Volume 11 Issue 2 September 2011
The Borders Issue
VOLUME 11 ISSUE 2 SEPTEMBER 2011
The lines I have that you read between. The lines on the pages. The lines on the screen. Of lines spoken — I say what I mean. It’s parallel lines that will never meet. BLONDIE, PARALLEL LINES (1978)
Part of the New Zoo
Hoarders of Borders
Copenhagen. December 13, 2011 JOSLYN KILBORN
Violence Without Borders
Stained Fences and Freedom
The Curious Observer at Borderlands
NUNO TEIXEIRA EMMANUEL XERX JAVIER
The World Is Not Your Playground
Always For Me, Never for You
DESIREE JOY DELOACH
The Terror of Territory
EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Morgan Alan
THE BORDERS ISSUE
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No, Blueprint Magazine is not going through another round of budget cuts. Our (mostly) black-and-white issue can be owed to an purposeful editorial decision, to illuminate the duality of this month’s theme of ‘borders’.
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Brantford Manager Vacant Staff Contributors Emily Holmes, Joslyn Kilborn, Louise Lobb, Andrew Savory, Sara Stacey, Alcina Wong, Jessi Wood
CONTRIBUTORS Anonymous, Katrina Behr, Desiree Joy Deloach, Luigi DiGennaro, Emmanuel Xerx Javier, Emily Kennedy, Theresa Lochbihler, Elena Mikhailova, Michael Radivoi, Max Sharikov, N. Sky, Nuno Teixeira
ADMINISTRATION President, Publisher & Chair Erin Epp Executive Director Bryn Ossington Advertising Manager Angela Taylor Vice Chair Judith Brunton Treasurer Thomas Paddock Director Mike Lakusiak Director Jon Pryce Corporate Secretary Morgan Alan Distribution Manager Ryan Tang
Most submissions in this issue speak to the polarizing nature of a border, dividing people and identities into separate groups. One group becomes “us”, distinct and opposed to “them”. The distinction becomes politicized, as particularity among these groups becomes cause for celebration or conflict. But a border is more than a line on a map, something that delineates one physical space from another. When higher education is made inaccessible to a young person, they face a border to their personal development. Characteristics denoting minoritized groups and identities deny individuals access to certain spaces, along largely arbitrary lines. Even at this school, Orientation Week competition pits team against team. A border is not simply an amorphous concept, defined by geography and politics. As borders become imposed on the individual, it is our bodies that become the battlefield.
Morgan Alan Editor-in-Chief
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Part of The New Zoo JESSI WOOD
We’ve been told since our humble beginnings in high school that university is the pinnacle of independence and low expectations: ‘the only person who cares what you do here is yourself ’. This initial impression, though there in spirit, is sorely tested through our first week.
There are four thousand students coming into university this month, being introduced to their new zoo, and we’re all behind our own bars. Four thousand people moving into residence with boxes and plastic containers, stuffed full of comforts and treasures meant for their mysterious living arrangements ahead. Four thousand terrified and silently excited, looking at the massive walls of the buildings and the awkward barriers between each other to be broken as they’re herded around by eager volunteers in ridiculous clothing. That’s not to say we are cooped up: the ability to spend our wee hours in an off-campus coffee shop or falafel house is the most relished event between the “optional” activities and the intensity of rival color teams. We’ve been told since our humble beginnings in high school that university is the pinnacle of independence and low expectations: ‘the only person who cares what you do here is yourself ’. This initial impression, though there in spirit, is sorely tested through our first week. The close-knitted spirit of the week is staggering, despite the attempt to bring the bright-eyed and inexperienced together being represented with varying kinds of colorful murderers (Ninjas will stop your heart seems to be less in the spirit of community than expected). This method of bonding highlights the irony of trying to bring us together by separating us into competitive groups. If inclusion was what everyone was aiming for, they may have missed the mark by telling us we’re better than our fellow student depending on the colors of our face paint. But there are always going to be borders; in our proud and oddly-shaped province, there are more towns than drink choices in the downstairs vending machines. Bringing samples of the unique youth from each municipality with the intent to bond them was never going to be easy. From our homes, we brought our own personal cages to keep us warm at night and assure us that we’re our own best friend here, no matter how many times we cheer for our team. Everyone wants to make friends, but it’s easier to put up an awkward wall and tell ourselves that we’re the only special one. The attempt to break these borders highlights an important axiom: be apart of the group, but shine on your own. A life with no boundaries is dangerous, but life with too many is needlessly lonely, especially in a place so unfamiliar that even the seagulls look at you funny. So as you walk through the campus, clutching your purse as tight as knuckles allow, listening to music only you can hear, try to spot other peoples personal walls as they walk past. Everyone will open up – to an extent – and have even a small portion of the grand experience we’ve been promised in an endless wave of brochures. All borders get crossed, because they are there to cross, and we all get restless with being lonely. You may not feel inclined to share your new zoo: but be sure to peek through the bars occasionally.
