Sites of Actualizing Freedom Out to the Goulds, Jamming, 23/08/2016

This break turned out to be longer than I thought. While I was in St John’s, I ended up getting virtually no time to write. I squeezed out some remarks for the Syria Film Festival Coordinator AtoZ’s speech at a TIFF event. But it was literally a list of lines and jokes barely a page long that I burned off before going to my cousin’s wedding.

It was a fantastic wedding too. Not only do I think my cousin Cornbread has finally found someone able to tolerate his artistic ego and comically savant-like inability to do basic practical household chores, the Jammer is a generally cool, extremely chill, well-accomplished artist in her own right. 

It’s taken him a while to find a good balance in his life this way. The west coast has been good to him. I just hope Victoria isn’t destroyed by a massive tectonic displacement in the next few decades. 

My only regret is that I was an idiot and forgot to sign his guestbook. But I promise I was there – there is photographic evidence of it. And you can screencap the last few paragraphs, print the image, and paste it in your guestbook. The fact that this is essentially a public apology has taken care of enough public shaming.

Lunaza's DJs largely had a good sense of variety. St John's
is, frankly, too detached from the continent's major techno
culture hubs to get caught up in fresh trends. So the scene
seems to be a collection of young music historians who
plug decades of different styles into the same sets. They
don't chase trends, they absorb them.
Philosophically, though, I was most excited by the techno party I attended with GF earlier that weekend. Lunaza has yet to gain a large-scale profile beyond the St John’s electronica scene, which is good in some ways, but dangerous in others.

Being a latecomer to Ontario and Quebec’s festival rave circuit, I think what I see has a lot of potential. There are political limitations, of course. Hippie culture on the whole has been thoroughly corrupted, healthy rebellions becoming self-destructive paranoias.

Mistrust of pharmaceutical companies’ motives has become a dedication to Falun Dafa and anti-vaxx activism – opposition to global violence has become conspiracist anti-Americanism easily manipulated by Putinist propaganda. A liberating drug regimen of pot and occasional acid has become the self-destructive addiction of nitrous and way too fucking much acid.

But at its heart, the techno festival is a free space of a temporary respite from the hustle and madness of contemporary life. Precarious existence in an unstable economy gives way to a communion with a more natural ecosystem, as well as a community of like-minded cultural rebels. 

Our socio-economic guarantees may have collapsed, but these parties can create a space where a low-consumption lifestyle at least feels plausible. It's a space of social and intellectual freedom.

Lunaza offers one such space that hasn’t yet grown to such a size that its financial investment turns it into an elite zone. You have to pay for a ticket, and there are logistics to subsidize with that admission fee. Port-a-potties, deco, the stage and sound system. Paying the musicians, organizers, and workers. But the atmosphere was sociable, relaxing. 

Most importantly, Newfoundland hasn’t been a serious victim of global climate change – it’s still cool enough there to avoid heatstroke during a day of camping, which wasn’t something I could say for rural Quebec. Or Toronto.

Ideally, these parties should be music and arts festivals where people from all over the world can meet and learn from each other. They’re places where you can discover new identities, personalities, and styles of life. You can conceive of greater possibilities for humanity than you have before.

These are the summits that can really build peace, because ordinary people from all walks of life can meet – our social and moral minds expand. Combine this with aesthetic stimulation from being surrounded by music and art for days, as well as mental relaxation from an intense country experience. It can literally strengthen and expand the mind.

I don’t need drugs to have fun.

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