Page 1

Gods and Idols Tony Power : Sea to Sky kevin mcpherson eckhoff: Selected Verses from “The Pain Itself” An Interview with Rex Smallboy of War Party Rikk Watts : The Character of Truth



Gods and Idols


Memewar Magazine

Editorial Collective Missy Clarkson AJ Ivings Elliott Lummin Carmen Papalia Thor Polukoshko Aubyn Rader


AJ Ivings Aubyn Rader


Thor Polukoshko


Creation Graphics and Design Solution

Advertising Manager Amelia Pitt-Brooke

Editorial Assistant Wendi Graves

ISSN: 1912-3310 Copyright 2009. All rights revert to the authors and artists upon publication.

This magazine was printed on recycled paper.

Front Cover Image by Nikki Rader Back Cover Image by Benjamin Luk 4

Photograph courtesy of Nikki Rader

Memewar gratefully acknowledges the financial support of: those attending the release party and our fundraisers and the continued support of Arcprint and Imaging Inc.. We would also like to thank Griffins Boxing and Fitness.

Breaking the Vow of Silence Aubyn Rader

At a talk I recently attended at UBC’s Green College, Stephen Caputo, professor of religious studies and philosophy at Syracuse University, made the case that a fundamental cause of the schism between reason and religious belief is a paradigm difference. The dominant paradigm of the medieval age held that the existence of God was an obvious truth. If someone didn’t believe, they were not heretical; they were simply crazy. The paradigm shifted in the 17th Century. In a letter to the Dean of the Faculty of Theology in Paris, René Descartes, who still piously believed that human reason was subject to the absolute truth of the scriptures, realized that the scriptures alone do not convince infidels of the existence of God. In order to combat the rising tide of skepticism, Descartes attempted to demonstrate a reasonbased foundation for some basic tenets of Christianity, such as Truth, God, and the eternal soul. Unwittingly, Descartes’ attempt to defend his faith brought God to a trial before the court of human reason. The concept of God now needed to be justified rationally. We see the effects of the glorification of human Reason today. Schools of Theology are commonly built on separate pieces of land than the rest of the university, such as UBC, The Vancouver School of Theology, and Regent College. The intention, inspired by secularist fervour, is to keep religion from spoiling sacred free-thinking. Unfortunately, segregation can only restrict free thinking, not help it to flourish. Faith in an infallible God; faith in infallible Reason. Stephen Caputo holds that these two paradigm differences both rely upon faith. It is commonly held today that these two positions are incommensurable. We at Memewar respectfully disagree. Any good relationship must be built upon honest

conversation. We might argue during the conversation; we might disagree. But divorce seems like such a drastic option. Theists and atheists live in the same community – their segregation is akin to living with a spouse after divorce. “Gods and Idols” is meant to be the table that two people can finally sit down to, after having spent the last hour in separate rooms due to a stinging argument. We are here to honestly discuss our different positions in order to arrive at some solution. In the following pages we attempt to represent some of the topics that might arise in such a discussion. In the transcriptions of his sermons, Rev. Dr. Rikk Watts fights through a long, biasing history of epistemology, arms himself with a “new” perspective on the nature of truth, and hopes to bring spiritual experience back to rational discussion. However, kevin mcpherson eckhoff recognizes one impediment in receiving the narrated events of spirituality: they only come to us through ancient texts in languages now found to be obscure. Examining the poetics of translation in selected verses from “The Pain Itself,” one could find his translations to be more opaque than his source text written in Lorem Ipsum. Despite the obscurity, the artistic depictions of women by Cara Sheppard and Claire Cybulski reveal that these myths and narrations, in whatever form they come to us, still shape our culture and affect our understanding of ourselves, and in this case our gender. This lead to another influential aspect that we wished to examine: the worship of contemporary pop idols. Memewar readers shared their own close brushes with fame and sent us autographs of their favourite hacks and heroes. Eighty-four pages in length, this is the largest issue of Memewar to date; however, the conversation is far from complete. Perhaps it never can be. Still, we hope you can enjoy or become outraged while perusing these fragments. Whatever your reaction, we hope that it’s an honest one. 5

Gods and Idols



Tony Power

Chapter Four

Suit up in your snow gear, drop some mescaline and join brothers Leo and Russ on a hike to the summit of Whistler Mountain for a religious experience.


Something Amazing has Happened:


66 6

Sea to Sky:

The Character of Truth in the Gospel of John Rev. Dr. Rikk Watts

Rikk Watts discusses the history of the nature of truth and concludes that the nature of truth is history. Transcribed from his series of sermons on the subject, this lecture surveys philosophical thought from Homer to Benedetto Croce.

Selected Verses from The Pain Itself

kevin mcpherson eckhoff

kevin mcpherson eckhoff translates selections of the so-called language lorem ipsum into English, revealing Greek heroes and gods of the underworld.

So You Wanna be a Rap Superstar? Thor Polukoshko

Rex Smallboy of Cree hip-hop group War Party drops some knowledge about beats, rhymes, life and more in an exclusive interview with Memewar.


Letter from the Editor



Cruise to the Edge of the World Rhoda Hodjati with Illustrations by Marc Junker

22 30 46 58 78 80


Art Auto(graph)-erotica: A Collage of Idols Bathtub Madonnas Jainey Lastoria Biblical Women Cara Sheppard Aftermath Claire Cybulski Obituaries Cereal Junkies: The Trouble with Tigers #10 &#11



Of Symmetries, Of Jeopardies Oliver Rice with Photography by Ami Sanyal Crucifixes C.J. Leon Mind Margins: An Essay on Pre-Fight Preparation Cameron Conaway with Photography by Ami Sanyal Grassroots Xianity C.J. Leon



Scrapbook of My Years as a Zealot Nadya van Dijk

20 26


OF SYMMETRIES, OF JEOPARDIES Oliver Rice Photography by Ami Sanyal

Ultradian cycles

Circadian cycles

These are processes that recur in units of less than twenty-four hours ---

These are processes that recur in units of twenty-four hours ---

as hunger, the surf, gestures of a robot,

as dream work,

the sigh of a wronged person,

dawn, the anima, the persona reassembling themselves, the zeitgeist taking to the streets,

particles of matter, practicing their identities,

the progress of the shadows,

the surging of traffic, light to light, palsy, reality seeping, clicking, glinting,

afternoon, evening reenacting their nuances, their yesterdays,

a self awaiting, perceiving the next instant.


night, an echoing cavern.

Infradian cycles These are processes that recur in units of more than twenty-four hours --as pasqueflowers blooming in April, a generations’ first fantasies of the sky, first sense of an uncommon man, Saint Augustine, van Gogh of the pond snail spiraling its shell, of the persistence of credulity, platitude, first witness to the old jeopardy of wives,


Sea to Sky

Chapter Four Tony Power

(Whistler Mountain, British Columbia - April 1970) Seven thousand feet up... stretched out in the snow atop the peak on a pair of black garbage bags... backs propped against their obliquely planted skis... faces lifted to the mid-morning sun... Leo lowered his head and opened his eyes and sat up, blinking behind his Polaroids. He yawned and stretched and yawned again, then unzipped the blue nylon pack by his side and slipped a hand inside and brought out his cigarettes. Gauloises Caporal. Preferred brand of serious writers, existentialists (whatever those might be) and artistes; hence his own, though they were too harsh to inhale properly, in the months since his Art 12 teacher dubiously identified him as a potentially ‘promising young artist’ and recommended him for an extracurricular night-school drawing class. Generally Leo limited his consumption of the Gallic stinkers to Thursday nights, when his class met at the art school downtown, but his deck of Player’s Filter had gone missing in action last night at the party he attended in North Van, and Russ claimed that the Rothman’s he was smoking at present was his last, so Gauloises it was...


