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Showing posts from 2017

Two minutes: Enemy of the tribe

There was, once upon a time, a small tribe that lived in a deep jungle. They were migrant farmers, traveling from cultivation spot to cultivation spot, depending on the season and their fancy. In their absence, these spots were often used by other tribes, with the understanding that they would set aside small amount of their harvest. This symbiosis benefited all involved, keeping the soil fresh and turned, providing sustenance for the inhabitants of the jungle 
Their traditions compelled them to hospitality and friendliness toward visitors- their words for strangers and visitors translated into "friends-who-are-not-yet-friends" and "visitors-and-we-are-their-friend". If they didn't like someone, they would become "Friend-that-is-not-talked-to", usually adding "until we talk again", implying that ire was temporary and a return to friendship imminent. 
One day, they were visited by a random anthropologist. Fascinated by the vocabulary their w…

Two Minutes: Faces are Worth Millions.

" What a beautiful face. It's perfect- and it's mine as well now."
In 2018, people, following in the steps of the iconic stars of yore, realised that their most valuable asset was the one they showed the world all the time- faces. As time progressed, a market for beautiful faces to use as profile pictures in social media evolved into a market in which you could not only hide your life behind a rented* face, but in which new technologies made it possible to use that face in videos, calls and even as a professional avatar. The hard-core communities upgraded their mirrors to screens, to see this face reflected back at them when they brushed their teeth.
Depending on the popularity of a new face, it will cost anywhere between 15 000 and 150 000 000 credits (adjusted for inflation, 15 000 are ca. 10€).
No-one seemed to understand the people who used their own face anymore. Why represent your identity through yourself if someone else could do a better job of it for you?

* Orig…

Two Minutes: I Have Become Distraction, Kaleidoscope of Worlds

Tweet, tweet, tweet, Insta, Post, Status, Snap, Selfie.
News flickers over the screen, at ever-increasing speed. A soap opera with a cast of familiar characters, changing occasionally to keep things fresh. The topics of the day are political theatre, the exciting effects of interference in otherwise unremarkable lives, the slow melting of the planet and how to keep yourself safe online while maintaining enough back doors for surveillance to follow you.   And kittens on speed wearing pirate costumes. "Why did I not know about the tiny discovery that changed the world?"
Are You Not Distracted?

Two Minutes: Time- the Silence between Tick and Tock.

It had taken years to realise that some of them lived on the tick, some on the tock, and yet others in the silence between tick and tock.

And so, when The Time came, they were forced to discard their differences and collectively pledge themselves to a system that was not natural to any of them. It did not come at once, and not every one of them agreed at the same time, but it was close enough for comfort.

Two minutes: Addiction is Life is Yellow.

Addiction is a much-maligned, muddy word. Until (ca.) the 18th century, it connoted tendency and drive, rather than (self-) affliction. Opium changed that- reportedly. 
Lives described as addiction: to the approval and company of peers, to power and its accumulation, to enjoyment and personal satisfaction (to some people, this may be suffering) and to basics such as air, food, water… and possibly even living. When framed this way, and defined in reference to this word, life suddenly becomes a selfish pursuit in which the living will do anything to get their fix, devoted addicts all. 
On that note: Marylin Manson - I Don't Like the Drugs, But the Drugs Like Me. 
Also: Addiction is apparently yellow. 

Two Minutes: A Death (2016)

With no further comment, we move on.

In Taheyya we Trust - How an Egyptian bellydancer found her posthumous stage in Berlin

“You should have winked at her,” Aida said dismissively, as if such a possibility had been imaginable for someone as timid as I was. Tahia Carioca was the most stunning and long-lived of the Arab world’s Eastern dancers (belly-dancers, as they are called today).
Edward Said, Farewell to Taheyya

My story with Taheyya begins in the summer of 2016, at Bulbuls Caféin Görlitzer Str. in Berlin. It ends two blocks down on Wiener Str 17. 


Bulbuls is a café and art space around my corner that I have grown to like to sit in and drink smoothies (1). He had commissiond us- a crew of Syrian and Egyptian artists, as well as myself, to paint the walls inside the café. El Tenneen (the Dragon) is the one who ended up drawing Sheikh Imam, with the help of Salam Alhassan (known as Salahef/ Turtles) and Sulafa Hijazis (whom we call El Hayya/The Snake’s) beamers’ illumination. The Sheikh sits happily in the place to this day and Crew El-Zoo was born.



Tenneen had the advantage of knowing immediately what he wa…

Two minutes: Happy?

Transcript from a conversation with a travel agent representing Mindful Journeys Ltd. "The grass is greener on the other side- we strongly suggest you book an all-inclusive trip to the other side. Don't listen to the voices in your head telling you that happiness can be lasting and found within. They're wrong. We're right. You know this, don't you? And now sign here, here and here, initial here, date here, your autograph here, cash or credit card? We're happy you chose us to accompany you in your search. Your credit card, please." 


Two Minutes: A Death (1)

Every life consists of many deaths and rebirths- some of them are choices, others are conditions. 
The death of the child- often killed and relegated to fond memory, making way for a more practical evolution. Learn to suffocate that child, put it in a coffin and carry its weight on your back. Its ghost will haunt you for the rest of this life, but don't worry- you will die too, and it will return. And then, you may find yourself happy. 
Death Tarot StoryHaving left the tree from where he hung, the Fool moves carefully through a fallow field,  head still clearing from visions. The air is cold and wintry, the trees bare. He knows he has  started on his spiritual journey in earnest, but feels strangely empty and profoundly sad, as  if he has lost something.  Before him he sees, rising with the sun, a skeleton in black armor mounted on a white horse.  He recognizes it as Death. As it stops before him, he humbly asks, "Have I died?" And the  Skeleton answers, "Yes, in a way. You…

Two Minutes: We is confusing.

