students constructing culture
IDENTITY. Issue 6.4
Citizenship. Gender.Religion. Individuality. More.
students constructing culture
“I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.” -Ernesto “Che” Guevara
Global Global citizen? I think not by Josh Smyth...................................................................................Page 4 This is GLOBAL by Maeve Strathy.................................................................................................Page 4 Taking the nature of God seriously by Amarnath Amarasingam......................................................Page 5 Local I am Canadian by Lenna Titizian..................................................................................................Page 7 Some people call me Maurice by Mark Ciesluk.............................................................................Page 8 Trends, Culture, Counterculture Looking for heroes: a quest for identity by Arturo Engel..............................................................Page 9 Maxim masculinity and the re-evaluation of manliness by Shane Fallowfield..............................Page 10 The no-self: psychological and systemic implications by Kate Bojin............................................Page 12 Losing my religion: an explanation by Phil Wolters...................................................................Page 14 Literary Ode to failure by Ryan Bolton...................................................................................................Page 15 River by Maeve Strathy.............................................................................................................Page 15 The accumulated whole by Jessica Henderson............................................................................Page 16 The difference between you and the stars by Kelly Grevers.........................................................Page 16 Who am I? by Jackie Boyce........................................................................................................Page 17 More On being a â€˜conspiracy theoristâ€™ by J. Max Johnson........................................................................................................ Photo contest results....................................................................................www.BlueprintMagazine.ca
Identity. A Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publication 75 University Avenue West Waterloo, On. N2L 3C5 519 884 0710 ext. 2738 519 883 0873 (fax) firstname.lastname@example.org Editor In Chief Alex “Here, I Got Something for Ya” Hundert Managing Editor Mary “The Enigma” Erskine Art & Design Coordinator Kara “Hasty” hagedorn Distribution Manager Jacob “Peace, man” Pries Associate Editors Josh “Spiffy” Smyth Global Mark “Psychonaut” Ciesluk Local Daniel “Groovy” Guillemette Trends, Culture, Counterculture Ryan “Belligerent” bolton Literary Contributors Amarnath Amarasingam, Kate Bojin, Ryan Bolton, Jackie Boyce, Mark Ciesluk, Arturo Engel, Shane Fallowfield, Kelly Grevers, Jessica Henderson, J. Max Johnson, Josh Smyth, Maeve Strathy, Lenna Titizian, Phil Wolters
Identity is implicated in everything about us; our names, our possessions, even our actions--especially our actions. Identity is also implicated in the most heinous of human crimes, genocide being the ultimate example. Identity is a contested issue. Should identity determine our goals and values, or do our actions determine our identities? Who gets to decide what our identities are? Is it up to us to define our own individualism, or are we predestined to act out certain roles based on our ancestoral and societal heritage? I used to be a firm advocate of individualist identity--thinking that it was the lack of freedom and the predetermined allegiances implied by ethnically, religously and nationally defined identity that were at fault for much of the conflict in the world. I still believe that to be true. But I have also come to realize that abandoning those identities cannot be prescribed as an answer. I have come to see the inherent position of privilege I occupy whereby I have the option to question that freedom. I see that notions of power are intrinsic to the concept of idenity. And I have come to realize that while individual freedom to choose our own identities is an honourable goal, it must be viewed in light of the reality: that many, many people in the world do not even have the privilege to freely live those national, religious or ethnic identites. And until all peoples have relatively equal power to embrace those identities, there is no place for people of privilege to advocate that those identities be abandoned. It is therefore not enough that we all tolerate and respect others’ identities. Rather, we have to be actively engaged in creating the spaces in which those identities can be fulfilled and afforded their due power and legitimacy. Only then can we all begin to truly understand one another and embrace the vast diversity of human identity. We desperately need to create those spaces. We need to. - alex hundert. Editor-in-Chief
WLUSP Administration President Fraser McCracken VP Advertising Anglea Foster VP Brantford Paige Desmond Chair, BOD Keren Gottfried Vice Chair, BOD Arthur Wong Directors Rafiq Andani Penny Shearer
Please send letters to Alex.Hundert@wlusp.com
Global Global citizen? I think not. Josh Smyth, Editor At the recent “Global Citizenship Conference,” held here at Laurier a few weeks ago, there were hundreds of motivated people, countless great ideas, and endless discussions. It was phenomenal. One common theme, though, was how the wrongs of the world could be righted if only we re-arranged our identities and began to think of ourselves as citizens not of Canada, but of the world. Very nice, very warm, and very misguided. The appeal of this idea is obvious; the problems of the world quite obviously transcend national borders. How dare we maintain our parochial attachments to Queen and country, blood and belonging, in the face of the 50,000 people that die unnecessarily each day? If caring
a bit more for them is what global citizenship implies, then count me in. What worries me, though, is the concept of placing global citizenship first, ahead of whatever nation is on your passport. The brute fact is, as a citizen of the world, I cannot vote. I am one anonymous voice amongst many. No one has unlimited time or resources to devote to a cause, which makes it critical to make efficient use of your time, voice, and political power. Here in Canada, the government has to listen to me. They don’t have a choice, cynicism of our political process be damned. The same is not true in the fuzzily defined space of “global citizenship.” There are a vast amount of things that our
government does in our name that offend every principle of justice I have. Not only do I have more of a chance of changing Canadian policy, I have more of an obligation to – I help pay for it. I am complicit in a way much more direct and accountable than my broader role in the injustices of the global system. This is the problem with global citizenship. It replaces a relationship that I have a chance to change, at a scale of understanding small enough not to dwarf me. I will be globally aware. I will use this awareness in every action I take at home, but until my own country lives up to the values it should, I cannot and will not be a citizen of the world.
