You will know them by their Fruit

We are led to believe that Africa is the bedrock of hope. Some days I know this, and some days I could never feel more at loggerheads with the very thought. Allow me to share this tug of war that at some point in time, in one way or another, has filled the hearts and minds of most African children. Let me start by saying that, there is much to be weary of. If you are objective about the matter, that is to say, objective about the African experience, you will see the personification of a Beauty consumed by the beasts within. Decade after decade, questionable (and some would rather, damnable) economic and political policies have continually stood firm against the right to joy and prosperity. And so, day in and day out, we are torn asunder by the inequality of this land, an inequality imposed by men on their fellow men (cue Thomas Hobbes, known henceforth on this blog as, The Genius.).

 

“I came into the world imbued with the will to find meaning in things, my spirit filled with desire to attain the source of the world, and then I found out that I was an object among other objects.”

Franz Fanon, “Black Skin, White Masks”

 

Is this what happened to our people? Were they underwhelmed by the prospects offered by endemic poverty? Did they, in that state of disillusionment, lose the essence of humanity? ‘Realizing’ that they, were objects, to be used, and abused, and as such, acting in like, made that vengeance much too vivid for all? The aforementioned excerpt was voiced by one whose attraction to African liberation burned brightly throughout his life. I would unfortunately offer that not many share this frankly idealist enthusiasm for political consciousness, and not many would be willing to entertain the measures he did. Despite this, his very works spoke to the fact that it is difficult to be an African and be a man of hope. And with a glint in my eye, I realize that the experience of being a child of this continent can be somewhat likened to the first few verses of Romans 5. With no doubt, the verses speak of a maturity that would be continually learned, again and again, as the peaks and plateaus of life showed themselves true. As one would unfortunately intuit however, this is not a “luxury” many aspiring politicians on our dear continent can afford.

 

This became all the more vivid after I had a conversation with a friend of mine a few days ago. This conversation in my mind is in fact entitled, “The State of the Kenyan Nation – WHAT KENYAN NATION?” She in essence was painting pictures of a day in the life of the Ngiturkana. It is a life many of us Kenyans think we know of, but in verity, could not even fathom. We are a shameful people sometimes. No matter. I shall proceed. She had gone to their little country on assignment and was filling me in on the life altering experience she encountered. Yes, I said THEIR COUNTRY. Let no one kid themselves into believing that Turkana is treated as part of Kenya; indeed its fate has most certainly and most recently been affected by the prospect of oil discovery but if we disregard this blatant greed, the root of abandonment still remains. As I digress. She spoke of a Turkana that I indeed, had never fathomed. I saw, figuratively of course, a land alive with beauty and promise, hurled into a time-defying abyss of hopelessness and dearth. The gravity of this absurdity very ironically was far past the very definition of “ironic” – I say this in very weighty consideration of the Devolution dispensation, and all it espouses to be. As the conversation progressed (and our disappointment grew more acute), we realized how the development of underdevelopment was still being actively perpetuated.

 

Now when I say men preying on fellow men, this is what I refer to. As long as there is no development of the Nation; the sacred development of that collective consciousness that draws Turkana and Taita alike nigh to an existence more sublime than the very present affliction, there can never be a State that rises to the occasion. Why? The State exists to make manifest that very consciousness; to fulfill the dreams and aspirations of the indigenous man. And that is the SOLE reason any and every State would find itself worthy of the title. This has been the “conundrum” of the African continent. All throughout history, and unfortunately, the entire continent, ideals upon which a nation, a true nation is founded, have fallen prey to the greed within the State. This, in the African experience, has given birth to a “symbiotic” relationship of most disturbing proportions.

 

“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”

 

What can be said thence? What tears can be shed? Our fathers, uncles and grandfathers have burgled from their mothers, daughters and wives all for the satiation of  inferiority complexes  misplaced vanity . Some would suffice it to say that they have robbed them of their own dignity – please note that I used the word “burgle”. This is not used in pursuit of word play, neither is it used in an absence of metaphor. The people SEE this blatant thievery, KNOW of the abhorring practices of impunity – but what do they do? A myriad of answers would surface.

