Monday, March 28, 2005

Well, the deep questions meme is still slowly percolating over the interweb. After my own answers, here, Estelle has answered a set and Cristina's are on the cusp of her thought (and in the comments of this post). Possible future answers may be found at Erin Dwyer's blog and potentially Charlotte's, if I can ever get around to making her some. There's a question or two in me yet if you feel like you're missing out on the fun. Just let me know, though I can't promise a turn-around time of anything resembling rapid.

In other news, looks like I finally caught the cold that everyone's been honking around out here. Maybe it's time for some of that two-ply toilet paper to shore up the kleenex drought.

Update: Cristina's answers are here. Recommended reading.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Yeah, so it turns out that Haloscan "archives" comments older than four months (ostensibly to aid server loads), by which they mean "move to an alternate, and inaccessible, database." It then takes 12USD to "liberate" them. How does that scene go in Speed? "Shoot the hostage"?

Which means that as of now, our comments are "powered by Blogger." Sorry about all those witty comments y'all left here and there. If your rage leads you to penetrate a SWAT team deep behind Haloscan lines, I'm in; until then, well, the web's a fickle thing.

I may yet drop by and snip some code so that you don't need to go to a separate freaking page to leave a comment, but I tell you, what I miss the most already are the god-like editing powers of tracking, banning, editing, deleting, and generally ruckus-causing that Haloscan so kindly bestows on its followers.

Ah well, other options are out there. For now, free and little time spent ain't bad.
Sorry, I'm probably going to be making any RSS aggregators out there a little wonky. Some of my font changes busted older punctuation that was cut and pasted from non-standard editors, and I'd like to go back and fix some of that up as time goes by. Also, it's one in the morning and I'm debating switching over to Blogger comments. And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Lover's Lament on Slaying Her

you strike.
you strike and the pages are verdant--
words rise up to meet you.
forgotten ways cross haphazard into other languages
and find intersection in your creation:
a tableau of spring sun
frozen and scattered like glass.

somewhere near the edges,
shadows rush over tundra plains,
a raven's circle dissolves,
and six horsemen drop over the horizon:
hooves pounding in wild migration--
a crisp vanishing

you rise, carefully, holding fragile pages,
then open them: release incantations!
call down gods--summon forgerers!
a vast erosion held back only
by the crack of your voice, islands rear as the whirlwind
bends once more to your chanting!

but you know the truth.

she stirs into being
as wind and storm tangle her hair,
naked form and hilltop torn by rain...
even as you reach her she falls,
that one, cruciform moment
an act of mercy. now even the gods
will not bring her back, perhaps cannot.

a song splits your sides and the wind
whips the pages from your grasp--
chasing your spirit to the north,
leaving folly to soak into the muskeg.

soon, time will clean the mystery of your bones,
fold their textures into the landscape.
then, only the past will know where your barrow lies,
and there you shall remain:
longing for an immortal wind to brush the plains.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Long post ahead. As Orwell would say, "If you are not interested in political controversy and the mob of parties and sub-parties with their confusing names (rather like the names of the generals in a Chinese war), please skip" (Homage to Catalonia). Annoying *and* racially generalized. Pun's for you, Will.

The Deal

Due to the newly virtual grapevine, my friend Will Loewen found himself answering five personalized and highly challenging questions. Leave a comment, get your questions, pass the thoughts on through your blog. Sure, this is maybe another one of those "getting to know you" gimmicks that the internet is so good at, but hey, if blogs are all about talking to people we may as well be saying some things. Let me know if you'd like some. Questions that is, not things, though they are that. A word of caution? I won't go as easy on you as Will was on me.

The Goods

I've tried to ask questions that fit more than one aspect of your life, so as to enrich the rest of us from your broad range of experiences.
-Flattery will get you everywhere.

1. Many of the Manitoba folk I know go through a slow and gradual realization that they may never move back. Is that so with you? And if it is, how is it coming?

