students constructing culture
The Forgotten poverty.poetry. chivalry.beauty. more.
Issue 7.1 Fall 2007
A Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publication 75 University Avenue West Waterloo, On. N2L 3C5 519 884 0710 ext. 2738 519 883 0873 (fax) email@example.com Editor In Chief Josh Smyth Managing Editor Zach Rowe Graphic Designer Alexandra Bailey Associate Editors Global Sarah Lifford Local Mark Ciesluk Trends, Culture, Counterculture Maeve Strathy Literary Igor Valentic Contributors Amarnath Amarasingam, Ryan Bolton, David Borcsok, Mark Ciesluk, John Clements, Ricky Crann, Mary Erskine, Richard Garvey, Jessica Henderson, Matthew Neugebauer, Dan Lynn, Jake Pries, Zach Rowe, Yasaman Shayangogani, Katelyn Sheehan, Mara Silvestri, Maeve Strathy, Igor Valentic, Phil Wolters
The Forgotten The photo on the cover of this magazine is of a memorial to 9/11 – but it isn’t our memorial. Long before the planes struck the twin towers, September 11th resonated as the day the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was toppled by a West-supported coup. Today, we remember 9/11/2001 ad nauseum. How often do we even think of 9/11/1973? The creation, the deletion, and the manipulation of narratives defines how we see the world around us. People, ideas, whole eras disappear down the memory hole whenever they become too uncomfortable, unpopular, or inconvenient. At the same time, we get so absorbed in the negative that we forget all the beauty, the friendship, and the absolutely sublime world that surrounds us. For every one thing we remember, there’s far more that we must forget. The key is to be aware. Open your eyes. Question everything, beginning with yourself. Question what you believe, what you care about, what you see, and what you hear. Be skeptical of simple plotlines, ideologies, and moral clarity. The forgotten are people all around us. They’re ideas in each of us. Looking for them is time well spent. - Josh Smyth, Editor-in-Chief
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Global Forgetting oneâ€™s manners by Mary Erskine.......................................................................Page 4 Where is home? by Ryan Bolton.......................................................................................Page 5 Local Learning by John Clements.................................................................................. ............Page 7 Stay in school! For the love of God, stay in school! by Phil Wolters......................................Page 8 Our toxic hazards by Amarnath Amarasingam and Harshini Sriskanda......................... .............Page 8 Trends, Culture, Counterculture Forgetting hegemony by Matthew Neugebauer.................................................................Page 11 Values of today by Zach Rowe.........................................................................................Page 11 Embrace the shadow to see the light by Yasaman Shayangogani.........................................Page 12 Chivalry: lost or forgotten? by Mara Silvestri ....................................................................Page 13 Who am I forgetting ? by Maeve Strathy ..........................................................................Page 13 Literary Stillborn by Igor Valentic..................................................................................................Page 15 Spam poetry by The Internet............................................................................................Page 15 True love must never end by Richard Garvey.....................................................................Page 16 Homage to Yeats by Jessica Henderson..............................................................................Page 17 More Forgotten by Mark Ciesluk........................................................................................................................................ Poverty by Katelyn Sheehan...................................................................................................................................... Dialogue of the forgotten by Jake Pries............................................................................................................... www.BlueprintMagazine.ca
Global Forgetting one’s manners Mary Erskine, Shenzen, China We’ve all been asked, “So, what’s new?” many times in our lives, but it’s almost never that you get to answer, ‘I am going to China.’ I am more likely to respond, “Frig all. It’s not like I’m going to China or anything.” These sentiments of Canadian humourist Dave Bidini are quite in line with the way I felt before embarking on a year abroad to teach English. Now, after living in China for over a month, I am starting to forget what it is like to walk to the market and not be stared at unabashedly, or to anticipate disaster when a man in his 40s cheats death as he turns on his bicycle loaded with a hundred pounds of something-or-other in order to catch a glimpse of the white girl hailing a cab on Hong Li Street in Shenzhen, China. As I stop to consider this, I realize that I’m also forgetting (or at least ignoring) generally accepted Canadian rules of courtesy while in public. Most notably, rules of the street. ‘Pedestrians have the right of way,’ is thrown out the window in a society with so many people fighting to get through narrow streets, especially in the richest city in China, as bicycles make way for Beemers. Personal censorship is notably different when immersed in a culture where one can assume that the person next to them in the elevator or crossing paths with them in the street does not speak English. This allows foreigners to be less concerned with being overheard if vocalizing a thought that might be considered rude. For example, I am more willing and able to say out loud: “Now, that’s just uncalled for,” if
I witness someone spitting (read: hacking up a lung); if I am ambushed by people who can’t wait for me to get off of the elevator before they enter it themselves; or if I am hit by a car as I keep forgetting that pedestrians have no choice but to take their lives in their own hands when crossing anywhere on a road—be it a crosswalk, and yes, even the sidewalk. This act of blatantly speaking in front of those you assume to be ignorant of your foreign vocabulary goes both ways, and does not always prove to be fail safe. Those who have lived here for long enough to learn how to say more than ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ (I really need to start reading my Lonely Planet dictionary more) have gained insight that has exposed some unique cultural outlooks. Foreigners are often strategically demonized much like the boogey man or E.T. (come on, he was scary!): one woman threatened her child while riding an elevator with a group of Canadians by saying “Be good or I’ll get the fat American to eat you.” Heaven help you if you’re African American and choose to live within an almost completely homogenous Chinese world—the Chinese are not afraid to call a black man a ‘spirit’ to his face (as long as they’re pretty sure he doesn’t understand, which if he has the conviction to live in China, chances are good that he has taken the time to learn!) As for me, I’m glad to have the experience of living in this complex country on the other side of the world—good or bad, it’s an experience that I’ll not soon forget.