This is GLOBAL Maeve Strathy I am queer. What does it mean to identify as queer? It means many different things to many different individuals. To me it means fluidity; fluidity of gender identity and fluidity of sexual orientation. It also means freedom; freedom to live, freedom to love, freedom from gender and sex-related social constructions, and freedom to grow. Why queer? Why not identify as one of the various other gender identities and sexual orientations? There are so many to identify as: lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgendered, transsexual, two-spirited, androgynous, and intersexed, among others. The reason I prefer to identify as queer is that it gives me space. Space to explore and space to move. Why does that matter? Why do I need space? Since sexual orientation is something you are born with, where do I move? What do I explore? Well, here’s an example. I’m attracted to both males and females.
Using the terminology available, someone might label my attraction as “bisexual”. Here’s the thing though, I don’t identify as bisexual. My identity is mine and not anyone else’s to label. I identify as queer and so no matter what terminology is available, queer is how my identity remains. There’s a second reason why I feel more and more how important to myself my queer identity is. I feel that bisexuality is a gender-exclusive orientation. Due to the fact that gender identity is so fluid and identities such as gender-queer, gender-fucked, or gender-variant are becoming more and more common, I feel that identifying as queer presents myself as open to relationships with individuals who identify as transgendered or any other number of alternative gender identities. There is more than just male and female or gay and straight. There is more than just binaries. I am open to loving anyone of any identity. I am queer.
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Taking the nature of God seriously Amarnath Amarasingam Many moderate and extremist Muslims enjoy branding each other as “non-Muslims” or implying that the other does not follow “true” Islam. Each group has in turn been asked to justify these comments about individuals who follow the same teachings and read the same scriptures as they do. It is a valid request. As a graduate student and teaching assistant, I have often encountered this criticism while in front of the class. It is true that a reader can easily find contradictory passages in the Qur’an but I wonder whether we can choose a side, whether a value judgement can be made about whose approach to scripture, extremist or moderate, is actually the right one. I believe that the moderate standpoint can be validated by stating that it is more in line with the nature and identity of God than the extremist point of view. Those unfamiliar with the Qur’an have often been confused as to how extremists and moderates can quote the same sacred scriptures to make their respective cases. The answer is that
case for compassion and forgiveness. This is what is unique and frustrating about scripture. One can open up the Qur’an and see: “Kill them wherever you encounter them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, for persecution is more serious than killing” (Qur’an 2:191). Extremists who feel persecuted and victimized by the West can easily find divine sanction for retaliation. Keep flipping through the Qur’an and the reader will also encounter this: “Do not argue with the People of the Book (Jews, Christians, etc) unless in a kind and fair way, apart from those who have been oppressive towards you. Tell them that we believe in what has been sent down to us and we believe in what has been sent down to you. Our God and your God is
“ If we believe that God is compassionate, merciful, and loving, then scriptural verses that reflect these characterizations must be applied universally”
scripture, Qur’an and Bible alike, are often full of contradictions. Moderate Christians can look to the same Bible that Michael Bray was reading (before he bombed seven abortion clinics in 1985) to make a
one and to Him we submit” (Qur’an 29:46). There are numerous verses in the Qur’an calling for peace and declaring continuity and oneness with the prophets and sacred texts that came before Muhammad and
the Qur’an. The two verses just cited are calling for opposite ways of life, opposite ways of dealing with the Other. The verse calling for war and the verse calling for peace both have a historical context in which they were revealed. How do we decide which is more in keeping with what God really wants? How do we decide which we should take to have universal application and which only applies in specific historical and social circumstances? In order to answer these questions, the nature and identity of God has to be taken seriously. If we believe that God is compassionate, merciful, and loving, then scriptural verses that reflect these characterizations must be applied universally. Verses that contradict these characteristics only apply in specific situations. Marxists will respond that God does not truly have a nature or identity of His own. For Marx, and Feuerbach before him, God is the idealistic projection of characteristics human beings possess but are afraid to acknowledge in themselves. He wrote that we took qualities like goodness, beauty, truthfulness, and (continued on page 6)
GLOBAL - 6
“It does not make sense to state that you should only love your neighbour under cer tain historical conditions while generally despising and hating him.”
