Let’s Talk Every Day

J A W S H O E W A H

January 30, 2019

The great tragedy in the face of an epidemic, is that it takes corporate virtue signaling to spark a conversation when there is an absolute wildfire beneath the skin.

Bell Let’s Talk Day comes around every January, and in its wake follow genuine enthusiasm and all the hot takes. For every person earnestly and eager to raise awareness, there follows some edgelord offering burning opinions on the inherent evils of corporate philanthropy.

Let’s Talk on the surface seems to be a genuine expression of helping people in need. Suicide rates are up. We are living in a fentanyl crisis. Everyone and their siblings have anxiety. How many more suffer with their lips sewn shut, unable to cry for help or find a platform to rise on?

Sure, Let’s Talk, but what about tomorrow? What about next Friday at 7:45pm? Sometime in July? The other 364 to…

View original post 442 more words

Let’s Talk Every Day

January 30, 2019

The great tragedy in the face of an epidemic, is that it takes corporate virtue signaling to spark a conversation when there is an absolute wildfire beneath the skin.

Bell Let’s Talk Day comes around every January, and in its wake follow genuine enthusiasm and all the hot takes. For every person earnestly and eager to raise awareness, there follows some edgelord offering burning opinions on the inherent evils of corporate philanthropy.

Let’s Talk on the surface seems to be a genuine expression of helping people in need. Suicide rates are up. We are living in a fentanyl crisis. Everyone and their siblings have anxiety. How many more suffer with their lips sewn shut, unable to cry for help or find a platform to rise on?

Sure, Let’s Talk, but what about tomorrow? What about next Friday at 7:45pm? Sometime in July? The other 364 to 365 days of the calendar year have to matter just as much.

There’s irony in that a Canadian cellular giant is pioneering this initiative considering the mental health toll wireless can take. The constant connection and sociological impact of technology and social media is a topic for another day.

Bell, like any Canadian wireless company does not guarantee their retail employees full time hours, and offers them commission as an incentive instead of an assured living wage. Commission sales is an environment where the shrewd and steel-willed can thrive, but can leave behind those without a cast iron gut. These are often the ones who suffer mental health issues.

Commission sales exist as a means for the employers to have their workers suffer the brunt of a slow month.

Variations of Bell Let’s Talk and mental health issues are the top six trending topics in Canada on Twitter as of this writing. Let’s Talk is moving people, fingers are clicking keys and conversations are moving forward, guided by the safe and familiar voices of Ellen and perennial stoner pal Seth Rogen.

Yes, they want to save us from our mind dungeons so we can grin while coughing up for financially bloated cell phone plans and ludicrously overpriced cable services. All to fatten the coffers of CEO George Cope and his empire built upon the bodies of young people struggling to make it on minimum wage plus commission.

But also by increasing their brand awareness, we generate income and advertising for them, they donate to a good cause. Maybe someone comes out of the mental health closet today and takes the first steps towards standing in the sunlight again. Is that not in of itself a win for us all?

The discourse around Gillette’s We Believe campaign pulls similar threads. Does Gillette really want men to be better? Do they just want to sell some garbage razor blades to keep our faces clean and inevitably stock our landfills with more plastic? Does it matter?

 

It’s all subjective. Each individual chooses to engage with it and react accordingly. The reality is that whatever Ma Bell’s phantom intentions are, something good will come.

Let’s Talk today. Let’s talk everyday. Let’s braid each other’s hair and drink from the cup of conversation until the sun comes up, it’s 5am, and we’re supposed to work today. Share the Bell hashtag, share the counter hashtag. Publish your own hot take.

The healthiest thing we can do is seek out the quiet ones, the individuals we’ve lost contact with, the ones who stopped talking. You never know what you’ll hear when you cut open the strings sewing lips shut.

Memory Lapse

IMG_1663.JPG

The data files corrupt

fast-forward eats the tape

the CD is scratched

from the sky, the sun eventually escapes

 

time eats the memories

fire burns the photography

supermassive black hole drinks the known universe

the inkwells will dry

 

keep filling empty pools

spring follows winter fools

All good things eventually collapse

it is in the nature of memory to lapse

Clearing

clarity.JPG

we walked over ashen trails

kilos on kilometres, deep

dark woods. we came to

a clearing

 

it rained ashes, the wind swirled

you had tree trunks for legs that

swept up the black metal casing

of your tower

 

The gnarly roots grew seeping in

slipping through to your

CPU, as only in deep

dark woods those gnarly roots do

 

Up, up past your cooling unit

it no longer burned

static on the monitor

bird shit on the power supply

 

I checked to see if the power was

plugged in. but only found that

I no longer could turn you on

so I sat and waited a while

 

on an otherwise amicable day

overcast skies filled with ashes

some days it rained. we stayed dry

some days it was sunny. we were sunk

 

I remember a robot I once met

a patron of planned obsolescence

an antique traveler, in brand new land

I think about how much we are alike now

 

old rotting machines in

deep dark woods

searching for a clearing

covered in gnarly roots

waiting for rains to come again

 

 

Apathetic Poetics

I knew I would regret it

If I grew up to be Apathetically Poetic

The cynics, behind the scenes

The black Klansman high-fives the Jew-Nazi

While the gay-bashing homo tells all of his friends,

About all his threesomes with lesbians

The good politician tells us the truth

The clown gives you a low-fat sandwich and

A friendly pat on the tush

The Pope does something about the boys being poked

Israel tells Syria it was all just a joke

Here comes the loud-silent complacent commotion

Here comes the oilman to save the ocean

Let’s move to a democratic Iraq,

Iran, I laughed!