Sheathed in cellophane, the package was a pale and soothing shade of blue, the blue of robins’ eggs and today’s sky and the tissue-thin aerograms his mother sent him from all over Europe two summers ago as she honeymooned with new husband Frank. He stared at the package, captivated by the occult device emblazoning it, a winged helmet. The Flash—DC superhero—was his immediate association, though on second thought he supposed it more likely belonged to the messenger god, whose name escaped him just now. Vibrant with enigma and mystic energy, the trompe l’oeil helmet seemed about to fly off the pale blue paper at him. He thrilled with excitement, with a feeling that he was on the verge of something amazing, that magic was imminent. Then the moment passed and the feeling was gone. He turned the package over and shook out a stubby, unfiltered cigarette into his palm, then got sidetracked looking at his hand. Soft colours were playing across the skin—pastel greens and blues and reds—and there was something terribly strange about it. Had he ever really taken a good look at it before? It seemed an entity separate from and other than himself. Distracted by the one hand, he lost his grip on the package in the other. It slipped from his numb fingers, dropped to the snow beside him. He stared down at it, skyblue against the fresh powder, then looked up and beheld a snow-white, package-shaped cloud drifting across the Gauloises-blue sky. The hair on the back of his neck stood up and he began to tremble. He looked back down at the package, then up again at the cloud. Then down, then up, back and forth. The perfect inverted symmetry was uncanny... surely too perfect for coincidence. He retrieved the package and set it down on the edge of the GLAD bag next to his fanny pack. Placing the cigarette between his lips, he gazed out at the snow-covered, blue-

shadowed mountains—stretching out before him forever— to the southern horizon at least; beyond which, he knew, they continued across the border into Washington, where they took a new name, the Cascades (here in B.C. they were the Coast Mountains), and on down the coast through Oregon into California, where he spent most of his first ten years. The thought was comforting somehow. It gave him a feeling of connection, of being linked by mountains to home—after five years in B.C. he still sometimes thought of California as that... of connection, too, to Karen, who lived there still with Frank and baby Adam, his new, unknown half-brother. The view was amazing, enough to rouse the most apathetic observer, and to set a person to pondering the Big Picture: Geology and Time; the immensity and antiquity of earth and cosmos; one’s own puniness and transience in the scheme of things. Not Leo, though. Not this morning. He was too preoccupied just now with a more immediate question that had been posing itself ever more insistently since they attained the summit a quarter of an hour ago, namely: How to get back down? Specifically, how to get back down on a beat-up, dulledged pair of Head Standards, with his brain registering ever more powerfully the effects of the little lavender tablet? He plucked the cigarette from his lips and with some difficulty—his hand was trembling—inserted it back into the blue paper package, then brushed bitter dark shreds of Middle Eastern tobacco from his tongue. Gauloises were, he was convinced, as essential to artistic endeavour as cigars were to new fatherhood, pipes to deep thinking, and Marlboros to riding the range—but ‘cleaner, fresher, smoother’ they were not, and he didn’t think his lungs were up to the challenge just now. 11

He dropped his hand to the snow beside him and with his fingertips scooped up a little and placed it in his mouth and let it melt down his throat, deliciously icy; then pushed the Gauloise package back inside his fanny pack and rezipped. When he looked up again the world had brightened, as if the sun had come out from behind a cloud, though this was not the case.

Glimpses too of women’s bodies and men’s and sex... of dark acts and strange rituals... manic cartoons and weird scenes inside the gold mine... strange cities and fantastic architecture... landscapes both paradisal and infernal... forest and desert and ocean...

Had he somehow lost his sunglasses without noticing? He reached up to the bridge of his nose and confirmed that they were still in place. Hesitantly, he raised them and was by zapped the glare off the snowfields below. Cringing like a vampire caught out at sun-up, he set the glasses back in place, then settled back against his skis and shut his eyes and tipped his face to the sun again. The skin of his brow warmed and tightened. The screen back of his eyelids flooded with tangerine light. A Technicolor fluid geometry began moving across the screen, slowly at first, then faster, giving way to an accelerating stream of images, a torrent. Faces at first... faces of all ages and races, male and female, familiar and unknown, beautiful and grotesque... each one vivid and distinct though barely glimpsed as it flashed past and was succeeded by the next...

Glimpses too of women’s bodies and men’s and sex... of dark acts and strange rituals... manic cartoons and weird scenes inside the gold mine... strange cities and fantastic architecture... landscapes both paradisal and infernal... 12

forest and desert and ocean... a bird’s-eye view of a city by the sea at night... a cliff-house with a pool below shining like a turquoise jewel... at the deep end on bottom, a shadow... He surrendered to the images, let them rush through his head, purely sensual and without thoughts for some indeterminate interval, surfacing at last only in response to a slight fluttering agitation in the air nearby and the sensation of something lightly brushing his left foot. When he opened his eyes a bird was perched on the toe of his ski boot. Robinsized, grey-feathered and white-breasted with black head markings. A whiskeyjack. Shameless beggar and bold lunch thief. The bird was so perfectly still and its gaze so unflinching that Leo began to wonder if Russ might be subjecting him to some kind of taxidermic tomfoolery. But, no—suddenly it flitted down to the snow beside his foot, seemingly vanishing and re-materializing. In the same instant a strange little voice piped up inside his head. ‘Feed me feed me feed me’ it demanded shrilly, tonelessly.

Leo stared at the creature, which looked back at him with beady, black eyes, then vanished and re-appeared next to a plastic-wrapped wedge of navel orange at the edge of the GLAD bag Russ was sitting on. It gave the fruit several sharp, assaying jabs with its short, black bill, then withdrew, put off perhaps by the plastic. Then vanished again, this time for good—and so

abruptly that Leo was left questioning not only the bird’s telepathic powers but its very existence. Now the question that had been nagging him since he arrived at top asserted itself once more: How to get down? His heart was pounding. He drew a deep breath, reminding himself that it was only half a tab, and turned to his brother: “Russ?” Nothing. Propped against his Dynastars Russ was as still as the whiskey-jack when first encountered. Since his run-in with the silver-haired man he had been very quiet, saying little during the long ride up on the Red Chair and the trek to the peak, and now, amazingly enough, appeared to have fallen asleep. With mirrors covering his eyes again it was hard to be certain, but the inch-long ash drooping from the cigarette in his right hand seemed to support the hypothesis, and the low snores pretty well clinched it.

the place from top to bottom; filled several pages of his sketch pad with tiny intricate drawings and sub-Kerouacian stream-of-consciousness gibberish; evacuated his bowels three times; and ground down his molars several fractions of a millimeter. Sleepless, his mind racing, he tossed and turned and twitched and itched till dawn in a bed he came to suspect of verminous infestation—red ants or the like— though repeated inspections failed to turn up any evidence of such.

Now the question that had been nagging him since he arrived at top asserted itself once more: How to get down? His heart was pounding. He drew a deep breath, reminding himself that it was only half a tab, and turned to his brother: “Russ?”

Leo was impressed. He knew Russ to be hung over and behind on his sleep today; knew too that his brother was possessed of a quirky metabolism. Still, to fall asleep at this juncture seemed to him remarkable. Though not without precedent, come to think of it: Just a couple months ago on a Whistler weekend like this one, Russ had defied the fundamental laws of pharmacology and stunned his associates by lying down for a nap shortly after partaking of uppers, a fistful of whites from which Leo had accepted a single, token hit. As his brother slumbered peacefully on the loft waterbed of their uncle’s A-frame (Jack had lent them it in his absence that weekend, as this), and long after the associates had jittered out the door in search of après-ski action Leo had: cleaned

(Together with this remembrance came the realization—a bit late to do him much good—that there may have been a lesson to be drawn from the episode. One concerning the wisdom of accepting hits, token or otherwise, of controlled substances. It was a lesson that would have served him well back at the Red Dog this morning had he but taken it to heart. Why, he wondered, had he not?) He cleared his throat and tried his brother again, this time in a louder voice in which the anxious edge was all too audible to his own ear: “Russ?”

“Unh.” “You awake?” “Unh.” “Yeah?” “Am now.” His brother raised the cigarette to his lips, spilling ash down the front of his T-shirt. He dragged sharply on what was left of his smoke then snapped the butt out over the sheer slope that fell away before them and sat 13

up and reached for the orange slice that the whiskey-jack had spurned. Removing the plastic-wrap, he stuffed it in his mouth and bit down. “So uh do you feel anything yet?” asked Leo. Though he tried to keep his voice offhand the sentence got away from him; his inner ear was buffeted with the full range of tonal inflection and emphasis available to his simple question—YOU feel anything yet? FEEL anything yet? ANYthing yet? AnyTHING yet? Anything YET? His utterance concluded on a weird, rising note that Russ, for all his sluggishness, did not miss. He turned Leo’s way, his nose and lips glistening with zinc oxide, the fruit rind bulging from his mouth like an orange mouthguard. Silently, he regarded Leo from behind his mirrorshades.

He waited and eventually the word bobbed up to consciousness like a bloated corpse surfacing at sea: Scud. A harsh, ugly word with harsh, ugly kin—scum, crud, scud—but even so it was good to know that his retrieval system was functioning still under present conditions of adversity. Confidence bolstered, he ventured to speak again, this time with better success: “They’re really scudding, man.”

Leo looked up. Fleecy puffs of cumulus were racing across the sky, surging along on a stiff westerly. They were really moving, at timelapse hyper-speed almost.

