This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 670,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sacrifices by Rebecca Allen

By Rebecca Allen

I believe that everything happens for a reason. And because of this belief I can honestly say that I
appreciate and understand that for me to be who I am now, my dad had to be a drug dealer. Before and after I was born my dad was an Angel Dust (PCP) dealer. He left my mother and I when I was ten days old. But growing up I was as naive to the situation as one could possibly be. I thought that my dad was the captain of the world and I was his first mate. I claimed ignorance until a childhood friend in the fifth grade revealed to me what my dad kept from me for years.

At this point in my life, I was just starting to become aware of what drugs were and wasn’t sure what the appropriate course of action was. So I kept quiet, like my dad had been doing for all of those years. I waited. After having my eyes forced wide open, I started to pay closer attention. Closer attention to why people did what they did and how outside forces affected them. I realized that instead of my dad continuing to sell drugs, he had become an alcoholic.

Being a drug addict and being an alcoholic are two completely different states of addiction in our
society’s mind. But my mind couldn’t accept that just because my dad could legally be addicted to alcohol that it was right by me. I know that I made harsh judgments at an early age and as a result of that I asked my dad to put down the beer can, but he wouldn’t. There is very little that I ever asked from my dad and because he refused me I haven’t talked to him in over two years.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, but above that I believe in the power of addiction. This experience was only the beginning of an entire world filled with addiction for me to find. Addiction has continued to pry open my eyes to the bare essentials of human desire. I didn’t understand that addiction is a poison that reaches all around the world and because I didn’t understand that then I sacrificed a relationship that can never be completely filled. We give addiction the opportunity to bring us up to the highest when nothing else can stifle that desire, but there is a long downward spiral waiting to blind us of everything else. I believe in the power of addiction because if we want something enough there is little that can keep us from it.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

The Borderlander: The artist culture's need to find the frontier

The Borderlander:

The artist culture's need to find the frontier

Everywhere was once "The Frontier"

Despite the advancements in technology, the human race remains a hunter-gatherer society wherein the role of warrior, homemaker, mother and father remain paramount. As members of the species outgrew the confines of the twenty-person tribe into nations, the parameters of the tribe remained, among its core tenants: provide for the tribe, do not kill members of the tribe, provide for and protect the next generation, and proportionately punish those who violate those rules necessary for survival.

Each tribe, then nation, and then ethnic culture adapted rules, rewards and punishments in accordance with their locale, terrain, food supplies, traditions, and value systems to enforce these basic rules.

Those that failed starved until they adapted or went extinct.

The Birth of Civilization Delineates "The Frontier"

However, as the human race spread and multiplied, those rules changed to reflect the sheer size of the tribe, which numbered in the thousands, then millions.

As each nation state adapted rules reflecting the unique genetic culture and social history, the system of laws, whether ruled by book, the whim of a ruler chosen by merit or from the most powerful and influential family, or a heritage of agreed-upon rules, became the underlying governance of the basic hunter-gather tribal structure to keep the peace.

What is "The Frontier"?

In the long history of the human race, those who disobeyed or rejected those rules found either punishment and annihilation or ostracism as liberation. The frontier has always been the salvation of the tribe.

In the small society, those who left founded their own tribes. If the new tribe failed, it died. If it succeeded, it later conquered or assimilated the founders, conquered or was conquered by another, and in some cases, created a new tribe or nation state that found an equilibrium with the founders, either as neighbor and sometimes ally, sharing a mutual common heritage, or as the dominating or subservient tribe of its founders until rebellion or assimilation reestablished a nation state capable of survival.

As such genocide, or at least a cultural genocide, is ingrained in human heritage as it is with other species on a far longer, but no less important genetic scale. The new mutated species survives and becomes something new, while the older species either adapts to the change or becomes extinct itself, or the new mutation becomes obsolete and a genetic dead end.

Physical Frontier Has Disappeared

But the human frontier has disappeared. Until travel and colonization to the deep sea and to other worlds becomes possible, there is no more wide-open frontier. The forests and wild lands have reached their limits and the barren north or south is simply too remote and inaccessible.

The human race continues to adapt and reject its own systems, but is cannibalizing the structure to reestablish a frontier. With no new terrain, the landscape is the cities and countryside in which the human race has already inhabited.