(continued from page 5) love (which are things we admire about ourselves), elevated them to heaven and then began to worship them. Perhaps, but this is irrelevant when dealing with the interpretation of scripture. Regardless of whether or not God is a projection, we still believe that God possesses certain characteristics and it is through the lens of this belief that we approach scripture. So, how do we decide which Qur’anic verse is universally applicable and which is not? Theologically, the answer follows from the simple fact that God can never establish a universal commandment that goes against His very nature. If, then, we pick up the Qur’an or the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament and read something like, “Kill them wherever you encounter them,” we must
recognize this to be going against the nature of God and therefore understand it to apply to a particular historical circumstance. However, the command to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) or Surah 29:46 above, can more readily be seen as universal. It does not make sense to state that you should only love your neighbour under certain historical conditions while generally despising and hating him. Therefore, if we take the nature of God seriously, any scriptural commandment that reflects the good, just, compassionate, and merciful nature of God must be understood as universal while any verse that contradicts this has to be deemed contextual. From this vantage point, extremists may not be “non-Muslim” or “non-Christian” but they are certainly wrong.
Local I am Canadian Lenna Titizian As Canadians, we tend to decade. Our federal government pride ourselves on a vision of what has run a surplus for nine consecuour country is and what we stand tive years, but cannot seem to comfor that no longer holds true. The mit any amount of money to slowly common sentihelp eradicate ment of “not some of the being Ameriworld’s probcan” is disaplems—we fail “When we travel abroad, we pearing as our to give 0.7% expect the little Canadian flags voting habits of our GDP stitched to our backpacks to and policy we commitmean something.” changes lean ted towards in the opposite making povdirection. Our erty history national anthrough the them sings about “the true north Millennium Development Goals, and strong and free,” but our northern while we’re talking about combatcitizens are held captive by their ing climate change, we’re slow to commitment to their traditional make an impact. We may lifestyle, as their ability to sustain have ratified the major themselves declines due to atmoenvironmental convenspheric changes—the ice caps are tions, but until very remelting, wild game is moving on cently have failed to pay and entire ecosystems are collapsany attention to creating ing due to deforestation. Standards sustainable change in our of living are falling and we generallifestyles. ly ignore that the North exists at all. When we travel Our “mosaic” culture is also a farce. abroad, we expect the Internal unrest between the WASP little Canadian flags majority, Quebecois, First Nations, stitched to our backpacks and all immigrants, new or old, to mean something, to act may be veiled under the guise of as a safeguard against tolerance and understanding, but is being mistaken for an nonetheless apparent in the media, American, to ensure ourin politics and in everyday life. selves better treatment. In 2004, Canada was fourth On what grounds can we on the list of top countries to live in, continue to expect this? according to the UN Human DevelOur international respect opment Index. In 2006, the country stands on the shoulders of had dropped to sixth. The ratio of soldiers from past World public to private health care expenWars. Over 50 years later, diture was 7:3 last year, and the who is around to rememtrend is for both sides to even out. ber what the Canadians Public expenditure on education did then? What are Canahas dropped nearly 2% in the past dians doing now?
We can sit and talk about what’s wrong in the world, but that will not get us to solutions. Canada still retains a compassionate, friendly, international do-gooder aura, regardless of our recent actions. We are a country whose policies were founded on mildly socialist values, and we still collectively believe in being a peaceful nation—it’s what we pride ourselves on. We need to stand up and hold our government and ourselves accountable, for in a democratic country we cannot simply blame our government for what they do... (continued on page 8)
It’s not just a degree.
