Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kao un hongge este?

From http://www.kuam.com

Airport, feds consider plight of original landowners
by Mindy Fothergill, KUAM News
Tuesday, November 29, 2005

After decades of waiting for the return of their property in Tiyan, original landowners have become the focus of concerns by the Airport and the Federal Highway Administration. While the local government returned the Tiyan land to their rightful owners, it appears there's no security as the feds and Government of Guam already have a plan for their property.

Ten years ago the Federal Aviation Administration turned over more than 1,400 acres of property in Tiyan to the Guam International Airport Authority. Executive manager Jess Torres says that property extends from the Airport runway to the Police Chief's Office. He explained, "When it was deeded back to the airport there were certain restrictions on those deeds among other things that I'm aware of that whatever property we got back from the FAA, from the navy via the FAA to the airport is to be used for Airport needs and airport uses."

But since the deed was signed, the Camacho Administration recently returned a large portion of the Tiyan land back to original landowners. So with an agreement with the FAA to use the property for Airport operations and original landowners occupying their property, Torres admits he's in a dilemma. "That's the challenge among other things that we need to look into. The airport on that specific issue has not taken a position officially. I haven't had the opportunity to bring this before the board," he said.

When the GovGuam official was asked if original landowners who have recently moved into those Airport properties should be concerned that the Airport will have to take that back, Torres replied, "I can't speak for them but I would imagine that they should exhibit some degree of concern. But like anything else if it requires us to sit down and try to resolve it that's the direction we will go."

In fact discussions are slated to take place on Thursday. But there's a twist as the Tiyan properties in question are also the subject of concerns by the Federal Highway Administration. Department of Public Works acting director Larry Perez confirms a FHA representative will arrive on island on Wednesday for a quarterly visit.

While a portion of the talks will focus on DPW's federally funded highway projects, Perez admits the feds have received concerns from original landowners. While the local government returned their property, that same land is the part of DPW's master plan to construct an access road between Route 1 and Route 8. Perez explained, "They have concerns about how the 2020 master plan is going to be implemented and their quote unquote rights to these properties and what's the government stance on a remedy for this."

What that remedy will be and what the future holds for original landowners settled in Tiyan are questions officials hope will be answered before the end of the week.

Here's the response from the Pacific Daily News, (How is it possible given the way that the PDN constructs democracy and politics, that these politicians and their narrow interests would get them re-elected? Wouldn't their narrow focus, thus estrange them from the majority who's interests they aren't interested in?):

Some of the people who received land on Tiyan via local laws that gave the properties to the families of ancestral owners may end up having the government reclaim their lots.
Parcels of the returned property were supposed to be dedicated toward highway projects and airport use, both of which involve federal agencies. Government of Guam officials say that federal officials have "expressed some concerns" over some of the returned land.

The problems can be traced back the elected officials who chose to serve themselves. They basically bought a few votes by returning Tiyan land to families of the ancestral landowners.
When the federal government declared the former Naval Air Station excess federal property and returned it to the government of Guam, there was a great opportunity to significantly benefit this community.

The original plan called for dedicating some of the land to the airport for existing operations, expansion and capital improvement.

Also, parcels were set aside for economic development -- some of the property was to have been leased by the government to private businesses to stimulate the economy. This could have created new opportunities and jobs. It also would have meant additional government revenue and strengthened the government's assets.

In addition, some land was to be used for highways, some was to go for projects to help the island's homeless, and part was set aside for park land and recreational use -- there was a lot of talk for a while about a botanical gardens that would been a great attraction for visitors as well as residents.

Instead of keeping these parcels and benefiting the government and the entire community, elected officials chose to benefit themselves, as well as a few families. These officials threw away economic opportunity, weakened the government's financial position, and erased the chance for projects that would have been of use to thousands upon thousands of residents and visitors.

This community needs elected officials who will put the good of the many above the wants of the few, and far above their own personal interest in getting re-elected.

Originally published December 3,

Saturday, November 26, 2005

What a Difference Madasai Makes

After more than a year and a half of growing my hair out, last week I finally decided to get it cut. My reasons for the drastic change were several. First, I'll be going to Guam in two weeks and considering how warm it is there, short hair will probably save me from alot of sweating. Also, long hair is gof mappot to upkeep and maintain. Shampooing, conditioning, tying it up, brushing it, playing with it. Too much work. With short hair I can go back to forgetting that I have hair at all.

Its Thankgiving break and so I've spent the past few days with my family and its been interesting hearing the reactions to my new haircut. First of all, I should warn everyone, my intrepid brother Jack cut my hair, and his only two qualifications which make him an "intrepid cutter of hair" are that he owns a shaver and he cuts his own hair. Responses from my family as well as people who have only known me with long hair have been priceless, which is the reason for this post on my hair.

In my family, especially amongst my brothers and I, who we look like at any given moment quickly becomes a topic of conversation and means of both identifying and teasing each other. If one of us gets a new coat, another will inevitably call him "Bruce Willis" because Bruce Willis wore a coat that looked like that in Death Becomes Her. It is fun, and ideal for me because it helps me understand better Jacques Lacan's dissertation on hysteria and identity (as being external, rather than internal) (summed up perfectly by the remark that "who I am is an ex-timate part of me).

In this spirit of free and forced identification I'm going to post here, with pictures the top ten people or characters that I've been identified with over the past few days, based on my new haircut. Often times, these people look nothing like me but in whatever passing moment that it was uttered, a connection was somehow made between my look and this person. And so although it is often fleeting, there is something nonetheless interesting, hilarious and charming about these comparisions.

Here are the top ten, in the order in which I find them the coolest.

#10: The asparagus from Veggietales












#9: Bradley Whitford from The West Wing and Billy Madison












#8: Yahoo Serious from Mr. Accident and Young Eienstein












#7: Syndrome from The Incredibles






#6: Frankenstein












#5: A Chamorro Troll Doll










#4: Chris Bachalo, penciller for Sandman, Death: The High Cost of Living, and Generation X












#3: Kramer from Seinfeld












#2: Akuma from Street Fighter












#1: Hideo Sakaki's character from Kitamura's Versus.

Friday, November 25, 2005

10 Things to Be Thankful For

Published on November 24, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
10 Reasons to Give Thanks
by Medea Benjamin

This Thanksgiving, we who yearn for peace and justice have a lot to be thankful for. For starters…

We're thankful that Congressman John Murtha has joined us in calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq.

We’re thankful that the majority of Americans now agree with us that this war in Iraq was a mistake and the troops should come home as soon as possible.

We’re thankful that Lewis Libby has been indicted, that Karl Rove has become a liability for the Bush administration, and that Tom DeLay has fallen from grace.

We’re thankful that the George Bush’s approval ratings are under 40% and falling, and that his agenda—from the privatization of social security to the repeal of the estate tax—is unraveling.

We're thankful Judy Miller will no longer be reporting for the New York Times and that we now have a blossoming independent press—including weeklies, websites, blogs, community radio and cable TV—to keep us informed and connected.

We’re thankful that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took on nurses, teachers and other working people of California, was roundly defeated on November 2.

We’re thankful that we FINALLY have a burgeoning campaign against the giant Walmart that is bringing together labor, community activists, women’s groups and environmentalists.

We’re thankful that the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas, a linchpin in the Bush administration’s pro-corporate agenda, has been defeated and that our colleagues in Latin America are electing progressive leaders like Hugo Chavez.

We’re thankful that our movement for a green, clean, sustainable economy is gaining momentum and providing a real alternative to corporate-led globalization.

And as I write this from hurricane-ravaged New Orleans, where hundreds of volunteers have poured in from throughout the country to spend Thanksgiving to help in the rebuilding, let’s be thankful that we are part of a movement, nationally and globally, that is based on the values of compassion, generosity and love.

Medea Benjamin (medea@globalexchange.org) is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.

###

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Distracted

Ever since it became really really easy to upload images onto my blog, I've been tempted to go all out and start posting images like crazy. I've noticed alot of people out there with photo blogs, which are always heavy on comments like

naturelover says:
beautiful!

photofetish says:
I love the color!

stapledeyelids says:
You have a real eye for nature. What camera are you using?

I'm tempted to go that route, just so I can get more comments. Two big problems are though that I don't have a digital camera and I don't have a scanner. Thus, the journey from the shoebox loads of photos I take with my Staples $2.94 Fujifilm cameras to the internet is a difficult one. I've actually done this before, I've borrowed my friend's digital camera and taken digital photos of my printed photos and then uploaded them onto the internet to send them to people.

I'm at my family's this week for Thanksgiving break, and so there is a scanner here, and so I've been going all out scanning my photos, drawings, sketches, etc.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine was laughing at me, because I'd posted on my blog that during my seminars in my graduate program I spend most of the time writing comic books. When people ask me how I can get so much done, my answer is its because I'm a jerk. I work the best when I'm not paying attention to something. During a lecture I can get a paper done for another class. During a colloquium I can do my readings for class (and still get some disrespectful soundbytes from the presentation). And at conferences while listening to panels I get so much crap done its not even funny.

This entire post has all been just an excuse for me to post one of the images that I scanned. During the most recent conference I attended, the American Studies Association I was able to get a lot of work done (and thankfully listened to alot of great panels (I'm serious, there was alot of Pacific Islanders there and so I was respectful and paid attention). I was also able to sketch alot of drawings. One of which, I've pasted to the right.

At conferences I tend to sketch two things. The first is beach scenes from Guam. The second is samurai. I really have no idea why I draw these two things, because first of all I tend to hate landscapes because as an artist I was asked too often to paint "pretty" landscapes, and would only do so when I really needed the money. Second, I am actually really terrible at drawing samurai except when they are in subdued baha' pat triste poses. When I try to draw samurai in vibrant, action-oriented positions they tend to look like rejects from the design pages for Gumby.

