juxtaposition

Juxtaposition fascinates me. I’ve always been intrigued with the push-pull, the apparent contradictions, the yin and the yang… masculine and feminine, night and day, bitter and sweet, the elegant and the crude.

We live in a time of juxtaposition. It is the best of times, and the worst of times. Never has there been more brooding potential for tyranny and massive corruption and destruction of humanity. Never before has there been more potential, more tools at our disposal, for amazing growth and progress.

I suppose that my fascination with juxtaposition is also made manifest in my life. You see it in the way I dress up mixing the masculine and the feminine, the music I love, and the music I plan to create.  You see it in my photographs, the interplay between darkness and light, between elegance and grit. Perhaps it is even found in my sense of humor – reverence somehow intertwined with profanity.

There are times in my life when I feel pulled to one end of yin or yang. Other times I feel completely in balance, meshing the two energies. Perhaps that is the way of things, proof that yin and yang flow through me, rather than stagnate. Flow is one of the obvious visual messages of the yin and yang symbol.  There are times when the rising and receding tide of these energies is uncomfortable. I will try to remember to take comfort in the fact that flow is happening, for this is life force itself.

A few years ago, I was passionate about certain political causes. 4 years ago, to be exact. It’s probably not insignificant that this was before I started working for the United States Postal Service. This was also when the 2008 elections where happening, and I became a passionate advocate of Libertarianism. I had visions of being a new age revolutionary – a soldier of the information age: laptop my musket, social network my brigade.

Something happened to me during my 4 years at USPS. I became more indifferent and disenfranchised from those visions. I am not sure what to attribute it to – was it the onslaught of 10 – 12 hour days, 6 days  / week for 4 years?  Was it the influence of working amongst the dispassionate, self entitled, shallow minded, consumerist fools who are 95% of postal workers?  Was it the hours of ultra libertarian / anarchist podcasts I listened to? Was it the simple passage of time, the mellowing and aging of my disposition?

I’m now self employed. I have almost total control over who I spend time with.  I’m listening to fewer podcasts and reading more news…   There are 2 extremely troubling pieces of legislation afoot:

NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act of 2012): In a nutshell, this bill contains language that will allow the military to imprison anyone they deem a suspected terrorist, indefinitely, without due process, without access to an attorney, without justification. No habeus corpus, nothing.  And by anyone, this means American Citizens.  What exactly must come out of one’s mouth to be a “suspected terrorist”?  God help you if the wrong combination of vowels and consonants flow from your lips.

SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act): Essentially, the large media companies want the government to implement regulations that will make any sort of copyright infringement a felony. This would also create a set of censorship policies, and internet controls that would effectively destroy what was once the last realm of personal freedom.

Do the arithmetic: The government labeling anyone it chooses to as a “suspected terrorist”, coupled with the government’s ability to censor and control what is said and done on the internet…   Do you see any room for freedom of speech, personal liberty, the exercise of democracy?

Our democracy has already been fucked to death by the mainstream media in the realm of TV and print journalism… If we lose the internet… not to sound overly doomsday-ish, but I really can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel save for a total revolution. As in, a blood, guns, guts, overthrow the government kind of revolution.

I’m afraid that we do indeed live in some very, very dark times. Film makers and story tellers have long painted a dystopic picture of a future that looks like a high tech dark ages, and I think that’s exactly where we are headed.  I think the steam punk culturists are onto something.  I believe we will soon see a time when the squandering of freedom, commerce, and the bastardization of our currency by corrupt politicians and their business mogul friends will create a time where the common man is forced to survive with elementary technologies, and will augment that crude reality with the modern tools and conveniences he can squander and make work. It will be a strange conglomeration of low and high tech, born of necessity and survival instincts. As the flow of life shows us – the yin and the yang symbol – the darkness will grow to a climax, at which point the seed for light will become present and large enough to be vital.  The darkness will collapse rapidly and give way to a growing light. Sadly, you can see where that light will ultimately lead to, again, but that is a topic for another day… another age, actually.

I am beginning to feel called back to the battle. I’m no longer associated ideologically with the ultra extreme segment of libertarians known as anarchists.  I’m more pragmatic now.  I think that a strong push for libertarian leaders in our current system is what we need. The principles of liberty are what will give way to the collapse of the dark and give way to emerging light.  Perhaps it is time to take up the arms of the 21st century and get to work.

Paul Duane

Paul Duane is a photographer, writer, and talk show host based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

One Comment

  1. Liberty is one of the highest ideals that I live by. It certainly scares me to see what has happened and is happening to what freedom we do have.

    Speaking of juxtaposition, it’s interesting to note the dichotomy between freedom and another of my ideals for happiness…the need for connection.

    I’m all about the individual. I think it’s wrong to aggress against an individual or their freedom.

    At the same time, we have a deep need to connect with and exist amidst others. It has evolutionary foundations for survival and well-being.

    What really fascinates me is when the need for freedom and the need for connection come head to head. How do we negotiate those two things?

    Sadly, society is turning far too much to violence to “save” everyone from this complex yin-yang relationship.

    I feel the answers lie at the local level…and when I say local, I mean the individual and family level mostly.

    Anarchy is a nice sentiment philosophically. Sadly, the world is not capable of upholding a voluntary society at the moment.

    A more pragmatic approach is needed.

    I believe lots can be done by sharing our voices using power media like the Internet.

    So thank you for raising a voice of reason and making your own ideals heard!

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