It’s a brand.
Some people call me Maurice Mark Ciesluk, Editor As for so many, the year preceding my acceptance into university was a very confusing one in many ways, but relatively straightforward in others. Although my future was a tangled mess of possibilities and uncertainty, the question of my ‘identity’ seemed like an easy enough one to answer: I was a metalhead, a drunk, a video gamer, and a music store employee, plain and simple. Somewhere along the line, the task of self-definition has become a much more complex one; when someone in an academic setting asks me what I ‘am,’ they often seem to be expecting an ever-expanding list of ‘ists’ that can neatly package and parcel every aspect of my personality into well-defined categories that are easily shared, referenced, understood. It’s easy to be excited about such a personally formative task in first year, as you eagerly grasp on to welcoming hands proffered by any number of people – be they O-Week EcoHawks inviting you to slap on a green shirt and define yourself as an ‘environmentalist’ and an ‘activist,’ or ancient Greek philosophers reaching across oceans and millennia seeking to sell you an argument for why you should be a ‘monist’ and not a ‘dualist,’ But after three years of such attempts at self-definition, who am I today? What is my identity? I am still a metalhead, a drunk, and video gamer – and maybe if I had been a little bit less of each or any, I would still be a music store employee. There is undeniably much of my old identity still extant in the new, for better or for worse, but there is also so much more. Or is there? Have I really gained all that much, or have I merely learned bigger, bolder, more ‘proper’ terms for stating who I have always been? I am a ‘Marxist’ – but certainly not a ‘Leninist’; a ‘Socialist,’ not a ‘Communist.’ I am an ‘environmentalist’ and a ‘pacifist,’ but not really an ‘activist’ (for better or for worse, I walked right past those EcoHawks and ended up in Phil’s instead). Many people would say that those specifics ‘ists’ mark me as a ‘leftist’, and since they apply that label to me whether I like it or not, there’s not a whole lot I could do about it even if I did disagree. I am an ‘individualist,’ but I am also an ‘altruist’ – possibly because deep inside I know I’ve always been a ‘humanist,’ and maybe even an ‘idealist,’ I am an atheist, an existentialist, an essayist, and arguably, on my very best days, a humourist.
Having reached the end of such a list, am I to assume that I have nothing further to say about who and what I consider myself to be? Obviously not; I am – we are – so much more than the sum of the categories which we define ourselves into that to think otherwise is absolutely laughable. Yet beyond such simplistic guidelines and signposts, the job of relating further information about the content of one’s character becomes an increasingly timeconsuming task, often to the point of exhaustion. With a lifetime of experiences and opinions built up behind every word we speak and thought we hold, it often feels easier to settle for being compartmentalised as merely this or simply that; nothing more salient than a relatively anonymous cog in a larger movement, bound to our comrades and neighbours under the strength of a common title. So how can the question of defining my ‘identity’ be brought to a close? In the final analysis, I suppose that I am not, and can never be, anything more than the sum of the decisions which I have made in life to this point combined with the exciting hint of all the possibilities which extend in every direction beyond the next choice I am about to make. In a world where categories and ‘ists’ are meaningless and only actions hold any weight, I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a midnight toker. I AM the Space Cowboy. (continued from page 7) we vote them in. We need to push commitment to the greater social good here at home before we can hope to gain respect abroad. We need to establish what it is we, as a nation, stand for. Our involvement in Afghanistan is a perfect example of our country’s inability to
understand itself—public opinion on our role there is split nearly in half. So what should we be doing? The first step to having successful relationships with others is to know one’s self. If Canada wants to remain respected and influential on the global stage, we need to fix things at home.