Given their regular appearances on my sketch pages, at some point I will have to do something to mix these two things together, possibly a comic? Hmmmm. That gives me a good idea....

Inefresi-hu

After finishing my first master's thesis earlier this year, its been a long hard road coming to terms with the limits of it. The most glaring problem is that the theory section in my first chapter was "faked." While I did read Roland Barthes Mythologies which I cite as what I will be using, in reality I merely used him as a screen to say whatever I felt like saying. Then there are the limits of my statements because I couldn't get to all resources I wanted. My descriptions of pre-war education in Guam could have been much more extensive, but at the time I felt like I had done enough research to make my points and needed little more.
Two things that have happened recently have helped me see things in a better light. First off a received an email several weeks ago from Mari, a Chamorro attending school in Hawai'i and getting her masters at UH. I knew Mari from my message board and we've emailed each other often different things such as Anime and Guam politics. She sent me an email I hardly expected, one about my master's thesis. She had gotten a copy of it from my ma'gas Masters from UOG, Anne Perez Hattori and although she hadn't finished it yet, she emailed me that she knew it would be of great help in her master's thesis. Occassionally I get emails such as these, which thank me for help I've given them in different forms, but this is the first time anyone had emailed me with my master's thesis as the object of conversation and gratitude. It was the first instance where I realized that my thesis might be of some value.
Second, I spoke recently on a panel (with Vince Diaz and Tina Deslisle) on the state of Chamorro studies at the American Studies Association conference. Because the majority of the panel could not attend, the initial discussion was limited and so me and Tina talked about our projects, past and present. In discussing my work then and my work now, I began to see the value in my master's thesis, both in terms of what it might offer others and what it meant to myself and my development.
For those of you unfamiliar with the thesis I'm talking about, its title is "These May or May Not Be Americans:" The Patriotic Myth and the Hijacking of Chamorro History in Guam. The title alone gives you a sense of its "radical" character in terms of Pacific and Chamorro scholarship. Its basic intent is to provide a historical geneaology of why Chamorros are so patriotic towards the United States today. Prior to World War II, Chamorros were largely uninterested in being American. Yet in the span of just three years, through a brutal occupation by the Japanese, somehow Chamorros became more American than Americans, and more patriotic than a million yellow ribbons soaked in the blood of every corn feed white boy who has died on foreign soil, with his woman who was supposed to wait, taken off by some opportunistic Jody. By analyzing the speech of Chamorros, how they relate stories of the war, pre-war and post war periods I attempt to show a particular myth at work, the patriotic myth. Which emerges after World War II when the distance between Chamorros and the United States is broken, and suddenly Uncle Sam is not that annoying white Marine who watches you carefully to make sure your clothes aren't dirty or that your lawn is well maintained, but now he is something in your heart, something you cannot get rid of even if you wanted to. Something that sits at the core of every attempt of yours to form your identity, your history, yourself.
In the spirit of my re-evaluation of the use of this thesis, I wanted to post here the promise I made in its beginning pages. I considered putting a translation in English, but I feel it loses its energy and too often when I translate Chamorro into English (we are all in some ways perpetrators of this) I unintentionally make it sound a certain way, an proud, strong, simplistic indigenous way.
PRINEMETI-HU

Mananges hit put I katen I paluma, lao ni’ hayi tumanges put I haggan I guihan.
Manggaisuette siha ni’ manggaibosa, ni’ sina manmaoppan.
I Chamorro pa’go ti mano’oppan. Mamatkilu put I estao-ta ni’ manakpappa’.
Achokka’ bula matulaika desde 1521, 1668, 1898 yan 1941, meggai lokkue mamparehu.
Achokka’ ma kekefa’baba’ hit I Amerikanu na esta munhayan colonialism, sigi ha’ maninaffekta hit ni’ I binaba-na. Ya dimalas todu I nina’maloffan-na.
I tinekcha’ colonialism siha muna’maloffan na I Chamorro siha giya Guahan, ta hahasso na ti kabales hit na taotao sin Amerika.
I na’chetton-ta nu I US (achokka’ guaha minaolek) gof baba lokkue. Ya ti ta gof ripara I inaffekta gi I hinasso-ta, I kettura-ta yan I taotao-ta.
Ayu na chinatkinemprende (gi entre Hita yan Siha) sigi ha’ sumakke I estorian I taotao-ta.
Sigi ha’ muna’fannaibosa I tiguang-ta.
Sigi’ ha’ humohokka’ I espiritun I Chamorro, ya ti ya-niha muna’na’lao.
Este na dimalas maloffan put I irensia-ta colonial ginnen I mina’gasin i Espanot, I Chapones yan I Amerikanu.
Ni’ ngai’an u mafa’maolek (magom) este kontat ki manieniete hit patriotism nu I US.
Si Uncle Sam ti mismo I tihu-ta, ti tata-ta, ti ga’chong-ta.
DUENU-TA! DUENUN I ISLA-TA! DUENUN I ESTORIA-TA!
Kontat ki ta dimu pappa’ yan tekuni Si Uncle Sam, sigi ha’ ha manmasokka’ hit, yan sigi ha’ manmafa’ga’ga’.
Mangkabales hit na taotao desde I tiempon manmofo’na yan manggabales hit pa’go.
Ya HAMYO ni’ umusuni muna’fanaibosa ham, ya usuni sumakke’ yan muna’atok I tano’n-mami, yan I estorian-mami, tungo’ ha este.
Bai hu mumu hamyo todu, ya bai hu usuni mumumu esta ki manmapedde hamyo yan manobra ham ta’lo, I taotao Chamorro siha.
Adahi hamyo ni’ atkagueti-hu, maseha Chamorro, haole pat otro.
Adahi sa’ ti bai ketu ya ti bai famatkilu!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Nina'gatbo

For those who frequent my blog regularly, you might have noticed a bit of redecorating going on down the right side of the page. I've been blogging here for more than a year now and logged in more than 330 posts, so I decided it was time to start gathering together my "greatest hits" and just organizing my scattered posts so that people can get a better sense of my insanity (probably just a joke).

Just to orient you, I'll list the categories here and give a brief description of each of them.

FAMENTAYAN: The link to my old art website. Made more than six years ago after my first solo show, its very very dated, but still nice to look at. For those who teased me about my guest book, its not that no one comes by, its just that the guest book stopped working like five years ago.

FAVORITE POSTS: Obviously, the posts that I enjoy rereading the most and sharing with people.

GUINAYA - LOVE: A series of four crazy posts that I wrote in March of 2005, which basically set the tone for all personal crush crazy posts that follow. If you read them, you'll quickly learn the backstory, which amounts to this, "I just told I girl that I knew felt nothing for me, what I felt for her..."

KANTA/SONGS/BETSU/POEMS: All the poems and songs that I've posted on my blog. The majority of them are in Chamorro.

BLOGS: The blogs of friends and people I like. The majority of them are sadly not updated for often. I am always looking for more links, so if you want my to link to your blog here, please let me know.

TINIGE' SI NAOMI KLEIN: I've always been impressed with Naomi Klein's work, so each new article I come across of hers I post here to share. It always intrigues people that I have articles on my blog and zine that have nothing to do with Guam or the Pacific or Chamorros. But I usually use that article because its by Naomi Klein, Slavoj Zizek or some other author I enjoy. Her website is http://www.nologo.org

SINEKKAI/ DATING HYSTERIA: The games of attraction and dating are somewhat foreign and frightening to me, so these posts are generally me ranting and complaining about this or that horrifying experience. Earlier this year, I diagnosed myself as a "dating hysteric" which means that "attraction" is something I have no idea what to do with when I feel it and end up descending or ascending into hysteria when I feel it. Too often what these posts really are, are vain attempts to get around this obstacle, by revealing in the privacy and publicity of my blog what I feel in vain hopes that those I feel it for will somehow make it in here to find it.

LET'S CHAT IN CHAMORU ABOUT HINDI MOVIES: Dialogues in Chamorro about Hindi movies. These as well as other dialogues and tirades I write in Chamorro are my futile attempts to break Chamorro out of the confining notions in which we too often think it and use it in. For example, the idea that Chamorro is a "social language" (for use at parties or informal situations) too easily plays into that sickening mentality through which the colonized and its objects become enthusiastically associated with not important and not serious things. (Chamorros are culture, jokes, kicking back things, while the United States is History, Government, Science, Politics. The problem with this is that the realms of uncapitalized and Capitalized concepts are hardly equal, but the Capitalized realm constantly enfringes upon and dictates what the uncapitalized is or is supposed to be). Much to the annoyance of both Chamorros and non-Chamorros, I often use Chamorro to attempt to speak about everything. Economics, politics, theory, history, culture, and even Anime and Hindi Movies.

TINIGE' THEORY: My writings on different theorists and theories. Some of them are response papers from the graduate courses at UCSD. Mots of them are pretty scattered theoretically and are far too inspired by Zizek.

TINIGE' ANIME: I've been watching more and more anime lately, not lots of different kinds but usually things made by similar directors or studios. When an anime impresses me I usually end up writing about it here and somehow incorporating Zizek, Lacan or some other theorist into my reading and reviewing.

B4K: These are updates on the comic me and my brothers are working on.

EMPE' FINAYI: Pieces of wisdom that I've come across and posted here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

FAMOKSAIYAN - For Reals

I've just sent out the invite for the Chamorro gathering to take place next April. I'm posting the final draft here, and please if you are interested in participating or supporting, please let me know.

