Sunday, June 29, 2008


jay-z--- regrets
This is just how you feel sometimes. Gotta learn to live with regrets.
"now is the time to do."

-zaven e.

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling

I thought it proper to share this. Think what you. will.


The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination
by J.K. Rowling

Speech Details
2008 Harvard University Commencement, June 5, 2008. Copyright of J.K. Rowling, June 2008, June 5, 2008

President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates,
The first thing I would like to say is 'thank you.' Not only has Harvard given me an extraordinary honor, but the weeks of fear and nausea I've experienced at the thought of giving this commencement address have made me lose weight. A win-win situation! Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and fool myself into believing I am at the world's best-educated Harry Potter convention.

Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can't remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.

You see? If all you remember in years to come is the 'gay wizard' joke, I've still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step towards personal improvement.

Actually, I have wracked my mind and heart for what I ought to say to you today. I have asked myself what I wish I had known at my own graduation, and what important lessons I have learned in the 21 years that has expired between that day and this.

I have come up with two answers. On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success, I have decided to talk to you about the benefits of failure. And as you stand on the threshold of what is sometimes called 'real life', I want to extol the crucial importance of imagination.

These might seem quixotic or paradoxical choices, but please bear with me.

Looking back at the 21-year-old that I was at graduation, is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the 42-year-old that she has become. Half my lifetime ago, I was striking an uneasy balance between the ambition I had for myself, and what those closest to me expected of me.

I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels. However, my parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an amusing personal quirk that could never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension.

They had hoped that I would take a vocational degree; I wanted to study English Literature. A compromise was reached that in retrospect satisfied nobody, and I went up to study Modern Languages. Hardly had my parents' car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor.

I cannot remember telling my parents that I was studying Classics; they might well have found out for the first time on graduation day. Of all subjects on this planet, I think they would have been hard put to name one less useful than Greek mythology when it came to securing the keys to an executive bathroom.

I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticize my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticized only by fools.

What I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure.

At your age, in spite of a distinct lack of motivation at university, where I had spent far too long in the coffee bar writing stories, and far too little time at lectures, I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person's idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it. So I think it fair to say that by any conventional measure, a mere seven years after my graduation day, I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

Now, I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun. That period of my life was a dark one, and I had no idea that there was going to be what the press has since represented as a kind of fairy tale resolution. I had no idea how far the tunnel extended, and for a long time, any light at the end of it was a hope rather than a reality.

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had already been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

Failure gave me an inner security that I had never attained by passing examinations. Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way. I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above rubies.

The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.

Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.

One of the greatest formative experiences of my life preceded Harry Potter, though it informed much of what I subsequently wrote in those books. This revelation came in the form of one of my earliest day jobs. Though I was sloping off to write stories during my lunch hours, I paid the rent in my early 20s by working in the research department at Amnesty International's headquarters in London.

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Many of my co-workers were ex-political prisoners, people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to think independently of their government. Visitors to our office included those who had come to give information, or to try and find out what had happened to those they had been forced to leave behind.

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

And as long as I live I shall remember walking along an empty corridor and suddenly hearing, from behind a closed door, a scream of pain and horror such as I have never heard since. The door opened, and the researcher poked out her head and told me to run and make a hot drink for the young man sitting with her. She had just given him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country's regime, his mother had been seized and executed.

Every day of my working week in my early 20s I was reminded how incredibly fortunate I was, to live in a country with a democratically elected government, where legal representation and a public trial were the rights of everyone.

Every day, I saw more evidence about the evils humankind will inflict on their fellow humans, to gain or maintain power. I began to have nightmares, literal nightmares, about some of the things I saw, heard and read.

And yet I also learned more about human goodness at Amnesty International than I had ever known before.

Amnesty mobilizes thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people's minds, imagine themselves into other people's places.

Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral. One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathize.

And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.

I might be tempted to envy people who can live that way, except that I do not think they have any fewer nightmares than I do. Choosing to live in narrow spaces can lead to a form of mental agoraphobia, and that brings its own terrors. I think the willfully unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.

What is more, those who choose not to empathize may enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it, through our own apathy.

One of the many things I learned at the end of that Classics corridor down which I ventured at the age of 18, in search of something I could not then define, was this, written by the Greek author Plutarch: What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.

That is an astonishing statement and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people's lives simply by existing.

But how much more are you, Harvard graduates of 2008, likely to touch other people's lives? Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received, give you unique status, and unique responsibilities. Even your nationality sets you apart. The great majority of you belong to the world's only remaining superpower. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you protest, the pressure you bring to bear on your government, has an impact way beyond your borders. That is your privilege, and your burden.

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

I am nearly finished. I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children's godparents, the people to whom I've been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I've used their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.

So today, I can wish you nothing better than similar friendships. And tomorrow, I hope that even if you remember not a single word of mine, you remember those of Seneca, another of those old Romans I met when I fled down the Classics corridor, in retreat from career ladders, in search of ancient wisdom:

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.