The effect was unsettling. Leo could see himself clearly in his brother’s lenses and the glasses of his reflected image seemed to mirror a tiny Russ. Whose glasses would give back an even tinier image of himself... and his in turn an homuncular Russ, the two of them shrinking to microbial dimensions, like Raquel Welch and the crew in FANTASTIC VOYAGE... The notion gave him a woozy, vertiginous feeling. Now Russ turned away and spat out the rind in his palm, then sailed it into space. Tipping his head back, he yawned then tipped back down and turned to Leo. “Check out the clouds, man,” he suggested. Leo looked up. Fleecy puffs of cumulus were racing across the sky, surging along on a stiff westerly. They were really moving, at time-lapse hyper-speed almost. There was 14

a word for it... it was on the tip of his tongue...

“Say what?” His brother shifted position slightly and crossed his feet at the ankle, drawing Leo’s eye once again to his boots. Redder than ever, the things were slowly expanding and contracting now, pulsating sluggishly like some bizarre, colourful set of external lungs.

Russ’s twin mirrors were trained on him now. Leo stared back blankly, having lost the thread entirely, as who would not in the face of preternaturally red ski boots that BREATHED!? “Uh what was that?” he inquired. “What did you say?” “I said ‘What’.” “Oh... so what did I say?” “Something about the clouds.” “Clouds?” Russ grimaced. “Get it together, Lee. You sound like fucking Ritchie... or that burn-out at the bar last night, that

time in his life when he was too little and sleepyheaded to take it in—in family legend he was celebrated for invariably nodding off within the first thirty seconds of storytime...

Gnome dude...” “Sorry.” Russ hawked loudly and spat over the edge of the precipice at their feet. “So what are you trying to say about them, about the clouds?” “Uh right... the clouds... they... they’re scudding! Clouds scud... don’t they? Like when they’re really hauling ass?”

A world-mythological theme seemed to be shaping up overhead. The heavens were filling with anthropomorphic figures outfitted in the dress and accoutrements of heroes and deities.

Russ kept the mirrors fixed on him without passing comment. His ointment-whitened nose and lips gave him the look of a sinister clown. After a long, uncomfortable moment, he raised a forefinger in the air before him in the manner of a guru paving the way for some pearl of wisdom and recited in a plummy, Oxbridgian sort of voice: “’Da-dah da-dah da-something pale... And scuds the cloud before the gale...’” “Right! Wow! ... What is that?” Russ shrugged. “One of the Nutty Professor’s guys.” “Wow.”

Said guys being the English Romantic poets, subject of their father’s doctoral dissertation and subsequent scholarly investigations. “Bedtime reading for eager young minds,” added Russ. “Remember?” “Uh sort of,” Leo said. Actually he didn’t. Much of Alan’s high-minded bedtime reading had taken place at a

Now Russ turned away and Leo’s attention reverted to the sky. An eagle was circling to the southwest, way up. What was it he had been reading about them recently? Some arresting fact that had struck him at the time, though not so strongly that he could recollect what it was just now. He looked from the bird to the clouds beyond and watched as a succession of huge metamorphic figures emerged from the billowing cumulus, swirling into focus and out again; distorting and dissolving, then cohering again into other forms and figures.

To the southeast a towering, greybellied cloud mass had constituted itself into a Rushmore-sized cloud-god, who underwent a quick sex change, metamorphosing into a giant goddess or nymph, then a mermaid, then a fish standing on its tail for a moment before toppling slowly to one side, gently imploding and disintegrating... For the first time since boarding the gondola Leo relaxed a little and managed to recapture some of the feeling that had accompanied him on the drive up from the city this morning —excited anticipation of the long weekend ahead, three days of skiing and après-skiing and who knows what else; and then, stretching into the future like the mountains into the southern distance, another full week of Easter vacation before it was back to school and into the final few months of twelfth grade. Suddenly elated, he delighted in the beauty of the mountains and sky, marveled at his cloud-sculpting powers. 15

A world-mythological theme seemed to be shaping up overhead. The heavens were filling with anthropomorphic figures outfitted in the dress and accoutrements of heroes and deities. It was a mixed, syncretic bunch, including among its number Egyptians, Hindu, and Norse representatives, as well as various freelancers. The dominant faction, though, looked to be Olympian, many of them decked out in winged helmets. Rendered in a muscular, realist manner reminiscent of the Mexican muralistas (just last session his sketch class had been looking at slides of Rivera and Orozco and Siquieros) they busied themselves plucking at lyres, imbibing potations from heavy goblets, and brandishing spears at wild beasts and one another...

Last summer he climbed it with Russ and their cousin Kenny, camping overnight in the blooming meadows at its base and spending a couple hours the next morning perched on the summit like a bug on a spar, munching cheese sandwiches and smoking cigarettes and pondering the view with a slightly uneasy feeling that such majesty should inspire grander thoughts than was in fact the case. Now a burly, bearded cloud-god—one of the ones with the winged headgear—sailed past the great black spire, disporting himself in a non-missionary position with a cloud-nymph.

Philip Timms photo, Vancouver Public Library VPL 18636

Leo lowered his gaze to a massive dark peak that thrust up against the southern horizon, sheer and bare of snow, at a distance of seven or eight miles: The Black Tusk, core of an

ancient volcano from which time and weather had eroded the outer layer of cinder that once had sheathed it, laying bare the basalt core, black bone beneath the crumbled flesh of the bygone mountain.


The rest of the heavenly host were quick to follow this couple’s shameless lead. The sky filled with amorous deities, a vast ecumenical orgy in which the Hindu contingent figured prominently, assuming all manner of supple positions in the manner of the temple carvings at Khajuraho, photos of which Leo had examined attentively last month before class in the art school’s reading room.

filled his head.

Flesh stirred in the depths of his red thermal underwear; he let out a little involuntary sound.

Leo didn’t reply. Generally speaking, things seemed to have simmered down some in the last little while -- the world was less rife with corner-of-the-eye shooting stars and hallucinations and déjà vus and whatnot—but not so much that he felt inclined to budge from his present position. He had little confidence in his depth perception—things were flat and cartoonish and too-bright—nor in his hand-eye coordination; nor for that matter any of his other sensorymotor faculties.

Russ turned to him and raised an eyebrow. Leo’s face warmed. Casually, he threw a foot atop a knee in an effort to dissemble the embarrassing bulge in his longjohns. Russ grinned and wagged a finger at him in mock reproach, but didn’t pursue the matter. The X-rated tableau overhead went out of focus and subsided, and his bulge likewise. Closing his eyes, he leaned back and gave himself over again to the manic movies that were playing still back of his eyelids. When he looked outward again—a minute later? ten? —Russ was on his feet against a brilliant blue backdrop of sky. With his arms flung wide and head tipped back, his glistening white face-paint and long dirty-blond hair hanging down his arched back, he looked to be in the middle of some ecstatic rite of sun worship. But no, just stretching. Leo struggled to his feet and lurched around till he found his balance. He rubbed his hands together briskly; then, keeping them together palm to palm, raised them to his lips and huffed warm breath between his conjoined thumbs and rubbed them some more. He windmilled his arms, bent to touch his toes—and almost blacked out, though ‘black’ wasn’t really the word for the swirl of colour and light that

Russ meantime pulled on his ski jacket and balled up his GLAD bag and stuffed it in the pocket, then put his hands on his hips and did a few deep squats, the cartilage of his bad knee crackling like a crepe sole on a sticky floor. After four or five he stopped and looked over at Leo: “Ready?”

Russ yanked his Dynastars from the snow and slapped them together a couple times, then fished out a pale-green bar of wax from his pocket and began stroking it on to the mustard-yellow base of one of the skis. After a moment he looked up and brandished the bar at Leo. “’Ski wax’ en français. ‘Ow you zay?” “Wax?” “Le fart. Rhymes with ‘noir’, spells like ‘fart’. F-AR-T.” He lifted a leg and reinforced his instruction with an explosive example of the English homograph, then smiled demurely and returned to his task. Leo stared at him, struck again by his brother’s apparent immunity to the effects of the little lavender tablet. Napping, farting, skiing—Russ on mescaline was little distinguishable from Russ straight. It made him wonder about his own susceptibility. Now Russ left off waxing the ski and brought out the Swiss army knife with which he halved the tab back at the Red Dog a century or two ago. He unfolded a blade and began to 17

whittle away at the translucent green bar, but stopped after a moment and held up the knife for Leo’s inspection. Clearing his throat, he pushed his sunglasses down his nose slightly and blinked over them in parody of their father’s myopic lecture-hall manner. It was a relief to see his eyes again; his pupils were huge and black.

pair, they were the old-fashioned leather kind, and laced up rather than buckled. “Well, ready or not, bro...” Russ shuffled ahead toward the brink of the hill. “4:30 in the bar if we get separated, okay?”

...he favoured a more life-affirming approach whereby one strove, ideally, to descend at a moderate rate of speed in a controlled fashion, executing in transit a series of sweeping turns, as gracefully as one was able, arriving at bottom in a state of mild exhilaration sans compound fractures.