The first-person plural form, possibly descended from the Sanskrit vayam, is very confusing.
Normally, it refers to a group of people including the speaker, in some cases, may refer to everyone but the speaker, or a specific we. It might also refer to one person who symbolises a nation- a king or queen- or an editorial board, even if they don't share that opinion. In a corporate setting, we includes everyone, from the CEO and board to the people cleaning the toilets- in order of importance- again, whether they like it, or not. 
We is also a word that connotes division- for there to be a we, there must be a clearly defined them to contrast the we. Therefore, we should be used with the utmost care (or lack of it), when referring to groups that automatically include people who may feel more attached to them, or more comfortable with "I". 
We is not something that comes about suddenly- unless you practice love at first sight actively, but needs time to develop.
We brings so…

Two minutes: A Life

"Get a Life!" she said, and left. What she did not realise was that, from his perspective, she did not have one at all.

"A Life" is something everyone has had, or will have had by the time they die. How they choose to fill it is a series of personal choices and coincidences that lead to a patchwork made up of labour, leisure, relationships and knowledge (to name a few components of this weave). The quilt matches others- or it does not. What is generally implied by this suggestion is: "Why is your life not like mine- something I can understand."

Some will follow up on this suggestion. Others will not. Either way, this does not change the fact that they have a life. How they share this is up to them.


Rant: NPC VI ////// A reality in which Douglas Adams saves the day

Caramblogage has, for a long time, been the main space I have aired thoughts in, hung out my brain to photosynthesise, ranted and expressed myself in a longer form than invites reading. I return here when I need to get stuff out of my head and talk to myself as if I were talking to an audience- Hello!

Most of what you find here is freeform writing that I supplement with a bit of research and/or personal views. In a time in which my feeling tells me most media (and the people following that media) is moving too fast to react coherently, consistently, this is a soapbox built of letters and words that I pontificate from at my own pace. I have chosen to present myself by thinking about things, rather than in person here- my personal life informs these thoughts, but does not help me express, or illustrate them. Though, if you’ve been here for a while, you’ll find some posts that prove the reverse- I illustrate my life with these thoughts, and express them through these illustrations, whil…

Two Minutes: On the Dangers of Heroes

Descended from Greek males- exclusively- this word has become open to gender-bending and in its more modern forms includes women, as well as assorted animals, aliens and the occasional heroic single-celled organism. 

A powerful idea and a double-edged sword: On the one hand, the idea of heroism and heroes inspires achievement, goals, values and something to work towards. On the other, it can hamper this very inspiration by allowing the inspired to delegate their actions to those they consider heroic- transferring the possibility of a heroic act or life to other, more obvious figures. In stead of asking "what can I do", the question becomes "why doesn't the hero do?" and the person asking that question doesn't, though they could. 

Heroes come in varieties: 
1.) those that swoop in, capes aflutter, to save the day in a flash of colour and explosive displays of heroism. They then swoop out again, maybe never to be seen again, but are remembered forever.
2.) those …

External: What ever happened to Egypt? | Porkins Policy Review Talk

I've enjoyed Pearse Redmonds work on Porkins Policy Radio/Review for a while now- a radio show/podcast that covers many topics, but mostly the influence of intelligence services on the media and media narratives.

Imagine, then, the pleasure of being invited to converse for a couple of hours on a Tuesday night in Berlin and New York about Egypt, parallels in media and unofficial policies to the current situation in the US.

He describes our conversation thus:

"
Today I am joined by friend of the show Caram Kapp. Caram was last on episode 42 The Homeland Hackers, and returns to discuss the Egyptian uprising six years later. We start off by discussing the basics of the uprising and some of the behind the scenes actors. Caram explains his own experiences as an Egyptian, and as someone who was there on the ground around this time. We touch on the rumors of Western manipulation and how some of these allegations have overshadowed the real life grievances of the Egyptian populace and…

Two Minutes: Hunger: 5 variations

1. You can imagine how important food is to me- a vital ingredient to a life that does not lack in variety or flavour. When I make it myself, I usually know that it will be good- more so when I set my mind to making something yummy. It has many side-effects, part of which is a feeling that is very close to flow- the knowledge that you know where you are and what you are dealing with, surrendering yourself to combination and action unhampered by thought. And the result- it is even more rewarding as it has a tangible, edible outcome- is an excellent example for instant gratification. It smells delicious and fills you up with a warm feeling. 

In this ongoing art installation, the artist will perform the act of cooking without ingredients, without additions or, indeed, food. They will undertake to cook only water and salt, necessary to sustain basic life functions. This ongoing performance, conceptualised in solidarity with those who use their hunger to protest all over the word, will take …

Rant: NPC V ///// Remaking a reality

When the world no longer meets with your approval, you change it. There is a mod for that. 
Every game comes in two versions- the one you buy on the shelf, and the game you make out of that game. As early as the late 1980’s, gamers began modifying certain aspects of games- whether for artistic purposes of gameplay is a fine point that cursive research didn’t provide me a ready answer to. I assume it’s somewhere between the two- experiments into changing gameworlds, activating certain bits and bytes, creating animated sequences with pre-built characters in a certain game, but this is the realm of urban legends and suppositions. We're not going there. 
Making a game your own happens in two stages- first you play and master the game, then you discover the limits the game sets upon you and you begin to develop ways of unbuilding the limitations in the original game. 
Modding was a new field for me. I became very obsessed with load orders and frame rates and squeezing out everything n…