5 - GLOBAL
Where is home? Ryan Bolton, on location with Journalists for Human Rights BUDUBURAM, GHANA – Following a coup d’état in 1980, Samuel Doe murdered and subsequently replaced Liberia’s President, William R. Tolbert. Doe reigned for the following 10 years until the notorious Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) attacked Liberia on Christmas Eve, 1989. Civil war ensued for the next 14 years. The Buduburam refugee settlement is home to approximately 35,000 Liberian refugees. Some of the inhabitants have been at Buduburam for the past 17 years, while others have arrived this past year, but they all have one thing in common – they are all seeking asylum. After 14 years of two civil wars, more than 200,000 were slain, 800,000 were internally displaced, and an estimated 350,000 Liberians fled their country. Liberia’s infrastructure, education, health system and economy crumbled. Liberia has been at relative peace since the signing of the August 2003 Peace Agreement in Accra, the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, launched a voluntary repatriation program in October 2004, sending people back home. Once in Monrovia, the UNHCR would give each repatriate $5 US and four months ration of wheat, blankets, and basic cooking utensils. Although, many of the residents insist that five bucks and some grain simply will not be enough to sustain themselves in the rebuilding of their homes and lives. “They can’t expect us to leave with 5 dollars in our pockets and some wheat … we don’t even eat wheat!” an anonymous refugee fumed. Moreover, the deadline for the UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation program was June 30th of this year. According to the UNHCR, a total of 6,320 Liberian refugees from Ghana and over 110,000 from other West African countries have been assisted by the UNHCR’s repatriation program to date. With the peaceful and transparent elections in late 2005, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was inaugurated as Liberia’s President in January 2006. With democracy in place and without ostensible bloodshed, Liberia is still recuperating and presently in a state of absolute reconstruction. President Ellen Johnson is on a personal crusade to create jobs and stir interest for foreign investment in Liberia. “There is financial reconstruction, infrastructure reconstruction, reconstruction of the national army, reconstruction of the brain, the mind, reconstruction of the heart of the peo-
ple, reconstruction of the villages, reconstruction of education – reconstruction for a country like Liberia,” Varney Bamoley Sambola III, Chairman of the Liberian Refugee Welfare Council, thoroughly explains. As such, 150,000 Liberian refugees and 321,745 internally displaced people (IDPs) ventured back to their communities of origin to join in the reconstruction of their country leaving an estimated 104,000 Liberian refugees in West Africa, according to the UNHCR. Ghana is currently home to one third of those refugees with 36,000; 500 Liberians are at the Krisan refugee settlement in the Western Region. Various individuals at Buduburam are skeptical about the peace and safety of their home country as many journeyed back to Liberia in 1997, after the first civil war, and were caught in the crossfire of the subsequent civil war. Many have made Buduburam home. They built their homes, married, and raised their children on the settlement. In fact, many of the children at Buduburam have never seen Liberia firsthand. Consequently, when repatriates travel home, they will need to rebuild their homes from the ground up. More notably, one cannot overlook the tremendous despair that the 14 years of civil war had not only on the land, but more particularly, on the people. John S. Connell Sr., former Chairman of the Liberian Refugee Welfare Council and a refugee at Buduburam for the past 17 years quipped, “If you go over there and you are bit by a snake, you’re going to think twice about going back there.” As such, many wince at the thought of returning to the place where such atrocities occurred. Evidently, these aforementioned reasons leave 35,000 refugees at Buduburam after the UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation program deadline. In addition, with the deadline came a direct cut to both health care and educational funding by the UNHCR. Consequently, the refugees pay inflated fees for health care and tuition. An abysmal thought given that the refugees are not permitted to legally work in the Ghanaian workforce. The residents are subsequently forced into struggling for their daily meal and god forbid someone gets sick. It is a devastating lack of opportunity, even for the skilled and educated refugees. The Liberian government and UNHCR have made their positions very clear in encouraging the refugees to return home. However, it is now up to the Ghanaian government to make its stand on the situation for the 35,000 refugees that still remain in Ghana. For those that no longer see Liberia as home for personal reasons, integration into the Ghanaian society is the key prospect, because the UNHCR has made it apparent that resettlement programs to abroad counties has been officially concluded. Accordingly, the future for many of the inhabitants of Buduburam rests in the hands of the Ghanaian government.