CALL FOR PRESENTATIONS
FAMOKSAIYAN: Decolonizing Chamorro Histories, Identities and Futures
April 14-15, 2006

Ginnen i Manaina-ta siha. Ginnen i Mangguelo-ta siha. Hita I Chamoru, I taotao Guahan yan Luta yan Saipan yan Tinian. Hita i taotao tano yan i tasi. Mungga en fanmaleffa I Manma’pos yan Fanmanhasso todu tiempo put I Manmamaila.

Ginnen Manu Hit? Hayi hit pa’go? Para Manu Hit? These are questions of our past, present and future which we can never ever let go. As simple as these questions may appear, finding indigenous answers to them is harder than one would think. While questions of cultural preservation (What to keep?) and adaptation (What to change?) are vital to our survival, they must always be asked in relation to less visible and potentially more difficult problems which nonetheless greatly impact our lives. Banal colonialism, familiar and frighteningly familial militarism and enthusiastic patriotism are just a few of the dire and generally undiscussed issues Chamorros around the world are confronted with today, which offer us particularly unhelpful answers as to the questions of where we came from, who are we, and where are we going?

An invisible minority in the United States, their island of Guam one of the world’s last “official” colonies and recently christened the tip of America’s military spear in Asia, with the arrival of 7,000 new Marines, the future of Chamorros and their islands seems inevitably entangled with that of the United States and its strategic military interests. Is this the fate of Chamorros and the Marianas, to be forever linked to the United States in this way, and do little other than follow and attempt to live up to as well as within its mandates, its examples and its dreams? In seeking to improve their lives and communities, is the only hope for Chamorros to follow the advice of the Bush Administration and “let go” of their cultures that hold them back and at last seize the American dream?

How can Chamorros chart a future for themselves that escapes this mentality and therefore doesn’t automatically assume that “what is good for America must be good for Guam?” What role does the possible re-unification of the Marianas islands play in making a different future possible? How does the realities of Chamorro diaspora, where more Chamorros are in the United States than in the Marianas force us to develop different strategies to include and connect to those thousands of miles away? How can Chamorros resist or critique the incessant and overwhelming demands of the United States military, when our lives, whether through relatives in Iraq, frequent editorials on our unavoidable military dependencies, and images of America as our saviors from World War II, make those demands seem so intimate and necessary? What are the educational issues facing Chamorros both in the islands and elsewhere? What are the vital political and not just cultural roles that community organizations, artists and dance groups must play in our movements? Lastly, what can our hopes be for decolonization, whether as a political process or a displacement of ideology or meaning, when for the majority of Chamorros, such a prospect remains a terrifying (im)possibility?

To this end, the Chamorro Information Activists are inviting all interested in critical discussions around the future of Chamorros and their islands to participate in Famoksaiyan, a Chamorro gathering to take place at the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club in San Diego, April 14 and 15, 2006.

Famoksaiyan translates to either “the place or time of nurturing” or “the time to paddle forward or move ahead.” It is in this spirit that we hope to provide a space where vital conversations can take place, and possible solutions to the above mentioned issues be strategized.

We welcome those interested in taking part in these discussions to submit individual or panel presentation proposals on any topic which relates critically to Chamorros in the Marianas and the rest of the world. As this is our first attempt at a gathering such as this, we are interested in getting as diverse a group as possible together. We stress that this is not solely an academic conference, rather a community conference including our manamko’, community activists, student leaders, and other interested people. Therefore people who consider themselves outside of academia are welcomed to submit presentations as well.

Your submission should include a one page proposal of either your paper or description of the panel you are organizing, as well as brief biography and your contact info (mailing address, telephone and email). Topics may include (but are not limited to): 1) Culture as Resistance (Chamorro art, literature, dance). 2) Militarization of life/land/desire. 3) Environmental racism (Nuclear fallout, toxic waste dumping). 4) Ensuring Educational Access (Recruitment, retention, reform). 5) Diaspora. 6) Social Movements and Political Activism (Self Determination, land rights, political reform). 7) Chamorros and Cross Racial Coalitions. 8) Mental and Physical Health Issues (Diabetes, Cancer, Ice, Suicide). 9) Language and Cultural Revitalization. 10) Historical Interventions. (Spanish era, Pre-War, World War II, Post-War). 11) Reparations? (From whom? In what form?). 12) Decolonization and the Indigenous Critique.

The deadline for submissions is January 25, 2006. We will continue to accept presentations submitted after this date, but those received before it will be given priority.Please email your submissions and any questions to Michael Lujan Bevacqua at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com.

Si Yu’us Ma’ase! Biba Chamoru! Na’la’la’ Mo’na I Taotao I Islas Marianas!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Inner Universe of a Stand Alone Complex

At first Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was very hard to watch. I can no longer truthfully say that I identify with the State and with "good guys" in films or tv shows. Too often, cop shows, battle between Good and Evil echo for me the current War on Terror and other violent policies of globalization and American (and other nations as well) policing. At first I saw Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex as just another lame screen upon which the fantaises for the War on Terror get acted out. The State and its agents are technologically advanced, often times too technologically advanced, the cyborgs don't even know their own strengths sometimes, the slightest hit causing shattering damage. Their enemies are either poorly equipped, trained or organized multitudes of terrorists or societal discontents, or they are faced with a lone singular enemy who is uniquely more savy and threatening, who often times stands in for the State's excess (the Tank for example which was attempting to return home) or represents the excess of the State (or society) which it cannot control or ever fully master, and has the ability to undermine everything. (think invisible biological super agent, or think super hacker who can crash the whole system as in Fight Club).

After watching about half a dozen episodes I was intrigued by it, much in the way that the films Ghost in the Shell and Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence intrigued me, because of their ontological inquiry.

Thus the show is interesting because it is very explicitly ontological inquiry. Not just, what is existence (or the essence that existence seems to require?), but also what is resistance? The idea of "stand alone complex" itself is interesting not because it is so very different than existence no, but more so because it represents how frighteningly enough things may have always been. We never had that existence which to use Western philosophical language was without the taint of a split or a break. Perhaps they were different splits or breaks, but there was never any world of interrupted existence where we fully identified with anything.

In the world of Stand Alone Complex the State in its power and vision seems unsurpassable. But even away from the State, the technological advances themselves seem to destroy our very existences (or rather innocences), as a quote from Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence makes clear when it connects our reality as a manifestation of a DNA or a biological blueprint and then makes the claim that as such, our feelings, desires, loves, hopes and dreams must be such as well.

Does the act of Ethan Hawke in Gattaca when he "accidentally" loses Uma Thurman's hair during their courting stage thus indicate the limits of humanity? Is humanity thus based on an unavoidable contract through which we can only know so much? Humanity exists so long as their is that gap, that end to inquiry. Is this our legacy from Kant when he attached human freedom to this very limit? That to go beyond that, into the Universal, into the Real would mean the loss of the subject, the loss of freedom, the reduction of the human to nothing more than a puppet who is moved by the knowledge of God, or a machine who is nothing more than the product of his blueprints? To return to Uma Thurman's hair, if Ethan Hawke had it analyzed, and thus learned who and what she really is, would love then become impossible between them? It is an interesting question, which I have plenty of answers to...

Because of the apparent unsurpassability of the State and of Science in Stand Alone Complex it hosts a wide array of interesting ethical characters. I of course don't refer to any of the main characters such as The Major, Batou or Togusa, but instead the maladjusted folk they are sent to detain, take down and destroy. Given the hopelessness of their resistance of their situation, yet their decision to none the less resist, their tragic failures become romantic and enchanting. Their "suicides" becomes a bold and powerful ethical choice, precisely because the choice was taken in recognition of hopelessness, and not run away from, bargained against or denied.

But then in another way, their is something in their fidelity which comes out through the ruminations of The Major and sometimes the discoveries of Togusa. Through them we learn of a secret fidelity, something in those that have acted, have died that we cannot help but admire, because of the unfathomable content. A decision which shattered the obvious choices. In the episode with the Tank for example, we are lead to the statement of Batou at the end that he must have really hated his parents, and that's why after getting his brain transfered into a state of the art tank he fought his way to their home. But The Major who fried the Tanks brain when they saw him attempting to attack his parents, notes meloncholically to something else, something different. Something other than love and hate, life and death. A statement which breaks the obvious binary through which Batou represents the Tank's life and choice. Did he have his brain transfered so that he could continue to live? So that he could take his veangence on his parents for keeping him (because of religious reasons) from getting a prosthetic body? When The Major recounts his final fleeting thought to his parents of look at my metal body, Batou remarks that is nothing. But we know that it isn't nothing, there is something in that statement that leads us to an act by virtue of the difficulty in accounting for it, we must admire it (even if we decide to dismiss it as useless).


My analysis for this was pretty crappy I know. I've been busy with my master's thesis at UCSD and so its taken up alot of my time and brain capacity. I'm very into song lyrics lately and so naturally I was drawn to the theme song for Stand Alone Complex and hopefully another time when I have more energy would like to analyze it more closely. Until then, here they are:


Inner Universe
by Yoko Kanno

English Translation

Angels and demons were circling above me
Breaking the hardships and starry ways*
The only one who doesn't know happiness
is the one who couldn't understand its call

I am Calling Calling now, Spirits rise and falling
Calling Calling, in the depth of longing
I am Calling Calling now, Spirits rise and falling
To stay myself longer...

Stand alone... Where was life when it had a meaning...
Stand alone... Nothing's real anymore and...

...Endless run...
While I'm alive, I can try not to fall while flying,
Not to forget how to dream... how to love
...Endless run...

