold air and swept it across. In my rush out of my sister’s place I forgot my jacket, assuming the two long sleeve shirts I wore could suffice. Thaaaaaat would be a negative. But the sky was Texas clear, stars burning beautiful, and the pale bright moon made it daytime for a dark night. Comfort for a shivering form.

(other excerpt featured at http://www.michaeljamesmartin.wordpress.com