I wish you all very good lives.

Thank you very much.

Copyright of J.K. Rowling, June 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

"We all have our time machines. Some take us back, they're called memories. Some take us forward, they're called dreams."

jeremy irons

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman was the first African American (male or female) to become an airplane pilot and the first American of any race or gender to hold an international pilot license. She was American, but she had to go to France to do this. 1921
You look at something like this and can't help but think what kind of lineage. what kind of legacy. one leaves. and (is) passed on to you.and it makes you think that you can't help but to be so great. you know?
and then you've already got them..
(f)lying (p)apers..and they're yours to take


tuskegee land

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Imagination Inspires Nations

Janelle Monae
Wondaland Arts Society

I first heard about Janelle Monae a couple years ago.
The lady's been steadily building.. and they are doing AMaZinG things.
Very good to see this happening. Extremely Inspiring. yES

From The Wondaland Arts Society blog:

"The Imagination Campaign embraces the idea of using Imaginations from every corner of the globe to form a collective that is conscious of its power and responsibility for future generations. In as much as The Imagination Campaign has everything to do with Janelle MonĂ¡e’s musical odyssey, it also highlights the individual activity of her supporters in a way that introduces them to peers in their surrounding area and encourages them to be fearless in pursuing their dreams."

We desire:
To encourage fearlessness To seek freedom through innovation & productivity To plant revolutions with the seeds of hope and knowledge

Keep it coming! y'all. Imagination YeS!
the PeOple CouLD Fli approve.



"I walked, I ran, I jumped, I flew
Right off the ground to float to you
There's no gravity to hold me down for real"

..I admit into this song. Maybe I'm late, but..

walk stand fly- detroit international

Monday, June 23, 2008


Transformers Rendition

We listen to this one song alot around this house
it makes me want to jump out of my skin and
do something. something. it makes me want get up and start
running around the whole world and deep. this!
It makes me want to jump out of my skin and be.
wonderful.ridiculous.everything. that i could possibly be.
you know? every single friggin thing.

A transformer. I transform.

the people can fly
such is this.

i think i can

start the fire

GracIous Fly

Amazing Grace
Mary Hoffman/Ill. by Caroline Binch

Sunday, June 22, 2008

DTW (A)llied Media Conference

WE SHOT DOWN INTO DTW Friday. Kalimah from Roanoke. Amenta and I, Memphis.
Coming in for the 10th annual Allied Media Conference.

And it hailed while we were there.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Be. fly. Believe.. that we bloom upon this stalk of time

These days I find myself at a loss for words. I mean I have words, quite a lot of them, almost as such that I don't know what to say when I come here. Where to start? What gives? What comes?
We're in the midst of a remaking and a reshaping, that we know.
Whether I should talk about the research, the reading, the searching be it online or in books or magazines. The clues to a living life. And staying current.
Whether I should talk about the musings, the daydreams, the night dreams- the dream.
Whether to talk about the meetings, the planning, we've been doing between ourselves.
Or the ideas that blossom.
And fulfillment.

I guess most of all we are deciding what to do.. next?
Both to complete various missions from the past year or the starting of new ones.
Still have some promises to fulfill.
But more than anything the feeling. that keeps you. It
keeps you as you keep it.
And sends you rolling.

Reaffirming to oneself the stated goal.
Learning again and again. Sometimes different lessons.
But also the same lesson in different forms, coming to teach
you in deeper and deeper ways about life
and yourself.

It seems to me that once you think you've got one thing, something
else comes along and you are questioning again. And maybe that's
the way it should be you know.

I think that's where I've been since Djibouti honestly.
Questioning again and feeling again about something.
And I'm still figuring it out.
Do you ever really? Complete understanding an experience and how you got there.

I was writing a paper in the past weeks really trying to articulate what happened to me during and after Djibouti. I eventually had to take that part out of the paper because it warranted more thought and articulation than the seeming time constraints. But I will likely post some of those thoughts.

But fundamentally what is it to transcend and to make one's way through a life. I see what's before me you know? But how do I navigate it and what part of that expanse I see stretching forward and inward is me? Where do I reside in the whole world?

I guess I approach these questions of life through travel and through the spectre of the adventure or the quest. It seems palpable for me there. Travel or the named of quest appears to be a means for me to grapple with the very substance of the world, with my mind you know and all those parts of me.

World. Myself. Movement. The dream. Conceptual. Actual. Intersections. And power of myself. The individual. Power of myself (the individual) in the waking world, not in comparison to others persay, but in this whole waking world as it spins and what I choose. Importantly, what I choose. And whether I choose to go southwest or northwest, due east or south. And that's a metaphor and an actuality for so many things. traveling. (ahh energy.. i think i'll come back to this question)

Travel. Movement. Choice. Actualization. And Importantly. If I am even real. If I am even real.
Because I am made of dreams even as I am made of a body it seems, and all things like that.