Trends, Culture, Counterculture
Looking for heroes: a quest for identity Arturo Engel I asked a friend to help me identify the Essence of Manhood, and as it might be easier for a her, Womanhood. It wasn’t easy, for me or her, and it brought me to reflect on what criteria I used to define a person. Initially, for woman, the assessment never went beyond the physical features, and for men, whether or not I’d be able to kick their asses. But the markers of physical form mean nothing in defining Man
or Woman. Ingrained in society is the germ of a belief that spreads the shallow categorisations of identity, labelling people based on utility or beauty or other class characteristics. We are known for what we are, versus who we are. Efforts to improve the condition of things are slow going, and meet with ingrained cultural indifference. This ‘indifference’ is hidden behind a wash of charm, wit, easy entertainment, and competitive glory. Though entertain-
ing, the Employees of the Month or the ‘Accepted Slackers’ of our teen-dream, heartthrob years, do little more than push non-constructive norms and values, seeking to duplicate themselves for elitist gain. In turn, these heroes, though most non-threatening, casually reinforce a threatening lifestyle of social callousness with a narcissistic twist. I wonder what effect these attitudes have on the (continued on page 10)
TRENDS, CULTURE, COUNTERCULTURE- 10
Maxim masculinity and the re-evaluation of manliness Shane Fallowfield As one of the most popular “lifestyle” magazines in Canada, Maxim certainly has its appeal. With plenty of bare skin and articles ranging from “guy movie” reviews to sports and how-to-pickup techniques, Maxim has found itself in a niche market with similar man-oriented magazines like Men’s Health, Stuff, and GQ. Of course it is well known that most magazines are part of niche market that helps to define the personal identities of those who read and subscribe to it. I’m a comic book geek, so I read Wizard, just as people who consider themselves sports enthusiasts read Sports Illustrated and so-called “Culture-Jammers” read Adbusters. This is the norm, naturally. But last year Maxim launched a campaign that was either a very clever marketing ploy or an attempt to sharply define the lines of who its readership should be.
Simply put, Maxim magazine is attempting to redefine, along indisputable terms, what it means to be male. Seeing itself as a crusader against all things “metrosexual,” the magazine stated that a real man was one who worked out in dark dank gyms, not in “fitness centers,” who watched sports, not fashion shows, and is interested in signs of affluence like cars, watches, “toys” and suits. Women are to be looked at, picked up, and manipulated, not understood. No manicures, no pedicures, no vegetarians and no pussies allowed. The culmination of this campaign was the article simply entitled “Be a Man Dammit!” in which an esteemed panel of experts on all things manly, including Jack Palance, Evil Kneival and Lee Marvin, espoused The Great and Holy Gospel of The Phallic Supreme. So I’m out. Sorry boys. I have no choice but to turn in my
penis. I am no longer a member of the esteemed ranks of those uber-Schwarzenegger-video-gamedestruction-loving-bicep-curlingsports-addict-hyperguys. Due to my enjoyment of poetry and books, my actual understanding and emotional connection to my girlfriend, and my lack of concern for things like cars and sports, I have been told by Maxim magazine that it is time to turn in the old testicles. And I’m not alone. By Maxim’s account so are all of my vegetarian friends as well as quite a few homosexuals, bisexual and queer-identified people who used to be considered male. That’s right guys. You’re not men. But I have a solution. I propose a Post-Scrotal Support Dynamic, or PSSD for short. We can organize retreats, seminars, and reeducation programs to reclaim our frank and beans. You know, a place in the middle of Algonquin (continuted on page 11)
(continued from page 9) values of society, and am morbidly curious what the mix of complacency and a superficial world-view mean to us in terms of real values. Is it a struggle everywhere for people to believe in anything of substance? I asked my friend if we could name some heroes with a moral message. After a little brainstorming, we decided on activists and trail-blazers, people who stood up and became attacked for their beliefs by societal forces. Depending on your view, the Ralph Naders, Naomi Kleins, Marc Emerys, and others are contemporary moral heroes, if we can deal with their being human. By that I mean, they have their short-comings, so let’s try to take the best of their works. The people who will be remembered most are the ones who have a lasting, constructive impact on society. Mother Theresa, Gandhi, MLK. These are the people whom history will remember. Though I applaud any efforts at making good works visible in the public eye (recent celebrity interest in Africa, via Madonna and Angelina Jolie), I am of the belief that a progressive society needs progressive leaders. It is time to encourage public figures who will be constant reminders that we can change ourselves, that we will improve ourselves, and that this is the way we should live.