Local Learning John Clements The expression on Bradâ€™s face quickly turned into one of sadness and pain. The wrinkles on face and the look in his eyes showed that Brad had been through more than his fair share of rejection and pain in his life, and the question I had just asked was making him relive hard memories. Brad had just finished telling me about his childhood and his days in the Yugoslav army. Born and raised in Yugoslavia, Brad was proud to fight for Tito and communism. â€œIn those days,â€? he said, â€œwe felt like we were actually living for something, together we were fighting for a better life.â€? Then, I asked him why he came to Canada. And, with the look of sadness and pain in his face, Brad sketched his escape from the ethnic violence that was tearing apart his country. But what Brad found in Canada was not much better than the world he had just left. Shortly after Brad came to Canada he started suffering from what was later diagnosed as schizophrenia. The disease prevented Brad from being able to maintain employment, or establish a solid foothold for himself in Canadian society. His schizophrenia and lack of social supports left him to weather a spiritually and sexually abusive church leader, the chaos of our underfunded dysfunctional mental health care system, the
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nearly non-existent social support programs of Ontario and finally the streets of Kitchener. In the two years that have passed since I met Brad Iâ€™ve learned many things. By the time I had started talking with Brad, he had been in Canada for more than 15 years; I learned that the values of democracy, freedom and indiJohn Clements vidual rights that Untitled our politicians proudly proclaim have done little for him in that time. As Iâ€™ve gotten to know Brad and his life, Iâ€™ve realized that he and his story carry great lessons for us to learn. But unfortunately, Brad and his story are inevitably left out of the narrative of most Canadiansâ€™ lives. I think that this fact might be okay, if Brad was an exception. But I have discovered, through my experiences at St. Johnâ€™s Kitchen in Kitchener, in Vancouverâ€™s downtown east side, and in poor areas of Scarborough, that this is simply not the case. The stories of the forgotten, of the poor, oppressed, afflicted, lonely and the broken leave me with the burning question of, â€˜How do I honour them?â€™ T he friendships Iâ€™ve formed with Brad and a few others in Kitchener have forced me to examine what it means to love â€œthe otherâ€?. You see, increasing the Ontario Works and ODSP rates may help, but what Brad needs is people who willing to take a risk in being in relationship with him. Not just psychiatrists, social workers or nurses, but rather people who just want to be friends and are willing to endure all the shit that friendship entails. That idea is new and revolutionary and the great thing about it is that its not a hopeless one. Itâ€™s simply a more fulfilling expression of what it means to be human. There is no bureaucracy, no tuition,no quorum needed, all thatâ€™s needed is a willingness to meet someone and hear something new.
LOCAL - 8
Stay in school! For the love of God, stay in school! Phil Wolters What I had planned here was a little half-page, light-hearted article in which I talked about the comparative ease of life in university relative to the postuniversity world. The first line was going to be, “I remember back when I was your age.” It would be funny because I was your age such a short time ago. Hell, I’m probably younger than a lot of people reading this article right now. To make the article controversial, I was going to compare the experience of a Laurier grad out on the job market with that of a young girl in an Arab country who suddenly comes of age and has to marry. I’m not sure if that would have been funny or not, but it almost certainly would have offended some people, and that can be almost as good. A funny thing happened to me on the way to that article. The announcement was made that this November, the General Mills factory in my home town of Trenton is closing. About 460 people are being put out of work, which, considering the small size of and general lack of opportunity in the town, is an enormous blow. A special bonus comes in the fact that not long ago the city invested millions of taxpayer dollars in providing town water to the plant, which is located several miles out in the country, as an incentive to remain in the region. And now it’s gone. And nearly 500 jobs are gone with it. And, while we’re at it, the optimism of a town which had been taking small steps to revitalize itself is gone. Suddenly my job-searching woes don’t seem so funny to me anymore. For all my complaints, I am just finishing a contract to work for a heritage site for the summer months. And, as concerned as I am about finding work beyond that, I have managed to find time to write my Blueprint article when I could be writing cover letters. The truth is, there are suddenly 460 people, the better part of them uneducated, unskilled workers, who are abruptly being put into a much worse position than
I am. And I’m no economist, but I’m reasonably sure that that many people suddenly unemployed isn’t going to have the best effect on local businesses. Trenton (or Quinte West) has a population of just over 40,000, which means that this amounts to more than 1% of the total population. So what do we get? Gloom. Doom. Poverty. More idle poor. And with more idle poor, more crime. And with more crime, we get . . . well, I don’t know. But I’m reasonably sure it’s not funny. Try not to forget how lucky you are to be where you are. And try not to forget to enjoy it as much as possible while you can. That’s all I’m saying.