 

But on the other hand…

 

There are days I am filled inexplicably with hope. Watching the Burkinabe oust a man – all in the name of Thomas Sankara spawned rays, nay, waves of joy in a manner that words are much too shallow to express. But I must say that I do not logically experience this hope, no, I cannot say that I am hopeful because of pragmatic discourse. Pragmatic discourse has, time and TIME AGAIN, proven that we in essence, are creatures damned by the very self-defeatist habits that have come to define us. And yet, the feeling is as liberating as sun on my skin – especially after a cloudy spell. This priori, because that is what it is, remains, and is the manifestation of what WE, COULD BE. In my mind, it is the cornerstone upon which the liberation of the African people was envisioned; the momentous, and continuous realization of dreams painfully dreamt by our parents and grandparents. It is the voyage to a consciousness born of our own hearts, a consciousness shaped by the very beat of these hopeful hearts.

 

These may very well be dreams, maybe even mirages I hallucinate whilst gazing into images of Africa, believing I gaze upon our future. I am sad to say that the positivism directed at our future is massacred in its premature tracks; weeded out by the realities I face all around. It is a battle that faces far too many on our continent; a raging war between what we SHOULD feel; hope, tenacity, excitement – against what we all SEE and unfortunately encounter. I presume that this, is what Fanon may have referred to, and if one truly contemplates the easier feeling to rely on, the priori or the posteriori, it would most certainly be that which would pay the rent.

 

But we will be known by our Fruit, we will be judged by the experiences we allowed to define us. The people we allowed to speak our destiny to us, the battles and wars we failed to fight. Our leaders may be the Rotten Fruit, but we are the Bad Seeds.

 

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What Aesthetics mean to a Young African Girl featuring, Norma Jeane Mortenson: The Story that SHOULD have been told

I feel so strongly about this, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to go ahead and make my ideas on it known. Ideas on beauty, especially in THIS world, have taken a much too skewed form, resembling nothing (in my most humble opinion) close to what true beauty SHOULD look like. And in fact, therein lies my point; true beauty shouldn’t be seen so much as heard, felt, encountered. Whence these absurd notions of beauty find their origin, I believe; a corruption, and in many ways, corrosion of the philosophically and spiritually realized ideals of aesthetics realized in places like The Academy into one linear, monopolized, superficial load of concentrated crap that we celebrate  today (again, this is in my most humble opinion). I do admit, that there is indeed a fine line between beauty and well, beasts and so my treasure isn’t necessarily yours and this cultural relativity is what makes the world is deliciously diverse in some respects (this message was brought to you courtesy of Anthropology). However,  the similarities that can be drawn from “diverse ideals of beauty” from around the world are a little, woi?

Enter Norma.

In my mind (because she and I have been permanently separated by time), I see her as a beautifully flawed individual, whose kinks were her strengths, and she was stunning in each respect technology has allowed me to encounter her. In the world in which she lived however, that was not the kind of beauty that society was interested in. Whereas no one in the world seems particularly interested, I’ve spent all the years I’ve known of her, held captive by my curiosity that has been so inclined to the waves of emotive, unpleasant truth that laid beneath the so carefully crafted veneer. But, again, I do believe that aesthetics refer to an entirely different enterprise, and Norma, thus ended up riding that superficial tide to a T, abusing it, as it abused her.

Why would I say such a factual thing; Norma, and I mean NORMA (if you already understand of whom exactly I speak), and I share deep, sacred and even shameful similarities, needs I would call them and Maslow has shown this. I think that’s why I may be as inclined to this warped concept of aesthetics in the modern era. These needs surround our almost gluttonous vacuums within, insatiable for anything and everything that could even pretend to fill the hole more commonly known as self worth (cue Out of Eden’s “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places”. You know why you don’t know that song? You weren’t good girls and boys in Sunday School). People spend their entire lives, struggling to clutch at the elusive straws, and because they do it from the outside to the inside, looking good to feel good as it were, it ends up being a most futile lifestyle and at the end of the day, all you leave behind are dreams, because you never actually had the chance to share what YOUR beauty truly was.

At this juncture I must state that, this idea could go in very different directions. I say this because, beauty has come to define the world, well rather, our pursuit of beauty: with the idea that once we embody the fleeting concept, happiness, self actualization and peace galore shall be our portion. It may look like a sentence directed at women but, it really isn’t.

I haven’t done any research on it or anything, these are but the lamentations of my soul, in regards to, in connection with, a soul that, is simultaneously separated and joined with my own. I read a blog post earlier today about what true romance entails, and things like, a man wrapping his arm around his wife’s thickening waist, stood out. More and more, I hear people speak of love and as they do, they highlight all the things you don’t actually SEE. Despite this, I feel that the studies and lamentations of Plato, Kant (and Longinus?), in which the roots and nature of true beauty were pretty philosophically reflected upon are ignorantly and continually corrupted as time has progresses.