Calling Calling, For the place of knowing
There's more that what can be linked
Calling Calling, Never will I look away
For what life has left for me
Yearning Yearning, for what's left of loving

Calling Calling now, Spirits rise and falling
To stay myself longer...
Calling Calling, in the depth of longing
To stay myself longer...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mirai

The other day I watched Bright Future directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. I agree with one person I spoke to about it, who said that it requires several viewings to get a sense of. Its true, the dialogue was so intentionally full of holes at times, it made interpretation very interesting. The characters themselves float around, unable to fully anchor themselves to their speech, and they at times react to their ambiguous statements as we react to them, with uncertainty and a desire for fidelity.

The film ends with a gang of Che Guevara t-shirt wearing youth, walking the streets, kicking around cardboard boxes to the song Mirai by The Back Horn. Its an interesting scene, seductive if only because of its apparent lack of seduction. A banal scene, who excessive banality somehow creates its very opposite.

I've posted the lyrics below, because it represents another ambiguous hit, which far from being an identification based on knowing what the character feels, is an identification based on how we feel something which is the same, yet beyond our control.


Mirai (The Future)

The song I lost was in my heart
One day we'll disappear but
the powder snow white, the feelings lay thick
it was a little rebellion, you touched my shoulder

I held you, and was in love
that was everything
it's like even the borders will vanish now
and snow flowers will bloom.

a bubble flew away, burst and disappeared
even still I try to make them fly to reach the sky

through a thousand nights, we breathed
the world at large is endless
a brilliant future

goodbye for now, until we meet again
there's nothing beyond here, just a big white empty space
I held you, and was in love
that was everything
it's like even the borders will vanish now
and snow flowers will bloom.

How long can I believe
There is feeling in this trembling hand
in my heart the song resounds
and we go on
a brilliant future

Let's Chat in Chamorro About Hindi Movies Part 5

Manuet: Hoi Miget, lana dei prim, todu maolek?

Miget: Maolek ha', maolek ha'.

Manuet: Kao sigi ha' sesso umegga' hao kachidon Hindi?

Miget: Ahe' che'lu, pumara yu'.

Manuet: Diaplo umbe! Sa' hafa?

Miget: Sa' lana che'lu, o'sun yu' nu i lina'la' i manriku. I manakhilo'.

Manuet: Hafa kumekeilek-mu?

Miget: Kumekeilek-hu, na esta os'un yu', esta kalang taisabot i kachido siha put ayu na klasin taotao siha.

Manuet: I manriku?

Miget: Hunggan. Umbe lai, kao mansion i gima'-hu? Kao mansion i gima'-mu?

Manuet: Ahe', ahe'.

Miget: Pues nu Guahu ayu na kachido siha ti magahet, it relevant nu i tano'-ta, i tano'-hu nai, sa' hayi luma'la' taiguihi? Hayi luma'la'la' gi un mansion, gi un palace? Ti Guahu, yan taya' i abok-hu. Pues i finaisen-hu, mangge' i kachido siha put i manmoble?

Manuet: Hu komprende i siniente-mu lai. Atan Khabie Kushi Khabie Gham, lana hayi este na taotao Si Amitabh na gof dongkalo taiguihi i gima'-na?

Miget: Lao bula movies taiguenao. Mansuette este siha, so pues nu Guahu ti impottante i pribleman-niha siha. Ma sangan, "oh mayulang iyo-ku Ferrari! Dimalas, hafa bei cho'gue!?" Lana, yanggen mayulang iyo-mu Ferrai, na'setbe ha' i Maserati. Atan, ti mappot. Ti mismo manmasa'sa'pet.

Manuet: Lao guaha ma sangan nai, na siha ti manriku, ya-niha ume'egga' ayu na klasin kachido. Sa' manmakkat i linala'n-niha esta, kaha na ha'ani, pues sa' hafa na pau egga' hafa esta achakin-niha gi i movies? Dipotsi put otro na tano', otro na guinife i movies siha.

Miget: Lana lai, enao na hinasso umassuma na yanggen ti riku hao, ti magof hao. Sa' sumasangan na umachetton todu tiempo minagof yan sinalape'. Ti hu konfotme che'lu.

Manuet: Lana lai, kachido ha'. Mungga ma hasso na dumespatta i tano'. Kachido ha'.

Miget: Ahe' che'lu, kachido siha fumana'gue hit bula put i eriya-ta siha. I hinasso na minagof u fatto gi halom ginaisalape' ha', baba', yan bula eyak este ginnen hafa ma egga' gi i kachido siha.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Just Left of the Setting Sun

Biba Julian! Maolek i bida-mu che'lu. Sigi ha', fausuni mumumu!

Yanggen gaige hao giya Guahan, fanhanao yan fahan este na lepblo.

If you're on island, go out and buy this book.


Call to consciousness:
Chamorro author launches a collection of essays that chronicle the local struggle for human rights, dignity and recognition
By Jojo Santo Tomas Pacific Sunday New

Say the name Julian Aguon, and if you know him at all, you might conjure up an image of a slightly chubby high school student crooning the National Anthem to 20,000-plus people at Adelup, in celebration of President Bill Clinton's visit to Guam seven years ago.

Today, the former teen reporter for the Pacific Daily News is back in the newspaper, though on the other side of a byline. He graduated from Gonzaga University last year and has since focused his energy on bringing to light the troubles that he says the Chamorro people have faced in years past and especially now.

Aguon, 23, received a grant to pursue his passion, resulting in the recent release of his book, "Just Left of the Setting Sun." It is an 85-page nonfiction book of essays on Guam's status and global relationships and is often critical of entities that he feels are slowing the people of Guam's quest for human rights.

And yes, if you're still wondering, the guy can still make you cry with his voice.

Q: Welcome back from college. What were some of the things you wanted to do when you got back home?

A: I wanted to relax, to have fun, to hang out and actually spend time with my family. I wanted to reconnect with my nieces and nephews and stuff. Reconnect with the land, too. I started chanting when I got back also, that's been a really big part of my journey, my awakening, post-college, and it's been a very good thing.

Q: What then, was the catalyst or impetus for you for wanting to put your thoughts on paper and get it published?

A: One of the catalyst experiences that led to this was attending the 9th Annual Festival of the Pacific Arts in the Republic of Palau, July 2004. Being surrounded by my Oceanic brothers and sisters whose pride is so evidenced through their art was something stunning to see and to witness firsthand. And being there and seeing the tenacity of the human spirit all over Oceania, to see that, to see people determined to emancipate their histories, emancipate their art, emancipate their politics, was eye-opening for me and made me realize that there's so much work to be done back home, in Guahan, where there's a lot of internalized colonization that is holding our emancipation hostage -- it's holding us emotionally hostage, actually. There's a lot of work to be done to call the community into consciousness.

Q: So as soon as you got back from the Festival of the Arts, you got to work?

A: You could say that. ... Actually, this project is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guam Humanities Council.

Q: Some people, maybe even fellow activists, might say that someone so young as yourself could not begin to know the deep meanings of colonization and other issues that have affected the Chamorro people over the years. What could you say to that?

A: I can say to some extent, they're absolutely right. And to another extent, in another way, I realize that in the 21st century, and all that is at stake, the stakes are so high and so grave that that idea is no longer suitable for our day. We need to realize that everyone has gifts and everyone has a voice and we all need to come together to the conversation with our own things -- with conviction yet openness. That is where change is gonna happen. And I think I have something worthwhile to contribute.

Q: In doing your research for your book, did you discover that you learned more from talking to people or from reading books?

A: I would say that I learned the more important things from talking to people. Not necessarily that I learned from speaking with you versus reading; I learned a lot from the literature. But speaking to the people and being present with them, and with their exhaustion, and with their cynicism and with their hope, all put together, that human exchange is much more enlightening for me coming into consciousness about the subject matter, about the material, because I realize that the Chamorro movement is a very long one. We've been struggling for a long time to articulate a poised, political, sociological position and there's a lot of people who've done a lot of backbreaking work and I need to pay homage to them.

Q: What was the focus of the book going into it and did that focus change as you were writing it or when you were done?

A: Oh, that's a very good question. ... I think the focus was just trying to bring to the book issues about the Chamorro struggle for justice in a very general way. And once I started writing it, of course it remained that, but it just launched into so many smaller channels, like it went into the American militarization and the Chamorro ideological resistance to that; to issues as particular as water privatization (and) how they reflect larger, national global phenomenon such as the corporatization of our world. So on one hand, it was very global the entire time and on one hand it was very regional and very grounded here in this place, in our reality in 2005. But the focus, I don't think, ever changed. It was all about justice and trying to tell the truth about what's happened to us, and exactly what it is we're combating now and how we're gonna get to where we're going.

Q: How do you know that everything you're writing is the truth?

A: Of course, I don't know that everything I've written is the truth, it's probably not. But I think that nobody has the monopoly on the truth, especially this truth, not a truth that for a people who's history is so hidden, or so ugly, or so erroneously written about. And I think that it's important that a Chamorro is the one who wrote about Chamorro history, first of all, and second of all, I was honest in the entire process with myself and I tried to present the entire issue as honestly as I could and that was good enough for me and I hope it's good enough for the reader.

Q: Julian, you no doubt consider yourself a Chamorro activist. But in today's world, when you say that, sometimes it creates a foul taste or image in some people's minds. What can you do about that?

A: Well, I wanna make it very clear that I'm not a Chamorro activist just by virtue of being Chamorro. This is my work by virtue of being a human being. I think we're all morally called to care about this and to act in the service of that compassion for this cause because we're human beings. For me, I link the Chamorro struggle for human rights and dignity and recognition, real recognition, to the global one. Across the planet, the indigenous world, the Third World, the poor of the world are writhing on the cross of this neo-imperialistic corporate globalization project. And for Guam, up here, it's part of that. I think we can't survive the century we've been entrusted unless we're able, in 2005, to link our struggle to the global human one.
The human race is rapidly becoming the most endangered species so when I'm saying that I'm opposing, or that I'm concerned about, American militarization and everything that that might mean, it's not only for the Chamorro people that I'm concerned, it's for the entire human race.