Our toxic hazards Amarnath Amarasingham and Harshini Sriskanda Recent water tests in California showed that 60 percent of the rivers and streams in that state contain Prozac, Ritalin and antibiotics. How did they get there? Individuals either threw excess prescription pills in the water or flushed them down the toilet. The chemicals could then make their way into groundwater where they are absorbed by the fatty tissues of fish and end up on dinner plates. A study done by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found at least ninety-one chemicals in the blood and urine of the nine volunteers studied. Most of these chemicals are known carcinogens, which could also cause birth defects and brain disorders. As a British physician states in The Hundred-Year Lie: “We are all so contaminated that if we were cannibals our meat would (continued on page 9)
9 - LOCAL
(continued from page 8) be banned from human consumption.”Our diets, especially our student diets, are notoriously cheap and convenient. If you try to outmaneuver this danger by buying food with ‘natural flavours’, think again; natural flavours and artificial flavours often contain the same synthetic chemicals. If you are using artificial sweetener in your coffee because sugar is making you fat: beware. Recent studies show that these sweeteners could cause brain tumors and neurological diseases. The fundamental difficulty is testing for crossreactivity: how chemicals react with each other. Numerous tests are done to make sure that chemicals, on their own, are safe for humans but very few are performed to discover how chemicals react with other chemicals already floating in our bloodstream. This is nearly impossible to do because each day we are inundated with thousands of chemicals all around us – our air, food, clothing, cosmetics create a chemical soup with our bodies as their reaction site. Chemicals are indeed safety-tested individually but we do not consume these chemicals one by one – we consume dozens at a time. Regulatory measures now in place have no way of testing these creative concoctions; there are literally thousands of combinations. Thus, the onus is on the individual to be more cautious and to undergo an individual detoxification. We simply do not yet know how, to take a simple example, the aspartame in the bowl of cereal we have every morning mixes with the numerous pesticides
used on the tomatoes and lettuce we put on our lunch sandwiches. And we do not know how both of these mix with the flame-retardant chemicals sprayed on our mattress during manufacture. We spend eight hours a night on a surface that slowly emits, in minuscule amounts, formaldehyde gas and another carcinogens which our body suck up like a sponge. Most of our clothes contain synthetic fibers, which we wash with synthetic Tide and Bounce or give to the dry cleaner who uses trichloroethylene and n-hexane, which are known to cause cell damage and memory loss. Most of what we own goes through a process known as ‘off gassing’, where molecules are slowly released into the air over many years: the newer the furniture or clothes, the more off-gassing that occurs. Your new bright yellow chair from IKEA, your new carpet and wall paint slowly give off molecules that could cause mood swings, headaches and problems with concentration. The ‘new car smell’ that we love so much comes from the gases released from the upholstery, paint, plastic and carpeting. These mixtures are known as volatile organic compounds. You are inhaling toxins like styrene, benzene, n-hexane and nineteen or so other chemicals with every appreciatory whiff inside of a new car. The moral of the story, then, is: be careful. We are living in an environment containing more and more toxins that we can’t pronounce and the synergistic effects of which we don’t yet understand.
Trends, Culture, Counterculture Forgetting hegemony Matthew Neugebauer It is my educated guess that this is not the first time you are reading Blueprint Magazine. In fact, in all likelihood this is not the second, or third, or maybe even fourth time you are reading it. You keep coming back to this magazine because it prides itself on challenging oppressive power structures and you feel comfortable; at home in your belief that there are always more oppressive power structures to challenge, that they are all around you, that society and the establishment abound with them, so much so that they all conspire to be one big, happy, oppressive power structure, the many components thereof you desire to explore and expose. While this is surely a noble aim, I would like to suggest that both you and those who you claim to be oblivious to these oppressive power structures are perhaps oblivious to the most overarching oppressive power structure of them all: hegemony. Now you may be thinking, “WTF man! Didn’t you just tell me, in your credulously elegant polemic, that I believe that the establishment conspires to be one big, happy, oppressive power structure? Don’t you know that as establishments go, the hegemonic American Empire owns the patent?” Well, I just told you, in my credulously elegant polemic, that you do in fact believe this. However, the definition of hegemony is not limited to socio-economic dominance on a regional or global scale. I take my cue from Italian sociologist Antonio Gramsci, who expanded “hegemony” to mean a system of particular thought upheld by members of a particular group, class, party, or yes, region as absolutely, exclusively right; as the only way to think critically and rigorously; as the only way to be. It achieves this lofty goal by not simply denying the individuals within its realm the right, but by denying them the ability to think otherwise. It masks political activism under the guise
Values of today Zach Rowe Was there ever an age when people spoke what they felt and felt what they spoke?