-So, right to the heart of it. Well, part of the problem is that in many ways I left my childhood behind when I left Manitoba. At least, those things seem to converge when I find myself thinking about it. I left Manitoba for university, and I think most people would agree that a lot of stuff changes at around that time. I went from living in the country near a small town to the thriving metropolis of Waterloo near Toronto... lots of changes like that. All of those changes seemed really big and significant to me; I could probably still wax rhapsodic about all of the country/city, province/province, conservative/liberal differences that I was now experienced in and suddenly knew everything about. Mostly though, I laughed and talked about those differences because I felt torn between them and was insecure about what that meant about me. It was suddenly harder to cheat and say, "I'm Manitoban" or, "I'm NDP" (just kidding) and let that stand, at least with myself.

So I suppose you're right in that Manitoba and what it represents (as a place and my transition from it) plays a pretty significant role in continuing to shape who I am. The slow and gradual realization that I've left Manitoba behind is more about discovering that things (I and it) are irrevocably changed, and the process of coming to accept that. Yes, it's a little weird to think that I may never live there again. But it's also reassuring (and actually, somewhat surprising) to look at how much of it I brought with me. There're more adventures in me yet, but I do want to end up on a quiet porch swing under a wash of stars stretching into the endless prairie sky. I'll have you over for tea.

2. With your master's degree in English literature, do you plan to write literature, write about/critique literature, teach about literature or none of the above? Which is nobler? (You can have two different answers)

-I'm not sure you can do anything with literature. It doesn't really seem to have much use value in and of itself... it's just another medium. I really like studying it because of what people have brought and are bringing to it, what they're doing with it and what they're trying to do. But I think what I'm really interested in is us. I mean, they call it the humanities, but in English right now everyone is doing their best to annihilate humanism: the prioritization of the individual and the idea that there are basic attributes that make up "who I am." Why? Because of sexism, racism, ageism, oppression, repression, depression, and all of the other horrible things that come along with humanity and get folded into language every day. Please, can we get rid of those things now? Post-structuralism is saying that maybe literature isn't an expression of us, maybe it *is* us. What we think of as our "self" is just a collection of definitions shared and changing between every(one). Someone noticed that calling someone by their first name is different than calling them "filth" or "roach," and just maybe there's power there, just maybe if we were more aware of how that worked we could change things. Personally, I find hope elsewhere, but I think that the way we use, abuse, and think about literature reflects us and how we're coping with things.

Sorry, you asked. All I mean is, I think it's nobler to reach out and physically touch someone. If you can reach out and touch people through literature, do that, but don't forget about us. Will I write stuff? Yes. Teach it? Probably. Critique it? Through many late nights. But even if it becomes full-time, that stuff is all on the side.

3. What is a favourite memory from your travels, and what is its significance? (Deep or funny)

-That moment just before three AM when you realize that all of your friends have finally fallen asleep curled up in their seats against the cold glass of the car window and the only sound left between you and the night is the low of hum of the engine and the burr of your tires over the long, smooth pavement of the highway. Sometimes it's snowing, sometimes there's a moon catching the frost near your elbow, always there's that comforting syncopated line pulling you ever deeper down the winding black ribbon until suddenly you feel like all the roads are connected to all the other roads and they're waiting and they're waiting for you to go to where you're going, knowing that you'll get to them eventually. The warm purview of the headlights and the small nest of a car floating between point A and point B remind you of all the other people who have shared that intimate space with you: shared air, shared smell, shared the words and thoughts that communicated bits and pieces of self in the movement between departure and arrival. Most of them snore; some even drool a bit. Yes, I was watching you. We are all beautiful, and McDonalds gives us all gas.

4. How differently would you blog if you knew your parents and/or past/present authority figures would never read it?

-They read it? Hi. This is me. I think I'll probably write some things and post some stuff here. I'm thinking of you, but I'm also trying not to let you affect what and when I put stuff up. I just don't want to feel pressured, you know? Yes, I understand that you do influence things in a thousand little ways. But in our limited relationship here the more I exclude the better. For instance, in-jokes are kind of out-weird. Also, my sad and lonely days are more usefully soaked up by people I can eat wings with. The things I ate for lunch today may be inherently fascinating but I'd rather just eat them, and yes, eating is apparently important to me (it keeps coming up), but I feel like random thoughts and pieces of things that I've run across or written are quirkier and thus more interesting. Sorry you have to sit through some of my life updates, but don’t worry, nothing too personal. Besides, I'm not sure why I'd post anything I wouldn't want you to see on the internet anyway. I liked working for your company, and if you're my parents, you know I love you. Oh, and I'm a good kid. Say hi to the CN Tower for me.