Hoarders of Borders N. SKY
I imagine that there was once an age without borders, an age when the Earth was not mine or hers (and his), but ours and theirs. An age where the adventurous needed only their wits and bravery to explore the world as opposed to paperwork and visas. I don’t remember this age, and doubt that there is a person alive who does. I have read about these times in works of fiction and fantasy, hidden between the implications of metaphor and wishful thinking. But, I have never read of these accounts being manifested in reality. Even North American First Nations, who have often been associated with life in a borderless world, had a sense of territory, albeit not as rigid as their European and Asian counterparts. If peace could not be maintained through treaties, measures were taken to separate conflicting peoples; the Ogijidah of the Anishinabek were peacekeeping warriors who monitored neutral zones. If the Ogijidah efforts were unsuccessful, war over resources and space would ensue. Sound familiar? Borders have become so tediously protected, so meticulously defined, that we tend to forget how insubstantial they really are. The only force preventing a person from crossing a border are the people entrusted to regulate them. Borders are real in so far as we make them real. They constitute a geographical boundary or legal jurisdiction; but borders can be manipulated, changed or completely destroyed. They have been destroyed: in Siam, Zanzibar, Persia and other lost civi-
lizations. Borders are more than fortified divisions of land and resources. Outrageous amounts of people have voluntarily died for ‘King and Country,’ so to speak. They sacrificed themselves to protect something they viewed as bigger than their own lives; the essence of who they are and where they belong. Borders define a division of ideology and identity; they provide a physical distinction between ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Nationality gives a sense of belonging in linking an individual through the sands of time to a common origin. It gives a sense of understanding of the unanswerable question of ‘where do we come from?’ and forms the foundations of home. National identity is formed through a presence of common points in people’s daily lives, through the same language, colours, history, religion, cuisine and humor. National identity is undoubtedly important for some, but can also be incredibly destructive. Borders divide us, but they can also keep us united—so long as we’re all on the same side. Patriotism can be easily turned into chauvinism, just like self confidence can easily turn into self importance when the self is attacked. Perhaps if geography had not separated us as such, humans would have formed a global community where everyone was ‘we’ and ‘they’ didn’t exist. But I suppose that fantasy is only valid in so far as we believe in the benevolence of human nature.
Copenhagen. December 13, 2011 JOSLYN KILBORN
I’ve been woken up. I mean, I still miss my boy back home, and I still think the guy I’m visiting here is a horny asshole. I still slept my entire day away and didn’t get out of the apartment until three in the afternoon (and it’s dark by four this time of year), but that hour of daylight gleamed in symbolism. As romantic a habit as it is, imbuing my surroundings with meaning connects me to them. And today, I was quite forced to open my symbol-seeking eyes, to leave my own fleshy garrison and connect with this city. While wandering I stumbled across an empty public square, absolutely filled with pigeons. I sat down on an empty bench and was preparing my camera when the entire flock lifted and flew towards me – then circled me, surrounded me on all sides, landing inches from my lap on the bench beside me and stumbling around my feet. Aside from the pigeon shit that now covers my boots, it was one of those moments I’ve always attempted to create by running into flocks of seagulls
He smiled when I told him I was studying literature, and quickly offered quotes from Tolstoy, Voltaire and Dostoevsky. I shuffled my feet and replied that I liked Canadian poetry, but no, I couldn’t really quote any for him. on the beach, yearning for their acceptance, or at least their indifference. But I always scare them off. Today I was approached, embraced, held in the beat of many wings. As soon as they realized I had no food they lifted, and re-
vealed a man standing in front of me, carrying a sleeping bag in bloody hands. “Do you know me?” he asked in English, initiating the first sincere conversation I’ve had since arriving. “No,” I answered, surprised, apprehensive and pleased. “Do you know me?” “Yes,” he replied, gesturing to the bench, “I must, because you are sitting on my home.” His name was Gabriel – a fallen angel with curly, blond hair who spoke twelve languages. He smiled when I told him I was studying literature, and quickly offered quotes from Tolstoy, Voltaire and Dostoevsky. I shuffled my feet and replied that I liked Canadian poetry, but no, I couldn’t really quote any for him. He told me when he sleeps outside, people give him too much money – too much he said, because alcohol is so cheap. When I pointed to his bleeding hand he simply replied that he lives a scary life, but I shouldn’t fear him, he wouldn’t hurt me. He said he falls down a lot, but never remembers, and never knows why he’s bleeding. He told me about his rich family whom he denounced when they sold his childhood home, and became emotional while revealing he likes me because I remind him of one of his five sisters. I looked at him in his wet eyes and wished I were gutsy enough to comfort him. One day an angel woke Gabriel from a drunken stupor by touching him on the shoulder – “Like this,” he took a step towards me and reached out to demonstrate on my own shoulder, a light but lingering grip that I tried not to shrink from. Presumably intuiting my hesitation he again assured me, “Do not worry, I do not wish to hurt you.” He slid his hand away, but I still felt the physical gap between us bridged. My shoulders released a tension they had been carrying well before Gabriel approached me. The angel told Gabriel that God would forgive him of everything, but that first Gabriel would have to survive twelve years of homelessness. That was ten years ago. “What’s going to happen in two years?” I asked. He laughed. “I do not know! I forget!” Our exchange ended with my thanking him, as candidly as I knew how, for giving me the gift of his company. I didn’t realize until after that he never asked for money – or anything – just appeared through a cloud of wings and with a touch of his hand, released me from my jetlag, my loneliness; my melancholic attitude. He connected me to the world outside of myself, and allowed me to cross into this new land. So here I am, stuck between two touches; missing the one back home and denying the over-reaching one that’s here, accepting the hands of a man who has probably not been viewed sexually in a long time. Gabriel; named for an angel, touched by an angel, and desiring to pass that same angelic touch onto me. I wish I had touched him back.