Q: Will you be doing anything else to promote your book?

A: Well, I want to start visiting the high schools, maybe, and definitely the University of Guam too. I would like to start getting my generation to really start questioning and start getting engaged in the conversation and see what they really think. There's a lot to learn from them.

Q: What do you think may or may not happen as a result of this book being released on the island?

A: You know, I don't know what's gonna happen or what's not gonna happen. I hope, and that's the most important thing, that it deepens the pride of my people, quite simply.

Q: Do you think it's kind of strange that as you've been known quite a bit as a singer of high stature, it was somewhat odd that it was an artistic event that led you to your realization?

A: I think the meaning behind that goes so deep for me, I think. But overall, I think it's still voice, art, singing and writing, all of it, to me, are different dimensions of my same self. They both reflect equally deep longing of resolutions of issues and justice. Like the songs that I usually sing or that I'm known for are inspirational hymns, they're soul songs. I sing a lot of Negro spiritual hymns or gospel songs. You can see it, it's almost hidden, but inside those kind of songs there's a yearning for freedom, a hunger for it. And in the writing, I think the thing that came out most clearly is that deep longing for resolution.

Q: So you just had a successful book signing, I'm sure that was a beautiful personal high for you. Tell me about the experience.

A: It felt exhilarating. More than anything, I felt so honored and so humbled and I felt very blessed. To see in their eyes their pride and their respect and their camaraderie ... we're in this together and I think that's what I walked away with (Thursday) night. Without community, there is no liberation and it takes all of our gifts, all of our voices, if we're gonna walk in any real direction towards change and progress.

Q: Now that the book is out, what's next for Julian Aguon?

A: I don't know. First, the deep breath. Second, I'll figure it out. I don't really know right now.
Originally published November 13, 2005

"Just Left of the Setting Sun," by Julian Aguon, is available at Bestseller Bookstore at the Guam Premier Outlets and costs $13.95. It will be available exclusively on Guam until its national release in February 2006.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Famoksaiyan

Chamorro conference update!

I've finally finalized the dates for the conference, April 14 and 15, 2006 at the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club in San Diego. Matto di mampos exciting este!

I'm posting the latest draft of our call for papers/invite for the conference below, I'll be sending it out early next week so if you want to give me some feedback on it, please post it here or email it to me.

Otro fino'-ta, the decision to name the conference Famoksaiyan is explained in the text below.

Call for Papers
FAMOKSAIYAN: Chamorro History, Identity and Decolonization
April 14-15, 2006

Ginnen i Manaina-ta. Ginnen i Manguelo-ta. Hita I taotao Guahan yan Luta yan Saipan yan Tinian. Hita i taotao tano yan i tasi. Mungga maleffa I Manma’pos yan Fanmanhasso todu tiempo put I Manmamaila.

Ginnen Manu Hit? Hayi hit pa’go? Para Manu Hit?
These are questions of our past, present and future which we can never ever let go. As simple as these questions may appear, finding indigenous answers to them is harder than one would think. While questions of cultural preservation (What to keep?) and adaptation (What to change?) are vital to our survival, they must always be asked in relation to less visible and potentially more difficult problems which nonetheless greatly impact our lives. Banal colonialism, familiar and frighteningly familial militarism and enthusiastic patriotism are just a few of the dire issues Chamorros around the world are confronted with today. An invisible minority in the United States, their island of Guam one of the world’s last “official” colonies and recently christened the tip of America’s military spear in Asia, with the arrival of 7,000 new Marines, the future of Chamorros and their islands seems inevitably entangled with that of the United States and its strategic interests.seems inevitably entangled with that of the United States and its strategic interests.

Is this the fate of Chamorros and the Marianas, to be forever linked to the United States in this way? And do little other than follow and attempt to live up to as well as within its mandates, its examples and its dreams? Is the only hope for Chamorros, to follow the advice of the Bush Administration and let go of their cultures that hold them back and at last seize the American dream?

Commonsense in Marianas, but in particular Guam dictates that the answers to all problems lie in imagining, desiring and moving East towards the United States and changing Guam based on what America “represents.” The government can be fixed by calling in “The Feds.” Utilities can be fixed by privatizing them. Health care, politics and education can be fixed by whitening its professionals, replacing locals with non-locals. All of these solutions trap Chamorros in a vicious cycle of paternalistic dependency which prevents any and all fundamental change from taking place, thus protecting the American character of certain institutions (such as government, education, economics) and forcing any discussions of how to improve our lives to fixate and obsession with local or Chamorro elements (such as Chamorro politicians). But as obvious imperialist impulses in Iraq and Afghanistan and the systemic racism and corruption around Hurricane Katrina indicate, our benevolent father figure Uncle Sam is far from benevolent and far from the best answer to our problems.

How can Chamorros chart a future for themselves which doesn’t automatically assume that “what is good for America must be good for Guam?” What role does the possible re-unification of the Marianas islands play in making a different future possible? How does the realities of Chamorro diaspora, where more Chamorros are in the United States than in the Marianas force us to develop different strategies to include and connect to those thousands of miles away? How can Chamorros resist or critique the incessant and overwhelming demands of the United States military, when our lives, whether through relatives in Iraq, frequent editorials on our unavoidable military dependencies, and images of America as our saviors from World War II, make those demands seem so intimate and necessary? What are the educational issues facing Chamorros? What is the role of community organizations and dance groups within the larger movement? Lastly, what can our hopes be for decolonization, whether as a political process or a displacement of ideology or meaning, when for the majority of Chamorros, such a prospect remains a terrifying (im)possibility?

To this end, the Chamorro Information Activists are inviting all interested in critical discussions around the future of Chamorros and their islands to participate in Famoksaiyan, a Chamorro gathering to take place at the Sons and Daughters of Guam Club in San Diego, April 14 and 15, 2006.

Famoksaiyan translates to either “the place or time of nurturing” or “the time to paddle forward or move ahead.” It is in this spirit that we hope to provide a space where vital conversations can take place, and solutions to the above mentioned issues be strategized.

We welcome those interested in taking part in these discussions to submit individual or panel presentation proposals on any topic which relates critically to Chamorros in the Marianas and the rest of the world. As this is our first attempt at a gathering such as this, we are interested in getting as diverse a group as possible together. We stress that this is not solely an academic conference, rather a community conference including our manamko’, community activists, student leaders, and other interested people. Therefore people who consider themselves outside of academia are welcomed to submit presentations as well.

Your submission should include a one page proposal of either your paper or description of the panel you are organizing, as well as brief biography and your contact info (mailing address, telephone and email). Topics may include (but are not limited to): 1) Culture as Resistance (Chamorro art, literature, dance). 2) Militarization of life/land/desire. 3) Environmental racism (Nuclear fallout, toxic waste dumping). 4) Ensuring Educational Access (Recruitment, retention, reform). 5) Diaspora. 6) Social Movements and Political Activism (Self Determination, land rights, political reform). 7)Chamorros and Cross Racial Coalitions. 8) Mental and Physical Health Issues (Diabetes, Cancer, Ice, Suicide). 9) Language and Cultural Revitalization. 10) Decolonization and the Indigenous Critique.

The deadline for submissions is January 17, 2006. We will continue to accept presentations submitted after this date, but those received before it will be given priority. Please email your submissions and any questions to Michael Lujan Bevacqua at mlbasquiat@hotmail.com.

Si Yu’us Ma’ase! Biba Chamoru! Na’la’la’ Mo’na I Taotao I Islas Marianas!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dating Hysteric

I posted several months ago that I was a "dating hysteric." I received a few interesting emails asking for some information on what exactly that is. Some out of simple interest, others hoping to either diagnose or undiagnose themselves with this social affliction.

To make something clear first, a hysteric is the last person you should ask to describe hysteria. One earnest soul, asked me to clarify what I meant, "does it just mean you can't express yourself to the people you want to express yourself to?" My reply was probably about six pages long, in the form of a single spaced email which wandered through dense theoretical texts and shameless pop culture references. I'm far too embarassed to share my entire reply with everyone out there, but at least I can let see a few small sliver like hints of how strange my response was.

My last attempt to describe what a dating hysteric is included references to the following:

Ecrits by Jacques Lacan (the speech on "Reason since Freud)
Naked Lunch directed by David Cronenberg (The scene in Tangiers where the lips and voice of Ian Holm don't match up)
Weezer's Blue Album (the songs No One Else (the rules of attraction) and Only in Dreams (psychosis), which are interesting Lacanian songs)
Muqaddar Ka Sikandar with Amitabh and Vinod Khanna (the infamous Pyaar Zindagi Hai scene as well as the sacrifice of Sikandar and the ending song)
Empire of the Sun starring Christian Bale (via Zizek, hysterical revolutions)
Main Hoon Ha directed by Farah Khan (The qawwali scene, where Anju magically becomes popular)
Audition directed by Takashi Miike (the subject supposed to wait/torture)
The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology by Slavoj Zizek (too many citations, but definitely his discussion on the subversive potential of hysteria over perversion)
Toys directed by Barry Levinson (the intervention of the Big Other through Robin Wright Penn)
Audioslave's song Show Me How to Live
The End of Evangelion (Asuka's arm being flailed before she can go berserker, and also the visualization of what the Human Instrumentality Project looks like (the death of the subject as an always I))
Tokyo Raiders directed by Jingle Ma and Legend of the Swordsman starring Jet Li and Gorgeous starring Jackie Chan (the dubbed English versions, and how the characters don't understand each other, even though they are and are not speaking the same languages)
Herbie Fully Loaded starring Lindsey Lohan (Herbie as the death drive)
The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester ("tension apprehension and dissension have begun")
Dune directed by David Lynch and Anchorman starring Will Ferrell (naive narration, and how it complicates and interrupts the narrative)

I read recently a transcript between Lacan and a patient of his. After several pages of discussion of the patient's psychosis and Lacan playing the duo's straight man ("I certainly don't think you insane!" "Who called you psychotic? Not me!") the patient reveals that he had read some of Lacan's work years before when he was institutionalized. Although I would never claim to be psychotic (except to joke around/ scare people), my own schizotypal tendencies take on an interestingly intellectual character because I have read so much of Lacan and Zizek. I guess that's why I don't see this hysteria as something necessarily unproductive or damaging. Sure it makes dating hell and painfully impossible, but it makes my poetry and my scholarly work so painfully interesting.

