Fall/Winter 2010 Psychik Cities reveals the darker and more introspective side of God’s Prey. This season, our graphics delve into the other life, and our conception of the unknown.
We envision the rebirth from decay.
To celebrate the release of our Fall/Winter 2010 “Psychik Cities” tees, we have created Ghost Dance Vol. 1…a collection of psychedelic melodies and spaced out dance beats. Ghost Dance Vol. 1 features tracks by Gang Gang Dance, the Black Angels, TV on the Radio, Health, Animal Collective and more. Ghost Dance Vol. 1 is a soundtrack for the road to the Psychik Cities.
“With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion. ” – Nobel Laureate & Physicist Steven Weinberg, 1999.
Living in a country where 82% of people believe in some kind of God has given me cause to question my own beliefs. Growing up in Canada, I believe that religion is something private, something kept in one’s own home, something that is illegal to publicly push on others in the form of school lessons or billboards. I was raised in the Anglican Church, attended church every Sunday of my life, until I decided to stop attending services when I was 14 years old. In fact, my whole family decided to stop attending church, mainly because we were disillusioned by the organized belief system of Christianity. This decision caused no unrest in our lives. No one at our church hounded us; in fact, we often saw people we had known from church who were friendly and non-judgmental about our decision. None of my friends cared whether I was a “Christian” or not; it was generally a non-issue.
However, upon moving to the United States, I have had a completely different experience – case in point, Juicehead Jesus. Here, even atheists are fervent in their beliefs – hence the increasingly popular Brights movement. Having little or no opinion about religion is no longer an option for me. I have actively experienced prejudice because I do not adhere to the Christian religion or Islam, or because I question the teachings of their leaders and followers. I live in Los Angeles, a major metropolis and therefore a highly secular area of the U.S., so to me this prejudice speaks volumes about how much religion is a part of American society and social policy. When Proposition 8 was brought to the table by the Mormon church, I could not believe that it would pass. It reminded me of the pre-1967 anti-miscegenation laws that prevented interracial couples from marrying. Many people argued that interracial relationships were clearly outlawed in the Bible – a stupid and hateful argument. So I assumed that despite the religious outcry in California, most people would agree that social policy should not be determined by one’s religious ideology. I was wrong. Apparently, one of the major sway factors for the California religious public was the “warning” that their children may be taught that being Gay is OK. According to these people, who espouse love, charity and the beauty of their faith, it is far better to teach children to hate than to love.
So when I found Oxford scholar Richard Dawkins’ BBC series, The Root of All Evil?, released in concert with his book, The God Delusion, I was curious to see what this famous atheist and evolutionary biologist had to say about religious faith. He opens the first part of the two-part series with the following quote: “there are would-be murderers, all ’round the world, who want to kill you and me, and themselves, because they’re motivated by what they think is the highest ideal”. He goes on to qualify this statement with the idea that politics also play a huge part in this pursuit of vengeance and violence, but that religion gives people the justification and sense of moral right to carry out heinous acts of revenge against each other. Dawkins envisions a world without this justification, where one’s morals are based on one’s conscience, and not on how one’s beliefs differ from another’s. At this point in history, many people may think exclusively of Islam as a religion of vengeance because of the preponderance of suicide bombings around the world, but Dawkins equally examines Christianity, Catholocism and Judaism’s teachings of exclusivity and violence against non-believers as well.
In the second part of the series, Dawkins calls the religious indoctrination of children “abuse,” and speaks to a psychologist who argues that for children, the concepts of Hell and Satan are vivid realities, and can be very damaging to their psyches. This idea brought me back to a childhood memory – at age 11, I was told by my Christian camp counselor that if I did not actively convert my best friend to Christianity she was going to hell to burn for eternity, where she would be tormented by Satan. I was also told that my father may suffer the same fate if he didn’t start attending church with us, which he had never done with the exception of special occasions like Easter or Christmas. The idea that I was personally held responsible for the fates of my friend or my father was terrifying, but at the same time I knew that they were good people, and that the God I had been taught about couldn’t possibly condemn them to this terrible fate based on whether they went to church or not, and if this was true, then either God was a hypocrite, or the people teaching me about God were hypocrites. This experience was a turning point for me in my own beliefs. Because of it, Dawkins’ arguments against the indoctrination of children resonate with me. One has only to look at the sad or mad faces of the children in the photos above (from the documentaries Jesus Camp and The Most Hated Family in America) to understand how destructive this indoctrination can be.