The Need to Rebel Into the Frontier Turns Inward

All human societies face rejection and rebellion from within more so now than ever. Traditions that have stood for centuries or longer are being rejected. They worked to keep the society safe when they were created, but are growing more obsolete in the face of new art, technology and interaction between nation states.

While one nation developed laws and government according to its unique landscape, both physically and sociologically, access to information bombards a nations people with new ideas. People finding error with their systems look elsewhere and find better ways to behave individually and collectively, but without understanding the systems, success and failures that led to that particular adaptation.

"Civilization" is Slow to Effectively Adapt

Thus, cultures are adapting traits that should work, but fail completely or create more problems. The heterogeneous cultures are striving to adapt and fix underlying issues that have plagued their systems and are stumbling toward developing a homogenous social structure that can apply to all of a nations people and its immigrants, however, they still strive to keep their dominant cultural heritage.

The result in the short run will be a social structure that eventually collapses into anarchy as the heterogeneous elements reject the mainstream and fight first the dominating power, then each other, until a new equilibrium is reached, or a complete restructuring of the social structure that creates a bland, cultureless superstructure that ignores the genetic and cultural distinctions between peoples that seeks only to keep the peace.

This peace will only last until the cultural vestiges evaporate through interbreeding, blending the species until a single amalgamated race, or until a majority-minority power structure ignites into anarchy and the combative tribal structure again reestablishes itself.

From the 1998 movie "Bulworth": "All we need is a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction. Everybody just gotta keep fuckin' everybody 'til they're all the same color."

Until a New Physical Frontier is Found, Civilization Faces Violence From Within

Due to scale of the human race, especially as the population continues to increase, will still create a cultural regionalism and culture based on place reflecting the values of locale over genetics and cultural heritage that will result in regional values overtaking the super-nation or global values and result in perpetual animosity, violence and war until a new frontier, new worlds made habitable by new technology, becomes available until the human race reduces itself back to the stone age through global disease or catastrophic world war, or simply becomes extinct.

The converse is a personal sovereignty wherein the overarching rules each individual is permitted to behave obeying those few basic rules of the tribe, now the species as a whole: provide for the species, do not kill members of the species, provide for and protect the next generation, and proportionately punish those who violate those rules necessary for the species survival. The advantage of this structure is that as the species encounters new technologies and new environments and later new worlds to colonize, the members of the species will be able to adapt and keep extinction at bay until it can find success then equilibrium with the environment.

Creating A Temporary Psychological Frontier Through Artistic Expression, Bohemian Lifestyles, and Becoming a "Cultural Rebel"

This adaptation begins earlier, and can be seen in American culture now. The borderlanders, the underground, the outlanders are those who see the laws and governance as inherently flawed as those rules are based on a time and place that is no longer applicable. They break the rules that do not harm to individuals involved. They slip beneath the radar of the system and learn to function and succeed as outlaws in the frontier beneath the social strata.

The overarching norms of the mainstream which, in America are capitalism, the pursuit of wealth and financial security are rejected and ignored.

These individuals have found that rejection of these has not lead to poverty and destitution, but rather to a particular lifestyle that is as distinctly liberated as the frontier of the West used to be 100 years ago. They have found that one can live, not just sustain, but comfortably live, without life insurance, investments, homeownership, nine-to-five employment, 401Ks, taxes, and pensions. They take little from the system and seek one underlying distinctly American value, perhaps more at our core more than any other to be left alone in peace.

"The Borderlanders":

The quintessential borderlander creates art, works for a living, contributes to his or her local community economically, politically or socially, raises children and/or benefits the offspring of other economically, politically or socially, occasionally indulges in minor vices which are still seen as negative by the elitist power structure, travels, experiments with their art, lifestyle, body, and morality, and spreads of living liberated within the society as ideas via a network of like minds.

They reject the system that restrains them by disobeying the rules that don't apply and communicating a new set of individualized values through art, but it in literature, music, visual art, or other mediums.

The goal, whether known or not, is to impart a value system of equality in members of the species so that as the species reaches the crux wherein it must decide to become bland and homogenous and face perpetual regional warfare, or embrace individual sovereignty.

