equally existential

Dreams As Fiction: Submit Today

Make Your Dream A Story: Contribute to Dreams As Fiction Today!

   I am very happy to announce that submissions will be accepted to Book of Dreams: An Anthology of Dreams As Fiction. That's right! We are working on compiling a book of dreams as short-stories to be published in early 2014. The anthology will deal with dreams on a narrative level, to be read and enjoyed like literature. Instead of dissecting and analyzing, like current studies of dreams, we are interested in the creative fiction our minds are able to produce every evening.

   Because there is no foundation of study for dreams as fiction, we are turning to you. We would like you to submit an interesting or favorite dream to us for consideration in the Dreams As Fiction anthology. We're accepting entries at the e-mail address dreams@equallyempty.com. Leave the name you'd like to be referred as and any pertinent contextual information, if it is necessary. There are no size requirements for this process: entries may be as long or as short as needed. We understand dreams can be fleeting in nature and welcome your experimental approaches to capturing them.


Why You Should Contribute

   Since Freud and his cohorts have trapped dreams to the realm of analyzation, it's time to take them back for the people. Back in Freud's day others had ideas about the value of dreams. Beginning in the years following World War I, eminent Surrealist Andre Breton joined Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault of the Dada movement, publishing Littérature which included transcripts of dreams along with their other automatic writing experiments. As Dada would emerge into Surrealism, pivotal artists such as Salvador Dali used dreams as an important catalyst to their work."Dreams of Venus" by: Salvador Dali

   We look to continue in this line of thinking, proudly placing dreams in the pantheon of art, as a kind of co-creator. Just because most art is created in the conscious realm of the brain does not mean it is only found there, the unconscious is a new and unexplored terrain for art making. So let's open this ground for expansion. Join us to create an artistic base for the literature of the unconscious! Send us a dream to dreams@equallyempty.com!


What Happens If I Get Chosen?

   For the artists selected, we'll be taking care of editing the copy for publishing - i.e. correcting grammatical mistakes, spelling, and on occasion, clarity. Because space is limited, we will not be able to use everyone's story, but if we do decide to use your story we will be in direct contact with you. We want to preserve the artist's vision, maintaining formatting as much as possible. By May we hope to have enough stories to begin designing the book and hope to have books published by late 2013 or early 2014. By submitting to Dreams As Fiction, we will give periodic updates on our progress, so you can expect more accurate dates as the process moves along.

   If you have any questions regarding Dreams As Fiction don't hesitate to send an e-mail. We'd be happy to address any concern or query. And, of course, if you'd like to make a submission, send them here: dreams@equallyempty.com!


Equally Quotable: "Only a change of worlds."

"We are two distinct races with separate origins and separate destinies. To us the ashes of our ancestors are sacred and their resting place is hallowed ground. You wander far from the graves of your ancestors and seemingly without regret...
  But why should I mourn at the untimely fate of my people? Tribe follows tribe, and nation follows nation and regret is useless...
  But when the last Red man shall have become a myth among the White men...when your children's children think themselves alone in the field, the store, upon the highway, or in the silence of the pathless woods, they will not be alone. In all the earth there is no place dedicated to solitude. At night when the streets of your cities are silent and you think them deserted, they will throng with the returning hosts that once filled them and still love this beautiful land. The White man will never be alone.
  Let him be just and deal kindly with my people, for the dead are not powerless. Dead --- I say? There is no death. Only a change of worlds."


Chief Seattle in a speech to Governor Isaac Stevens in 1855 upon the signing of the Port Elliott Treaty, essentially surrendering his lands that would become Seattle for a reservation. 

Will Burning Man Have Its "Born Slippy" Moment?

   My lovely lady and I just rewatched Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, and as the track "Born Slippy" by Underworld plays over the movie's concluding moments I was taken back to circa-1997 when the movie, the song, this music, even Renton's (Ewan McGregor's character) speech was perfectly contemporary. We had just come through the economic downturn of the early 90s where we were playing in a grunge band. We had kicked our habit. Times had palpably changed in its slow-way, where all of a sudden you look around and nothing is the same. And along starts coming this new kind of electronic music from the UK, bands like The Prodigy, Underworld, The Orb. Even DJs were getting respect, guys like Paul Oakenfold and Moby.

   So, for Trainspotting to came out, if felt revolutionary, something of a new culture. The Rave scene of the late 80s and early 90s had taken hold, supplanting the guitar-driven music which came before it. The emergence of Industrial Music such as Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM helped pave the way, as did the popularity of hip-hop which accustomed our ears to the timbre of digital music. Trainspotting's soundtrack was cutting-edge at the time. It had the right mix of breaking bands with some of the more obscure music which had inspired it. Today, the album feels outdated, but it's important to remember that it was once game-changing. "Born Slippy" was played on rock radio stations. It was a hit. It was the momemt where it felt like electronic music was taking over.