Contemplation DESIREE JOY DELOACH
Look into these eyes, they don’t lie. They speak words that I cannot say. Sitting here I wipe the tears from eyes that cry for the youth of today. It’s become okay to sling rocks, guns, but at the end of the day they’ve just dug themselves further into the grave. Lyrics that fall onto the ears of the innocent kids, running the block just because it’s quote-unquote “the only way to survive and live.” Victims of an education system that forgot that the purpose was to raise up soldiers in these children. Instead teachers dreading to face the reality, caught up in the same vicious cycle. Escaping? No, they claim there will never be. Some take it as far as telling me to act my color. But they don’t seem to see the determination inside of me to help everybody regardless of color, religion or creed. I stopped to take a glance and that one glance forever had me hooked, so shook. To keep going like what I saw didn’t exist. Ahh, I clinch my fists and begin to pray. I bind spirits of violence, poverty and lack. I thank God for the times He had my back. Generational curses hinder and attack, but I stand in the gap. What are you doing to reverse the curse of a world that has stumbled and fallen? All the while you stand there and complain of the strain that it’s causing you, but I don’t see you move, got nothing but an attitude. So while you stand there, negativity ever-flowing, I’ve got to keep going. Keep fighting and pushing back so I can watch how you react, because in all reality it’s your doubt that keeps me in the bout. This burden we need to carry and stop being weary, because we’ve stood by long enough while too many of our loved ones we’ve watched being buried. Yea, I know it’s scary, but in this place we can no longer tarry. Ephesians 6:11 says “Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” So I refuse to relax with my back against the wall when God is trying to take me to another level. I am my brother’s keeper. So while you stand there perplexed and vexed in deep contemplation, excuse me y’all, I have to go save a nation.
Born Free ANONYMOUS
Lines drawn on maps; separating lovers, separating friends. Uniforms and guns deciding who gets to come in, who gets searched, and who gets turned away. A person of colour is asked, “can you please pull over?” A known-anarchist, “what are your political affiliations?” A person with precarious status, locked away immediately. Imaginary lines, burned into our brains. Constantly policing our thoughts and actions. Where we can go, who we can
know. The lines are illegal, not the people. This land was stolen long ago. We have no right to put up walls and checkpoints, no right to draw these imaginary lines on maps. No right to question, hurt and imprison those crossing them. This land was born free, and it will be free again. These illegal borders that make my heart heavy will fall.
Always for Me, Never for You ANDREW SAVORY
I watched as train after train goes by Grand Central Station. I lay motionless, without a care for who pointed and snickered, or who stopped to take a photograph of the seemingly unfortunate man passed out in the filthy, piss-riddled pool of water. It wasn’t always like this. There was a point in time when I used to have some self-respect, some dignity. “Mr. Windlay, could I have your autograph?” I raised my head slowly from the puddle that was beneath me. I could smell the urine in my hair, tainting the air with its distinct and foul scent. Who had the nerve to propose such a question? I turned my head slowly, only to lay eyes upon Constable Pearce: the one man who never gave up in searching for me when I fell off the face of the Earth. I felt my cheeks embrace the abrasive exterior of his knuckles, cracking the frostbitten surface of my skin. And then I lost consciousness. As my eyelids fluttered and I slowly drifted back to reality, I recalled a period in time where I was on top of my small, consolidated and sheltered world. Cars, money, women? What more could an MIT graduate who was the owner of a multi-billion dollar company by thirty desire? Who knows – I had it all taken away before I could answer that question. Bad things happen to good people; terrible things happen to people who pretend to be good. I could hear an array of noises, an ECG beeping, a medical attendant administering medicine into my IV drip. From what I could understand, I had a serious case of hypothermia and… I couldn’t feel my toes. I tried to wiggle them, but there was no response. I tried to pull my right hand up to scratch a sudden itch on my nose, only to discover that it was cuffed to the bed. As I glanced down at the metal confines that roughly circumnavigated my wrist, I shifted my eyes to my right forearm. Written in bold, italicized black letters: Every Man Dies. Not Every Man Really Lives. That quote of William Wallace’s used to resonate within me. It provoked me, Charlie Windlay, to strive to become something extraordinary, to exceed the expectations of my oppressive parents, and break free from my less than memorable childhood. By twenty, I had already graduated from MIT with honours and numerous prestigious awards, but those meant nothing. They were silly material possessions to rest on a bookcase until they were required for small talk. By twenty-five, I had begun my greatest feat yet: a software firm that specialized in military technologies. That was then, this was now. But what was now, anyways? Now, was only three years after the biggest financial scandal in the history of the United States stock market, eleven convictions of fraudulent behavior, and impending incarceration. Now, was the duration of time where I was a sewer rat who spent his days dwelling in the New York Subway system away from the mainstream population in fear