“Consider if you will, the genius, so to speak, of the Swiss, as it were.” His voice mimicked the bombastic cadences of W.C. Fields. “That mildmannered, boring nation of whitebread zombies... The Canadians of Europe, one might perhaps style them, might one not, were one so inclined, n’est-ce pas? Though then again, on the other hand of course, one might not were one not... so inclined, that is to say.” He removed the glasses and polished them on the sleeve of his jacket, then set them back in place and resumed his discourse. “Switzerland. Land of the army knife... the cuckoo clock... the Montreux Jazz”—he shut his eyes and pursed his lips and fingered an invisible saxophone, then continued in a Pepé Le Pew sort of voice—“ze private number’ bank accoun’... ze Family Robinson... ze meelk choco-la’... Not to mention”—a dramatic pause—“ze drog psychédéliques!” Raising his hands, he waggled his fingers near his ears and pulled a freakingout heebie-jeebies face; then folded the blade back into the cherry-red handle of the knife and dropped the waxed ski onto the snow beside its mate and stepped into his bindings, toe then heel, first one then the other. Looking up at Leo, he spoke in his own voice. “Ready?” he asked again. “Uh not really.” Even so, Leo dropped to one knee and started to do up his boots. Unlike Russ’s snazzy new plastic 18

‘up to I.R.A. standards’.

The chances of separation were good, Leo suspected, for all his brother’s reassurances when he was promoting the little lavender tablet back at the Red Dog. In fact probably he could count on it. Russ didn’t much distinguish between recreational skiing and competition. In either case his style was the same: Flat out. Straight down the fall line, caution to the winds, speed of the essence. It was an approach that had won him a shelf-ful of regional downhill and GS trophies, and predictions of a future with the national team—up until the day two winters ago when he caught an edge on a socked-in, icy downhill course and went through a safety fence at 50 mph into a stand of whitebark pine, from which he was fetched on a toboggan-stretcher with contusions, abrasions, a broken nose, two broken fingers, and a shattered kneecap that the attending physician, an Irishman, had characterized as

The accident had ended his hopes for World Cup glory, but didn’t slow him down so much that more than a few of the very fastest could keep up with him on the mountain. Which counted Leo out. An ‘advanced intermediate’ at best, he favoured a more life-affirming approach whereby one strove, ideally, to descend at a moderate rate of speed in a controlled fashion, executing in transit a series of sweeping

turns, as gracefully as one was able, arriving at bottom in a state of mild exhilaration sans compound fractures. It was an approach his brother couldn’t stand. He seemed to take it personally, as a betrayal, an insult, a slap in the face... “4:30, right?” Russ repeated. “Lee? ... Earth to Leo, do you copy?” “You said you’d wait! You said you’d ski with me today!” “I’m talking about just in case. Plus I have to be down early for the sound check... remember I told you? At three? You may not want to head down that early. Right?”

Even so, Leo was not reassured. As he watched Russ reach down to fasten the top buckles of his boots (they were still intensely red but were no longer breathing, thankfully), then straighten and pull on his gloves, it sunk home that the moment he had been dreading was at hand. “Russ?” he quavered.

Russ snorted derisively. “When do you ever get warmed up, Lee? You ski like an old fucking woman.”

Leo nodded hesitantly. “You’ll remember? 4:30? The Highlander?” “Okay.” “’Cause remember I need you to drive me down to Squamish to pick up Alison.” Alison was Russ’s new girlfriend and prospective overnight guest. “And then we’ll need to get back pretty quick so I can make the gig... I’m counting on you.” “Okay. But I’m counting on you too, like to wait up for me. Till I get warmed up at least, okay?” Russ snorted derisively. “When do you ever get warmed up, Lee? You ski like an old fucking woman.” “Seriously, Russ. I feel sort of weird.” “Yeah, well, you are sort of weird.” “Come on, man! You said you would... you promised!” His brother sighed heavily.

worked up... you gotta keep up though.”

“Okay okay... don’t get

“What now?” “What if I can’t get in the bar? Like what if I get carded?”

Russ rolled his eyes. This was the third time the question had been asked. “I told you already, it’ll be cool... Kevin’s working.” Kevin being a ski bum from Down Under in his late twenties who tended bar weekends at the Highlander; an associate of Russ’s, and in fact impresario of the band’s gig this weekend. “I don’t think he likes me.” “Sure he likes you... I mean, he doesn’t dislike you.” “He’s always hassling me.” “He hassles everyone, he likes to give people a hard time, he’s just joking around, he’s got a weird sense of humour...” “Kenny said he was in the war, like Viet Nam.” “Yeah, he was a medic supposedly. He doesn’t like to talk about it though... Are you ready?” Russ looked a little edgy, Leo thought, as if he didn’t much feel like talking about it either —no doubt because he himself was sitting the thing out here in Canada. And in fact keeping him clear of the draft and Viet Nam was the main reason for Alan and Julie’s decision to move the family north five years ago. Leo pushed the hair out of his eyes. “That’s weird. Isn’t 19

he Australian?” “Of course he’s fucking Australian... you’ve heard him talk, what else could he be?” “So what’s he doing in Viet Nam?” Russ gave him a look. “’Cause Australia has troops there, dummy.” “It does?” “Uh-huh... He got drafted... just like all those poor fuckers over there from stateside.” “Really?” “Really.” “Well can’t he get busted or lose his union card or something? Like for serving minors?”

He looked up. The sky was still incredibly blue, but the clouds had settled down, the gods departed. The eagle still circled overhead, riding a thermal on fixed wings. Or maybe it was a different one.

Russ flipped his hair back impatiently. “How many times do you need to hear it, Lee? He’ll let you in... he won’t card you... he’ll serve you! The guy knows you, right? He did his medic thing on you that time you chopped yourself, remember?”

Leo winced, remembering all too well. An embarrassing mishap last spring, a slip of the axe whilst splitting kindling back of his uncle’s place. Alcohol had been a contributing factor. Russ was poised on the brink of the hill now. “Plus he scored us the gig this weekend, he’s a friend, sort of... and even if he wasn’t he’d serve you anyway, he serves everybody. Okay?” “I guess.” 20

“And if anyone does try to card you, which they won’t, just say you’re with the band. Alright?” “I guess.” “And try not to be such a wimp for once, would you?” Russ moved closer still to the brink, then in a voice mimicking the bad-dub English of an Italian gladiator flick called out: “We who about-a to die, salute-a you!” He grinned over at Leo, then planted his poles and lunged between them over the edge. Leo experienced a surge of panic, which subsided quickly, leaving him feeling merely anxious and abandoned. He looked up. The sky was still incredibly blue, but the clouds had settled down, the gods departed. The eagle still circled overhead, riding a thermal on fixed wings. Or maybe it was a different one.

Now he remembered the surprising thing he had read about them in an old issue of National Geographic in his dentist’s waiting room last month: They’re fratricidal. An eaglet stands a good chance of being pecked to death by an older sibling before making it out of the nest. Lowering his gaze, he looked down the mountain in time to see a tiny figure far below—his brother—crest a ridge at speed and disappear from view on the far side. Sighing, Leo fumbled a red rubber band out of his pocket and hastened to tie his hair back in a ponytail The band snapped, stinging his thumbnail.

Advertise with Memewar Magazine visit


Crucifixes C.J. Leon

There was a crucifix above every door in Grandma’s house and on a couple of walls top-centre otherwise barren. She inherited that trick from generations of God-fearing home-owning Mr’s who kept the livelong day their singing house-keeping Mrs’s well-reminded of the plight of sons of men and the world out of doors. She decorated them with yellowing palm leaves acquired one per year on Palm Sundays at the Catholic service nearby. She used to say that “anytime you have the mind is enough a time to pray; you could be sweeping the kitchen floor or riding your bicycle, bored in class or climbing trees; just turn to God and give.” But voices turn to God purveying misery, keeping their joys their own, because the least likely guy to be impressed by your jeweled sink taps is one in the throes of execution, compare lethal injection, hanging, the rack, impalement, disembowelment, exposure, starvation, and the electric chair; and the least likely man to dance drunk is the naked one publicly crucified wearing a dunce crown and a sign. So, somewhere along the line, I learned never to trust the man at the end of the whip. Either one. They’re both preoccupied. 22

After a season of hunger, I glutted blue-rare the Blood-Bodied Father and Son and their ascetic bravado, and I sucked the fruit nectars of Lovers’ Communion. I learned to despise and war the misery of life, not to glorify, not hope for deliverance from it in death. It’s pathological optimism, or the poet in me, but life is so much worthier; Life manifests Christ in its so many familiar faces, Christ who is the resurrecting body, the spirit of bread and wine and the urge, Christ of miracles, of accomplished whores, the good-loving Christ who always pulls rent out of a fish’s mouth or at least finds a place to crash for a few days while the universe resolves the problem. My Christ plays guitar, gets shit-faced, gets laid, sings sauntering down the street, brings strings of Christmas lights to her lovers because their living spaces seem lacking a certain light these days. My Christ knows the crackheads on her street by name and jams with them to mutual everywhere musical delight. My Christ gives baked goods, her poems, dead flowers to perfect strangers and makes them perfect friends. My Christ gives licorice to the sore-throated, treats her starved neighbouring artists to sex and breakfast with real maple syrup, freezer jam, and unlimited coffee, gets them stoned before noon, and sends them home to their art, because human spirits, Christ knows, will not survive on omelettes and toast alone. 23

Auto(graph)-erotica: A Collage of Idols Memewar readers and editors share autographs of their favourite celebrities.

