Writings

Why is everything shaped like my screen? 
By Lucas Justinien Perez

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This little black mirror radiates its awareness on wavelengths not seen but felt. I gravitate headfirst into that tiny black hole, screen in hand. From darkness comes everything—on screen—a big bang and the simulation begins. 

Unmovable movers. Serene and impassive surveillance from the clouds, from the darkened vaults of an old church, and above my bed at night when I pray for fame. “I can change O’ Lord just make me famous.” I have submitted to their gaze but I am still unknown. 

Defender of the poor images. Nude selfies converted into lines of code become the language of the stars. The particles of my naked body become entangled with the pixels on your screen. Fast as light you can see me. Distance doesn’t matter in a simulation. 

My screen is the annulus of a camera that does not observe so much as consume me entirely. How should I clean my annulus? I can’t just wipe the screen I have to purify its light from the inside. I must make beautiful shit for the camera.

Icon.

Little golden rectangle: the shape of devotional practice. I bow my head to a prayer rug, to a holy book, to my screen because it frames a knowable universe. Within these rectangles I can silence my vritti. Within a little cell about 1,335 pixels by 750 pixels I meditate on the eternal self.

 In trance, with the iron taste of blood from the lip I punctured, rectangular grids throb behind my eye lids. Geometric impulses of the paleomammalian cortex predispose me to a form that naturally fits bodies and visions.

Addictive serotonin floods my brain when I’m liked. I fast, work out, and abstain from wine for likes because it proves my body is consumable. “O’ Lord I won’t eat bread if 2,000 more people follow me.” 

My nature is reflected in the glass of my screen as I fornicate with the light it emits. Coitus with it is part of my yoga, my art of all works. Everything must be perfected and purified for the camera, because it’s good for my soul. 

Star dust settles in my eyes. I can see 119 atomic elements that makeup a universe of limited components; a copy and pasted simulation. My consciousness uploaded, I am ready to leave the atoms of my screen behind.

10%, almost done. 

Dead screen and yet isn’t there something remaining? Memory of my previous vigorous life is contained within, but the spark needed to represent it in light has discharged. “O’ Lord please revivify me so I can remember what it felt like.


OPINION

Vitamin PrEP: What Do I Take It For?

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A question many of us ponder daily.
By Lucas Justinien Pérez
MARCH 12 2018 11:58 AM EDT

Pink, tan, white, powder blue.

Everyday I line up pills on my bathroom counter next to the pastel sink. As I pop each pill I try to recall why I take it. The pink one: my doctor prescribed for my nerves. The tan one is Vitamin C, that’s for strong immunity. Increased energy is why I take the white B12 pill. The powder blue one though… that’s my pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). I take that one so I can have healthy sex…or is it so I can have more sex? Or maybe I take it to protect the ones I love.

But it might be because I can afford it.

I’m not certain why I take PrEP everyday like a vitamin in preparation for a busy day ahead, whatever that may entail (presumably “PrEPpy” sex at some point).

The thing I do know is the blue one has sparked a national debate about what PrEP is actually being taken for.

Many critics say PrEP is a “party drug” that results in unsafe sex practices.

They point to a sobering 2017 study from the University of Los Angeles (UCLA) that suggests higher risks of other STI infections as a result of drugs like Truvada. In a research letter published in AIDS, UCLA doctors write that men who have sex with other men (MSMs) taking Truvada are “25.3 times more likely to acquire a Meisseria gohonorrhoeae infection, 11.2 times more likely to acquire a Chlamydia trachomatis infection, and 44.6 times more likely to acquire a syphilis infection.”

Activist groups like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) say this study is proof that many are taking PrEP to have more bareback sex. Or is it to have safer bareback sex?

Not safe from infection though.

AHF director Michael Weinstein — who previously said Truvada was “a healthcare catastrophe”— clarified his stance in a statement to Business Wire “AHF’s position has been mischaracterize and criticized for our position on Prep, AHF’s mission and goal has always been to use scientific evidence to advocate for public policies that will inform and help protect the public from all STDs” and “This latest analysis should be a sobering wake up call for MSMs and other sexually active people that PrEP is not the magical panacea it’s promoted to be.”

There’s a tinge of finger wagging moralism buried in Weinstein’s public health platitudes that has other HIV/AIDS groups angry.