of being caught by the police that had been tracking me for years. Constable Pearce peered his head over my bed. “You put up quite the fight Charles.” “Charlie.” I hated it when people acknowledged me by my birth name. Charles was so professional and stuck up, it made me seem like some snide prick, which I was. But that was not
But what was now, anyways? Now, was only three years after the biggest financial scandal in the history of the United States stock market, eleven convictions of fraudulent behavior, and impending incarceration. how I wanted people to think of me. “Alright, Charlie. I’d like to tell you that the severity of your sentence has been increased.” “Spare me the pleasantries, Constable. We both know how this works.” Constable Pearce took a big breath. The final blow was coming. “After resisting arrest for three years from not only municipal authorities but federal as well, you have been sentenced to serve two life sentences in jail without option for parole until the second term. “You know why people detest the police? It’s because of scum like you. You don’t give up. Sure I made some mistakes, but those are irreversible.” Constable Pearce turned away and briskly strode out of the room. I didn’t have to see his face to know that it had a sheepish grin strewn across it. Once again, I gazed down at my right forearm. How could I have been so stupid? So naïve? So ignorant? This tattoo used to epitomize everything that I had stood for, now it defined everything that I had fallen for.
Divided LOUISE LOBB
I haven’t heard from my older brother since the end of April. His last message said that he was painting his dining room. If I had of known that would be the last thing he’d say, I would have made him tell me every thought that went through his head that first day when he breathed in the acrid smell of paint. I wouldn’t have let him go without promising he would call next week. Anything, he could say anything, just to prevent this division between us. Instead, I said “that sounds great, I have to go make supper now.” My words were flat, and I can’t go back and say I was having a bad day. I can’t even translate “I’m painting my dining room brown” into “I love you Louise.” Not staying in contact with your family has its consequences: my brother missed our grandma’s funeral. He will suffer for it because he didn’t grieve with us, his tears will be hot and heavy while ours have lost strength since. My grand-
neck was aching from the weight, I had to use all the strength in my arms to shove him off. He did things like that all the time. Maybe that was his way of showing that he loved me and my sisters? Alberta seems so far away from Clinton, Ontario these days. That is where my brother, sister-in-law, and niece live. I am sure my sister-in-law is deserving of my brother’s devotion and love, but my arms feel empty. I was looking forward to many years of holding and carrying around my niece, and I don’t know if I ever will again. Mother or not, my sister-inlaw took away the only child that I want to hold for the next five years. I’m conflicted about whether I want children of my own, but I never hesitated to take on the role of doting aunt. I can only hope that if I ever see my niece again, she has not been poisoned against me. I’ve thought about going out west and getting a summer
My clearest memory of my brother is when I was little: I was lying on the floor in the hallway, and he came and sat on my head. It is little different from when I was at the beach, and a wave pulled me under. pa cried twice when the casket was lowered, once for his wife, and once for my brother who is estranged from us. I left hope that my brother would come home to us at the cemetery. My clearest memory of my brother is when I was little: I was lying on the floor in the hallway, and he came and sat on my head. It is little different from when I was at the beach, and a wave pulled me under: both times my eyes encountered darkness, and I struggled to make my way up for air. My brother’s bottom flattened my head to the floor, and my
job. My older sister did, and our neighbours thought her ‘brave’ and ‘focused’. I guess I don’t have that wanderlust, because I won’t be going to Alberta any time soon. Every conversation about my brother ends the same way, “Of course he doesn’t hate you, he just needs some time to get back on his feet. He’ll find you when he’s ready”. It’s my extended family that worry he’s been left for dead, but I know he’s still out there. One day my brother will contact us, we will scratch each others’ eyes out, and then, the period of healing will begin.
The Terror of Territory KATRINA BEHR
I drew a circle with my piece of chalk. And stepped inside my province. I declared, “stay out, this space is mine”. And everyone obliged. You came along and inspected my space; you circled its entirety. While in your hand was your own chalk, making your own circular province. You heard my demands and made your own: I was forbidden to enter your domain. You named your province Halo, which you told me with a smile. Staring at your gleaming teeth, I saw only the bars of my enclave cage. The miserly logic that guided my laws had thrust a knife between my shoulders blades. Bound by my chalk circumference, I would lose the ability to replenish. I would become a victim of the terror of territory. And I would perish. They would neatly print my story in the paper with some bitingly ironic title involving the words “Choked”, “By” and “Halo”. Then you would swallow up my only mark. And the world would roll on. And everyone would forget.