Alain Badiou and Kanye West?

When you fall deep into the reading of a particular theoretical framework, if you ever imagine that you emerge from it, you will see that framework waiting within or stapled upon nearly all you encounter.

A confrontation with Hegel and The Phenomenology of Spirit will, like a rainstorm, leave traces upon your glasses which will follow you everywhere, always referring you back to "dialectics," Universal and the particular, and how the movement by which exteriority becomes interiority (something out there, always somehow becoming a manifestation of something "in here."). eading Derrida will always force one to confront the everyday and insurmountable impossibility and undeciability of life. Foucault, whether one likes it or not, makes amorphous and ambiguous "power" a regular part of your vocabulary.

After my recent encounter with the theories of Alain Badiou from Being and Event I found myself seeing and hearing his theories everywhere, even while I was walking from my office at UCSD to my car a half mile away. The connection which still sticks out of my head, much to my surprise is between Kanye West's Never Let Me Down and Badiou's theories about Truth and fidelity to the Event.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Feminisms and Militarisms

Minagof siempre. Bula minagof. Hu risibi este na katta gi i email box-hu, ya gof malago' yu' bei na'tungo' hamyo put Guiya. Ti apmam i fine'nina na ofisiat na tinige'-hu para u mapublish! Gof ya-na i editor i tinige'-hu ya sesso ha email'i yu' put este. Didide' mamahlao yu' sesso, lao ti bei puni na magof yu' lokkue.

Gi i ma'pos na simana, hu risibi i dinescribe (description) i anthology nai u gaige i tinige'-hu. Pues put i minagof-hu, pine'lo-ku maolek na bei post gui' guini. Estague gui'.


Gender and Militarism Across the Asia-Pacific

This anthology brings together seminal and groundbreaking essays that examine the interlocking histories of militarism, colonization and resistance to militarism across the Asia-Pacific over the last half-century. Building on the work of scholars such as Cynthia Enloe and Margo Okazawa-Rey, the authors further elaborate and theorize the intersections of race, gender and militarization as specific modalities and technologies of colonization. Bringing together original contributions from fifteen international and US-based scholars, this collection analyzes the historical, institutional, and discursive processes of the militarization of geographies, cultures, subjectivities and bodies. In doing so, these essays interrogate the production of militarized and gendered subjects, homelands, and domestic spaces, and the invention of new cultural practices that are constitutive of the racialized-gendered economies of militarized displacements, diasporas and occupations.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Why the Bones Should Be Buried

There are many Chamorros who believe that the bones of our ancestors which are uncovered or which are repatriated should be given to science and thus studied so that we can learn as much as possible about ourselves. I'm skeptical about this, and the first step in understanding my skepticism is listening carefully to the way in which this "quest for knowledge" is articulated. As one Chamorro told me recently, the bones that we find should be given to science so that we can "know where we came from."

It seems innocent enough, seems intelligent enough. The question of origins is what drives all people, right? Well, maybe, but not really. For indigenous peoples this "search for origins" is a rigged game, it is a process which only undermines their existences, whether its a white archeologist doing the search or a Chamorro.

This is the dangers of using anthropological knowledge to assert the existence or the identity of an indigenous person. You are using the tools which always seem to infer your own demise. For anthropologists, their work is always melancholic (as evidenced by Levi-Strauss' text Sad Tropics) because no matter what their avowed mission is, (a search for exotic and foreign life) all they find is exotic and foreign death and dying. As I posted several months ago, the dying always an effect of the presence of the anthropologist himself. The dangers for indigneous people using anthropological concepts and language is that its like attempting to assert life through suicidal ideation. A strangely morbid and tricky process.

Why is searching for where we came from a bad thing to do? Because if one takes that route (archeological), then you just end up cheating the indigenous person out of life once again. This is an old game, which you can find in discussions about the people who first settled the Pacific being drifters and shipwrecked souls rather than people who knew how to sail or navigate, to present day efforts to show that the latte weren't built by Chamorros (but by others, such as the people of Atlantis (I'm not kidding, some people propose this)).

This rational inquiry while, propsing to merely get to the bottom of things, in reality becomes the tool through which the Chamorro today can only be asserted through a cruel multiculturalist diffusion or can easily be dismissed through that very same temporal and geographic journey back into history.

This issue relates to the bodies of Chamorros themselves and how they can be refused existence based on a barrage of “not local” signifiers. One manifestation of this can be found on the current definition of “Chamorro” on the popular “hafa kumekeilek-na?” website Wikipedia. According to this anonymous yet authoritative definition, a Chamorro rather than being a specific subject or object is instead an ethnic trip around Asia and the Pacific. The Chamorro is thus explained as a pastiche of other locales, cultures and peoples. While the definition is set up by the customary voyage from somewhere in Asia to the Pacific, this originary link is mixed in with unfortunately powerful discursive regimes built on Chamorro non-existence, impurity and "not really Chamorroness." That trip supposedly back in time to trace a clear geneaology or continuity instead becomes an ethnic and cultural quagmire such as this:

They are a mixture of Eurasians — wherein Asians include Pacific IslandersAfricans, and Native Americans. They do not only include Malays, Indonesians, and Filipinos, but also mixed with Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Spanish, Americans (including Caucasian, Native American, and African), and other Pacific Islanders — especially Polynesians (also Hawaiians) and Micronesians.

The same process quickly happens for language as well.

Chamorro language is included in Malayo-Polynesian languages of the Austronesian family. It borrowed many words from foreign languages. Most words were derived from Spanish, American English, and Japanese, with a few from other Asian, like Chinese, and Austronesian languages, like Hawaiian.

The diffusion of the Chamorro can clearly be seen in how Chamorros borrowed words from other languages in particular "Hawai'ian." The problem with this of course is that if they are both Austronesian languages, then the similarities in words doesn't derive from their borrowing from other more visible and less impure cultures, but because they share a similar linguistic ancestor.

(What all this helps one understand better is how discourses on "multiculturalism" became so prevelant on Guam, other than the fact that there are so many different cultures there. In a 2003 letter to the Pacific Daily News editor one writer said that Guam could be a model UN, and in fact the PDN itself often plays up this angle when covering "crosscultural" and "multicultural" activities in Guam. Chamorros themselves, despite being the indigenous people of Guam, often enthusiastically participate in their own erasure through multicultural rhetoric, reformulating the indigenous task as one of recognizing its impossibility of being the indigenous people, "as the indigenous people of this island, it is our responsibility to make sure that everyone is equal." But what all this hides is that the signifier of Chamorro is esta machuchuda' with a plethora of far more visible and potent cultural and ethnic signifiers. To make it clear, the Chamorro isn't just part of Guam as a model UN, the Chamoro (as shown above) already is in and of itself a model UN. (this of course puts a whole new spin on that annoying slogan of "Guam as America in Asia" because it carrys over into Chamorros themselves))

Thus what was once a mere anthropological/archeological obsession (where did these people really come from?) now becomes a powerful hegemonic tool for unraveling attempts by Chamorros to assert some sort of identity in opposition to or outside of the United States. Thus those in Guam who are threatened by someone who proudly or loudly asserts themselves as a Chamorro, can make use of one of the most annoying forms of anthropological secret knowledge on Guam, best summed up with this example, “you think you’re Chamorro, but you’re all really just _____ (insert other ethnic category, whether it be, Asian, Filipino, Malaysian, Indonesia, Chinese, Taiwanese, etc)” But this tactic can be used on nearly anything in Guam, where the attempt to assert something as local, can be contested easily by attributing its source to elsewhere. The most annoying example which pops into my head is the Wall Street Journal article "Guam Struggles to Find its Roots Beneath Piles of Spam" from 2000 which discussed Chamorro non-existence. Such a search for pure signifiers took place, around food, where the article's brodie author, asks Tony Lamorena to show him what "real" Chamorro food is. A handful of food dishes are mentioned, each leading to somewhere else, not Guam. At last when a real Chamorro dish is found, fanihi, its mentioned to be illegal to hunt and eat. Thus making it clear in unclear, salient yet silent terms that whatever this Chamorro is (which is not this cruel diffusion), is inaccessible to us. There is a prohibition on it, which puts it beyond the reach of Chamorros today. The article ends in a way too painful perfect for proving my points, with this frightening empe' Real:

"Who's a Chamorro, and who's not?" asks 18-year-old Menchie Canlas, aFilipino ticket-taker at the cliff. "I don't think anybody knows any more."

I mas na'triste put este, is that one can find such blunted and frightening searches in attempts to positively assert a Chamorro as well. Scenes similar to the ones I mentioned above from The Wall Street Journal, can be found in Chamoru Dreams by Eric Tydingco.

