Monday, November 10, 2008
At any rate, this separation of Beauty and Power through the association with gender made me think about how I, myself, am not fond of being associated with Beauty. I take it almost as an insult if a random person praises me for such superficial qualities, and I wonder why more women do not. It often angers me when women think it is their DUTY, or a sort of aspiration, to be beautiful, and now I understand why that is. For a woman, oftentimes beauty is a replacement for power. When she feels incapable of Power, she resorts to Beauty, justifying this choice by claiming that Beauty is "feminine power". However, Beauty and Power are two separate concepts. In fact, it seems to me that beauty is an absolute LACK of power... a kind of submission to the patriarchy and the chains He presents. Or perhaps "Beauty" is the wrong term... because the Beauty of the Patriarchy is a kind of constructed and deformed Beauty... The Beauty women attempt to achieve is an artificial Beauty... one that can be achieved only through pain and paint. So I suppose what really bothers me about this concept of feminine beauty being mistakenly equated with feminine power is that it is incredibly deceptive: a false idol of Beauty has been erected in order to detain women from constructing their own concept of the lofty and Beautiful.
Yes, well. That was a bit of a rant, wasn't it.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
From Foucault's 'Madness and Civilization': a passage that caused me to freak out in the same way the documentary, 'Zero: The Inside Story' made me freak out.
'Up to the second half of the fifteenth century, or even a little beyond, the theme of death reigns alone. The end of man, the end of time bear the face of pestilence and war. What overhangs human existence is this conclusion and this order from which nothing escapes. The presence that threatens even within this world is a fleshless one. Then in the last years of the century this enormous uneasiness turns on itself; the mockery of madness replaces death and its solemnity. From the discovery of that necessity which inevitably reduces man to nothing, we have shifted to the scornful contemplation of that nothing which is existence itself. Fear in the face of the absolute limit of death turns inward in continuous irony; man disarms it in advance, making it an object of derision by giving it an everyday, tamed form, by constantly renewing it in the spectacle of life, by scattering it throughout the vices, the difficulties, and the absurdities of all men. Death's annihilation is no longer anything because it was already everything, because life itself was only futility, vain words, a squabble of cap and bells.'
Friday, November 7, 2008
I think that the anxiety most people have over leaving this world must be similar to the anxieties of an infant who is about to leave the womb. What is life in the womb? Surely it must be existence on a lower plane, but it must be an existence. As the woman is the womb of the child, so, too, is the earth the womb of man (the earth, or atmosphere, or whatever you want to call this bubble of oxygen in which we exist). Or perhaps the body itself is the womb. When we die, when our spirit or soul or consciousness is forced out of the womb, perhaps we enter an entirely different and higher level of existence, a level of existence we can perceive as well as the infant can perceive existence outside of the womb.
I then began to throw myself into a different sort of anxiety. I began to think that perhaps the earth was not the womb at all, that perhaps the earth is a developing fetus. If that is the case, perhaps man functions only on the level of an organ. If that is so, then the hope for an afterlife, for any type of existence outside of his function as an organ which allows for the further development of the earth, is null and void. But then, as if in the form of divine reassurance, I happened to catch a conversation on the television I was using as background noise. I'm not sure what the show was about, but it caught my attention when one of the characters started espousing beliefs similar in nature to those of Tyrel. This character said that the spirit lives in every part of your body, and if you should lose a part of your body, such as a limb or an organ, you are losing a part of your soul. The Mohicans believed that the only way to regain this lost aspect of soul was to bury the body part. This idea placated my fears, and somehow made me feel much better.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I have also been thinking about where the concept of an afterlife came from. I believe that the concept of God and the afterlife came moments after man became aware of his existence. When the first person realized, 'I am!' he must have immediately realized: 'One day I will not be...' The concept of God was created to ease fears, to equip us with the courage required to exist day to day, with the threat of death constantly hanging above us. Without the idea of eternal life, we would remain huddled in a corner, afraid to move lest we should trip on a pebble and die.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Now, to call pre-colonial Canada a "land of savages" is not only disrespectful, it is offensive. It is offensive not only to the "savages" he is designating, but to the collective body of Canada as well. Would an American official publicly call the world of the south, and the black communities that arose as a result of the abolition of slavery, a country of n*****s? No, of course not. That word is seen as offensive, as a derogatory slurr that was created in order to dehumanize an entire race of people. The term "savages" was used in the same way, invented for the same purpose, and the racism that follows the aboriginal as a result is no less severe than that which follows the negro. Why is it then, that the latter term is acceptable, while the former is not?
Wente goes on to talk about "demythifying" aboriginal culture. She says, "The kinship groups in which they [aboriginals] lived were very small, simply organized and not very productive. Other kinship groups were regarded as enemies, and the homicide rate was probably rather high."
Erm... excuse me... "probably rather high"? What the hell?? This kind of statement is one that should be regarded not only with suspicion, but with rejection. What kind of objective statement is that? It is the most vague, insidious kind of statement, because it allows itself a certain credibility, a "believeablity" that the rational person can see right through. If you are going to make a statement like that, you MUST be sure to have some kind of empirical evidence that backs it up. No one has the right to make such a judgement call without proper documentation. And furthermore, is not this allusion to criminality the same argument American racists made for their aversion to men of "colour"? You really want to go there, Wente? Really?? And another thing... why is it that when "civilized" countries openly murder one another it is called "warfare", but when indigenous peoples run into conflict it is called "homicide??
Now, while I obviously disagree with Wente on... almost everything... I do see the danger behind romanticizing pre-colonial culture. That is another form of dehumanization, I think. In elevating a group of people in such a way, in talking about the free native running around, happy and connected to nature in a way the modern man is incapable of, you are certainly presenting a distorted image of what life may have been like. I am not saying that those elements did not exist, but in presenting a people as an ideal, you are inprisoning them within a set of unreachable expectations. An example of what can happen to a group of people when they are idealized this way can be seen in the case of Woman, an issue I can certainly relate to. For the longest time women were elevated in order to be discriminated against. In the nineteenth century especially, they were thought to be the moral core of society, and as such it was the duty of men to protect them. They were discouraged from engaging in politics, as they were too pure. Surely such a perfect being would not want to taint themselves with the vote! The same thing is true, I think, for native peoples.
Wente concludes her article with the claim that the mythification of aboriginal culture arose out of post-colonial guilt, which I agree certainly exists. She says it is equally hazardous to the colonialist and the colonized to allow such a myth to emerge, as it serves only to separate. She says we must look at history realistically in order to stop alienating. But... don't you think calling the culture and customs of a particular group inferior... don't you think that by calling colonialists 'civilized' and native peoples as 'savage'... don't you think that by enforcing this HUGE dichotomous relationship... you are creating the ULTIMATE effect of alienation
Monday, November 3, 2008
You, American people, this is your chance to renounce the position of global terrorist. This is your opportunity to change the negative impression the world has of you, a chance for you to stand up and show the rest of us that you are not a nation of war-mongerers and ravenous capitalist monsters. It is your responsibility to stand up for yourself and your nation, to elect the diplomat instead of the iron fist, and to cry out "J'accuse!" to the previous administration.
I do not believe the American people are an evil people... merely a misguided people. I believe that they will see through the sophistry of McCain, and that when given an opportunity to elect a man who will benefit the world and not just themselves, they will rise to the occassion. If I am wrong, if McCain and his Republic of Blood-thirst win the hearts of its citizens, I will hate the American people as much as I hate its government. In my eyes, they will be responsible for the world war that McCain is prepared to incite.
I have an American flag, and I am prepared to burn it if I must. And I know I am not alone in this. (Does this make me a "Terrorist", too?)