Thursday, May 19, 2005

Exit: Solitary Confinement

Listen for Caligraphy in the sounds of your day. A beautiful pattern will emerge from the din.

Sleeping Pills. I'm frantically taxing all doctor friends for a legal and friendly dosage of the pills that will slip me into Morpheus' sweet sleep. I've got a bit of traveling to do and I am in no way prepared.

Really.

I've been in self confinement for two years now. If American life were a living body, I would be living in a capilary somewhere near the left small toe.

I am at the end of America.

Welcome to Saipan. Closer to Moscow than Washington, Saipan is the smallest and farthest U.S. Commonwealth, lying just off the mouth of the Marianas trench (When you reach the bottom, look up seven miles and you'll find Saipan. Good luck with the swim back). Think Pacific, blue, tropical. Azure. Think second (and a half) world.

Song playing through this thought process: Where Is My Mind, Placebo.

Two years. Detached from the Jugular of my New York upbringing, I've found answers to questions I'd never ask.

See also: Naivety.

Like Santeria is an amalgamation of Contemporary Catholicism and Ancient Carribean polytheism, life in Saipan is an unbalanced equation of many different cultures.

Here I've been moved to the margin of consumerism: You can get what you need, and occasionally, what you want. I've adapted and refined my tastes around availability. But here, standing on the edge of the island, dead coral rock under my feet and sands surrounding my body, I look over the edge of dry land, where I see ocean. I am coming home for the first time in two years, to a New York that evolved without me. I have realigned my perception of the world based off living on the margin, and I am afraid what I will feel reentering my former life.

I have totally adapted to my surroundings. But I am starting to get the bittersweet bipolar longings for my home in NY, as I research all the things I want to do. And while I've all but shed my Urban lifestyle, it still flutters around me in a demure reflection of sunlight I see while standing on Kilili beach just after sunset. Yet my laptop, my cable modem, are my mainlines back into cultural oblivion. I receive large overdoses of thought, images, sounds and silence through those cables. They are keeping me in tune with the outside.

Though culture for me has been a mediation for two years: thing I see and hear are through a medium, or a filter. Life outside of this 5 mile x 14 mile island is encoded into a series of digital 1's and 0's. My perspective is filtered much like a camera interprets an image. I know what has been selected for knowing.

Song playing through this thought process: Caring is Creepy, The Shins.

And within the next two weeks, I will be witness to two of the largest centers of culture in the world; Tokyo and New York City. I will spend 3 days in Tokyo en route back to the United States. My island: Population 63,000, to the Island of Japan and Manhattan: Population many million.

I am aware that on a given day in Manhattan, I will see more people than exist on the island of Saipan. Will there be culture shock?

My thoughts at this point are like William Burroughs’s cut-ups. Cohesive thoughts written in cohesive ways, chopped into fragments and then reorganized to create perspective anew.

In the coming weeks I will organize my journal on the road into cohesive postings that trace the history of Saipan, and follow my footsteps from the Smallest U.S. Island to one of the largest (NYC).

As a musician and DJ, music will follow me wherever I go, even into my writing. I will be a paradox. I will remix thought as I remix break beats; rearrange words like creating dissonance out of melody.

Sounds + Silence. The black of serif letters and the white emptiness that surrounds. The outline of thoughts, the reflections of sunsets on mountains.

I will provoke thought as I am provoked by the thoughts of others.

/s/
Barko Hepplewhite

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