1. Members of the Vancouver Grizzlies – NBA basketball skin clipboard (submitted by Phil Lee) 2. Steven Seagal – Promotion postcard from Seagal’s country/blues/world-music album, Mojo Priest (submitted by Phil Lee) 3. Long John Baldry (blues-rock musician) – Scrap of blue paper (submitted by Linda Brown) 4. Anson Maddocks (illustrator) – Magic: The Gathering card “Elvish Archers” (submitted by Eric Lam) 5. Chow Yun-Fat – Child’s notepad (submitted by Edmond Ho) 6. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – Glossy promo photo for Walking Tall (submitted by Nikki Rader) 7. Teddy and Nanci Tanaka (Hawaiian singing duo) – Cover of 45 RPM vinyl including the songs “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” “Hang Loose,” “Hawaiian Lullaby,” and “I am Hawaii” (submitted by Doris and Mario Papalia) 8. Patrick Friesen – Inside cover of his collection of poetry, The Breath You Take from the Lord (submitted by Carmen Papalia) 9. Rick “The Temp” Campanelli (from Much Music) – The back side of a Savage Garden concert advertisement (submitted by Angela Leung) 10. Denis Johnson – Inside cover of his short story collection Jesus’ Son (submitted by Tony Power) 11-16. Jurassic 5 (Akil, DJ Numark, Cut Chemist, Chali 2na, Marc 7, Zaakir/Soup) – Assorted Canadian Tire money (submitted by Thor Polukoshko) 17. Cast of Eight is Enough (American comedy-drama from the late 70s) – Glossy photograph (submitted by Jacqueline Turner) 18. Wayne Gretzky – NHL hockey puck (submitted by Eric Lam) 19. Nicholas Lea (actor; played Agent Krycek on The X-Files) – The X-Files comic book (Wizard supplemental, no. ½) “Tiptoe Through the Tulpa” (submitted by Carmen Papalia) 20. Eric Wilson – Inside cover of his young-adult novel Vancouver Nightmare (submitted by Thor Polukoshko) 21. Paul Brandt (country music singer) – Back-stage pass (submitted by Thor Polukoshko) 22. Sylvester Stallone – 8x10 glossy photo (submitted by John Crooks) 23. Elvis Presley – Cover of Elvis’ Golden Records vinyl album (submitted by Peter Biyiasas) 24. Shareef Abdur-Rahim – NBA trading card (submitted by Phil Lee)





Mind Margins:

An Essay on Pre-Fight Preparation Cameron Conaway With Photography by Ami Sanyal


Date: January 21, 2006 Time: 7:00 p.m. to 8:21p.m. Location: Lifetime Pavilion Columbus, Ohio 7:00 p.m. Doors open to fans. Hum sound intensifies. Cyprian honeybee mob around lone Oriental hornet - asphyxiation. Public Address mumbles inaudibly. Marilyn Manson’s The Beautiful People. Smack of insteps and gloved knuckles into thai pads. Exhalations from three-strike combinations range from ahh-ahh-ahh to shh-shh-shh. Nothing is shh right now. Nothing is quite. Nothing is quiet. 7:15 p.m. Beer fills their plastic cups. Bubbles rise in the hands of many. Blood pressure rises in the bodies of few. Stadium lights create warmth on flesh of many. Reach the cold temperature on the insides of few. Warmth without sweat. Warmth yet teeth chatter. Stiff joints won’t lubricate despite movement. Locked knees. Hands twitch subtly. 7:30 p.m. See opponent. See opponent’s tattoos. Skull and crossbones. Needle bit our flesh. His name is Clint. Like Eastwood. Looks Dirty not Hairy. Beanie casts shadow over my eyes. Must hide fire until I burn him. Public Address introduces ring card whore’s strip club affiliation and porno’s for sale. Hidden fire from eyes fills my stomach. 7:45 p.m. Porcelain is cold on cold ass. Abdominal contraction. Burn. Dairy Queen ice cream machine consistency. Wipe. Look. Find red. Burn. Wipe. Look. Find red. Door reads: For good time call - erased number. From stall to right: Somebody’s gonna get fucked up tonight, Dave. From stall to left: Hell yeah, those fighters and those bitches. 8:00 p.m. Wade through crowd to dressing room. They part for me like in movies. Penis retreats from fear. Cup on. Thigh goosebumps from satin Thai shorts. Erect nipples, shirt off. Stomach feels a hollow twenty-six inches from shit. Bare feet on carpet feels stable. Bounce up and down feel chest follow. Honeybee’s hum. Announcer introduces Clint. 29

8:15 p.m. Que Rob Zombie Dragula with opening lines: Dead I am the one, Exterminating son. Slipping through the trees, strangling the breeze. Hum becomes alcohol-induced screams and kick-his-asses. Strangle: to kill by stopping the breath in any manner. See: Mata Leo. See: Lion Killer. See: Rear Naked Choke. Bouncing but feel nothing but heart beating. 8:18 p.m. My name. Feel nothing but hear DMX before rampway: I got blood on my hands and there’s no remorse. I got blood on my dick cuz I fucked a corpse. I’m a nasty nigga when u pass me nigga look me in my eyes. Tell me to my fuckin face that u ready to die. 8:21 p.m. Are you ready? Are you ready? Let’s get it on! Ceremonious glove touch as we’ve done since 246BC says artwork on bowls and Earth walls. Bounce. Smack of insteps and gloved knuckles. Find red. Wade through. Until I burn him. Feel nothing but. Nothing is quite. Nothing is quiet. Somebody’s gonna get fucked up tonight.


Black Communities in British Columbia, 1858 - 2008 Teck Gallery SFU - Vancouver Campus February 18 to May 10, 2009 778.782.4266 | | Open daily during campus hours We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through BC 150, a Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts initiative, the Heritage Legacy Fund of BC, and the Celebration and Commemoration Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, Government of Canada. This exhibition is a project of the Ruth Wynn Woodward Chair, SFU Women’s Studies Department in partnership with the SFU Gallery. Photo of Jeni LeGon (shown here with Bill Bojangles in “Hooray for Love”) courtesy of Jeni LeGon.


Bathtub madonnas Jainy Lastoria

Bathtub Madonnas (2008) began with an interest in the concept of worship and how a shrine is intended to be the physical manifestation of an intangible thing. A bathtub Madonna is a Catholic do-it-yourself shrine usually found in Latin America and sometimes Italy, which consists of a bathtub painted pale blue on the inside. Buried vertically halfway into the ground, the bathtub leaves an arched 32

shelter for the Virgin Madonna statue that is placed inside. My interest in the bathtub Madonna as a structure is steeped in the contrast between grandiose Catholic cathedrals and humble DIY shrines—which, in their design, mimic the heavy arches of a cathedral. The

intensity of labour also interested me; digging a hole that large is physically taxing and bathtubs can be quite hefty, especially if it’s the older claw foot sort. The work has three photographs of the same bathtub with three different “idols.” I began with trash, the last thing that most anyone would pray to. Yet, some people’s

livelihoods revolve around waste and disposal industries, be it the homeless collecting bottles or the people working at the city dump where I picked up the bathtub. From there I moved on to a twig, planted in the ground, which to me was a manifestation of pointlessness. What good comes of elevating anything to the point of worship? The trash and the twig are seemingly at different ends of the spectrum, but both will deteriorate. For the third image, there are two photos of singer Madonna from her “Like a Virgin” era. Her inclusion, while tongue-in-cheek and a literal pop culture interpretation of what a “bathtub Madonna” could be, is representative of all celebrities being worshipped as idols. Formally, the choice of a triptych was influenced by many uses of the number three in Catholicism, like The Holy Trinity for instance. I suppose the work is considerably cynical on one hand, comparing biblical values with disposable values, but it’s also intended to be humourous in its absurdist elements. The three photos were installed under a large window overlooking Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, where dumpster diving is an everyday occupation. 33

Something Amazing has Happened: The Character of Truth in the Gospel of John Dr. Rikk Watts