of intellectual inquiry, claiming an “enlightened viewpoint” superior to all others. What is forgotten is the possibility that any argument put forth by any system of thought outside of the hegemonic system can actually be right. Furthermore, what is forgotten is the possibility that any argument put forth by the hegemonic system can actually be wrong. Its members are unable to think otherwise because they have forgotten the validity or even the possibility of other valid systems of thought. Now at this point you may be thinking, “surely this guy doesn’t think that we believe ‘our side’ is completely innocent. I mean we’re not perfect, but….” Aha! Here comes the main point. It is true that in a debate on many a controversial topic such a concession is made. However, from personal experience it seems that this “concession” is no more than a tactic to deflect criticism. It is these “buts,” the inability to conceive of, to remember the possibility that the other side can have something good to say, the inability and unwillingness of either side to take responsibility for their part in the conflict that have caused and perpetuated far more wars and have cost far more lives than the grievances that began the initial conflicts. The only time I have heard an actual call to abolish our partisan hiding-places was from a professor in a history class. He was speaking in the context of the sweltering on-going debate that we in the West have on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a debate that I would argue has suffered some of the most dreadful hegemonic absolutism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It is an unfortunate commentary on our fractured, hegemonically forgetful world, that it can sometimes take a Ph.D. in history to avoid revisionism.
Throughout history, humanity has sought truth. Without truth, this world of ours would be unbearable. History would be meaningless and the future would be unpredictable. The present would be something like a blind gambler’s experience in a casino. Truth has always led us through the darkness of this jungle called life. Whether it has been
one truth or another truth, the spirit of truth has carried us along. Truth is a concept, it is an invention of the human mind, and this must be understood: There is no objective definition of truth. There is no truth ‘out there’, at least not one that we can truly measure, (continued on page 14)
TRENDS, CULTURE, COUNTERCULTURE - 12
Embrace the shadow to see the light Yasaman Shayangogani A shadow is a visible shape on a surface caused by the blockage of light. In the language of symbols the shadow is often analogous to evil and the light to good. Is it any wonder then that upon hearing this phrase – The Shadow – most of us will think of darkness or something hidden, invoking curiosity and in some cases even fear? Are shadows really something to be afraid of? Everyday we all wear a mask or a persona – the version of us we wish to present to the outside world. Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss founder and proponent of analytical psychology, understood this dynamic and named the shadow that part of our psyches that we have consciously or subconsciously repressed or rejected. It is those parts of ourselves that we wish to hide from ourselves and others around us – those parts that we wish to forget about. The shadow may contain violent or sadistic natures for example, but it is certainly not limited to these extremes alone. The shadow of the honest person may contain deception. The shadow of the successful person may contain failure. The shadow of the friendly person may contain antisocial tendencies. The latter counterpart of these oppositions are those parts of ourselves we hope we are not. Shadow projection is one of the dangers that may arise if the shadow is repressed extensively. The phenomenon of shadow projection behaves the way it is named. The individual may subconsciously recognize parts of his or her own shadow in another person, group or entity and come to reject or persecute it. What does this mean exactly? To put it simply, the parts we hate or persecute in others are exactly those parts we hate and persecute in ourselves.
This is a profound notion, for it forces us to understand that the division we have created between ourselves and our archetypal ‘other’ is merely an illusion. Once we understand the dynamics of the shadow then the dualism between light and dark, friend and enemy, moral and immoral increasingly dissolves. The black and white reality we have perceived is replaced by a grey blur of relative conceptions. We come to understand that our enemies are really ourselves. Jung’s conceptual framework of the individual human psyche can be applied to whole groups of people and even nations, helping us to partially understand vital issues related to racism, radical patriotism, or even religious fundamentalism. Jung would declare that incorporating our shadow is an important component on the path to becoming a whole and therefore healthy person on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels. This is not to say that we suddenly become immoral people, letting go of the values ingrained into us by our society, deliberately countering our previous lifestyles. It is, however, a conscious awareness of these hidden or forgotten aspects of ourselves. Awareness of this sort requires much honesty and humility on our part. It may even feel like admitting defeat. Yet, by embracing our shadows we are breaking down the harmful walls between ourselves and our perceived enemies – whether they be things, persons, racial or ethnic groups, religious traditions or political systems. A world where we can see parts of ourselves in others is a more compassionate world than one where others are wholly separate and inferior to us. To see the light of compassion on earth we must remember to embrace our shadows.