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(continued from page 10) Park where we can all get together, eat raw meat, burn our intellectual materials, watch sports, grunt, howl at the moon, ogle women who don’t stimulate us on an intellectual or emotional level, and bare-knuckle box. I figure a few years of this, and our testosterone levels will be up to standard. Who wants to sign up? The really funny part of this is that, at least on a superficial level, Maxim magazine is right: there is a crisis in masculine identities. First identified by Robert Bly, a poet ironically, in his work Iron John, there has been much contemporary debate on how to deal with the violence, irresponsibility, and downright vain and self-centered attitude that has swept young men as the proper way to be “male.’ What Maxim magazine fails to
realize is that they are not on the side of angels in this debate (nor would they be: wings, harps, singing…all sounds pretty faggy to me.) Maxim’s attempt to define what it means to be a “real man” is to create the kind of juvenile personal identity usually associated with thirteen year-olds lifting weights in a basement surrounded by Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues. Unfortunately, Maxim, by aiming for the lowest common denominator of what it means to be man, is winning. Their version of masculinity: red-meat hyper-aggressive consumer-based vanity and irresponsibility, can be seen everywhere, especially here on campus. Go to the Turret, Wilf’s, or just down to the Terrace where I work every Saturday night and you can see the Maxim man strut-
ting around like the alpha-male he’s been convinced he has to be. Maxim, of course, is not the only ones responsible for this sudden explosion of “real man” syndrome, but they are the easiest target. For every action, there is a reaction, and as we reconsider the stereotypes and dualisms of gender constructs, there will be backlashes like this one. But I’ll say one thing that is true for all “real men”: Real men don’t need to have their identities defined for them by a popculture life-style magazine, nor do they need “rules” to dictate their behavior. They can determine for themselves what it means to be a man, and they don’t need to indulge any ridiculous media constructs to feel confident.
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The no-self: psychological and systemic implications Kate Bojin
I had just come from explaining to one of Blueprint’s editors that if I had to write one more essay regarding the “self” I would lose all remaining sanity. He then suggested that I might write an article on the Buddhist notion of “no-self.” All right… so as long as this is about the “no-self” I should be okay. I wonder how many times I have read the word “self” in my academic career? While I believe that a level of introspection and contemplation is crucial for one’s sanity, it is the increasingly individualist and exclusionary nature in which this contemplation occurs that is so problematic. In this contemplation, we are creatures of our individualistic, isolationist culture, which makes us question our every action. By repeatedly analyzing particular behaviours and asking why we acted that way, we end up facilitating a self-obsessed and anxiety-ridden self. Restricting a deeper understanding of the self in relation to others is our lack of a decent vocabulary to help understand a more collective and interdependent self. This occurs largely at the expense of a strong sense of community and
belonging. It is in clinging to a “self” or a stable conception of ourselves that we suffer – but all is not lost; there is Buddhist teaching (dharma) to aid us. Imagine for a moment a Buddhist nun calmly prying our iPods from our clenched fists. What would this “awakened one” say? She would most likely stress the importance of “dependent origination” which stresses that there is nothing that comes into being through its own power, and that every cause/behaviour/ action is dependent on a flurry of constantly evolving and changing circumstances – meaning that metaphysical realities and notions of the “self” cannot be said to exist, per se. Instead we must move towards a more interdependent and unified notion of the “self”. I find it impossible to exclude the word “Self” from an understanding of the “no-self.” One of the most basic foundations of Buddhism is the need to recognize suffering and a dedication to the dharma in alleviating this suffering. Imagine for a moment that the institution of “university” acted as (continued on page 13)
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(continued from page 12) that remedy – providing a doctrine that taught the basics of love, compassion and equality in every possible discipline. That is what is really at the root cause of our suffering: the obsession and need to cling to a static notion of the “self.” I would even extend individual notions of the “self”. The insistence on clinging to a particular framework that acts to exclude is very prevalent in the ways in which differing disciplines remain disjointed and separate from one another. How does one conceive of the following pairs: Global Studies/ Business, Psychology/Sociology, Women’s Studies/ Economics? Can this notion of “Noself” be understood in a broader ecological context; one in which we
can see how our current ideas and frameworks are perhaps missing a level of analysis? Are we clenching too tight to tradition and stability— not opening up to the possibility of change? Are we isolationists in our ideas, biases and philosophies—refusing to extend and encompass a new reality or “no-self”? The connection must be made between our insistence on maintaining notions of stability and static natures in our personal lives and the broader context of the political, social and economic roles that we pursue in the public sphere. I’m not throwing a stable sense of “self” out the door, but I find incredible value in a more fluid and changing view of the “self” that can’t be defined using our familiar language. Perhaps there is even some stability in maintaining a
fluid sense of “self” – knowing that one will undergo constant change. As I reach for my headphones, I’m reminded of the Buddhist nun on my shoulder. I have difficulty staying within the Buddhist doctrine and framework without incorporating broader social and political considerations. While it may be straying completely from the sheer unification and simplicity of Buddhism, I find it critically important to make the personal political. Highlighting how a stable essence affects not only our selfesteem, but also the ways in which we restrict and exclude our own paradigms. This in turn limits the truly interdependent and unified notion of our existence. In other words, keep it interdependent and leave the iPod on low.