My only complaint about Dawkins’ examination of religion is that he neglects to look into the Christian bent of the U.S. Military, and how this is a form of religious extremism and can even be viewed as martyrdom on a mass scale. For many years, the military has associated its’ ideology with that of Christianity, and its’ various wars with Christian crusades. Especially now, when the U.S. has invaded and continues to ravage Muslim parts of the world, many American soldiers are told to believe that they are on a mission for God. This is a consistently under-reported story in a mainstream media that is obsessed with the extremist Muslim beliefs of our “enemies”. This report from my favourite news show, Democracy Now (skip to 39:45 for the story), reports on the U.S. Military’s alleged proselytizing to Afghanis. Although the U.S. Military’s official stance is that they are not in Iraq or Afghanistan to win converts to Christianity, this report shows Al Jazeera’s footage of military personnel discussing handing out bibles while on duty, converting Muslims to Christianity, and even claiming to “hunt people for Jesus”. You can’t make this shit up! Just watch it.
Back to The Root of all Evil?: Dawkins presents a well-rounded and sound argument against organized religions and their impact on human behaviour, and how often our innate sense of justice is warped or overshadowed by our religious beliefs. I personally know people who say they are open-minded and kind to others, and almost in the same sentence will talk about how their God will physically destroy or bring harm to non-believers or those who they perceive as living in a way that does not accord to their belief system. They espouse the beauty of their beliefs, and then say that the world is full of demons. At the same time, I know many people who are beautiful to the bone, and do not believe in a Christian, Catholic, Jewish or Muslim God. They will try not to judge others, and try to be charitable and kind to others at all times because they are good people. They are black, white and brown, gay and straight and transgendered, and all GOOD PEOPLE. But to many religious people, they are the “lost ones” or “demons” or just plain “going to hell” because they don’t believe that Jesus was God or they don’t pray five times a day or because they are who they are. In my own personal experience, Steven Weinberg’s quote rings true – I do not think that religion always causes one to hate other people, but I think that those who are inclined to be judgmental and hateful often find refuge and reason in religion. I don’t believe that religion is the root of all evil, but I think that religion gives evil something to dig its roots into.
A long time ago, way back on the Rockers blog, I posted about Adam Curtis’ stunning documentary, The Power of Nightmares, which reveals the back story of the current political climate of fundamentalist Christianity, Islam and Neo-Conservatism. Well, it turns out that I was a little late on it…Curtis had already made many life-changing documentaries by that point, most of which were not aired on U.S. networks and still aren’t today. Especially this one, The Century of the Self, a four part BBC series exploring “how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the dangerous crowd in an age of mass democracy,” (Curtis).
The Century of the Self begins by exploring the Public Relations industry, how it was conceived of by Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays, and how Bernays applied his uncle’s theories of human psychology to PR and later to advertising. Curtis argues that Freud’s ideas about Ego and desire are at the root of both governmental and corporate manipulation of the masses. Human emotions and psychological needs are targeted by the PR and advertising industries in order to connive us into agreeing with policy or consuming a product.
Curtis breaks down the fallacy that these products, policy changes or wars will bring us the rewards we are so often promised. Operation Enduring Freedom has only brought fear, torture, murder and suffering to both Afghanis and Americans. It was sold to Americans as a mission to ensure our democratic rights, and instead has brought us a heightened level of government surveillance, a repeal of our rights and freedoms, and a greater and more legitimate threat of terrorism. The War on Drugs, sold to the public as a way to keep themselves and their children safe, has actually seen domestic drug use rise even further, while it works to conceal CIA involvement in drug trafficking in both international and domestic markets. Clearly, what we are being told will happen if we buy or comply is the exact opposite of what does.
Later in the series, Curtis turns to consumer society, and how Freud’s theories are again applied by the private sector to convince us of how to satisfy our basest needs and desires. As the advertising industry has grown older and wiser, consuming has become a part of our daily existence. Many of us feel better when we buy something, or feel that a product gives us a certain cache, or represents us to others in some way. For example, people who own Blackberrys and those who own iPhones, or those who own both, all have certain qualities attached to them by their choice of phone – ambitious and businesslike, or creative and innovative – which many believe to be true about themselves and others. These qualities are completely manufactured by the Blackberry and iPhone marketing and advertising divisions to appeal to our desires to feel or be perceived as successful and/or innovative.
Furthermore, Axe deodorant and body wash do not make douchebag frat boys or dirty hipster dinks irresistibly attractive to 20-something fake-breasted co-eds, like the ads say; all it does is make a nauseating cloud of toxic fumes linger in every high school hallway in North America. By tapping in to our deep psychological processes and emotional needs, the corporate world, like the political world, is able to direct our attention away from non-profitable and non-conformist thought.
While many of us feel that we aren’t fooled by their sneaky tricks, The Century of the Self shows that regardless of what we think we know about ourselves, the actions of a few have deeply changed and shaped our societies and even our own lives. Take 4 hours out of your life to watch this series, and reflect on why Curtis’ messages are considered unpalatable for the American TV audience.