Indefinition JOSLYN KILBORN
Borders are most often looked at to define, to bind, to limit. They delineate spaces. They define differences. They separate – but they also bring together. Borders are the meeting places for separate entities. We only see borders because we can see where one thing ends and another thing begins. We know the borders of a table because we can see, quite clearly, where the table’s boundaries end and the floor, wall, or space around it begins. We see borders because we see objects, people, and places as separate. And we see everything as separate because we see their physical and metaphysical borders. This gives borders much power to define what they contain. This is what makes borders especially interesting to me, because nothing is so easily defined as their “boundaries” lead us to believe. What exists between borders? What happens when borders are bridged, or overlapped? Aesthetically speaking, let’s look at a horizon over a large body of water – the perspective border between land (or water) and sky. Most of the day, a horizon is easily seen, the definition and limitations it supplies between clearly separate areas is obvious. But during a sunset, this is all turned upside-down – quite literally – with the sky and landscape reflected on the water’s surface. We see an area that is normally strictly bordered from another, instead covered in the images of the areas it is defined against. Separate entities mix, overlap, take on the look of the other, and confuse their endings and beginnings. Our strict boundaries are suddenly revealed as porous. Photography plays it’s own role in the making of borders – framing a shot is bordering it, outlining the image’s boundary. But within each image there is room for much border-breaking, definition-defying – double-exposing images, flipping the perspective.
The World Is Not Your Playground ELENA MIKHAILOVA
As I sat on a couch that was manufactured in China and sipped a beverage that originated in Germany, I was relayed news of Libya and Italy. Italian and NATO authorities were being accused of purposely ignoring African refugees who had attempted to escape from the war torn capital of Libya. The 72 African migrants had been headed for Lampedusa, a small Italian city that had recently been experiencing an influx of illegal immigration. 61 of the refugees would pass away as the ship, which had ran out of fuel, subsequently drifted around the Mediterranean Sea. They had suffered from thirst and hunger. Many young women, children and political refugees would perish as a result of being stranded at sea. However, it seems that they hadn’t been entirely alone. Italian authorities, which had briefly made contact via helicopter, had promised to provide a rescue boat. Several refugees who were found alive testified that they had allegedly seen a NATO warship. Regardless of any contact, the African migrants would ultimately be left to
Countries have become yet another way to separate people into categories: there is us and there is them. drift alone, carefully rationing dwindling supplies of food and water until there was none left. As harrowing as this story is, the key element of horror has been prominent for centuries – borders and all they entail. There have been wars fought to increase borders. There have been countless casualties from attempts to cross a border. Ironically as taxpayers complain of financially supporting illegal immigrants, they spend millions of dollars on making sure their borders are patrolled. Countries have become yet another way to separate people into categories: there is us and there is them. It would appear that the Italian authorities had viewed those African refugees as unwanted immigrants rather than human beings. Those 72 migrants had represented another financial burden to potentially take on for Italy – a nuisance to Italy’s rightful inhabitants, who pay taxes to reside on a specific plot of land. This is yet another reminder that some resources are restricted within borders – oil, clean water, quality health care, gold; land that is not scarred with field mines and objects of value. And yet, countries are willing to share their excessive garbage.
ALCINA WONG My parents put me through Chinese school; they insisted that I learned the story of why they came here, despite me being born â€œhereâ€? in Canada. The sun in the background is derived from the flag of Taiwan.