Thus, beauty has become more and more institutionalized as it becomes more and more fleeting, and a within-the-box conclusion had been drawn from it: very few human beings are naturally beautiful and it is your duty to be beautiful for the world, whether or not your soul can stomach it. This isn’t about dying your hair, wearing cosmetic contact lenses or even losing weight, it is very obviously about WHY these things are important to many women – and men.

Back to Dearest Norma.

“She had a luminous quality. A combination of wistfulness, radiance, and yearning that set her apart and made everyone wish to be part of it – to share in the childish naivete which was at once so shy and yet so vibrant”

Lee Strasberg, as he read her eulogy.

Norma had a big bright smile, wonderful auburn hair, a little button nose and a very characteristic overbite. She, in my opinion, and maybe this will come off as a little homo but, would be the girl I took home to meet andu wakwa if I could marry girls and just like me, other people also thought her stunning (albeit for some slightly more perverse reasons). I recognize why she was ultimately thrust to stardom – she had it, and she didn’t even know it. I think that is the basis of beauty; I don’t want to say stupid things like it’s the “X” factor but, like a prism, draws in the “ordinary” from within and expresses it extraordinarily in simple experiences of humanity – and if you think of people who are beautiful from the inside out, that’s their thing. In this direction, I feel I should share a little bit of Plotinus; he and this extract from Ennead are millenia old but, so pretty and profound…. thus this extract has become a little sacred to me, in fact.

“It is shown that beauty cannot lie wholly in matter, nor wholly in a form which is only one expression of the beauty dwelling in art, and which is inferior to the original form in the artist’s mind, for still more beautiful than these must be the cause of both, the reason which contains art. 

Turning to nature, it is shown that the beauty of an animal is not merely in flesh or in size of body, but in the form imparted by nature to her works furthermore, that the cause of nature must be more beautiful than nature herself. Beauty does not consist in size, because the same form can be given both to a large and to a small object. 

    Coming then to man, it is pointed out that he may enjoy the beauty of the external world, and yet be unaware of internal beauty, and of that within the soul which is the cause of his delight in the outer form. The inner beauty is to be found in things without magnitude, such as duty, virtue, law, and a beauty of character in soul, so great as to render the observer oblivious to lack of bodily beauty. 

In order to appreciate fully such formless beauty, man must himself to the same degree become beautiful within.”

The reason I mentioned earlier that Norma Jeane Mortenson (Baker, etc) and I share a few sacred similarities is because, I know what it’s like to be self defeatist; to internally (please read constantly and humiliatingly), sub consciously  and in “vain”, seek for that grandeur, Divine purpose that warrants your existence; to struggle with the true meaning of beauty and whether the conclusions you draw should be commensurate with the definitions set by society; to want to change aspects of yourself in the hopes of better aligning yourself with acceptance from fools who, like to talk about nothing, anyway. I’ve never judged her for her struggle, there was a lot to struggle with and in fact, that struggle added to the harmonious disunity that was her.

Even as Marilyn Monroe, I still feel drawn to her, but it really is not the same and I wonder why people find that version of her beautiful, especially in relation to what she was before? I guess she (Marilyn) was a dream, an unattainable illusion which drives among many things, the fickle attainment of true “beauty”. Marilyn, despite looking as perfectly effortless as she did, was involved in a lot of shit that contradicted that sex symbol persona that still haunts little boys today.However, the person that people say her to be, with great fondness – isn’t THAT what ACTUALLY made her beautiful? To me, women idolize her for the most absurd reasons; she should be a sex symbol for the spirit that illuminated pictures by way of her mere presence, that made watching her on film so rewarding, not the superficial nonsense of a constructed being that she perambulated so daintily as.

Why are the most “beautiful” the most screwed up? What IS BEAUTY? Is it what we parade on TV screens for little girls to see? Is it something one can apply on their skin?I just remembered a little girl I really used to be fond of, dancing on a table for her parents, basically performing a music video she had seen on TV. Now, believe me when I say that if you saw how that little 5 year old girl looked, it would draw tears to your eyes, or a bucket to your mouth. It was pretty uncomfortable to witness, and it was mainly because her mother was especially impressed with the spectacle. Instead of interrogating what beauty is in this child, she sat there and collaborated in the decay of this child’s being as the little thing shook her ass to Rihanna.

I know what the title of the post says, and I know what is theoretically true, what kills me, time and time again is, we’re moving further and further from the ingredients of the cake and are getting more and more ensconced in the cream on top.