I got one of my passports renewed earlier this year. The processes to get each passport are different, but I’d never had a problem until now: it turns out there is a small line no bigger than two millimeters long that I have added to my signature unconsciously over the years. Maybe my hands have grown tired, maybe they’re prone to certain involuntary movements as I’ve gotten older. That minuscule line was not present in the previous passport, so ten years later, I ended up being heavily scolded by a very young government worker for not being able to sign the same way. I was kept signing for 15 minutes, and then was asked to practice for another 15 because he was tired of having to print out the document again and again. But the thing is, if I omitted that line no bigger than two millimeters long, some other part of the signature looked affected, maybe with a longer line here or a bigger loop there. “The initial difference was barely noticeable. The more I am made nervous to get my own signature right, the less it will come out as you expect it to.” The young man finally gave in. “It’s for your safety, that’s all”, he argued. A line less than two millimeters long? Don’t the other traces matter? “Right.”

Today I was watching Wim Wenders’ documentary about Yohji Yamamoto (Notebook on City and Clothes, 1989), and there’s a scene where Yamamoto has to get his signature right on the storefront of one of the shops he is about to reopen. The signature tried to look the same every time Yamamoto signed, but his PR crew, I suppose, just wouldn’t have it. He even had to practice on the ground until he got it right. Yamamoto was smiling, though — a different experience entirely. But I was amused to see the level of identity and authenticity expected from others through something so personally-chosen and self-constructed as is someone’s signature.

I left the government offices wondering why impatient people tend to choose to make a career for themselves in such places, and after watching the documentary, I was left wondering if Yamamoto can still sign the same way he did 33 years ago.

I think a lot of people who were building, coding and socially connecting on the internet in the mid 90s – early 2000s have a very different approach in terms of interaction with both content and people. For me, the internet isn’t stressful as much as it is overly performative. I’ve learned to live with its deficiencies. It would be a lie to say I thought it wouldn’t get this political and corporate, but what I did not forsee was the way it would affect people so deeply at so many levels. TV came to change everything, but the difference has been the immediate exchange of information. Culture bias is nothing menial, and we are somehow expected to understand it in every single one of its representations. That and how there are so many emotions running amock due to all the systematic failings of our times – it’s a monster alright. This wouldn’t be a problem if there was a genuine willingness to get anything done. But for some reason, we are not creatures of habit in that regard. Lagging. As fast as this ship sails, it lags, and we –as a species, as a machine, as communities– lag with it.

Be About It | Mirrors

Thanks so much to Alexandra Naughton at Be About It Press for putting out a little something I wrote in the latest and super beautiful BAI zine issue.

Featuring work by: J de Salvo, Strawberry Trellis, KKUURRTT, Jean Kennedy, Ana Carrete, Bart Solarczyk, Kailey Tedesco, Francesca Kritikos, Moon Temple, Emma Allen-Landwehr, Paul Corman-Roberts, Andy Tran, Kim Göransson, Rose Knapp, Perry Ruhland, Teresa Mestizo, Peggy Morrison, Jonathan Russell Clark, Matthew Schultz, Josh Sherman, Sasha Torchinsky, DJ Zaxxon, Aleksandra Bril

You can get your copy here.

Nat. Brut | Issue Fourteen

Click on the image to read my piece.

I’m very excited and honored to have a piece out in the current issue of Nat. Brut, a publication that I enjoy and admire immensely! Many thanks and congratulations to everyone who is part of this wonderful adventure, especially the editor of the non-fiction section, Meghan Lamb, for her undying encouragement, patience and kindness.

Feel free to read and enjoy — thanks beforehand!

Click on the image to read Nat. Brut’s Issue Fourteen.

Naming things.

Civilizations are not only built upon ideas but upon options, and one of those options includes the necessity to say what we mean. From the pronouns we want to be addressed by, to the name of our disorders and illnesses, current affairs and zeitgeist very much concentrate on name-giving.

Nomenclature is ultimately what executes the systems we use to perform tasks, and tasks, in turn, require our emotional and intellectual responses to them for the process to be completed. That is, we no longer use language just to ask someone to pass the salt or to express our anger towards them for being late, or even to learn about today’s news. Language is what makes machines work, and in these times where human beings are a commodity for a world that has placed an exorbitant value on fast-paced economies, we are scrambling to keep up with every term that affects our survival in the social environments we move through on this planet.

Language in 2019, then, is not necessarily arbitrary. For someone to use a term to designate meaning to a dynamic unknown or to a practice that is widely spread but whose characteristics have changed over time, communication is forced to develop a set of names that allude to a former age with the added meanings that validate it for common usage. The dictionaries we make use of, both in print and online, are a fine example of how we engage in the transformation, ramification and dissemination of all the understanding we translate into words.


What we understand, however, is bumpy terrain, not exclusive to our times but definitely exclusive to how communication speeds up far faster than we are able to cognitively digest. It is not only technology that acts upon how we relate to knowledge and to each other, but also all the things that were never openly said before. A peasant had no right to speak, so a secret was born. Women had no right to speak, so another secret was born. Children never had a voice to begin with. Marginalized communities, which have gained visibility as being the majority in every society we can think of, did not have a right to even dream of having a voice, much less to be able to speak up.

Our nomenclature in circulation, then, is based on things left unsaid, of theories rebuked, of old discoveries revisited by a sharper, feeling, raw eye. Every organism is changing right before us and we are simply left gawking, trying to catch what we can from it. No wonder we want to name everything.

None of this is new under the sun, of course, but it is the first time I am faced with verbal challenges this big. Because these are not just verbal challenges. It’s identity we’re talking about.