Violence Without Borders DEVON BUTLER
Travelling, to some, is a desired escape from the mundane tribulations of everyday life. It’s the picture of sandy white beaches, a lively resort that takes care of every detail so you can focus on relaxation. To others, travel represents something different. It is a way to engage with another culture, and use volunteer efforts to influence change in our world. I would imagine my travel style rests somewhere in the middle: between selfless humanitarianism and spoiled globetrotting heiress. In reality, it’s probably the latter. Perhaps it is my persistent pessimism that restrains me from believing I could initiate any change in an impoverished country, or that in the end the experience would somehow enlighten me. Despite my love for experiencing new cultures, I can’t enter a developing world so nonchalantly. Travelling for the sole purpose of volunteering is one thing, but to enter a country in need to simply unwind strikes me as insensitive. It could be easily argued that visiting a resort town in Mexico provides the local citizens with employment opportunities, which in some cases may be partially true. However, when many local citizens are involved with dangerous drug cartels, all you provide is the opportunity to access unassuming North American tourists. While those clear sandy beaches may be overwhelmingly enticing – especially when the cold chill of winter sets in – increasing drug-related violence in Central and South America are cause to re-evaluate travel plans, destinations, and to consider a more ethical and informed type of travel. One of the largest factors in Mexico’s popularity as a relaxation getaway is its affordability. These types of destinations offer all-inclusive packages that cater to students or young adults who don’t always have the ability to pay for travel expenses separately. From this perspective, destinations that offer all-inclusive packages are inarguably the best ‘bang for your buck’ but are they the safest place to spend your hardearned money? The Government of Canada recently issued a travel advisory for Mexico, warning against all non-essential travel plans due to a deteriorating security situation and high levels of criminal activity. Along the Mexican-American border, these risks make it nearly impossible to safely cross this notorious line. Scams, kidnapping, theft, sexual assault and murder are increasingly commonplace in Mexico, even in designated tourist areas where most people assume they are safe. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risks of being attacked, as you may become less aware of your surroundings and in turn, provide an easier target to criminals. Since Mexican President Felipe Calderón took office four years ago, more than 35,000 people have been killed in drug and gang related violence; with the highest death toll occurring in 2010 at over 15,000 people. Though drug production and related violence have always been a blight in Central and
South America, the drug cartels have become much more sophisticated. They are well financed, organized and aggressive enough to show no mercy for human life. Naturally, this is greater cause for concern to Americans, who share a near 2,000 mile border with Mexico. The border not only produces an easy route to smuggle illegal substances from all of South America, but as a response to criminal activity, generates increased violence and poverty on both sides. Both Mexican and American officials promise to work together in the war against drugs while America shells out $1.4 billion a year to aid the never-ending drug war. What was previously an issue contained within the borders of Mexico has crossed over to thousands of American cities, causing extensive violent battles between rival drug cartels attempting
I can’t enter a developing world so nonchalantly. Travelling for the sole purpose of volunteering is one thing, but to enter a country in need to simply unwind strikes me as insensitive. to claim a stake in American territory. With such explicit violence and obvious social problems, it is a wonder why tourists still flock to Mexico; though such ignorance is not entirely unjust. Media coverage and official criminal reports manage to slip neatly beyond the radar of major network conglomerates, and the reason is evident: fear. Numerous journalists, teachers and investigators who attempt to stop drug cartels or expose it end up murdered or missing. Likewise, most cases of drug related violence go largely unreported, since the victims either don’t want to be targeted further by gang members or are in fact, involved with drug cartels themselves. In this respect, not even Mexican police officials can be trusted, due to the widespread corruption that exists within the Mexican government. It is certainly a shame when a country with such rich ancestry, cultural significance and wondrous historical artefacts becomes so precarious it borders on the extreme. Surely I want to explore the world I live in, but is my safety and moral conscious worth the gamble? Is it worth visiting when on the other side of my hotel wall is desolation, poverty and gang recruitment? As I drink filtered water that’s been privatized so Mexican citizens are unable to access it, wouldn’t I feel the slightest twinge of guilt, knowing that hundreds of innocent people are dying each day because they are caught in a corrupt government overrun by ruthless drug cartels? Maybe I’m not quite a selfless humanitarian, but using a war-torn country’s beach simply to improve my tan is definitely not my style.
Dis-Connect JOSLYN KILBORN
Dis-Orientation MAX SHARIKOV
“A drug is neither moral nor immoral - it’s a chemical compound. The compound itself is not a menace to society until a human being treats it as if consumption bestowed a temporary license to act like an asshole.” - Frank Zappa I know it is orientation week. My sleep is reduced by the music that is loud enough to shake the ground, and the foundation of my house. I see students gathered in circles, and I know that at the centre of these circles is the source of the music. Like moths to a flame. A moth may fly to close to a flame and be burnt instantly, but the students standing too close to the music will suffer long term hearing damage. The reader may be inclined to use clichéd phrases like “party pooper” and “stick in the mud” to describe my outlook, but my concern is for the well being of my fellow students, really. I’m just kidding. I don’t care if you go deaf. You have
brought it upon yourself. I only wish that I could be there in twenty or thirty years, when you have lost the last of your hearing and you are cursing the negligent and self-indulgent behaviour of your youth. My only regret is that you won’t be able to hear me laughing. What makes us different? We stand at the border, confronting questions like: “Should I binge drink until I vomit blood?” “When that girl passes me, should I objectify her with a derogative term, thereby expressing my hatred toward women?” “Should I scream at the end of this song?” The sensible answer to both question is “No”. But rather than staying on my side of the border, the rational side, I have seen you cross the border. Why?
Radio Static EMILY HOLMES
Radio on to fill the silence and give company on this lonely night. Windows down, cool august air and streetlamps blur my sight. Familiar beat and lyrics abruptly fill my ears; this song, the breeze, familiar streets bring me back so many years. Nostalgia is a funny thing, it tampers with the heart. Memories like falling rain melt strands of sense apart. With no connection to the brain my hands, they turn the wheel; the streets, the song and the brisk night air gain control of what I feel. On your street my breaths grow short my beating heart grows loud suddenly I feel a change; I am struck by an alarming sound. The song falters, then it breaks it is torn apart by static my sense prevails, my tires turn, as I am forced to change my tactic. Turned around, Iâ€™m headed home filled with shame from chasing ghosts. The static on the radio made me luckier than most A life is filled with memories, some of which are caustic. Past love can pull you down to hell, you must acknowledge how you lost it. Like the love song that filled car speakers late, the past has an ultimate appeal. But past feelings, they are static; they block out the sound that is real.
