I’m tired of pop music. I’d rather hear my peers make original sounds. We all have hands to beat on things, we have voices, some of us can even play instruments. Most of us have mics on our phones to record with, and apps on our iPads. Luckily, some of my friends are talented DJs who are able to craft new landscapes and sonic collages out of a variety of sounds that express history, personality, and passion. But I’m still hungry for more, for something new.
I’ve been listening to the same recycled lyrics and heteronormative narratives all my life. Lyrics like “I need you, I can’t live without you, how could you do this to me, I am incomplete without your validation of my existence…” only serve to perpetuate these destructive themes in my life. I don’t want experiences with people to unfold like love songs (or for that matter, rom-coms, but I’ve stopped watching those years ago). And I want music to reflect the complexity of love and relationships, especially as a queer person.
Life is not simple, love is not simple. Where are the songs about platonic friends who like to make out? Where are songs about wanting to date several people because each interaction is a unique experience worthy to explore? Where are songs about exes you get along really well with, but are sometimes jealous or possessive of? Songs about cuddling? Or songs about kinks and fetishes as a normal expression of human sexuality instead of a depraved, scandalous, pearl-clutching stories? Songs about healthy open relationships? Or even songs about monogamous coupledom, written in ways that affirm each individual as whole beings unto themselves?
How do we embody these normative narratives? How do we break away from them? How do we create our own myths, legends, and songs? We have so much creative power than we know what to do with. When I lived in Spain, there was always music in the streets, whether blasting from speakers or performed in spontaneous jam sessions on a street corner or the town square. People’s physical presence and live rhythms are truly life-giving. I want this in my life again, and I know I’m capable, and so are a lot of my friends and peers.
We are all frequencies, vibrations, waveforms. Let’s express the presence of our bodies, and mark our voices upon the wind. Let’s make sounds.
Kiam Marcelo Junio, 2012
"I don’t know why humans are obsessed with grids and squares and straight lines," my roommate comments from the living room. I am in the kitchen, making vegetable stir fry, cutting tofu cubes into smaller cubes.
"Nothing in nature is like that."
"Maybe we’re aliens," I reply. "It could explain why we think we have dominion over the earth. We always want order, but really, we just destroy everything."
I toss the tofu cubes into the oil and they sizzle in the heat, slowly, surely, turning a nice golden brown. I think about how the soy particles coagulated to form these masses which I will gnash between my teeth, break apart in my body, and expel.
I wonder to myself if creation and destruction are human impulses. Have we only characterized aliens as monsters? Or are we the monsters ourselves? As a species, we’ve managed to royally fuck up this planet to near disrepair.
My roommate and I are really hoping for the apocalypse this year. Fingers crossed.
Let me tell you a story I heard repeatedly as a kid in the Philippines. Sometimes, no joke, I would hear this in church.
God was making man from clay. He fashioned a figure, placed it in the celestial oven, but took it out too soon. And so it became a white man.
He fashioned another figure and put it in the oven, but forgot about it, till it was dark and toasty. Thus it became a black man.
Then he carefully sculpted another and placed it in the oven, this time watching closely, waiting attentively, until his creation was perfectly baked. He took it out, and
Oy! Ang galing talaga! It’s a Filipino man.
"In order for there to be m
t from above to
there has to be a c a p i l l a r i t y
e at the same time.”
Last year in Costa Rica, I was volunteering at a farm with my sister.
We built benches and walls out of dirt, clay, dried grass, and cow shit.
Here’s a video of it: http://youtu.be/ULRDV7mfWX0
a most human contradiction
with the ability to exert
a propensity to control
a living history
unstable and perpetually changing
in a constant state of becoming
eyeless and voiceless
almost living beings
with a peculiar sense of independence
to leap from the ashes
a vigorous free spirit
forever set and doused
but not everlasting
My hands, small I know, but they’re not yours, they are my own
But they’re not yours, they are my own and
I am never broken
When it’s all over, what vestiges we would have left behind!
Freeways, skyscrapers, underground railroads,
Bathhouses, coliseums, shopping malls, and so much goddamn plastic!
They will study our majesty for millennia to come.
The Grid Book, Annah B. Higgins, “Introduction” and “Chapter 1: Bricks”
Good looking people get paid more, do less jail time and have more sex than ugly people, and beautiful people get all that but even more so, and if you try to say ugly people don’t exist because ‘everyone is beautiful’ I’d ask you to take it up with Sartre (were he not dead), who not only believed in ugliness as a definite trait but attributed much of his philosophy to his own lazy-eyed, freakshow face and near midget status yet still managed to date feminist icon and all-around social theory genius (and sometime lesbian pedophile) Simone de Beauvoir for years and years and years, not to mention blow minds on the daily, even now, 30 odd years after his death.
There are worse things in the world than being ugly, and most of the great minds of every generation got their thinking and writing done because they weren’t beautiful enough to waste their nights having meaningless sex with other gorgeous layabouts. Very few, if any, renowned scientists or philosophers were beautiful.
All people are somewhat interesting, and most of us have rich and varied intellectual lives or great stores of compassion or other attributes that, once discovered, can make us very wonderful and occasionally beautiful to those who know us, but some people are just plain beautiful, physically, in the fucking face, and that is neither a good nor a bad thing (although studies show it’s usually good for them). It’s just a fact.
(More to read when you click the link above)
I’ve been having this conversation with someone recently, and it’s gotten me thinking about what it means to be beautiful, attractive, or ugly. We can all say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and perhaps this is true in the deepest, truest extent. But here’s my theory, which I was explaining to a friend last night:
We create our own worlds, and we create this one too. Our minds and selves are universes trapped in physical form. Where does a thought go when you forget it, but somewhere in the wide black space of your own existence?
But we have also all corroborated on creating this physical manifestation of a world we live in. The rules of physics exist because someone thought it, and we have all since agreed upon its reality. This goes for everything, even beauty. There are standards of beauty, which may change from generation to generation, but the concept of it remains the same. And it is why, as linked text mentions, beautiful people receive more privilege. They fit certain standards to which we ourselves have subscribed.
So what happens when you don’t fit these standards of beauty? I would consider myself a fine example for this. I’m short, bald, and I am not an owner of six-pack abs. I do not fit the criteria for what the Western world considers as objectively beautiful - and here we can also agree that different cultures have different standards as well. But in this increasingly globalized world, the Western standards seem to be winning out. However, I’ve learned to love myself regardless. I’ve learned to cultivate other qualities that make me a good, interesting, and perhaps somewhat attractive person.
Something that used to frustrate me as a gay man is how shallow of a culture “the Gays” seem. It always comes down to looks and to another degree, race. Years ago, while browsing through Craigslist personals, or on Adam4Adam, I would lose count of how many times I would read “no fems, fatties or Asians” or something to that degree. Do you know how demoralizing that is? Of course you can brush it away and simply say, “Wow, what an asshole.” But it doesn’t erase the fact of its existence. To be told that you are unwanted cuts to deep degrees, and makes you question yourself, no matter how much you’ve built yourself up. The ego will take a fall.
So is there a solution to this? Depends on what the problem is. For me, the issue was that I felt like a powerful, beautiful, interesting person inside, only limited by this body I was born in. What I’ve done is try to stay true to myself, find people who are willing to corroborate with me in creating a world in which our inner selves speak more to our beauty as humans than how we fit certain criteria, forced upon us by the masses, and to which we, as I’ve mentioned, have subscribed, as well. Unsubscribe! Write your own standards of beauty. Live your own reality. When you can believe in your own truth, it translates to how you operate in the larger sphere, and people take notice. I’m living this philosophy daily.