In his fascinating, epic monograph on "Iggy," Michael Valpy illustrates the candidate's tendency to make major shifts in his thinking, gaining him a great deal of attention. Not explicitly said, but nonetheless evident from Valpy's account, is that in each case, Ignatieff's turns have been in favour of those in power: Thatcher during the coal strike then, Bush with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and now the ruthless bombing of Lebanon. In the interceding years, surely there have been occasions for controversial, nuanced intellectual stands that turn away from those with money and power. On such occasions, Dr. Ignatieff has been absent. We should endeavor to find out why this is so--that is, if we find the obvious answer to be insufficient.
Dru Oja Jay
For the next four days, I'll be doing my best to document the second annual Tatamagouche Summer Free School, posting photos and doing some experimentation with participatory reporting on the Free School Weblog.
Was it, uh, as good for you..?
Passed on without comment:
What a stunningly beautiful game. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like. Both teams playing at the peak of their abilities, with well-executed, distinctive styles of play. Moves and counter-moves. Effort, but no goals. Overtime. Four minutes until the horrid fate of a penalty kick shootout, and Italy scores on a beautiful diagonal shot from the top of the box. The Germans come on strong, and then whoops, Italian counterattack, and another heart-rendingly perfect goal with one minute to go. The diving keeper's glove inches to the left, the goalpost inches to the right, the defender moments behind, and the promise of an awkward turnaround moments ahead. German fans crying. Players in white, orange and black jerseys lying face down on the field, in pain quite a bit worse than what you feel when you knock knees with a defender or bounce your temple off an opposing player's forehead while fighting in the air for a header. Maximum tension, maximum release; the phallocentric eros of football doesn't get any better. One big male orgasm in an enveloping oval stadium, lined with the softly corrugated undulations of the crowd's emotions that caress the game to its finish. The second goal left no question about the finality of its achievement. The rift between joy and grief emotions overwhelmed by their unmistakable combined intensity.
Why does this matter? Its beauty lies in the fact that it doesn't, but manages to supercede things that do. Pointlessly beautiful, beautifully pointless.
A few months ago, an editor at a left-wing Austrian student union newspaper contacted me out of the blue, asking for a 400 word summary of the then-recent Canadian elections. I posted the resulting German translation the other day, but just came across the original. Summing up an entire political situation to people who likely have no idea what's going on in the country in question was a challenge. Here's what I came up with.
* * *
On January 23, 2006, Canadian elections resulted in the first defeat for the reigning Liberal Party since 1993. The Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, gained the support of an additional 6% of electors from their 2004 result and formed a minority government with 124 out of 308 parliamentary seats. The social-democratic NDP also gained ten seats, and is one seat short of holding the balance of power.
The Liberal Party had declined in popularity after a series of well-publicized scandals involving millions of dollars in contracts granted to major Party donors. The Party was particularly hard-hit in Quebec, where the seperatist Bloc Quebecois won a majority of the seats in the 2004 election.
In 12 years, the Liberal Party had presided over a period of significant economic growth, though real wages declined and inequality increased. Major budget cuts and privatization led to major cuts to unemployment insurance, welfare, education and other social programs. Subsidies to oil companies continued, and a measure to force Canadian mining companies' overseas operations to comply with Canadian human rights and environmental laws was voted down. The Liberals also presided over a major shift in foreign policy, increasing military spending to the highest levels since WWII and advancing integration with the US military. Canadian forces have operated in close cooperation with the US in Afghanistan, and took the lead in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Haiti and taking control of its government.
Parliament has yet to be called into session, but the Conservative government shows signs of expanding on the Liberals' pro-US movements. Stephen Harper has promised further increases to military spending, and said 5,000 newly-arrived Canadian troops will not be leaving Afghanistan. Harper also appointed a former defence industry lobbyist as his Minister of Defence. The strengthened NDP has called for a debate about Canada's role in Afghanistan. While Liberals spoke in favour of Kyoto, Canada's carbon emissions increased at a greater rate than those in the US. Conservatives, with even closer ties to western oil companies than the Liberals, explicitly oppose Kyoto, despite popular support for the treaty.
It remains to be seen what other changes Harper will make, though it is likely he will remain cautious due to his precarious minority. The future of the Conservative government rests on its ability to make gains in Quebec. That said, Harper has surrounded himself with right-wing advisors, and has a long history as an advocate of economic and social conservatism. While the Conservatives have more seats than any other single party, a significant majority of the seats in Parliament belong to parties to the left of the Conservatives. The Conservatives are widely regarded as having won by moving to the political centre, promising to support public health care, which some argue the Liberals had begun to privatize.
Under the Liberals, the genocidal policies of forced integration, expropriation of land and economic devastation of Canada's native populations continued, though some victims of residential schools--where children were forcibly abducted, and often beaten, raped or killed--received compensation. One of Prime Minister Harper's inner circle of advisors, Tom Flanagan, has called native civilization inferior to European civilization, and said that colonization was inevitable and justified.
I tend to forget (or: not store in memory as a referenceable list) what books I've read, or picked up. So here's the incomplete list.