13 - TRENDS, CULTURE, COUNTERCULTURE
TRENDS, CULTURE, COUNTERCULTURE- 10
Chivalry: lost or just forgotten? Who am I forgetting? Maeve Strathy As much as places, words, stories, and times are forgotten, so are people. So many people walk the world unnoticed. Ignored. Silenced. Some people are deliberate in their silencing of other people. Some people say or do things to shut people up. To shut people out. Some people have no clue they’re silencing others. They don’t question or try to become aware of their assumptions or privileges. They walk into the door with the figure wearing a skirt on it, not realizing that very same door might be torture for someone. That door may shut someone out. How do we remember the people we forget we’ve forgotten? Almost no one is visibly silent, so how do we go about recognizing our silencing of them? The main tagline of Laurier’s Oath of Silence Day is “Refuse to speak until everyone has a voice.” Individuals involved in this campaign (which last year included Dean of Students David MacMurray, professors, and hundreds of students) wear a white bandana on their arm or mouth. By doing this, the community can see for once the numbers of people who feel silenced and ignored. Visibility – achieved by the use of the bandanas – makes the silencing real and people start to recognize that their words and actions have real consequences on real people. Whether or not you choose to participate in the Oath of Silence Day campaign or something like it, ask yourself: Who have I forgotten?
Mara Silvestri Long gone are the days of chivalry where men on the prowl for heroism would gallop into the sunset with a damsel in tow - only neither of them were in distress, and they each lived happily ever after. We saw chivalry slowly diminish through the ages, but the question is, how much of it is still alive today? The Webster’s dictionary puts all ideals of chivalry simply when it defines chivalry as “the courtesy towards women.” We can easily extend this definition of chivalry to functioning as a twoway street in modern day dating. Although there is no word designated to mean “the courtesy towards men”, it is just as prominent today as the modern version of chivalry. To identify one without the other in current times would be considered sexist, and that is precisely why our generation has moved away from embracing the chivalry movement. It is true that we associate chivalry with medieval concepts, but romance alone is key to anything chivalrous. If you look around you will note that romance is clearly still alive, but why isn’t chivalry as blatantly obvious to observe? Love as an entity is not dying, but old-fashioned ways of passion certainly are. It is a battle of sensitivity vs. assertiveness, and flattery vs. downright offensiveness. Our busy lifestyles have changed so radically from the 1700’s when chivalry was alive and kicking that dating habits are mirroring this change. We can characterize the past as calm and uniform compared to modern times, which is distinguished as the descent of male domination and introduction to gender equality - women have become knights in their own right. Iconic literary pioneers have transformed from primary occupations of falling in love to securely falling into a successful lifestyle. It is very much so a tug-of-war between Jane Austen and “Sex and the City’s” Carrie Bradshaw. They have transformed passion and given it a whole new meaning, where our intentions are worn on our sleeve and our displays of affection have become broadcasts. The idea of courtship has become humorous, and we are now left with the modern substitution for romance, which can best be described as less personal and more material. What is responsible for fostering our concepts of today’s systems of romance? Certain ethical standards are associated with chivalry, and the fact that we are not living up to par with that code may be the root of why chivalry is so forgotten. With all of the transgressions occurring around us we cannot blame anyone in particular for the non- existence of chivalry. We can easily see how the code of ethics in general is beginning to deteriorate. Nevertheless - and this is the interesting part - chivalry has evolved from a standard virtue to a matter of opinion, and that in itself is an indication of how chivalry should not only have a place in the world of love, but also in the world of personal relationships, politics, and business. In a world that is lacking chivalry, any display of its sort would be more valuable than ever. So will history come full circle again and repeat itself? Is there room for chivalry in today’s world? The return to a more simplistic lifestyle may be more attractive as we run out of steam. Until then, we will continue to ponder the mysteries of the human heart.
TRENDS, CULTURE, COUNTERCULTURE - 14
(continued from page 11) and as hard as science tries, it will never be able to unveil reality in its naked form. I’m talking about TRUE reality…objective reality. Our ideas of truth are and have always been just ideas. It is important to note that as we progress towards this mirage, as we become ever more confident of our steps and ever more sure that WE are Right, the essence of truth never changes. . Those who lived hundreds of years ago and said the earth was flat were using the same cognitive processes as those who call it round today It seems fair, then, to say that humanity has always valued truth. Stop. Think about that last sentence. Think about the word value. And think about the word truth. There is an important distinction that needs to be made here. The realm of Knowledge and the realm of Values are complexly
interrelated areas of the human psyche, but they are most definitely separate. Thus we have entered into a new realm of discussion. Where is this wild philosophical goose chase going, you ask? I’ll tell you. My concern…and my sneaking suspicion, is that as humanity hurtles itself faster and faster towards this deceptive mirage of reality, we are forgetting the value of honesty that was once so synonymous with the value of truth. Honesty. There are a number of morals and attitudes and behaviors that I could stem from this one simple value, but with respect to the reader’s imagination, I’ll move on. More and more as I get older, I’m haunted by the recurring feeling that my peers have replaced wise morals for shallow ones…that honesty is going the way of the dinosaur, and that humility has been extinct for a long time. And honesty, the subordinate. People
are so wrapped up in impressions, success, science, and development, that we are completely forgetting our value roots. We are essentially selling our souls for this thing called success, and it’s happening on all levels. The high school drug dealer starts pushing quantity so he drops out of school. Fuck education, I’ve got money and I’m popular. Right? The university student gets funneled out of high school right into a Business major because that what the parents are paying for. Fuck passion, I’ll own a business like dad. Right? Strike a little closer to home? Everyone has just developed their own little bubbles, and they are so afraid to get out of them, values be damned. Forget idealistic morals. Things like safety and comfort are much more tangible. Leave those traditional values like honesty and integrity to the hopeless romantics. Right?