Transcribed and Edited by Aubyn Rader1

In the centre of Australia there is a massive rock called Uluru that used to be called Ayres Rock. For thousands of years it has been considered sacred by many of the native peoples; and when you arrive, it’s not hard to understand why. Upon approaching this place, after traversing through hundreds of miles of desert, you cannot help but feel a sense of the numinous – some kind of spiritual reality or an experience of awe. It is a really amazing sensation. A friend of mine told me about a woman who was a mathematics teacher here in Vancouver who learned that she was suffering from terminal cancer. She resigned her teaching position and did the one thing that she always wanted to do: go to Europe, and look at the Alps. When she arrived, she was so overwhelmed by the beauty that she found strangely within her this great desire to say “thank you” to someone. Now, I find this to be really fascinating. Why, when confronted with something beautiful in the midst of suffering, did she have this interesting response of talking about gratefulness? 34

People have wondered about these experiences and it is one of the issues that starts coming in philosophy. If we accept as a given that our universe is vast, completely unfeeling, with no other persons apart from ourselves, saying “thank you” to it or experiencing it as holy ought to be a little silly. Yet there are many people who feel that they have had some kind of spiritual experience that went beyond the natural world. One response to experiences like these is to try to explain them scientifically; there was a chemical imbalance within her brain or one of her frontal lobes was quivering just right. Perhaps there is an evolutionary advantage for spiritual experience. As a result of these kinds of responses, many people are too embarrassed to talk about their experience of the numinous because it is not scientific. Spiritual experience ends up being something that we do not talk about a lot in our culture – the experience is often dismissed as irrational. However, I think that the problem is not with our

experience, but with our understanding of truth. The question, “what is true?” is often relegated to being a scientific or a philosophical question; but as we will see, this method of answering the question of truth is the result of a long tradition begun by the ancient Greeks. Contrary to Greek thought, we see many contemporary thinkers rejecting the idea that truth can be understood through science or philosophy. This “post-modern” understanding is actually not that new; in fact, it bears some similarities to an understanding proposed by many of the early Christians; particularly, we see it informing the Gospel of John. I shall try to show where this understanding of truth came from, why it worked for the early Christians, and why we should bring this understanding of truth back. The question of truth is a very old one. In the western tradition, it begins to emerge after the Greeks go through a five-hundred year dark age after the fall of Mycenae.2 Homer, the educator of all Greece, tries to inculcate among Greek males of a certain status, the excellence of a godlike, heroic warrior. Through telling poetry, using myths and metaphors, Homer embodies these virtues in the character, Achilles. Homer gives the Greeks their identity, but there are some challenges to the acceptance of that identity, such as when the sophists come onto the scene. The sophists did not grow up in Athens; instead they traveled, saw a lot of the world around them, and they realized that being Athenian was not the only way to live. They would ask the Athenians how they knew that their way of life was actually right, true, and not just the effects of custom. Parmenides tries to answer by claiming that what is true is that which does not change.3 Initially this sounds reasonable; if it is true today, then it must be true yesterday and tomorrow. What is true never changes from being true. But in contrast to Parmenides, Heraclitus notes that everything changes – you cannot step into the same river twice.4 If Heraclitus is right, this means that we cannot get truth from the world around us as everything around us is always changing. In effect, once the Greeks were confronted with multiculturalism in Athens, it completely shocked their cultural foundations. They were left trying to work out what it means to be a human being.

1. This article was transcribed and edited from two hour-long sermons delivered during the evening services at New Life Christian Church in Burnaby. While editing, the editor attempted two things: first, perhaps fruitlessly, to preserve some stylistic wit and emphasis only capable of being delivered vocally. Second, to hack, slash, hack again, and from the shambles, organize the thoughts into a coherent number of pages suitable for publication. The editor wishes to thank Dr. Rev. Watts for trusting this newcomer with little faith; I am honoured to interpret the teachings of those evenings. Any inconsistencies, improper citations, spelling errors and the like, result from the failings of the editor. 2. 1150 BC – 800 BC. 3. On Nature. 4. DK B12. 5. The Apology 42 (21d).

For art citations see Endnotes

Well, along come Plato and Socrates. Some people might call Socrates the supreme ironist. The first thing that he does is help people to understand that they do not understand. There are all these people in Athens who think they know what it means to be human. Socrates starts asking them questions and very rapidly the wheels start falling off their wagons. Socrates is really good at just pointing out that you do not understand, that other guy over there does not understand, and, in fact, Socrates does not understand either.5 This is exactly at the heart of the Christian claim and stands at the very basis of what we are on about. Human beings cannot understand what it means to be human merely by thinking about it and it is high time we admitted it. Socrates is my friend at this point.


Plato tries to get the unchanging truth that Parmenides is after in Heraclitus’ changing world. He does it through an idea of dualism: the truth lies somewhere outside of us in this kind of spirit realm that we somehow access through our enlightened eternal soul.6 Finally, along comes Aristotle who argues that we cannot just dismiss the natural world like this. It is Aristotle who affects the modern world profoundly.

it leads to what you might call the separation between the book of nature and the book of revelation. In the ancient world, leading into the medieval period, we had two sources of information: the natural world that we can see and touch and then this other realm, the realm of the gods, spirits, or whatever that gives us some kind of idea of what it meant to be a human being.

So, I would like to now turn to the modern world, and how we have dealt with the question of truth. There is a lot of complex history here, but I think that it all really begins in the 11th and 12th Century with the return of Aristotle. It is a much debated question how Aristotle made his way into Europe. Ostensibly, he returns through the Spanish, or at least through the Moors in Spain. He is significant to the question of truth because his return represents a new trend where people begin to look at the world around them as a source of knowledge. Aristotle is known, in part, for using reason to think about the natural world as a source of truth. Now, I should mention that he did not always look at the world around him. In fact, he once just assumed that a heavier object will always fall faster than a lighter object.7 He could have gone and tested that at the nearby cliffs if he wanted to, but what is obvious to somebody does not necessarily mean that they have tested it by observation.

Thomas Aquinas is the big guy in all of this. As I said, things get very exciting when they let Aristotle loose in the University of Paris because questions start being raised about the accuracy of some of the biblical stories. And you can understand that conservative religious people tend to get very excited about that. To quell the confrontations, Aquinas works to tie the two books together.9 He manages to keep a lid on it, but only for a couple of centuries.

Spiritual experience ends up being something that we do not talk about a lot in our culture – the experience is often dismissed as irrational.

In fact, an interesting bloke in 1930s England by the name of Michael Beresford Foster once argued that Greek reason was a hindrance to paying attention to the world.8 The Greeks looked with their minds, he argues, rather than their eyes. For example, they tried to force their idea of the perfect shape onto the world. As it was obvious that the perfect shape is the circle, the wandering planets and the wandering stars must obviously move in the shape of a circle because the heavens are perfect. If they had only just observed they would have seen that this was not true. So Aristotle does not do it perfectly, but he argues for people to look at the world and pay attention to it as a source of truth. This is all very exciting when it gets to Europe, but 36

By the 16th and 17th Centuries, the storm breaks again. If you like, it is the exultation of nature over revelation as the means of getting knowledge. This was the beginning of our world in terms of the sources that it prioritizes for information. So, Francis Bacon launches what we call Empiricism, very roughly being what you see. There is also René Descartes and he is involved in Rationalism, which is, again very roughly, what you think before you see. Well, after the Western world gets besotted with science, since we cannot do scientific tests on the revelation stuff, we are left with these two approaches to the truth: Empiricism or Rationalism. There are immense problems with both of these approaches, but for me, the most important one is this: what about ethics? This is a problem for Francis Bacon in particular, so we should look at some of his context. In his day, people die young. If you make it past 33, then you are doing really well. There is the threat of plague and going to a doctor or physician is probably more dangerous to your health than it would be

6. ”Phaedo” 52-59 (70b-76c). 7. Physics 56 (IV.viii). 8. “Christian Doctrine.” 9. Summa Theologica.