James Krellenstein, the founding member of the Prevention of HIV Action Group of ACT UP New York responded by saying Truvada “works”and that “we have to start thinking of it not as a luxury but as an essential public health component of this nation’s response to HIV.” Truvada’s — $1,600 per bottle out of pocket price tag — does make it seem more designer drug than life saving medicine. So while the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 1.2 million high risk Americans, including 25 percent of sexually active gay men take PrEP, the reality is there are only 145,000 active prescriptions nationwide according to Gilead Sciences LLC, maker of Truvada.

Cost prohibitive access to PrEP means that it’s little effect on the HIV epidemic among black gay and bisexual men, who accounted for 44 percent of all new transmissions, and 44 percent of HIV related deaths in the US last year.

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, assistant health commissioner overseeing New York City’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control stated that “Black and Latino men are overrepresented in the epidemic, and have low threshold access to services.”

Daryl Hannah lost both his parents to AIDS by age 7. In his September 21, 2017 New York Times Op-Ed he wrote about why he took prep.“I had promised my parents that I would take every precaution against HIV, so I put enormous pressure on myself to take it [PrEP].”

Personally I’m still not entirely sure what I take PrEP for, probably a combination of things, but for people like Daryl, it’s being taken for one thing: to stay alive.

I know I’m being responsible by pitching in for public health, but I also know taking it may predispose unsafe sex.

Because PrEP didn’t just change my physiology, it changed my mind.

But I can always regain control by asking a simple question each time I pop that powder blue pill “what am I taking this for?


“Rectangular Panoramic Reality”: Published in the Queens Museum’s THE PANORAMA HANDBOOK: Thoughts and Visions On and Around the Queens Museum’s Panorama of the City of New York, 2017

The shape of reality is rectangular. Probably because it’s proportional to binocular vision making it the most natural space for depicting visions of what each of us experience as real(ity)/ies. The verity of Rectangular Culture is pervasive wherever civilization exists. It is the acceptable shape for media, from painting—to TV screens—to devices—it’s where formations of truth-telling, that wrap a user in ideology, are depicted. The panoramic view is an elongated version; a container for horizontal movements through time and space. The thing exists as both experience (the view), an object (the photograph) and a concept (a range) that proves what truly surrounds a position in space. But isn’t it also a succession of focused visions? As the body pans through a panorama it’s not only oriented geographically, but ideologically. It’s movement through a verdant landscape of real(ity)/ies. The periphery of a panorama is hazy, uncertain and possibly less-true. That is until the concentrated gaze holds a narrow view as an object of thought to be considered, and reflected upon. A clearer sight emerges from the haze to become reality. A panorama is not an objective perception of what surrounds, but a series of rectangular visions that constantly become true, less-true, and true again. The panorama is proof of doubt.


“The Future of Chinese Font Design”: Published in Plots Journal Volume IV, 2017

“The monk Huai Su (懷素, 737-799 CE) grew 10,000 banana trees outside his home so he could use the leaves for calligraphy practice in place of rice paper which was rare and expensive in Tang dynasty China (618-907 AD). Born in Changsha, he traveled to the Western capital in search of knowledge and advanced calligraphy training. He eventually impressed important officials of his age and gained fame for an especially gestural abstracted form of Chinese hand writing called tsao-shu (草書), which literally means “grass writing”. His autobiography is one of the only surviving examples of his writing left In the 25-foot-long scroll, he describes his many exploits and achievements with monk-like humility…continue


Is the canvas blank?”: March 28th, 2017

“A material apartheid exists in the contemporary art world. The traditional arts of the West, like canvas painting are neutralized with blankness, while those of the other are segregated into museological classification and hegemonic labeling. There are thriving Eastern calligraphy “art worlds,” with millions of practitioners engaged in discourses about modern mark-making, but their work is looked on with the orientalist gaze…continue


“Disaster Magnet”: November 6th, 2016

“The north pole of one magnet attracts the south pole of a second magnet, while the north pole of one magnet repels the other magnet’s north pole. Clumsy? Hardly. Drama filled life? Not Usually. I’d say I’m extremely lucky even. I’m not one of those people who interpret cancelled flights and lost phones as cosmic punishment or inauspicious probability. Shit happens…continue

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