“Los Angeles-based label God’s Prey looks to street culture for the direction of their most recent collection. Borrowing a page from 1977′s King’s Road punk rock aesthetic and blending it with their pyschedelic prints, which includes this season’s Sweet Leaf pattern, the label turns out a fun collection of varied proportions. From graphic tees and suspenders to leggings, God’s Prey infuses street culture aspirations with the quirks of fashion’s current staples for quite the intriguing season.”
“The crew at God’s Prey are getting ahead of the curve, dropping this look at the spring / summer 2011 ‘Cosmic Funhouse’ collection. Cosmic Funhouse lives up to its name, taking cues from the classic psychedelic rock era with its graphics, and mixing it with modern menswear influences. A brilliant bit of design and tailoring work, the entire collection is made in LA, making a collection you can feel good and look good wearing.”
Saturday March 15th, 2008, marks the 5th anniversary of the US occupation of Iraq! A time to celebrate the despicable violence perpetrated against the Iraqi people on a daily basis for the past five years. A time to celebrate the lies we were told then, and the lies we are told today, about the US mission to bring “freedom” and “democracy” to Iraq.
FREEDOM, AS BROUGHT TO IRAQ BY THE US MILITARY.
Whatever the “good intentions” at the time, I think we can all agree that it hasn’t exactly turned out as planned. G.W.B. said in May 2003 that “in this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world…our nation is more secure…the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free” (1). Yet here we are, five years later, still killing and being killed in the newly improved democratic Iraq.
US SOLDIERS IN IRAQ
The beauty of a democracy is that we have a voice. In the US, we pride ourselves on being free to express our political opinions – but how can we be proud when so many of us don’t use that freedom? The mantra behind most of this century’s crusades has been to bring our free and democratic way of life to others. While this is definitely not the bottom line for the many military occupations in Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, it is still a noble thought. However, the best way to do this is not by military force, but by example.
PROTESTERS IN THE PHILLIPPINES
Democracy means speaking out against injustices, especially when they are perpetrated by your own government and military. It means taking the power away from a corrupt leader and government, and putting it in the hands of the people. Truly democratic actions happen in places that the White House tells us are dictatorships – for example, the mass protests in Venezuela that brought Chavez back into power after the US backed a military coup in 2004.
Let’s follow this example this Saturday the 15th, and leave our comfy homes & routines for a couple of hours to express our opinions. In cities all across the US and the world, there will be demonstrations against the continued occupation of Iraq. If you believe there’s something wrong with the 1,185,800 Iraqi children & adults that have been murdered and the 3,987 American soldiers that have been killed since the war began (2), then go out and do something about it tomorrow!!!!!!
If you are STILL not convinced you need to act, take 5 minutes to watch this: OCCUPIED
History has be written and re-written so many times that it has become increasingly difficult to put today’s politics into context. Throughout the West, but especially in America, we are fed a daily diet of fear every time we turn on our televisions or open a newspaper – although these fears are being fed to an ever more skeptical audience. The harsh realities of the American government’s lies about “the War on Terror” and Iraq War II have snuck in through the internet and through the very few objective and publicly owned media in the US.
THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES – PART 1
However, there are some histories that the US media – especially the mainstream private media – feel that the American people can’t handle. This BBC documentary series, The Power of Nightmares, is one of them. Although the creator, Adam Curtis, has tried countless times since 2004 to have this series aired on US television, he has been rejected every time. Curtis points out the scary obvious when he says that “something extraordinary has happened to American TV since September 11. A head of the leading networks who had better remain nameless said to me that there was no way they could show it. He said, ‘Who are you to say this?’ and then he added, ‘We would get slaughtered if we put this out’” (wikipedia.org).
THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES – PART 2
When our own history can’t be examined by our media, our media is no longer democratic. It is no longer a tool to inform us about our world so that we can make political decisions based on reality. As Curtis points out throughout “The Power of Nightmares,” we are making decisions based on fantasy. Check out this amazing documentary, and see how this fantasy has been constructed by both the neo-conservatives in the US and the fundamental Islamist groups in the Middle East. Stay informed and take away their power!
Check out this preview of the unreleased documentary “Handmade Nation,” crafted by Faythe Levine. Faythe traveled all over the US documenting the re-emergence of an artisan culture among the younger generations. It’s a backlash against the cheap material, cheap labor products that have made the Babyboomer generation of Walmarts and Targets billions, but have left the American culture bereft of skill and meaning. Let’s hope it is more than a passing fad, and that people will continue to support the DIY artisans that take pride in their handmade product.