   Which makes me think about today. What will we be defined by? Certainly there is a certain Wes Anderson-ness to the early aughts, but in this day and age of 2012 how will our cultural character be remembered? While obviously impossible to say conclusively, music is turning its pages once more. Dubstep is the name of the game where acts like Skrillex and Bassnectar have come to prominence without the aid of radio or major promotions. The internet is the great equalizer, but it is also the great distracter, and is as fickle as a spoiled beauty queen. Yet, I think that there has still yet to be the big cross-over for this generation - the moment like "Born Slippy" in Trainspotting where everything coalesces. Its success, I believe, stems from what I like to call the humanizing of electronica. Few realize that "Born Slippy" was released originally as an instrumental track, quite different to the song we're all familiar with. As a B-Side, "Born Slippy .nuxx" was included which is the song in we know. The shouted lyrics were added as the internal monologue of an alcoholic (or so says wikipedia) and this contrasted with the push and pull of the melancholy synth sample and the relentlessness of the house beats.

   Before Dubstep can really make a claim for itself as a-sign-of-the-times it needs a humanizing moment. By nature it is a very aggressive, vice-fueled music; built for dancing, driving you through the night and not to introspection, but just as it is from our recognition of ourselves consciousness comes, it is by the same kind of self-reflection that movements grow and mature, and music become something more venerated, like art. Surely there are fore-runners. Beats Antique have taken the Burning Man aesthetique and transcribed it into music, IDM heroes like Four Tet put the intelligence in Intellegent Dance Music, and the Joker puts his 'purple' spin on Dubstep. Still, we seem to be building towards a boil, not rolling quite yet.

   How will it come? Who will lead us? I do not have answers to these questions. I do know; however, that we must push our dance music to a place that pushes us back, that pushes the medium to enlighten our senses to what we have not heard before. To make music that resonates not just our hips and our hearts, but also our soul and brain.

Festive 500 - The Holidays Are Over

Lake Michigan via Granville Beach, Chicago: Dec 2011.

   Masanobu Fukuoka talks about "do-nothing" farming a lot in his manifesto The One Straw Revolution. His idea, that instead of tilling and working the land ample crops can be grown by allowing nature's natural processes do the work for you, looks to a world that strives to limit the need for human intervention for progress.

   Initially, Fukuoka's attempts were failures - most farms he worked with were already too dependent to human involvement, too altered from their natural homeostasis to respond to his methods. In bidding to try the Festive 500, I was hoping that by simply upping my normal riding habits I could miraculously ride my way to victory. This was not the case.

   My final tallies for mileage is somewhere around one hundred miles (I updated my iPhone to iOS 5 and lost all my apps - including the Strava app which I used to track miles). That's only one third of the way to my goal, and by most perspectives a failure. I was down on myself for awhile, but there's also only so much time in a day and my social relationships rank a wee bit higher than riding my bike.

   Yet, as I look back on participating in Festive 500, I see myself riding almost everyday, unfased by weather conditions. I feel stronger and have more stamina on my bicycle. I'm happier riding my bike then I have been in a long time and feel ready to take the next step - taking longer rides to more adventurous locales. During this promotion, I rode the Lake Shore Path along Lake Michigan often. It's where I took the lovely polaroid in the upper corner. Bicycling has the ability to take you to beautiful places - many not accessible by cars - and by a beautiful route.

   Masanobu Fukuoka in The One-Straw Revolution, asserts that his inspiration for "do-nothing" farming came by a realization he had younger in life that, "There is no intrinsic value in anything, everything is a futile, meaningless effort." His pragmatically Japanese axiom inspired Fukuoka to smarter, more efficient farming; to me, has been almost permission to bicycle for the sake of the ride, the hypnosis of revolving pedals, and to not keep such a thing chained to merely purposeful travel. For, at times, the action is the purpose in itself.

Festive 500 - An existential failure?

   So, Day 3 - Christmas Day - of Rapha's Festive 500 was a bust. I rode a total of zero miles, kilometers, meters, inches, centimeters of any discernable value. While that's not too bad, it was Christmas after all, this puts me seriously behind in my progress for achieving 311 miles. I woke up on the 25th much later than I would have guessed and by the time breakfast was done there was no way I was going to go anywhere and be back by 1:30 when my oma and aunt would be arriving for Christmas. I contemplated heading out to the grocery before they closed to grab a Sunday New York Times, but alas, my folks get the Sunday edition delivered to the house.

   While undeterred from Christmas' goose egg, I rode to work and home accomplishing a neat 8.6 miles, well under my now under performing goal of 35 miles a day. My intentions were to take a ride up the lake and around before returning home, but I had left my iPhone charger back at home during Christmas and I was now meeting my father back at my place with said charger and some bagged leaves for our compost. This meant not riding after work, and by the time my father had left and I had eaten there were a few more important tasks still left on my plate than riding around town for the sheer thrill.