TRENDS, CULTURE, COUNTERCULTURE -14
Losing my religion: an explanation Phil Wolters When I go home to visit these days, my parents confront me, more or less every single time, with two questions: “Why are young people leaving the church?” and its more dangerous twin, “Why are YOU moving away from the church?” To which I reply with my old standby, “Uh. . .” This is a worst-case scenario for my poor parents, even if they’ve seen it all before. Not to mention my poor pastor, who tries so hard to keep in touch with church members when they go off to school in the hopes of keeping them from leaving the church. My heart bleeds for them because they honestly believe that they’re doing the right thing; that the best thing for me and for people like me is to remain in the church family and that there’s an ongoing battle for all our souls that must be won. They’re trying their best to do good. My parents tell me the story of how, up until my generation, young people would go to university, stay in contact with the church while they were gone, then return as full-time members when they were finished. That was just the way things were done. But that doesn’t happen anymore. Or at least not very often. What happens instead is that young people finish high school, go off to university and never, ever come back into the fold. And they want to know why. “Uh. . .” Well okay. The easiest answer, the one that requires the least amount of though and is the least satisfying for anybody, is that what the church teaches is just so darn far-fetched. Heaven? Hell? A virgin birth? Resurrection from the dead? Not to mention the old Creation vs. Evolution debate. It’s all just so unlikely to be true. But is that really why we turn away from the church? Don’t we acknowledge that these things are difficult to believe? Sane, rational challenges to our faith aren’t something that just appear for the first
time in university. This isn’t new, and as such it’s hard to believe that it’s responsible for driving people away from the church. At least, for me. So what is it, then? I think it has something to do with some of the things the church is supposed to be good at: morality and living well. The ethics of the church get called into question. Here’s an actual conversation that took place that will help explain: “So wait, women aren’t allowed to become pastors?” “Not in my denomination, no.” “So in some churches they are?” “Well yeah.” “Why not in yours?” “Uh. . .” The truth is, women aren’t allowed to become pastors, or, for that matter, elders, in my church because a majority of the members, both male and female, honestly believe that women should not have positions of authority. The systematic favouring of men is both acknowledged and approved of. And it’s not something that I approve of or want to be associated with. Should we even start on the issue of same-sex marriage? Or the concept of “hating the sin while loving the sinner” that inevitably accompanies any discussion of homosexuality? Will it be worth the trouble? Or can we just acknowledge that homophobia is associated with the church and move on? Lets do that. The question that comes up, then, is: “Is it possible to belong to the church, to be a Christian, without being a misogynist and a homophobe?” I’d like to think that the answer is “yes.” But doesn’t that mean, technically, violating the church’s teachings? And doesn’t that make me a hypocrite, claiming to be a Christian while really not accepting certain teachings? And why does thinking about these things always leave me in worse shape than I was in before? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Literary Ode to failure Ryan Bolton, Editor Is est securus occumbo, ferreus ut orior oriri ortus. How I flout at you oh failure! I sneer and scoff upon you. teeming, seething, breeding. Oh, how we have met before in mystical epic war. You, with heads of tedious serpent I, a surly peasant. Your constant challenge I do await it is you that I do bait.
River Maeve Strathy
relentless, heinous, omnipotence. I watch you amongst the present, lurking in your yellow shadow licking your tongue into the corners of the night, goose-stepping behind me crying “Sieg Heil” thrice. Oh failure, release my weapon bearing hand, your lines taunt as a snickering farceur frightening my beloved muse. Oh, mischievous usurper of my peace, your snide ways captured their minds. plath, hemingway, poe. You riddle them, you riddle me, “Oh failure, I chant your terrifying name!” Dare you not take your bow! “Satis est satis” so pray, let me lay. You, headless Winged Victory, how you are within me!
My identity is a river Ever flowing, ever moving Fluid, in and out of bigger bodies My body is a river It is mine to have and to hold It is free; free to be molded and changed You cannot grab rivers Or hold them in your hands As such, you cannot grab me and Brand me for society Mine is my identity Mine to find, mine to choose Mine to win and mine to lose Not yours to label Yours to bind Yours to lose or yours to find Somewhere in your binary of two I’m in between and so is she And he – and thee So let me flow And let me be, You be you And I’ll be me
The accumulated whole Jessica Henderson Switch the screen to reflect something new. Does anyone ever see? A transparent mirror, me? Of course you’re told, you’re shaped, you’re molded (In what image?) But does it stick? Stay? It probably does. After all... What do you care? It is only your life. And the smoke fills your eyes, The water fills your lungs. You drown and burn... at the same time. The soundtrack of my life. The words of someone else. (With a little readjustment, and a little disregard) Fit my life. Define me. (But, imperfectly). I write my own, but they are weak, (And won’t be heard). So sing my truth. Switch the screen.