When should the bones not be buried, and then studied? When huge fundamental shifts of meaning take place in Guam, when culture is re-imagined and the common qualifiers of "real" or "really" Chamorrones are no longer necessary, because we begin to see culture outside of those western notions of cultural purity and impurity. This meaning, that we should study these bones and learn from them, once Guam has changed to the point where this inquiry would not blatantly vaporize the Chamorro, would not be (to na'takpappa' i sinangan-na Si Alan Moore ginnen Watchmen) the Reasoned light through which the Chamorro is taken into a thousand pieces. What we are stuck with today is the Chamorro now as a foolish myth (as I saw last year on a military message board "these people are so stupid (Chamorros) they're all dead, they just don't know it yet), where as these journeys through scientific discovery and reason which lead us to Taiwan, Bali, the Philippines have the aura of facts. What must take place is a switching, where those journeys become the myths which we can build coalitions and connections to others in the Pacific, in Asia in Micronesia, but we can only do this if we begin and end that trip in Guam. If we do not accomplish this move, then the things which divide Chamorros from the rest of Micronesia, or the Pacific will not be overcome, because what constitutes the Chamorro will not be indigenous connections, affiliations through abjection or survival or colonialism, but instead their entwining intimacy with the United States.

Latin America Rebukes Bush

Published on Sunday, November 6, 2005 by The Nation
Chávez and Maradona Lead Massive Rebuke of Bush
by Jordana Timerman

Some aspects of George Bush's travels have become commonplace, including massive protests, sporadic violence and tight security operations. All of these usual elements--notably the imperial-style arrival of the US president with an entourage of 2,000 people and four AWACS surveillance systems--were present at the Fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

But the opposition to Bush and his proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), as well as neoconservative economic policies and capitalism in general, took on a creative twist this time, with a massive march that ended in a rally at a sports stadium involving a heterogeneous group of Latin American leaders: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Bolivian socialist leader Evo Morales, Argentine leaders of the unemployed, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, singers from all over the continent, and, of course, Diego Maradona, legendary soccer hero.

A counter-meeting, the Summit of the People, began in the city on Monday, and concluded on Thursday with recommendations to summarily suspend FTAA talks, combat inequality in the region, and "energetically reject the militarization of the continent promoted by the empire of the north."

At the culminating event of the march against Bush, Chávez called the stadium in which over 25,000 demonstrators had gathered the "gravesite of the FTAA."

He also proposed a Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA, a Spanish acronym meaning "dawn") to replace the controversial FTAA. Regional opponents of Bush's free trade agreement accuse it of fomenting inequality and placing poorer countries at the mercy of wealthier ones. The Bolivarian alternative proposes regional integration with the goal of fighting poverty and social exclusion.

Chávez's speech reflected the diplomatic problems encountered in the writing of the Summit of the Americas final text. Venezuela refused to agree to a note, inserted by US representatives, mentioning "the 96 million people who live in extreme poverty," in Latin America and the Caribbean unless there was also mention of the "37 million poor" living in the United States.
ALBA, according to Chávez "must be built from the bottom...It will not be built up from the elites, but from below, from our roots." He listed examples of ALBA in action, citing the sale of Venezuelan petroleum to fourteen Caribbean countries at a 40 percent discount and with an interest rate of one percent over twenty-five years, with the ability to pay off the debt with goods and services instead of cash.

"It was a turning point in Latin American history," claims Marcelo Langieri, academic secretary of the Sociology faculty at the University of Buenos Aires. Langieri, who was one of 160 cultural and political leaders invited to travel the 400 kilometers from Buenos Aires to Mar del Plata on a train dubbed the ALBA Express, emphasized what he considers a paradigm shift in the dialogue. "Not only was the FTAA questioned, but also the neoconservative economic model and capitalism," and by somebody in a position of power such as Chávez's.

Chávez revealed that he would be presenting an Alliance Against Hunger plan to the Summit leaders. He promised $1 million from Venezuela for the project, which proposes eradicating starvation within the next decade.

Signs carried by the crowd included "Stop Bush" and "Pirate Bush, out of Mar del Plata." Crowd estimates varied, from 25,000 cited in the New York Times to 50,000 people cited by organizers.

The march and rally at the soccer stadium had an important celebrity factor attracting further attention to the cause. The ALBA Express, which included a special VIP car for Maradona, was cheered on by fans along the way to Mar del Plata, and stopped several times in the night to greet people gathered at stations.

Soccer legend Maradona attracted considerable attention to the march by announcing on his Monday night television show that he would be protesting Bush's arrival in Argentina. Maradona, who is not known for his political views, has a close relationship with Cuban president Fidel Castro, built during recent years when he spent time recovering from drug addiction in Cuba. In a press conference on Thursday Maradona referred to Bush as "human garbage." However, he did not actually march, going directly from the train to the stadium.

"Argentina is worthy; Let's kick Bush out," was Maradona's message to the stadium protesters.
Langieri discards the idea of separating Maradona's star power from the anti-Bush cause. For Langieri the importance of the message is expressed by the fact that a national hero such as Maradona would promote it. "Maradona is not a politician. What Diego said is the truth."
Though the march to the stadium and the gathering there were peaceful, a separate demonstration by far-left groups ended in chaos and violence. Reaching the barrier area, a group that spread out over an avenue for over six blocks faced off against police forces. A segment of this group--about 200 people--were prepared for confrontation, masking themselves to avoid recognition and as protection from tear gas. Most of the demonstrators fled when police forces responded to rock-throwing with tear gas, but others turned on storefronts--setting a bank on fire and breaking windows.

The Summit of the Americas ended Saturday in a deadlock: Mexico, the United States and 27 other nations pushed to set an April deadline for more talks on free trade, but that was opposed by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela. And in the end It is not clear what effect the opposition to Bush will have on regional cooperation. Will the promise of unity demonstrated by the Summit of the People and the peaceful marches lead to real alternatives to US foreign policy? Or is Bush merely the latest rallying point for anti-capitalism leading to riots and vandalism? Regardless, it seems to be that opposition toward Bush and his policies has created a powerful space, one which regional leaders, especially Chávez, are more than willing to take advantage of.

Jordana Timerman is a freelance correspondent in Argentina and a former intern at The Nation.

© 2005 The Nation
###

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Threat of Hope in Latin America


Published on Friday, November 4, 2005 by The Nation
The Threat of Hope in Latin America by Naomi Klein


When Manuel Rozental got home one night last month, friends told him two strange men had been asking questions about him. In this close-knit indigenous community in southwestern Colombia ringed by soldiers, right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrillas, strangers asking questions about you is never a good thing.

The Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, which leads a political movement that is autonomous from all those armed forces, held an emergency meeting. They decided that Rozental, their communications coordinator, who had been instrumental in campaigns for agrarian reform and against a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, had to get out of the country—fast.

They were certain that those strangers had been sent to kill Rozental—the only question was, by whom? The US-backed national government, which notoriously uses right-wing paramilitaries to do its dirty work? Or was it the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), Latin America’s oldest Marxist guerrilla army, which does its dirty work all on its own? Oddly, both were distinct possibilities. Despite being on opposing sides of a forty-one-year civil war, the Uribe government and the FARC wholeheartedly agree that life would be infinitely simpler without Cauca’s increasingly powerful indigenous movement.

Prominent indigenous leaders in northern Cauca have been kidnapped or assassinated by the FARC, which seeks to be the exclusive voice of Colombia’s poor. And indigenous authorities had been informed that the FARC wanted Rozental dead. For months rumors had been circulated that he was the worst thing you can be in the books of a left-wing guerrilla movement: a CIA agent. But that doesn’t mean the strangers were FARC assassins, because there had been other rumors too, spread through the media by government officials. They held that Rozental was the worst thing you can be in the books of a right-wing, Bush-bankrolled politician: “an international terrorist.”

On October 27 the Indigenous Council, representing the roughly 110,000 Nasa Indians in the region, issued an angry communiqué: “Manuel is no terrorist. He is no paramilitary. He is no agent of the CIA. He is a part of our community who must not be silenced by bullets.” The Nasa leaders say they know why Rozental, now living in exile in Canada, has come under threat. It is the same reason that this past April two peaceful indigenous villages in Northern Cauca were turned into war zones after the FARC attacked police posts in the town centers, giving the government an excuse for a full-scale occupation.

All of this is happening because the indigenous movement is on a roll. In the past year the Nasa of northern Cauca have held the largest antigovernment protests in recent Colombian history and organized local referendums against free trade that had a turnout of 70 percent, higher than any official election (with a near unanimous “no” result). And in September thousands took over two large haciendas, forcing the government to make good on a long-promised land settlement. All these actions unfolded under the protection of the Nasa’s unique Indigenous Guard, who patrol their territory armed only with sticks.

In a country ruled by M-16s, AK-47s, pipe bombs and Black Hawk helicopters, this combination of militancy and nonviolence is unheard of. And that is the quiet miracle the Nasa have accomplished: They revived the hope killed when paramilitaries systematically slaughtered left-wing politicians, including dozens of elected officials and two Unión Patriótica presidential candidates. At the end of the bloody campaign in the early nineties, the FARC understandably concluded that engaging in open politics was a suicide mission. The key to the Nasa’s success, Rozental says, is that they are not trying to take over state institutions, which “have lost all legitimacy.” They are instead “building a new legitimacy based on an indigenous and popular mandate that has grown out of participatory congresses, assemblies and elections. Our process and our alternative institutions have put the official democracy to shame. That’s why the government is so angry.”