   In the interim between then and now I have rode only another 10 miles. Stout tastings and picking up my lovely sweetheart and her family from the airport have seriously impeded my process. A failure of the will? When only down by a small margin does one let themselves down and turn a challenge into a miracle? I easily could have performed better and I have only myself to blame.

   Yet, when one peers at this failure through a more existential lens, perhaps the failure was only arbitrarily assigned. I'm riding more: nearly daily and for longer trips. I am no where near what many professionals or amteurs can pedal in a day, but, hell, I'm riding a fixed gear in the streets of Chicago! And I love it.

   While my rankings continue to dwindle to the point of laughability in the Festive 500 rankings, I hold my head high. I am a happy cyclist, riding through the unseasonably warm Chicago winter, knowing that I can ride anywhere in this city, no problem.

equally existential: Kierkegaard, Buddhism, and Despair.

Søren Kierkegaard satarized by The Corsair   Recently, I've been dealing with what one might term an 'existential crisis.' Thoughts about 'who am i' and 'what is my purpose' - as opposed to the grander 'why are we here' and 'what is humanity's purpose' questions - have been swirling around my head of late. I feel like my life has been somewhat a failure compared with my own ambitions. So, instead of muting these feelings with drugs or escaping into television, I am trying to make sense of some of my wild confusion with the sober words of Søren Kierkegaard.

   Specifically, I've gone to Kierkegaard's The Sickness unto Death to illuminate the workings of depression, and see what worth they might provide. But first, a little background for those of you whom are not familiar with Kierkegaard or his works. Søren Kierkegaard was Danish and lived in Copenhagen from his birth in 1813 til his death 1855. He wrote upon many subjects, most notably Christianity and the individual's reality in the modern world. Because of his focus on true individual existence versus abstract theory, Kierkegaard is now widely considered the father of Existentialism, although that category of thought did not develop until the 1940s.

   In The Sickness unto Death, Kierkegaard speaks of despair and its many forms and how if affects us. Early on, he asserts that one who is in despair, "...is bringing it upon himself." For one does not despair over the act or action that causes despair, but despairs over the state of himself. Which leads Kierkegaard to conclude that whenever that which causes one despair is present and despair occurs, "it is immediately apparent that he has been in despair his whole life."

   Seemingly a bold statement, it makes sense when fully considered. It is not the inability to capture a dream that causes despair, but rather by being one who has not captured their dream is the cause for the despair. So, when Kierkegaard says that "he has been in despair his whole life" he is identifying that this despair is from and a part of the self, something that is always a part of us.

   In this regard, Kierkegaard's theories of despair are quite similar to the Buddhist belief of suffering or Dukkha. The first of Buddhism's Four Noble Truths is quite simply, "Life is suffering." Like Kierkegaard, Buddhists believe that this disquietude is part of life. For the Buddhist, Dukkha can only be overcome through the Eightfold Path - a manner of losing attachments to our earthly desires. Kierkegaard would rather see this as another form of despair: In Despair Not to Will to Be Oneself: despair over his weakness. Rather than believing all our desires should be overcome, Kierkegaard would see this as pretending that these desires do not exist in ourselves. Just like we can be in despair our whole lives, but avoid that which causes us despair and not eliminate despair from within us, we also cannot eliminate our desires from the self by simply not acting upon them or vanquishing them from our thoughts. These desires live on in our souls, even when dormant.

   It's this trait that defines Kierkegaard as an Existentialist. This refusal to see human existence in any other way, but that in which we experience it. Kierkegaard also refuses to prescribe any remedy to this despair. His aim is more to define and present our personal condition rather than attributing our sorrows to something evil and to be done away with. Kierkegaard instead believes that, "The opposite to being in despair is to have faith... in relating itself to itself and in willing to be itself, the self rests transparently in the power that established it." Essentially, to overcome despair one must accept their self and want to be that self taking confidence from the faith that their self was made in the eyes of God. This means accepting our weakness and faults as our own, and, therefore, owning them as we do our strengths. In this way, instead of despairing over what we would like to be or wish we weren't, we are content with who we are. Kierkegaard's idea rests firmly in the faith that individuals do have good in our hearts, but succumb to selfish impulses. We must listen to our hearts (the soul, if you will) and not to the desires that fuel our despair. One must find and be the person that God has made us, both as the collective of humanity and as a unique individual.

newspaper clippings: entitlement and owning a basketball team


'The Nets and NBA Economics:'  This story appears on the Grantland website and highlights the kind of nonsense involved when the wealthy play pauper, in pursuit of the all-mighty dollar. Eminant domain for a basketball stadium and losing investments that still return 10%. You can find more fun-facts on greed and basketball in Andrew Sharp's piece 'The Real Evil in the NBA Lockout' on SB Nation.


For an artistic release from all the ill-will fostered by reading about billionaires looking for a hand-out try this video of Shabazz Palaces performing "the King's new clothes were made by his own hands"



YTGVB: Shabazz Palaces "The King's New Clothes Were Made By His Own Hands" from Yours Truly on Vimeo.