not to go. Life is dangerous. Life is hard. If you get sick, then you die. Francis Bacon looks at the world and wants to make the world a better place. His solution: paying attention.10 If we understand the way the world works, then we can control it. And in many ways, it has worked. In the 20th and 21st Centuries, enormous numbers of people are freed from disease and freed from the fear of famine. But here’s the problem: if you are only looking at the world around you to get your truth, then where do you ever get the idea that you should care for human beings? Where do you get the idea that you should care for the environment? You cannot establish that by looking at nature alone and this is one of the major problems in philosophy. Many have tried to find ways of getting ethics from observation and you just cannot do it – they end up falling over. There’s a recent scholar in the United States, Steven Pinker, who has argued that we need to drop the idea of human dignity.11 He argues that this is a religious idea that has no place in the scientific world. Well, he is right, actually. You cannot establish human dignity through science. Humans just become another form of animal. All the stuff that makes us really different has to do with culture, and science cannot see that. Science is only interested in observing processes in the universe or trying to apply natural law. For R.G. Collingwood, science looks at the outside of an event.12 Scientists can watch a chess game and if they are looking very carefully then they will be able to work out the size of the board. They will recognize that there are eight squares on either side that alternate black and white. They will notice that the pieces are different shapes. If they watch each piece long enough, they will recognize that they move in certain ways. It will probably take a while longer to figure out what the knight does, but they should get the rook pretty quick. If they keep on paying attention, they will recognize that there is something called a beginning game, a middle game, and an end game. They can see all of that. But what Collingwood said, is the one thing that they cannot see is the inside of a chess game; namely, the scientist could never tell the difference between a game of chess played by your wife or boyfriend on a Friday night friendly and the game played between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer at the height of the cold war. They could look at the 2008 summer Olympics and see sports, but not see that it also contained healing for the Chinese psyche after two or three hundred years of European domination. If you did not get that from the Olympics, then you did not understand the history of the moment. Science could never see that, because it is not interested in that stuff, only the stuff that does not change. The stuff to do with human meaning comes from a different place. However, the fact that we can even do science is quite interesting – it means that we can somehow transcend our world and look at it through a kind of objective standpoint. That is really unusual. There is something about human beings that

Top: Sir Francis Bacon sketched after Paul Van Somer. c. 1610. Bottom: René Descartes by Frans Hals. Oil on panel, c. 1649. Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.

10. Bacon 13-14. 11. Pinker. 12. Collingwood 213-214.


seems to me to transcend the natural world that we are a part of. And that is what the problem of ethics reveals here: that empiricism cannot deal with human transcendence. There is an interesting answer to the question of truth in the Enlightenment. Some thinkers during the Enlightenment write a few theories about history. Many of these Enlightenment gents do not have much interest in history as they feel that there is nothing that they can learn from anybody else. Still, a few Germans tried to do history like science with all the typical Germanic fervour and it simply does not work. To give the Germans their credit, they recognize and really struggle with the fact that it does not work. They do not get the answer, but thank God for the Italians.

“What we understand is culture. Culture is what human beings make and what we do.” 38

Giambattista Vico begins asking questions about what the nature of truth is and he makes a really interesting observation. He says: “We only fully understand what we ourselves have made.”13 There is some truth to this. I use my Macintosh Computer; I really like it. But I do not understand it because I did not make it. However, I used to be involved in aeronautical engineering. In fact, I once designed a little aircraft myself as my final project at my engineering school. It was a little turbo prop that was supposed to fly at about 350 miles an hour and get you from Melbourne up to Hennessey in a certain period of time – they gave me my degree as a result. I knew all about that aircraft because I designed it. Now, what is it that human beings make? According to Vico, we do not make nature, which is why Descartes and

Bacon had such trouble understanding it. Vico argues that what we understand is culture. Culture is what human beings make and do. However, because we make culture, it is what we call “subjective,� meaning it is as messy and as complex as we are. Well, it takes another Italian, Benedetto Croce, to think about this and he says to the Germans that history cannot be done like science because science is about universals.14 Science only works if it deals with stuff that does not change. Now, I am very grateful for this. Imagine if I got onto an Air Canada flight to go to Beijing and as I entered Chinese Air space, suddenly the laws of aerodynamics changed because I was in a different cultural milieu. I would be in serious trouble. Fortunately, an aircraft flying in Canada

looks exactly like an aircraft flying in China. Science is not interested in culture, because natural science is looking for the things that do not change. But if there is anything we know about human beings, it is that we are always changing. Culture is constantly developing. This is why science does not work with history: because history is all about the stuff that does! And who makes history? We do! Croce next asks the question what actually is science?15 What does it mean when someone, Galileo for example, does science? The first thing, Croce argues, is that Galileo is an 13. The New Science 96-97 (paragraphs 331-332). 14. Aesthetic as Science 39. 15. Aesthetic as Science 42.

Far Left: Giambattista Vico by Francesco Solimena. Oil on Panel, 1742-43. Destroyed in a Fire in 1819. Centre: Allegory of the Good Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Fresco, 1348-40. Palazzo Pubblico, Sienna. Far Right: Benedetto Croce by Arnaldo Polacco. Photo, 1926-36. 39

Italian. He lives in a certain time in history which means that he is a product of his culture. It means that the questions he asks are not questions about black holes or quasars in space, because culture has not developed to that point yet. His questions are shaped by his cultural context, i.e.: what he has read and heard about before doing his own scientific work. Galileo is a particular human being with a particular upbringing, working in Rome at a particular point in history, speaking a particular language, wearing particular clothes what is all this? It’s history. Then, Croce says, while Galileo does his little experiment, he abstracts from his individual experience in history to get a universal equation. For Croce, Galileo’s laws are not as real as Galileo himself. E = MC2 is not as real as the actual thinking that Albert Einstein was actually doing when he wrote that equation. Further, at every point those equations can and will be challenged by another scientist in another place and time doing another experiment that realizes the equation does not work. Now, you might not think that this is terribly exciting, but, as we will see, this is exactly what the early Christians argued. For people like Vico and Croce, history is primary. Science and philosophy are both shaped by culture and cannot begin to work until history does its job. This is absolutely crucial because there are many people who think that science is the fundamental category. Others argue that philosophy is the fundamental category. They are not. Both of them come out of human historical experience and every one of them is subject to change based on other people’s experience. Even theology depends on history. How can that be? Well, the Pharisees have a certain view of what the Messiah is. Jesus comes along and he does not fit into their boxes and now they are confronted with choosing between history that is happening right in front of them and their theology happening on the other side. They choose their theology and reject what they see. So what we are after here is a whole fundamental shift in terms of how we understand reality. If you are going to speak as a Christian it is absolutely vital to get this right. Christians should not believe in the priority of theology, the priority of philosophy, or of science. We believe that the fundamental 40

ontological category of human existence is history.16 History is all we really have. The early Church knew this and we see this in its history. In the first Century, there were so few Christians that I think their population was limited to probably around seven to eight thousand at the most in a few cities in the Roman Empire. This is nothing in a population of thirty million people. No one notices them. Of course, there is a hiccup of attention here and there: when Paul comes to Ephesus there is a riot; the Jews get upset in Corinth; but by and large no one pays attention to them and they do not really matter. But by the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, Christians are beginning to multiply and now the pagans start paying attention. Celsus is one of them. Celsus is a very sharp Greek opponent of Christianity who argued that if the Christians expect their Christian stuff to fly in the marketplace or the Agora, then they need to make sure it can pass the tests of Greek philosophical proof. Those of you who have done some academic training in theology would realize that many, many Christians have bought that. Systematic theology textbooks read just like Greek philosophy. My perspective is that this is a big mistake. It’s a category error. As Origen responded, we did not dream up this idea called “Christianity” after a bunch of Christians decided to do a few laps of the Stoa in Jerusalem.17 In fact, Christianity is not a philosophy. It is actually not even an idea. It’s an event. It is a certain kind of story. We are trying to make sense of something that happened among us.18 This is also what the author of the Gospel of John is on about; narrating a profound event. So then, given that the fundamental reality is historical, we then need to understand a few things about the narrator and those who are intended to hear the story. Let me say a few things about John to get going. This guy calls himself the beloved disciple.19 When we read this in terms of our ego-centric 21st Century, we are likely to misread it. Claiming to be Jesus’ best buddy may 16. Ontology is a technical word that means “to do with being.” So, by “the fundamental ontological priority of history,” I mean that the fundamental element of being human is history. 17. The Stoa are colonnaded porches where the Greeks wandered as they had long philosophical conversations. 18. Contra Celsum.

Photo of the Library of Celsus by Rikk Watts

come across as a little over the top, but this is not what is going on in John. What’s actually going on here is a matter of culture. In the ancient world, if a teacher has got a bunch of disciples around him and he knows that his message is going to go beyond that circle to a larger environment, they will designate one of their disciples to be their official biographer.20 The language of “beloved disciple” is not an ego trip, but is a great responsibility and an obligation. The obligation is this: he is not only supposed to tell the life of Jesus, to be the biographer, but he is also expected to interpret. 19. I should address that there are some questions about who this “beloved disciple” figure is. I do not want to go into all the details here, but I think John expects people to know Mark’s gospel. John never actually tells us who this figure is, but if he expects his readers to know Mark, then there is really one person it can be: none other than John the Apostle himself. 20. This does not just happen with Jesus, but with a number of teachers.