The Nasa have shattered the illusion, cherished by both sides, that Colombia’s conflict can be reduced to a binary war. Their free-trade referendums have been imitated by nonindigenous unions, students, farmers and local politicians nationwide; their land takeovers have inspired other indigenous and peasant groups to do the same. A year ago 60,000 marched demanding peace and autonomy; last month those same demands were echoed by simultaneous marches in thirty-two of Colombia’s provinces. Each action, explains Hector Mondragon, well-known Colombian economist and activist, “has had a multiplier effect.”

Across Latin America a similarly explosive multiplier effect is under way, with indigenous movements redrawing the continent’s political map, demanding not just “rights” but a reinvention of the state along deeply democratic lines. In Bolivia and Ecuador, indigenous groups have shown they have the power to topple governments. In Argentina, when mass protests ousted five presidents in 2001 and ’02, the words of Mexico’s Zapatistas were shouted on the streets of Buenos Aires. At this writing, George W. Bush is on his way to Argentina, where he will discover that the spirit of that revolt is alive and well.

As in northern Cauca, governments attempt to brand these indigenous-inspired movements as terrorist. And not surprisingly Washington is offering military and ideological assistance: There has been a marked increase in US troop activity near the Bolivian border in Paraguay, and a recent study by the National Intelligence Council warned that indigenous movements, although peaceful now, could “consider more drastic means” in the future.

Indigenous movements are indeed a threat to the exhausted free-trade policies Bush is currently hawking, with ever fewer buyers, across Latin America. Their power comes not from terror but from a new terror-resistant strain of hope, one so sturdy it can take root in the midst of Colombia’s seemingly hopeless civil war. And if it can grow there, it can take root anywhere.

Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies (Picador) and, most recently, Fences and Windows: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (Picador).

© 2005 The Nation
###

Friday, November 04, 2005

Despensa yu' ta'lo

For the past few weeks I've been trying to post regularly, but its been tough for the past week or so. First I went up to Berkeley last week to give a talk in my friend's class and then spent a few days up there hanging out with friends. And then tomorrow I'll be heading out to Washington D.C. and the American Studies Association Conference to participate in a roundtable discussion on the state of Chamorro scholarship. If the blog appears abandoned for a while, its because the hotel I'll be staying at has no internet access. But I'll be sure to back post once I'm back in San Diego

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

video game mistress

Manieniente yu' romantiko didide' sa' humalom ta'lo gi lina'la'-hu i "video game mistress"-hu. Para hamyo ni' sesso matto yan taitai i tinige'-hu siha guini, este i palao'an na ilek-hu gi i summer na ya-hu didide' sa' ya-na vumideo games.

Umasodda' ham gi i ma'pos na simana giya San Francisco, ya hu siente ta'lo masokkai. Ti hu tungo' hafa i magahet na palabra para este na siniente gi fino' Chamorro, lao i verb "sokkai" mas inos nu Guahu. Sa' mismo ti un ekspekpek i siente, kalang mamamokkat yu' gi i halom tano', taya' un ripapara, ya BAM - sinekkai yu' ni' i bininta-na yan minangge'-na este na palao'an.

Pues, gi este na espiritu, bai hu na'li'e hamyo i palabras-na un kanta-hu put guinaiya. Ti betsu ha', mismo kanta, ya i tiune-na Nothing Compares to You ginnen i Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies.


Na’hasson Hagu

Halacha nai un dingu yu’
Ya un na’ yu’ taiga’chong
Lumailai yu’ gi maseha manu
Ya hu chagi mumaleffa hao

Sa’ taigue hao, Guahu obra pa’go,
Hayi bai hu ga’chungi
Sina dumana ham yan maseha fulana
Lao taya’ pau laknos este i triste-ku

Matto di mampos minahalang-hu
Kada diha matugua’ yu’
Esta paladang i lagu’-hu gi mata-hu
Na’tungo’ yu’ hafa isao-hu?
Lameggai na famalao’an gaige gi fi’on-hu
Lao todu parehu
Manna’hasson Hagu

Sa’ taya achaigua
Taya’ parehu-mu

Umali’e ham yan I otro na chika
Ya takfiha ilek-na?
Ilek-na, Na’magof hao sa’ siempre ti apmam matai hit
Lao ti magahet

Sa’ taya achaigua
Taya’ parehu-mu

Todu I pinachan nene I labios-mu
Manmafnas nai taigue hao
Hu tungo’ na guaha chatsaga’ nai humita
Lao ta’lo na’i yu’ fan ni’ kannai-mu

Sa’ taya achaigua
Taya’ parehu-mu

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Six

Something interesting happened to me today. I had a "street" game of six degrees of separation. Somehow I got involved in talking about movies with this guy while waiting in the financial aid office and so I asked him if he'd ever played the game. He said he'd heard of it, but always thought it was called six degrees of Kevin Bacon. I decided to have a test match with him, so he could see how it works, how a match can sometimes last ten seconds or ten minutes.

For those of you unfamiliar with the game, you take two actors or actresses and then using the movies they've starred in and the actors and actresses that they've co-starred with, you connect them to each other. The streets matches I had today were pretty easy, just to give this guy a sense of the game. One round was Ed Harris to John Candy. There are plenty of ways that you can connect them, but the one which I came up with the quickest was Ed Harris to Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 and Tom Hanks to John Candy in Volunteers.

Me and my brothers play this game way too much, sometimes spending hours dueling each other (hours doesn't quite cover it, since we can play for hours over different locales (such as house, car ride, mall, dinner, car ride, house). After telling my brother Jack about the match I had today, he said that we should start a league of with houses similar to Hogwarts and me, him and our younger brother Jeremy would each have our house, duelists and most importantly our own house names (I'm thinking of my house being the Subtitlists).

I just thought I'd list here for those interested a number of different variations that me and my brothers play.

1. Street Version: The most basic form. Have someone name two different actors and then connect them in less than six links. The participants then race to see who can connect the pair the fastest, not necessarily in the least amount of links, but whoever can spit out their chain first. So for example, if your match was to connect Alfred Molina to Patrick Stewart and if someone said they had it first and proceeded to connect them with Alfred Molina to Johnny Depp in Chocolat, Depp to Paul Giamatti in Donnie Brasco, Giamatti to Virginia Madsen in Sideways and Madsen to Patrick Stewart in Dune, although someone might afterwards say they could do it in a single link (Molina to Stewart both start in Steamboy) to point is whoever can call that they have it first and successfully link the actors within the six links. Its important to make sure that you set house rules, or level of intensity before you begin. This means, settle ahead of time whether the entire name of a movie must be mentioned. Such as is Agent Cody Banks 2, appropriate or do you have to say Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.?

2. Unhappy Team: This version is ideal for long full car rides. Two actors are randomly chosen and people take turns attempting to connect them, without giving each other hints or support. Ideally, you will want to work together and help each other out, by connecting the actors to movies which will provide lots of options for outlets.

For example, let's say the two to be connected are Antonio Banderas and Rufus Sewell. In this game, each player will have a different level of film knowledge which makes it far more difficult and intense. So the goal is to think ahead if you can and help the next person who is doing the connecting. In this hypothetical example, let's say Jose the first player connects Antonio Banderas to Catherine Zeta Jones in The Legend of Zorro. This is where the challenge comes in this game, because in actuality, Banderas and Sewell are in the same movie, namely The Legend of Zorro, but because one player doesn't know that, the game will continue. It therefore passes on the Pedro who has to connect Catherine Zeta Jones to something. The goal if you don't have an intended strategy, is to connect these actors to movies which will provide the next person lots of options. So will Pedro give Tomas the next player a Catherine Zeta Jones film with limited options (such as Blue Juice) or bula' options (such as Ocean's Twelve or Chicago)?

3. Harrowing Narrowing: This is a more hardcore version in that you have to connect actors to each other using particular movies. There are two forms of this. The first is that when the actors are named, the person naming also names the movie through which they have to be connected. So instead of merely saying Brad Pitt and Charlie Sheen, you would say "Brad Pitt in The Devil's Own" and "Charlie Sheen in Scary Movie 3." This adds a whole new dimension to the game since these two movies limit greatly how you can connect them, because instead of being able to chose from every Brad Pitt movie you can think of and all the actors he starred with, you are now limited to who he starred with in The Devil's Own, Ruben Blades, Treat Williams, Harrision Ford and Natasha McElhone. The other version of this is usually a bit easier, where a movie will be named through which you have to go through. For example, if the two you are to connect are Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, you can't just say they were in the same movie (Godfather II, Heat) but have to connect them through a usually completely unrelated movie like Dude Where's My Car? (I dare you to try this one, its a real pain, especially off the top of your head or in a match).

4. Video Palace Version: This is my favorite version however its hard to find people to duel through it. In order to place this form you have to be in a video store, and instead of just naming movies off the top of your head to connect people, you actually have to run around the video store, looking for the videos and only videos which are in stock in the store can be used (and if there is only one copy of a movie, whoever grabs it first gets the use it).

My brother Jack is much better at six degress of separation than I am, partially because if you develop strategies and collect certain movies to connect generally unconnected groups of actors you're chains form alot smoother (for example, what films allow you to bridge generations, or ethnic actor groups). Also, what are movies that just have way too many people in them, from which you can go just about anywhere, some good examples of films like these are Ocean's Twelve, Heat, Sin City, Deconstructing Harry and Its a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Find these types of movies, memorize who's in them and you'll have some great hub flicks.

Its because we already have so many memorized routes in place, that coming up with stumpers means alot of times using obscure names and films. For example, how fast can you connect Rosamund Kwan with Jennifer Lopez? It's actually pretty easy, just depends on what films you know Rosamund Kwan from. Rosamund Kwan was in Once Upon a Time in China III with Jet Li. Jet Li was with Bob Hoskins in Unleashed. Bob Hoskins with with J-Lo in Maid in Manhattan.

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