ning down my temple. She says Brian don’t worry. What’s happened, she asks. eplasma I tell her I lost something. I say, I’ve lost something bad. Or the road. It was less steep that its aspect threatened. The eminence shudmaybe something good. der at the ghostly shape of his old beloved dwelling. My baby is newborn and Rachel says what? a baby? and I expect he was right, for fairies don’t live long, but they are the white, plump; luscious in an inI say, yeah I think I lost a baby. mouse that nocent way like white off a newShe says everyone loses a baby. doesn’t get out. Only I don’t think Alice went, painted wall. Like if I pasted it Every now and then it hapand they hurt themselves when they let go of the bus to the wall its new baby-fat skin pens. would stick and peel to the wall. I’m thinking it shouldn’t I’m thinking I could happen. People shouldn’t lose Truly love never let go of something so prebabies. Richard Garvey cious. My baby so beautiful; my I lay the perfection in my truly love baby so pure, so white, so perarms down on the living room must never end fectly portrait. I’m thinking evsofa and scramble towards my just gets eryone should have a baby. room. The mess of my room. damaged But then that rememThe total chaos of my room broken brance feeling washes up all over where everything is lost or discarded me and I’m breathing something found; but mostly lost. while you never forget the lost awful, something terrible; someHow could I – where could I the broken thing like that feeling you get possibly lose a baby? I hear Rayou just keep hoping when you remember you’ve lost chel’s voice in the living room praying something. Like you’ve forgotsaying it happens. Everyone maybe ten about something. Something loses a baby, somehow, somesomehow fierce like a rot infesting my skin; where. It happens. These things they can be fixed a stink reeking; a rank taste happen. Don’t beat yourself up found the wish to be wanted seeping through the pores of my about it. like tomorrow coming tongue… I’m thinking how much a with hopes Rachael walks into the new baby – lying on the couch dreams living room and sees the baby, in my living room – can possibly love sees me. What’s wrong she says mean to me if I’ve lost a baby laughter but I’m panicking and I can’t before. People shouldn’t lose a and so many reasons think. baby, let alone babies. People to live Why have I seen this picture who lose babies shouldn’t have painted before? Why is it so pure, babies. so quiet, and so wrong? Why does it feel like I’ve lost a baby. And then I’m looking under my table, down the sides of my And then it hits me like a bad metaphor. How could bed. I’m looking in drawers. I’m throwing papers everyI forget? Two years ago or last month or last year or three where. I’m opening books. I’m breaking lamps and crashing weeks ago or sometime I remember a baby; a baby in my life, cupboards. I’m throwing clothes all over the place, making an in my arms. Perfect and sweet, just like the one here, now. Its already bad mess a really bad mess. naked skin on my naked skin in the only way that skin can be I mean, people are supposed to take care of baby’s on skin without being sexual or pedophilic or whatever; just right? Take care of those fragile, little, plump blobs that love, pure and untouched; innocent and cradled. The remem- promise us mighty futures and all the other rhetoric of beauty brance so vivid, so overwhelming. So real. The memoir so and perfect and cradle. It is supposed to be important; like a clear… duty Rachel senses my panic, sees the cold sweat run(continued on page 16)
Spam Poetry, by the internet
LITERARY - 16
(continued from page 15) And I’ve lost one. People lose their papers, their pens, their crap, their wives; people lose wallets, books; people mispark cars, misplace poetry; people lose love and people lose memory. But people don’t lose babies. Rachel’s voice is everpresent now, telling me it happens all the time. It’s normal. People shouldn’t lose babies should be rule number one. Rule number two should be if you break rule number one you don’t get a rule number two. But that rot. That stink. That infest-ite life-like rife spilling all over me… The laundry basket. Slowly I begin shifting through week-old shirts, cum-stained socks, pants and sweaters torn and tattered, stained and staining, permeating with rot, stink, now slowly, one by one, out and onto the floor, out and away. And there it is, like no surprise anymore. A dead baby; my baby before my baby. Black and rotted and decaying and rank and stinking. A dead baby in my laundry basket. A forgotten baby. Like everything forgotten but so much worse. Rachel’s behind me now. She says, put it away. She says, it’s dead. She says people forget all the time. I say, people shouldn’t forget. I’m trying not to hate myself, trying not to cry. Life’s little squeal breaks through my