Imaginary Lines SARA STACEY
Imaginary lines: intensely important, worth dying for; worth killing for. Who you are, who you are to be, who you can be, is defined by imaginary lines. Which burn through deserts, rivers, forests, mountains, peoples. They divide, they define, they destroy.
Stained Fences and Freedom MICHAEL RADIVOI
I thought about borders on one of those afternoons before the beginning of term, that are as beautiful as they are fleeting, helping my girlfriend stain her backyard fence. The job seemed simple enough, though a tad daunting given that the fence stood several feet higher than me. It was a job reminiscent of the classic suburban dream – a sprightly nuclear family surrounded by typical symbols of material success, and the token picketed fence. The right to one’s own property is one of the hallmarks of vaunted Western freedom. This right applies not only to physical assets, but to our thoughts: the right to our own ideals, beliefs, opinions, cares, desires, dislikes, and happiness. The picketed fence can be considered a classic symbol not
I would no sooner ask society to tear its fences down than I would tear down my own. After all, don’t these things have practical purposes? only of material independence, but of personal individuality. In the context of a largely individualistic North America, this symbol is regarded as a saliently positive one. And while in North America there are two sides of the fence - external division and internal solidification – the emphasis is decidedly placed on the latter. Though my staining task was not particularly complex, I take pride in the way I am able to apply the coat evenly, and compensate for imperfections in the wood. How did I develop this pride? I do believe that the individualist perspective has benefits; the rhetoric of individuality is one that actively inspired me throughout my adolescent years. Within me it has cultivated personal responsibility for my actions as well as the confidence that I can achieve whatever I have the will to. It seems, however, a great irony of individuality that it cultivates that sense of boundlessness while as a byproduct
promoting the isolation of the individual within themselves. In this whirlwind of thought I take a moment of respite from my staining. Staring at the fence before me, I work instead of trying to determine what it might represent. It seems counter-intuitive I think to myself, that a fence could possibly be used for anything but division. A divide between what I own and do not own; between what I care about and what I do not care about; between what I believe and do not believe; between myself and the other. At this moment frustration overcomes me. I begin to view the yet half-stained fence before me as a prison, as an obstacle. Should we not just tear them down? Why do we work so hard to erect and preserve these divisions within our communities and within our selves? The answer to those questions comes as quickly to me as the realization that I need to continue staining; after all, it would be unfair to expect my girlfriend to pick up my slack, wouldn’t it? I briskly dip my brush in my container full of stain. I imagine that I would no sooner ask society to tear its fences down than I would tear down my own. After all, don’t these things have practical purposes? The fences and walls of my house, those are easy: they protect me from the elements, maintain my privacy, and keep out unwanted individuals. I imagine the fences of my mind act in a similar fashion; they allow me to let in those people I see mean me no harm, as well as allow me to act accordingly with those that I deem of less amiable intentions. I glance again at the fence towering a few feet higher than myself. I frown. While I will maintain that physical and personal fences are necessary, the height of the fence before me does seem a bit ludicrous. Not only because it makes for a heavier workload, but because it represents to me that oft preached hyper-individuality that verges on isolationism. After my work is complete I take a breath, sitting down to rest. Maybe it is possible that we can maintain our own individuality without having it sever our connections with the greater community. While bearing this in mind I reflect on the fences in my own mind, and in the greater community. While I take them to be useful with a discerning eye they seem rather… stained.
Perspective Reality JOSLYN KILBORN
An old man from mainland China watches a donkey in a petting zoo and recalls the labour of his lifeâ€™s hard work tilling the soil. He wonders if his grandchildren will have the same freedom as the ancestor of his dead comrade.