The young girl had a hot flash

Water froze in the Antarctic

Wall Street gave back

Let Obama be black

Will there ever be a white president?

Will they ever set precedence,

Or allow factual evidence?

It’s full serve in Oregon,

You’ve been served on Earth

Drink the Kool-Aid

It’s the cure for Aids

Hold me closer great big dancer

Kevorkian found the cure for cancer

And the disease from which we can’t be saved

Let’s set a precedence of affirmative action and

Steal Neil’s heart of gold right out her chest

Straight between real fake breasts

Go to war for freedom,

Buy smart, it’s cheaper at Wal-Mart

My favourite agency

Where we can throw down our values and

Keep a space for complacency

The world’s best poetics

Apathetic Poetics: goddamn them

Litstrips

1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell vs Litstrips

In the fall of 2013 I took Writing 326 at UVic which is a course in transmedia, media which crosses multiple platforms with a focus online. I wanted to see if I could make art out of something that is essentially artless. I wanted to take something bland, boring, and banal and attempt to inject some semblance of meaning into it.

Bitstrips. Some love them, most hate them, why?  These intrusive little polarizing comics place what Martin Heidegger called “average everydayness” upon a public pedestal and attempt to bathe these moments in attention.  The mundane and the inside jokes clog our newsfeeds and attempt to pass themselves off as worthwhilewhen they have about as much charm and intellectual value as clumps of drain hair. Therefore, I decided to take something with no cultural value and inject it with one of the most sacred institutions of art, literature.

projectmayhem

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk vs Litstrips

I was so intrigued by the backlash that occurred when Bitstrips gained popularity. Why do we have such a negative reaction to such a benign and fairly innocent format of expression? First we must address the burgeoning attention economy. The internet is frothing with so much information as we navigate it. The time we choose to allocate toward a post, a video, or a status update is becoming rare, and therefore, a commodity.

ataleoftwocities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens vs Litstrips

When we spend time poorly online the reaction is akin to losing  a $10 bill on the way to work or getting stood-up by a friend; a complete and total waste. The reaction to Bitstrips is similar. As there is little to any value to be gained from learning what people ate for breakfast, how much they hate their job, or what ambiguous event they’re counting down to, there is just as little learning about it in cartoon form. Aren’t cartoons meant to be a source of humour, or action, excitement and certainly pathos?

mersault

L’Étranger (The Stranger) by Albert Camus vs Litstrips

We must then ask ourselves, what makes something funny? That is a philosophical debate about as massive as “what is art,” or why? For simplicity’s sake, I subscribe to the Incongruity Theory of Comedy.  The simplest form of humor is the reversal of expectations. Person goes for a walk, person reaches destination = not funny. Person goes for a walk, then that person slips and falls down = hilarious. Comedy is built on the foundation of the fulfilment of a promise of the reversal of expectations (this is a very baseline simplification and entire books have been written on the matter). Bitstrips attempts to show us an incongruity, yet they’re far too predictable, fulfill our expectations of everyday life, and therefore are not artful.

holdencaulfield

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger vs Litstrips

A person who hates job, you don’t say? A person is counting down to something ambiguous, who cares? A person bought a lovely meal at a restaurant, worst. post. ever. Bitstrips built itself on a foundation of fulfilling expectations of everyday life without reversing said expectations. I found this fundamental failure compelling enough that I had to find a way to give them a second life.

 

the picture of dorian gray

“Putin on the Ritz” The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde vs Putin vs Litstirps

I was also inspired by Teju Cole’s Seven Short Stories about Drones, in how he repurposed lines from literature in order to call attention to the atrocities of drone strikes. I decided I could satirize current events, mix them with literature, then put them into Bitstrips in order to skewer them. At the time, Vladimir Putin was making headlines for his human rights violating stance towards homosexuality. Rob Ford was also in office in the city of Toronto, making headlines for his antics and substance abuse.

robford

Ulysses by James Joyce vs Rob Ford vs Litstrips

Bitstrips are more irrelevant than ever. Their only claim to relevance came in the absolute outrage and vitriol we spewed at one another before realizing we could block them from Facebook newsfeeds. I decided to take something timeless, something revered and insert it into something that time will inevitably forget. Quotes from our beloved literature crossed with average Bitstrips situations and often mixed with timely figures and current events. That was Litstrips.

The Great Gatsby

 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald vs Litstrips

And like their inspiration, Litsrips never really lasted in relevnace. Perhaps I didn’t properly promote them but I think that they were doomed to sink into obscurity alongside the app that spawned them. Chuck Palahnuik even retweeted the Project Mayhem one after I tweeted it to him (which made me giddy like a nerd on game day). Internet fads come and go at such an exorbitant speed, they’re often over before you hear of them. The dead horse is already so beaten you’ve generally just found your best blunt object by the time people are three horses away.

The internet evolves, the extinct are long forgotten and we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

xanadu

Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge vs Rob Ford vs Litstrips

dostoyevsky

 

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky vs Vladimir Putin vs Listrips

for more visit http://litstrips.tumblr.com/