soul from the living room. I lay down the black cold rock of a baby corpse back into the basket and rush back to my babybreathing drop of perfection. I grab life, cradling my little baby tight to my body, its skin on my skin. I step out of my house now so full, so tainted with the reminders of death’s forgotten lore. I need air like my baby needs air. Outside a little girl is beating a paralyzed dog. Somewhere inside glass shatters in the eye of a thief. Around the corner a child is ripping apart a butterfly. Somewhere lovers are tearing through their souls. A group of teenagers rush past on all kind of wheels, smashing mailboxes and tipping trashcans. A man coughs in an alley crying. Somewhere close something is dying horribly… If I could forget a baby how can I possibly think of caring for another. Mistakes should only be made once. And some should never be made. I am thinking: life is too precious to be touched. A trashcan on its side, trash everywhere and I neglected newborn life; forgot it completely. I forgot to feed it, muffling its dying screams with dirty laundry… I stare down at the life lying in my trembling arms; cradled silent; sleeping. But there is nothing I can offer you, baby. I can’t even give you a name. And if I could I would forget. (continued on page 17)
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17 - LITERARY
Homage to Yeats Jessica Henderson The bones pile up all around. We walk on the dead: we eat their ashes, we drink their dust. But we are deaf. Deaf to the strangled cry of their thousand throats- in anguish and despair, “You are going the wrong way!!” “We love you” (and) “You hate yourselves, children, just as we did too.” “Us not you.” and a tiny whisper, “I’m sorry.” But mostly, indignation. We are the degenerate… those who inherit the earth, the onus is on us (because it is inherently our fault… we had a choice). How difficult it is to break the pattern! Even in opposition, we only comply. Nothing gets done, and no one goes nowhere. Pursue wisdom not knowledge. All signs point to a perpetual downward spiral. Did you forget? The point of no return? (was never, ever and before). We have traveled away, cyclically without a chance – there’s no way back, no aureate thread (that’s a child’s story anyway). No. It’s not. But still unreal. Religion becomes myth after long enough time. Give it time. That blood will still be wine. That flesh will still be bread. There is no bandaid. So, down(wards) we spill in a widening gyre. Things (never) fall apart. Because there is no hope of reformation and recovery. The circle breaks eventually. And we all fall (down) Pile into dust. Blow away. (continued from page 16) People forget so many things that we might as well have all lost babies; but it shouldn’t be like that. Pictures are the only reminders of our futility while we cradle around stories like it’s the only thing justifying this worthless life. Remembrance a ballad increasingly hard to recall… like something pressing us down… breaking ourselves backwards… remembering nothing… children dying under all the shit we can’t take care of… and I’m losing myself here like I can’t think… life in my hands… death in my room… like begging everyone to remember something meaningful… I’m begging us all to find something worth forgetting… or worth remembering… anything… But I think – and I’m pretty sure – I’ve lost everything. Everything in my life I’ve lost. I just forgot until now. You think of our fast-churned mess-warranted ways and it’s no wonder we forget our baby’s, our children, our lives; like a newborn experience but really it’s just a stillborn existence. Like stealing from beggars, then asking for understanding; lying, raping, stealing, breaking, making headlines. Then fall like we all fall…
I listen in silence. Rachel’s mouth is moving like a pink-floyd lyric but I can’t hear her. Numb and comfortable. And maybe you’ll ask: how far are we ready to take this? I roll the trashcan up with my foot and start to pick up some of the softer, scattered trash. I look down into the baby’s eyes. There is nothing I can offer you. I kiss it gently on the forehead, the eyes, the mouth. It’s so beautiful and perfect. Forgotten already. I lay it down in the bed of trash. I calmly walk back into the house, through the living room, past Rachel’s muted words, to my laundry basket, pick up the dead child, walk back past Rachel, back through the living room, out to the street, to the trashcan, and place death next to life. I have failed you both; so rest together. I have failed everything and everyone. And most likely I’ll forget to apologize. I walk away and think to myself: people forget. Sometime soon life will awaken next to death and maybe cry but no one will hear; and if they do they’ll forget soon enough. Because everything real is fake and all we do is pretend to remember all the things we can’t accept forgetting. There is no end. Just an ending.
AND THEIR S
Volume 7 Issue 1 October 2007