And it seems like if i should believe in myself, then I should believe in my own dreams.
And if I should believe in the dream, (they are inside me) then i should believe in myself.

What else is whipping round my head and heart (ahh heart, what a word -sometimes given with a connotation of corniness, but important- I shall come back to the heart later, but..) day and night? Some things that other people can see, but some they cannot.
And do I believe in it? Does it have a reason? Are they valid? Are they stable? Is this possible? Can other people see it. Oh goodness.
Or in otherwords, do I believe in myself? Do I have a reason? Am I valid? Am I possible?

And then you are filled with this great pulsing feeling to make it real. Honestly sometimes I'm often pummeled over by it.

Hmm. And start whirring.

You know in these explanations I often try to write to people about what this project is and what I want it to do, it seems like I run in circles.
Are we
an expedition
a documentary
a story
a mission
a group
a dance
an enactment
a life

why are we doing it? what do we hope to accomplish..
and i write things like

empower. or inspire. or share. or spark. or create. (and these all seem metaphoric or non-actual)

through the power of the story and the dream

or the power of the dream to ..
the people and the dream
the story and the dream

but all these things kind of mean the same thing to me

that we are
documenting dreams to
inspire people's dreams and their lives and their stories

that we want to share each other's dreams to do this

all these things revolve in a circle and influences the next
a story inspires a dream. a dream inspires a person. a person inspires a dream. a dream action.
people create action. a dream is a story. people are stories. people's lives are stories, or parts of them are.
It seems like you can use one for the next in an evolving circle. One inspires the next. They are seamless and part of a process. And you could keep going with that if you want to.
I never i think get tired of that circle.
The people. The story. The dream.
And they can all fly if the want to.

Something like it. We're getting there. We're coming up with ideas and planning on making it happen. To talk about dreams and share about them in a for real for real way, you know.
For real real.

And I keep coming back to this thought that a dream will inspire the dreamer to anything.. in a way that something else will not. If that action comes from inside and is fueled from inside, there is nothing like that kind of power.
What could we do in this world that we know, if more people, if everyone were using that power inside of themselves, were using the dream, their dream.

And then you can see why it is so important. Their's no fuel like it. Nothing. Not oil or .. anything else that is an energy source. Because it can be transferred and transfigured and transported from one person to a thing.

If a dream were an animal it could be every animal. It would be every movement and every song.

And then you can really travel. Then you can really move through the world.
I think of those flying machines on movies like Howl's Moving Castle and such.. just whipping about through space..

What is the output of such a mission to document, celebrate, and tell dreams across our global and personal landscapes? What is the value in that? And how could I prove it? And the purpose in such a mission..

to travel around the whole world
and talk to people.. young people.. my "generation", and everyone
to listen to people telling, musing, about their dreams-lives-stories (same thing right?)
to document them if they wish
to take that story and take that dream, carry it across space ( what is space) with my mind or my body or my heart (heart?)
to carry it across the world, to others, other people dreaming their dreams - at night time or in the day
to carry it to people maybe with a different dream, but with that same pulse- that same feeling! we share it, do you hear? we all know what that's like, whoever we are-
to start something (what is it?) a sound, an occasion, an enacting, a remembrance, a talking, a making
about dreams.
you know when you have a sound
and it swells.. it swells.. and people are moved by that sound.. and they want to talk about their sound..
to begin a dialogue in a round of. the people. the person. the dream.
the dream. the person. the place.
and the inspired action that might come from that?

how do i document. how do you prove it. you go. you go.

I have a hypothesis. I want to prove the power of the dream. And the people in which that dream resides.

I want to prove the power of the dream to fuel the lives of the people. And the people to tell the story, and remember the dream.

It seems if you start there. You can go many places. Wherever you are or might be.

I hypothesize that the power of a person, a people, and a dream ( which are simultaneous)
works anywhere on the earth.. no matter where you are.. (which brings in the world, the mundus.mundi)

that i or you or me

or anyone

maybe that sounds bold because it seems that ideas about power are sometimes based on


geography (what a word. is there power there. poke it with your finger. try it. see)

and the journey is a trying and a seeing. for my benefit and for the world's. and those who would like to know.
spectacle? belief?
but you see though.
i already believe.
i already believe.

And i say that to myself. and OH i get a running start. it is my dream purrring and revving up the motor. i think she already has energy.

oh testing. dear testing of a life.

let's see!

But I think I should go,

but in the meantimes... these betweentimes!

"; use yourselves : be : fly.
Believe that we bloom upon this stalk of time
-Muriel Rukeyser

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

i'm free ok.

stomp feet.
a thousand feet

sticky icky
its just sticky


Sunday, June 8, 2008

simple// eh?

the positive
the mythological
the world
the mundus
no explanation
all that happens is eternal
no examples
no proving

charles olson, poet
the name of this escapes.. i shall have by the morrow.

but yeah/ what do we think of this?/impetus