Expires April 30/07
The difference between you and the stars Kelly Grevers Today’s experience is that of a stranger, a quartet of flying by-waves of interconnection invisibly holding us together. Every move draws us closer, keeps us together, takes us closer. closer. closer... Strangles us like a whip. Like the ticking explosion of time. Strangles us like the throttle. When we don’t speak we die. The throttle of our machines, our lives, our beingsis strangled so that we can live again. So we can speak again. So we can begin again, like the stars that start, and die. Start, and die. But keep going and affecting the future long after their lives have ended in an explosion of light (life, fire, light) an explosion of fire, combusted, chortled. hey does this sound familiar? Like your ENGINE dying! Don’t accept their analogies, saying to live is to ‘start your engine’. No, I hope your engine quits. I hope your throttle is choked and gagged, primed to its peak and explodes like a beautiful star and carries you to a new way of being. A new way of seeing. A new way of existing, generating, blossoming, lighting the future. I hope it happens before it’s too late and your engine doesn’t die before it’s out of gas. That way you’ll have a little life left to live. I’m not saying I hope your existance afterwards is comprised of what you in your present day, cliche cog-ness forms, but that all that is bad now will propell you into a beautiful everlasting future of light and life and that you aren’t ruined in the bad, the throttle, the physical self. I hope you realize I am not saying that you’ll only be beautiful when the machine changes form. You may have already choked the throttle, said your piece. You may still be speaking, lighting the path, guiding the way with your ever-glowing, exploding, going going gone star-like self. To you I say thank you; I’m glad your fire is burning, I’m glad the tables are turning, I’m glad that specifically your light is still showering in shattered bits of living, empassioned, sparkling pieces. I say thank you for revving my engine and to the rest as you shoot at the universe (birthed), may you no longer see that your love of motion is found in feeling fulfilled as a throttling cog.
Who am I? Jackie Boyce There are days when it lingers, resting in the bottom of my cupped hands. It is not something that is necessarily visible in the traditional form, but it is something that can be believed in beyond all doubt. It can also be spilled, dropped, or lost in the blink of an eye or in the simplicity of a few select words. It seems that every time I think I’ve figured it out; every time I think I’m certain about the identity with which I encounter the world, it somehow changes. Just when I think my identity is shifting from a liquid to a more permanent solid form, it seemingly slips through my fingers and down the drain, like water running over my cupped hands in a sink. Eventually, I am left with nothing but the minimum – my bare hands, empty except for pure potential. My identity is fluid and changes at irregular intervals, constantly morphing and evolving into something real and something not, into an identity that is true, into an identity that is false, always with pieces of an old one. Sometimes, I write on my hands with markers – who I am, what I like, what I am not – and it can take days to disappear or even fade, just like the previous identities of whom I once claimed to be. The marker on my hands fade, giving me room to write another facet of my identity, overlapping the old while embracing the new. I have had so many identities over the years, varying in situation and circumstance. There have been times when I didn’t recognize the girl looking in the mirror. There have been times when I’ve been exactly who I’ve wanted to be. My identity is fluid; it changes and is hard to define – and just when I think I’ve reached the point where I can define it, my identity is altered completely and I’m someone entirely new again, reborn like a phoenix. Each identity is different from the one before, but I hope that all of them have something in common. No matter who I am one moment or how I’ve changed the next, I can only hope that the way I try to treat others, with respect and kindness, will remain the same. Because no matter what, I am still me, with values and beliefs. A part of me will always be static. So really, maybe that’s all I need to know.
The Winners of the 2007 Blueprint Photo Contest 1st Place Lenna Titizian Front Cover
2nd Place Jacob Pries Page 13
3rd Place Eric Stein Back Cover
Honourable Mention Daniel Guillemette Page 9
Jacob Pries Page 3
Jackie Boyce Page 17 Ryan Bolton Page 15 Josh Smyth Page 7
Find full size versions of all submissions online at www.blueprintmagazine.ca
Volume 6 Issue 4 March 2007