5. Is Kingston your first time living outside of an established Mennonite community? How does it feel?

-Yes? No? Established? Outside? Ack, my newly ingrained critical analytical "define your terms" neuroses are twitching. This isn't the first time I've regularly attended a non-Mennonite church, but it is the first time that I've missed it so much. It's the singing really. The community is still here even though the food is different. Anglican. I'm Anglican now, didn't cha know?

How does it feel? It feels healthy. I have a growing respect for liturgy and we do communion all the freaking time, which does literally freak me out sometimes, though just a bit. I went to a Ukrainian Orthodox church with a good friend a few weeks ago, and the incense and the foreign language and the kissing Jesus icons and the bowing to the floor was followed up by a bunch of grandmas making perogies in the kitchen for a bake sale. Seemed pretty Mennonite to me, if a little Byzantium instead of Constantinople. I suppose I have less ethnically similar friends in close proximity these days, but I pretty much just do homework anyway. I suppose I wish the Mennonite communities in question weren't as isolationist as my Master's program feels sometimes.

I guess all I'm saying is, I'm not sure if I ever *have* been in an established Mennonite community. Bottom line, more and more I'm opening myself up to non-Mennonite influences, but those were always there to some degree anyway. My personal perogy-eating, hymn-singing (a recent addition, by the way), pacifist, social justice oriented self is spending less time with others claiming similar attributes, but those attributes will still always be around to some degree anyway. Bring it on.

Cut to anecdote: when I did find and introduce myself to the lone Mennonite faculty member at Queen's (a Wiebe), his response to my "Mennonite Brethren" contribution to the denomination game (close on the heels of the "do I know your relatives?" game) was, "What! Those bastards!?!" Established community, indeed.

Granted, in light of my recent re-indoctrination at Waterloo North (what is that anyway, GC? wait, MCEC?) I can probably lay claim to non-bastardized Mennonite-ism (Russian, not Swiss), but my views on community have always been a bit less established than that. Oh, and let it suffice to say that if Grebel was what was on your mind when you asked that question, we can talk about that some other time.

The Epilogue

Thanks for the questions, Will. I hope I've done them some justice. Like I say, if anyone else wants to volunteer for the rack, step right up. May as well publish our current follies for all eternity.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

HA! This one is worth linking to: link. Warning: Spoilers!

Friday, March 04, 2005

March! Hi! Sorry, didn't see you there. You know, you really shouldn't sneak up on me like that. Hmmmm, it seems only yesterday I was having a chat with February...

A fickle month, February. Thankfully, the sun poured enough Vitamin D through my skin that I avoided most of the winter blahs this year. Of course, Reading week/break was still appreciated: not only did I get to spend some quality time with friends and family down in Beamsville, but I also got some work done when I retreated early to the school-cave. A refreshing, anxiety-reducing balance. Part of a complete breakfast.

There's stuff to do in March I suppose, but far more interesting is everything else. Fall plans still find me pulling together stray leads from everywhere, but at the moment the short-list is: Japan, Vietnam, Lithuania. That's sorted by probability; interest is probably reverse-order. I mean, who doesn't want to be a Professor of English Literature in Eastern Europe? Of course, I'll probably need to start actually filling out the stack of applications that grows daily on my desk, but that can wait until I have some serious procrastination to do. Until then, there's Alias and Lost epsiodes to catch up on. Speaking of which, remind me to stick to movies in the future: bittorrent and seasons-long story arcs ask for a little too much out of a relationship, you know?

Other things keeping me sane are random Charlotte drop-ins, Mom's chili recipes, Jon's Marquez cast-offs, and weekly meetings with a few others who share a desire to write non-homework-type things. But hey, it's only a couple thousand homework words between me and another fine term-break; soon enough I'll be looking forward to year-breaks like ordinary people :)

A gloriously free July aside, tonight it's food, shower, and a night out with friends. Kingston, you ain't been doing me wrong.