But before I start, a musical recommendation for all five people that still have this RSS feed somewhere (and the six that will stumble upon this via Google, including one Jooneed Khan, who teases me about the blog post of a few weeks ago every time I see hime): listen to the New Pornographers. As in, I listen to them, far, far too often. Enough hooks, as they say, to fill my grandfather's tacklebox. Resonant lyrics just vague enough to keep you on your toes. So catchy. But who am I kidding? This is just a pathetic attempt to quell my addiction to their music in the same way that I externalize, mediate and mechanize my memory with this machine.
Underworld, Don Delillo
Stone Junction, Jim Dodge
Fup, Jim Dodge
Wisdom and Metaphor, Jan Zwicky
Beyond the Promised Land: The movement and the myth, David Noble
Communication Technology, Darin Barney
Lenin, Christopher Read
Thinking the Difference: For a Peaceful Revolution, Luce Irigaray
Multitude, Hardt and Negri
Empire, Hardt and Negri
Playing Left Wing: From rink rat to student radical, Yves Engler
Canada in Haiti: Waging war on the poor majority, Anthony Fenton and Yves Engler
Gary Benchley, Rock Star, Paul Ford
The Dream of a Common Language, Adrienne Rich
The Toughest Indian in the World, Sherman Alexie
A Brief History of Progress, Ronald Wright
Son of a Smaller Hero, Mordechai Richler
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Mordechai Richler
Pussy, King of the Pirates, Cathy Acker
Objectivity and Liberal Scholarship, Uncle Noam
Death of a Nation: The attack on Yugoslavia, Michael Parenti
History as Mystery, Michael Parenti
Maailma Mõte, Fred Jüssi
Päts, Martti Turtolla
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
Reading, Talking, Writing, Cyril Welch
Full-Spectrum Disorder: The Military in the New American Century, Stan Goff
Economy of the Unlost, Anne Carson
That's all I can remember from the last two years or so. If I was really on the ball, I would write a bit about each one.
Österreichische HochschülerInnenschaft - ÖH Bundesvertretung: Machtwechsel in Kanada
For the first time since graduating, I wrote something that could be referred to as "philosophy". The series of observations about collective organizing in the broadest sense appeared in "What Makes Together," a zine edited by CASA kids Anna Feigenbaum and Adam Bobbette. The web layout mimicks the excellent choices made by Adam, who did the layout and fabrication of the beautiful print edition (which is to say, there is no web edition that I know of). Sylvia Nickerson, of course, did the illustrations.
I don't have much to say about the text, except that it started as a series of observations jotted down while reading a bunch of different things. The idea is to state the obvious, but in a way that isn't immediately recognizable as obvious, and which arises from observations and experience.
A friend, the multitalented Erin Brubacher, now has a web site. Her photography, dramatic productions, and cross-media work can be found there.
Mrs. Brubacher and I collaborated on the design (I on CSS and HTML, her on colour choice, spacing and font styles), which is strongly reminiscent of John Powers' site (for whom I have been doing some fun work in the forthcoming essays section -- a preview).
I've been doing a lot of trades for design work and hosting lately, which is a lot of fun. So far, I've got two photographs that I'm rather fond of. Next up: trades for food and fundraising expertise. And I've got my eye on more art.
The Fair Trade Media site isn't fully updated yet, but we're open for business in the barter economy. So if you need web design/hosting or print design and want to propose a trade, send us a note.
While working on the above poster for the Anarchist [Bookfair] Cabaret, I came across this bit of feminist errata. As it turns out, Emma Goldman never actually said the words most famously attributed to her: "If I can't dance, I don't want to be in your revolution". The link tells the story of how the version entered circulation.
I searched Emma's texts for the statement; it was nowhere to be found. But Jack was so pleased, the festival was so soon, Emma looked so lively printed in red and black on a variety of rich background colors, that I hadn't the heart to register an objection in the name of scholarship. After all, the apocrypha appeared on a mere gross or two of T-shirts, which surely could not require the same standards of accuracy as, say, book blurbs extracted from book reviews--and the sentiment expressed was pure Emma indeed.
But history (and fashion) exploded so quickly in those hungrily feminist days that the slogan on the original shirt-run was soon dispersed and copied and broadcast nationwide and abroad, underground and above, sometimes, absent a text to be checked against, changing along the way like a child's game of Telephone, until Jack's initial lighthearted liberties had taken wing as quotable lore and soared up into the realms of myth.
When all my shirts from the original batch had been given away to friends and my own worn to a rag, I decided to buy another. Only the new shirt, purchased in an uptown bookstore, sported a different picture of Emma--this time in a floppy hat--and a different version of the by now legendary legend, different still from the one I sometimes flaunt on a button. But, hey, if you can't wear what you like, who wants to be in your revolution?
Friends, neighbours, global citizens:
I'm looking for work.
Know anyone who needs help with web design, interface design, photography, or layout?
Please consider pointing them to my portfolio.
Addendum: I can live in the same neighbourhood as Wolf Parade and Jean Leloup. As Pharmacie Esperanza and Cheskie Heimishe Bakery and La Plus Belle Province. (On second thought, best not to get me started about food in Montreal.)
And so on.
Media Analysis: Peace from Above (5 of 5)
Media Analysis: The Good Guys (4 of 5)
Media Analysis: The Media War (3 of 5)
Media Analysis: The Origins of the War in the Balkans (2 of 5)
Media Analysis: Milosevic the Guilty? (1 of 5)