LUIGI DI GENNARO
The Curious Observer at Borderlands THERESA LOCHBIHLER
The only thing that is irrational or rational is human delusion; insanity or sanity is expectation. Part of what makes us human is the capacity for, and to lead others into, delusion. To say that we are children of one place seems rational. Though to say that we are of only one territory, one land, one body, even bounded by conventional reality, is counter-intuitive to connectivity. When a baby is in the womb, it is only of its mother. It is sleeping, peaceful, oblivious, and naïve to whatever is around it. So now we are separate from others. But isn’t it lonely? Even the doctrine of multiculturalism tells us that, ultimately, we are separate from others. Amid rhetoric of tolerance under a colonial entity disguised in words like ‘majority’ and ‘minority’, it is a sort of cultural primitivism. We are inextricably tied to each other. It does not always feel this way; this may be the pathology of territorialization. Holistic life looks like a series of networks mapping relationships from ourselves to and from each other. It is a thing of self-perpetuation. Life is a bricolage – the pasted-togetherness of biological organization is thought to be a result of the evolutionary history of the organism. Society acts as an environmentally adaptive structure – cities are manifestations of the interactions, clustering and grouping individuals. Fractals are networks that are parts within wholes within parts within wholes; a series of Russian nesting dolls; and life can be studied by the interactions and fields of energy among them. Things of linearity and non-linearity. Blurring boundaries? They are already blurred, with or without our recognition of them being so. It is not the broad, paradigmatic melting-pot of historical erasure. It is not the neat, vertical presentations of diversity. But is the meeting of these, the bricolage. The combination of everything; a stew of creolization. Rooted in experience and memory, both bodily and transcendental, are the creation of ‘folk’ sensibilities. Materialism and physicality may now be favoured, but it’s considered more
rational than spirit. The ‘self ’ is grounded in culture. In the spirit of bounded boundlessness, individuals may construct an image using interchangeable parts. When a genre becomes an individual, when they adorn themselves with it, it becomes a syntagmatically constructed ‘attitude’. That is, constructed using objects that are interchangeable with other objects like it, but different. The hairdresser, the stylist, the media designer become some of many professional, deliberate architects of attitude. Thus they are replicators of genre. Mapping modular cues for identity construction, we find essentialisms and retro-nostalgia forming a type of folk discourse based on the history of consumer culture. We wear our cultural clothing, and cultural clothing wears us. Like science, there is a prescribed method of construction and inquiry; known principles to adhere to. There is form. There is preference for a simple, linear depiction of reality and syntagmatic sympathy when partaking in identity construction. Liminal persons are not scientific. To be liminal means to be ambiguous. It means to not have a ‘state of being’ as ordinarily defined by social convention. Currently our ontology, the philosophy that guides ideological views on states of being and the nature of ‘existence’, prefers the settled person. The sedentarist is thought to be naturalized and therefore civilized by, and present in, culture. The wanderer is considered to be denatured or spoiled because they are ‘unclothed by culture’. Nomadic life is defined by absence, set against a background of presence. We do not always know or want to believe that there are street kids who really prefer to be there, to be non-settled. Even those who lead a wanderers lifestyle by their own choosing, as a non-standard social anomaly this choice is thought to confound social structure by placing the domestic unit into question and thus is a transgression against the integrity and stability of ‘the group’. They are ones without outwardly noticeable bearings, adrift of any such
morality. They are ‘touch and go’; very uncertain or critical persons. Attempts may be made to save ‘the minority’ to try to bring them back into the normal equation, to render them ‘human after all’. Regardless of ontological preference, these so-called liminal persons are still of each other and those around them as we are of ourselves and those around us, in the various ways that can happen. But to those who are unfamiliar, they may be considered disorderly or disorganized bodies that are not ‘matter in place’. They are unsystematic, and not in accordance with known principles or methodology. They are formlessness to those who desire form: it is ‘better’ to be the curious observer; a tourist; orderly and civilized in the order of the nation-state. Virtualism is more like a liminal persona, for how does one put boundaries around information? It is anarchy and guerrillaism, a transgressor antagonizing the everyday of space normally controlled by culture that is defined by borders. Disembodied from the fatherland and mother earth it confounds the nationalistic enterprise in by its sheer cosmic hanging-on in space like a nascent consciousness we can use but not really grasp. Our psyches are now inputted into technology through personalized social media. Here, extremes meet. As pseudo-realism, memory caching on the internet a way of ‘naturalizing’ the internet, taming it, making it ‘settled’, domesticated: terminology derived from settled agriculture. Rather than it being just liminal; ‘just space’ – unseeable, unfathomable, intangible, abyssal space – it is being cobbled and engineered into becoming ‘more’ of an environment. As humans, it had to be ‘more’ than just itself: in the master-slave relationship it has to be controlled for it to be a fathomably ‘trustworthy’ resource, and also more comfortably navigated. Technology has long been an extension of ourselves. Are we not, then, already cyborgs? The boundaries between life and death are all but a perceptual distinction. Boundaries (still
useful) may be fuzzy and gradient though there is an eventual separation from what can be perceived. As abstract realism, the ‘nether’ verse is the reality we perceive, a lesser version of the totality of what might be there
The hairdresser, the stylist, the media designer become some of many professional, deliberate architects of attitude. They are replicators of genre.
that we do not perceive, in which reality is already abstract. This mode of reality I would like to call representational-symbolic nihilism – as in, everything is a symbol, and everything is meaningful, yet everything is meaningless. Speaking of the meaning of meaning so much has emptied meaning from meaning. Thus, its very meaninglessness is meaningful, yet still meaningless. Fact is arbitrary, unless that ‘fact’ exists in the psyche, which it inevitably does – for what do we really know? Then meaningfulness is ascribed to those arbitrary connections that serve emotion and feeling, embodiment and the continuation of mechanical and spiritual networks of the brain, to keep the neurotransmitters active and to give us something to talk about to pass the time, spilling forth and feeding back in with interactions and information of its environment.
Volume 11 Issue 2 September 2011