Untitled

April 20, 2017

Delivered at TentCity protest outpost against gentrification at Turner Field, Atlanta, April 2017.

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Search the pockets of your jeans

And find the phrases, monuments and faces

Of men who said “Liberty”, but its meaning

They did not understand. European races,

Men,  had property. But it was the basis

Of the country, this idea of Liberty.

Autonomy. Come to public spaces;

Know you needs, govern your community.

And choose your way of life. Make your living.

Your hands, ideas, your money are the promise

You can make yourselves, form your own identity.

The people will envision their own progress.

But look down Windsor Street and tell me,

What does freedom mean if you don’t own your city?

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Existence and Essence

October 12, 2012

There is a basic tenet held by most existentialist philosophers, that for the human being existence precedes essence. Thus the name “existentialism.” Existentialism is a label considered broad enough to umbrella the atheist Neitzche and Christian Kierkegaard into the same category, as well as a Nazi who wrote Being and Time, so among these philosophers are great differences; they do not necessarily define this tenet the same way. Despite my agreement with many of their ideas, I see a problem with the idea that “existence precedes essence” as Jean-Paul Sartre, spokesman for 20th century existentialism, defines it. In  L’existentialisme est un humanisme Sartre says “man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards.” According to Sartre, each individual has total power over her identity; as far as attributes of one’s self go, every person creates himself. This belief in a will so free it defines the self from scratch is hard to dislike. One has to take total responsibility for what he is, and with that comes pride of being one’s own author.

I know better than anyone the desire to be my own author. And if I have free will, of which I have an inseparable conviction–the determinists look absurd making an argument if they’re forced to be there and can’t change another’s mind–its evident that to an extent I as an agent shape my character, personality and perspective. By my decisions, my self transforms. But when you say that “you create your self,” you refer to two different subject yous. The second “you” is the product of the first–your self is something created by You. This means You can define what you are by what You make yourself to be, but it begs the question of the origins of the first “You”, that which made you who you are.

It may be clearer to separate “you” by agency and essence. Read the rest of this entry »