what is god for you?

hari nef
date of birth.
place of birth.
philadelphia, pennsylvania, usa
never compromise.

mig. in the video you were asked what god is for you. is there something you wish to add?
hn. god is the point of no return. when something has to be manifested and the two choices are either "i do this, i say this, i live this, i believe this" or death. god is inevitability, god is self care, god is not compromising.

mig. is the word god controversial for you? if yes why?
hn. yes, it is a controversial, not a negative word. it has to be controversial because god means so many things to so many people; you have to unpack that. i don't think about god a lot, i don't think about forces outside of me a lot, but it is definitely something that even the most self willed, powerful, driven, independent person has to do or else that person becomes an island in a negative way. god is really a necessary idea, in one way or another. nobody likes to be a subject… i mean some people like to be a subject, i think it is scary to think of your own subjectivity, but it is also empowering in certain lights as well. i think bob dylan has that song that says your going to have to serve somebody and i think it is really important to think about that; it is so tempting and even quite healthy to serve yourself, every situation is different. when your view starts to become narrow or exclusionary or compromising to other people, in a way that you can prevent whilst still being true to yourself and still maintaining your own dignity, that's when it is really useful to think about the many forces that are; the things that you have no control over.

mig. do you think of religion when you hear the word god? if yes, why?
hn. yes absolutely. i was raised jewish, i was raised in synagogue, i went to hebrew school and jewish school weekly until i was 14 or 15 years old. god carries the judeao- christian - muslim - biblical - you know that area of the world - that word for me carries all the connotations of the one god, the singular god, the god of abraham, the god of mohammed, the god of jesus. i think that is what a lot of people think when they think of that word but the big mission of my, thus far not terribly long, post-adolescent life has been first breaking out of a point blank deterministic view of what that god can be, and then breaking out of the point blank deterministic idea that he or she doesn't exist, or that nothing like him, her, it, they, she doesn't exist. i feel like people who are atheists, the way they critique religion and controversialise the idea of god, comprises a belief system that can be just as oppressive and dismissive as they belief systems that they critique. god is not knowing, it's recognising your own temporality and your own mere organic-ness, and its about opening your consciousness and your heart and body to things that you don't even know about yet, or maybe will never know about. god is everything else, and you can't know everything else.

mig. do you believe everything happens for a reason, or are we the reason why things happen?
hn. we are the reason why things happen, but by that logic everything happens for a reason. when people say everything happens for a reason... well, yeah, i guess i do believe that everything happens for a reason; its just not a 'divine', 'fatal', 'pre-ordained', 'cosmic', 'greek tragedy' reason. a city like new york springs out of the ground and thrives in america built on the backs of people, so something like new york cannot exist without the desolation, stagnation, oppression of so many other people who don't live in this country, for example. the reason is not always clear, present or discernible, but the interconnectedness of everyone and everything and the chaos in the unfairness and also, i guess in someways, the beauty is the only absolute.

mig. define love. what does love mean for you?
hn. love means surrender.

mig. do you think love is something all life forms share?
hn. yes because, maybe not all, but i feel like most life forms depend on other life forms to live and to be happy and well. but when you depend on other organisms or materials, you surrender to them necessarily, even if you don't have a choice.

mig. what in your opinion can make a relationship last a whole lifetime?
hn. surrender. surrender to a person, surrender to certain person, to certain whims over other whims, surrender to other persons desires over your own, with the expectation that they will surrender too. for a relationship to last a whole lifetime it takes the stamina and strength to keep surrendering; and if you can continue to surrender in a sustainable way that doesn't hurt you or the other entity in question, and as long as you are consistently reassessing and reevaluating the modes of surrender, and moulding and shaping them to suit the action to the word and the word to the action as one life changes then that is forever.

mig. what have you learned about life so far?
hn. i have learned that everything happens for a reason, and that nothing happens for no reason. i have learned my own unimportance, and i have learned my own enduring importance. i feel like i was brought up to see myself as the centre of the universe, someone who had the ability to do and be whoever they wanted and also someone who deserved applause just for showing up. it is kind of an issue with my generation, every one got a trophy on the team; even if you didn't make it, even if you didn't go to practice, even if you didn't work hard, the idea of failure was and still is this horrible beast from which nothing can come but death and despair. my biggest fear is failure. another huge fear of mine is mediocrity. i have also learned that things taking time does not equal failure; that things unfolding at the pace that they do when that pace isn't quick enough for you is not failure, it is progress; it is just sometimes really hard to see that progress. i have learned that my anxieties, difficulties and insecurities are not unique and they are actually rather universal; they just manifest themselves differently in different people. i have learned how to deal and function with the social and cultural environment that i have been given. i have learned to seek out happiness, wellness and prosperity wherever i can; but that having happiness, wellness and prosperity is not something that you are born with, it's not those things that you come out of the womb knowing how to pursue; you're given directions and you have to be chided, punished and disciplined into seeking out those things in a certain way. like, for example, how are you going to eat and sleep? how are you going to have fun with friends? how are you going to be a sexual being? how are you going to feel good about yourself; the steps that i have to go through to attain those things for myself are completely reactionary to the vocabulary of living that i have, living where i do, at the time i do, amongst the people that i do; again it is about looking outside of yourself, and at other people, places and things.

mig. how would you describe us/humanity today?
hn. i feel like, everyone, humanity right now believes quiet strongly, perhaps too strongly and perhaps foolishly, in its own ability to get exactly what it wants. because of things like social media and the internet and technology and globalism, it seems at all times like everything you could possibly desire and want is right outside of your door or right on your screen, and it seems more and more as if people feel like there is equal access. but the new world, this new conception of the world, has not broken with the old one and there are so many things that continue quite tragically, like the story of "icarus"; to drag people down and keep them where they are. pre-existing social constructs of class, race, gender; it seems like all that stuff can disappear into the brave new world of a global community and equal access where everyone is the same race and everything will level out; people have learned to desire, but i don't think everyone has learned to surrender yet. i think that there is an over saturation of desire and, i guess, of the opposite of surrender, like control or fighting, there is an over saturation of this. i don't think that desire is mislead i think it is very spot on; this very small sliver of the population holds so much of its material resources, land, money and political power. in order for the mounting desires of a newly empowered populous to be met those people actually need to surrender their resources and power in order to share them and they don't want to; what i am saying is that these people are going to keep desiring and then be mad that these desires aren't being met and then bad things are going to happen. it is also when you are so focused on this new and very beautiful endeavour, that is to help yourself, it is so easy to lose sight of others. pleasure is so available; the big fear is that the focus on the self will lull us all into comas where the resources we have for making us happy will create virtual realities where people will be in their own cocoons; a person can get an iPhone, plug in and change their whole life. i know people that have generated thousands of followers or fans from their bedroom in arizona; its something that is totally 21st century. to describe humanity in one word, i would say desirous.

thank you hari nef for your participation in the 'mig' project.

videography by mig. all rights reserved 2014.
photography by mig. all rights reserved 2014.

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