The mainstreamer takes what is given, buys what they are fed, serves in the system and fights and hates what they are told. The mainstreamer is too complacent, too afraid, or too uninspired to see anything but what the system serves. They work hard but economically, politically or socially deposit their gains into a system that seeks to do the same to their children, in the often vain and intense vague hope that they will work up the ladder to a place of power and authority which seeks to feed on the masses for its power. It is a parasitic mind consuming a living corpse that maintains equilibrium as long as those in power dont get too hungry for more and as long as the body doesnt get too small or weak. Eventually, the system will tip one way or another and result in a totalitarian despot or open rebellion.

Draining troops from the mainstream is a social rebellious element that has been growing in strength for decades and presents a problem for the elite. As long as the masses have their bread and circuses, they are easily controlled.

The Threat of Political Rebellion

However, if the rebellion stirs the pot, shows those in the system that they don't need the system to be comfortable, creative and productive, the elite loses power. As power diminishes, the elite weakens, gets frantic, and uses its power to hold on to it. In time, this will lead to conflict. Either the elite will openly confront the rebellion and force the mainstream to choose, which will essentially cause it to fragment into factions, or the elite will lose its power and dissipate, or the elite will destroy the rebellion and reassert its power.

In other cultures and in other times, the elite has had forces in position to maintain power. At various times in human history, armies, the church, secret police, federal investigative agencies, fear or invasion, and the numbing powers of drugs, entertainment and television to kill or assimilate the outlaw borderlanders or cause the mainstream to turn against them.

Globalism Accelerates the Psychological Frontier

However, with the advent of new information technologies, the freedom of movement nationally and now internationally, the diminishing threat of invasion by enemies or outsiders is creating a structure wherein the concept of "us" is no longer a cultural, national or nation-state concept, but becoming one of a global community. It's hard for members of a nation such as the United State to hate members of another when its legal system openly and legally accepts everyone from anywhere to become one of its citizens. To become an American, equal to each every other American, all an imigrant need do is repeat the Naturalization Oath, and then they have as much right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as the dead white men who first penned those words.

As the enemy outside fades, the elite targets trouble-making nations to instill fear and keep power. Within, the elite targets anything outside the norm that is still not accepted by the predominate culture, such as those with differing social morals, practicing different sexual orientations, speaking different languages, wearing foreign dress, with different religious and cultural heritages, etc.

However, the borderlanders, in their quest for the frontier, the different, embrace and assimilate these outsiders. First as social tourists experiencing something new and different, second as like minds also ostracized for being difference from the mainstream, and third because borderlanders come from these outside groups a readily as from the mainstream.

The Borderlanders are Destined to Congregate

The borderlanders come from urban areas of large cities where the rules of the mainstream are least applicable because of the removed applicability and general obsolescence from the reality of the environment; or from suburbs and medium cities where complacency has created an structure of indifference to all but the most severe crimes and punishments; or from isolated small towns wherein a small minority has had influence to the art of the borderlander network; or art-centered towns where the artistic expression of borderlanders is more common and accepted than the mainstream itself.

Potential borderlanders in small towns where the population is stable and content, economy is healthy, the government is representative and adaptive, and art is conservative, have little complaint and generally no need to rebel against the local elite. However, regional or national issues can easily tip the scales one way or the other.

"Outlaw" Artists Will Create Enclaves

The outlaw artists seeking expression, the borderlanders, will seek out those places where they are accepted to create and to bend and break obsolete rules without consequence.

While the borderlanders have held onto pockets of their genesis the urban areas, suburban enclaves, and pockets art-centered towns are the future, the new frontier, where the borderlanders, social outlaws and art rebels can more free express, experiment and share.

They will congregate, agitate and adapt their unique regionalism into the locally predominate culture.

The Inevitable Conflict

While the timeframe could be years or decades, the elite will continue to fight and hold on to the mainstream and seek to destroy these outposts until the borderlanders either change the mainstream or the elite brings economic, political or social conflict in its final throes before it either collapses in the unrest it has caused but suppressed; or the elite assimilates the image of the borderlanders and feeds it to the mainstream in a package the elite can control; or the borderlanders face extinction and retreat back to pockets of isolation where the process can continue until it again finds a frontier to weaken the elites power hold again.