Now, people get nervous about this because the moment you allow interpretation, it opens up to what we call subjectivity. We are forced to trust somebody else’s interpretation. However, this should not seem so scary. There is no such thing as “uninterpreted” history. Jesus himself probably interpreted what he was doing. When he performs miracles he claims that his actions are actually a sign of the coming reign of God. That’s his claim. Of course, if we are going to believe that claim, then he needs to come through with some goods for us to accept his interpretation of himself. This recognition of interpretation is what the post-modern movement is partly about. What speaks about our humanity – justice, mercy, compassion, “what it means to be a human being” – these things are always subject to interpretation. You can’t avoid it; it’s just the way things are. Contrary to René Descartes, we do not have absolute propositional truth. The 41

post-modernists are right, and for me, they are the friends of Christians. They really understand that if you are looking for scientific truth about what it means to be a human, you will not find any and, in fact, you will lose your humanity as science simply cannot address those issues. Another aspect that gets a lot of people nervous about the Gospel of John is when they start comparing it to the synoptic gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John drops a couple of details and emphasizes something else in its place. You might notice that the synoptic gospels talk a lot about the “Kingdom of God” when this hardly ever appears in John. Something else does. John does this because he is not trying to give you a photograph, but rather intends to take this message to a broader audience beyond the Palestinian world where Jesus lived and he is expected to interpret its true significance. So for whom is John interpreting? Well, again there is some debate about this, but I think that the best answer is that he is writing to Ephesus, the cultural centre of the Roman Empire. I am sure you have seen movies where they show 42

you what Rome looks like and it is all very impressive, but, frankly, Rome is about the only large city in the western part of the empire. All the wealth actually resides in the region of Asia Minor. By the time that John writes, and he is writing towards the end of his life, the centre of the Church is now in Ephesus. It has long left Jerusalem, it has long moved on from Antioch, and it is really taking root in the cultural heart of the Roman Empire. Christianity takes off in the major cities, the major trading centres because those are the places where you tend to find people who are open to new ideas. In the countryside, where people are a lot more conservative, the farming districts tend not to be open to new ideas. I do not like drawing analogies with particular provinces in Canada, but you can do your own if you like. The liberals tend to be in the major trading centres because all kinds of new ideas come in, and this is exactly what Ephesus is: one of the great ports of Asia Minor and the Roman Empire. So that is where this story begins to take off and what John is writing then is a gospel for the world. He is not trying to tell a story exclusively for Jewish people, even though Jesus was a Jew –John wrote in Greek. He has a much bigger horizon in view. This is even evident at the beginning of his text. He begins, of course, with the culture. He says: “In the beginning was the Word.”21 Well, the Greek word for “Word” is actually Logos. This is a great place to begin because in Ephesus questions are circulating regarding the meaning of the universe. Philosophy, the whole project, is in decline. It is becoming a mess. The Epicureans are arguing that the gods

So for the Stoics Logos was a concept, but for the Jewish person, when they heard the word Logos they thought that this probably meant the five books of the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. They thought that it meant The Law. Contrary to their understanding of Logos, John writes that something utterly amazing has happened. He writes: “And The Word [The Logos] became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, 21. Jn 1:1 22. “Exhortation” 151. 23. Jn 1:14.

the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”23 John’s answer is that this Logos becomes flesh. We didn’t plan this: we touched, we saw, we handled. This would be a stunning idea to Jewish and Greek readers. What John is saying is that the truth is not an idea; it’s a person. There’s a couple of very famous philosophers called personalists who argue that when René Descartes made his point, “I think; therefore, I am,” it was a tragic mistake because

Photo of Curetes Street in Ephesusby Rikk Watts

do not care about us anyway, so we may as well eat, drink, and be merry. For another group called The Stoics, Logos means some kind of rational ordering principle. They believed that the universe was dictated solely by some kind of “big idea,” which sounds okay, except it becomes very, very oppressive. If the universe is an impersonal, big concept that keeps everything within it organized like some kind of mathematical system, then everything can be reduced to laws and we are merely machines that respond to external influences; therefore, we can neither make choices nor be responsible for our actions. A person cannot even be guilty of rape if they are simply the product of their environment. The ancient world knows about this problem of determinism. There is a huge amount of despair weighing on people’s lives because they think that there is nothing that they can do to escape what they would call fate. In fact, later in the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, the western world becomes plagued with violent, rampant materialism, social decay, and falling population. Clement of Alexandria, an early church leader who writes later than John, used to love pointing out to his opponents that we have had six-hundred years of the best philosophical argument and scientific observation and all it has done is lead us to chaos and despair.22 This Logos is not exactly going to encourage you to think about a different future.


it reduced being human to intellection. We are much more than that. John Macmurray once said that human beings are, in fact, agents.24 We are embodied and we do things. When I stop and think about something, what I’m actually doing is withdrawing from a large part of my humanity. I am not claiming that thinking is wrong, but believing that reason is the sum total of life is a terrible reduction in what it means to be a human being.

unchanging truths. But if you are going to talk about an event, we must start with its historical context, as the event is a part of a larger narrative. Some of these extraordinary claims about who Jesus happens to be only make sense in context. Due to our place in history, we do not understand how radical these claims were. The story of Jesus’ life and actions belong to a Jewish story, so in order to understand Jesus, we must understand some things about Israel’s story.

This is exactly what John is saying in his gospel. If you want truth that is really going to meet our humanity, then you do not want a truth that is limited to one aspect of it – like an idea. If a truth is going to speak to human beings, it has to be more than just an equation, more than just a philosophical idea. It may include those things, but it must be so much more because we are so much more.

One of the first extraordinary claims that John makes is that “The Logos became flesh.” In other words, it became a person embodied among us. Specifically, he says it tabernacled among us. A lot of the English versions will say “dwelled” or “made his dwelling”, but I do not think that those are very good translations.26 John chooses the word tabernacled because something happened in Israel’s history where a tabernacle was involved: Mount Sinai in the Exodus. Mt. Sinai in Israel’s story is where God came among them and they built a tabernacle for his presence. John uses exactly that language: “He tabernacled among us and we beheld his glory.”

If the truth is a person, this has some consequences about our understanding of truth. To be a person is a messy, mysterious, and complex thing. It is extremely difficult to adequately describe what a person is. Take Paul’s attempt to describe what love is, one of the activities of human beings.25 Love is really hard to describe because the more you start to talk about the things that make us really human, then the more difficult it becomes to put it into a box. Well, I think that theology should be just as messy and mysterious. One of my present battles at the moment is with people who think that theology is just another form of philosophy and want it all nice and neat and tidy. I say that they are crazy. If God is personal, then theology is going to be just as messy and mysterious as we are and perhaps even a lot more. Now I think that this is actually very rich. If that is the nature of truth, then the universe is a very exciting and mysterious place. The truth is not likely to be exhausted very quickly. But there are still places we can begin our understanding. If the truth has come among us as a person, the moment you talk about a person – again, here we go – you must talk about that person’s culture. If the truth comes among us in a personal form, then it must happen in a particular place at a particular time, and it happened among the Jews in the 1st Century. This is scandal to people like Plato, because they want timeless, 44

The theme of “tabernacling” returns later in John’s Gospel, during the cleansing of the temple. One of the first acts that Jesus involves himself in is he starts messing with the temple in Jerusalem. The Jews get upset about this and he then says to them: “destroy this temple and then in three days, I’ll raise it up.”27 For them, the temple was the dwelling place of the presence of God and here he is replacing Israel’s temple with himself. Jesus is saying, in effect: “It was the presence of God, but now I am. I am now the presence of God walking upon the earth.” That is a fairly interesting claim. You want to be able to back that up. This echoing of the first mention of tabernacling indicates that John wants to say Jesus was, in fact, the very presence of God walking among us. This extraordinary claim of the presence of God is picked up in some other language. Jesus frequently speaks of himself using this terminology: “I am.” Now that might not 24. “What is Action?” 35. 25. 1 Cor 13:4-8. 26. Editor’s note: The Greek word is “ἐσκήνωσεν”, which can be translated into “to make a tent,” “to make a dwelling,” or “to tabernacle.” 27. Jn 2:19.

mean anything if you come from Ephesus as a Greco-Roman, but if you are Jewish, you know exactly what that means because that language is the way that God describes himself at the Exodus and particularly in the book of Isaiah. He claims “Before Abraham came to be, I am.”28 This is actually a brilliant move because it also takes on Greek philosophy. Remember we talked about how for Parmenides the truth is that which does not change? And what’s the problem with the world? It’s changing all the time, says Heraclitus. So if you want the truth, you’ve got to find stuff that does not change. Jesus picks up this language when he claims that before Abraham was becoming, he was already ‘is-ing.’ He sets himself up as the unchanging foundational reality that underlies all of existence. But we are not talking about unchanging concepts; we are talking about unchanging character. In contrast to Plato, who was looking for unchanging concepts in eternal forms, John claims that the truth is personal. For John, it’s Jesus’ character that does not change. John’s foundational reality can respond to you in different ways at different times.

with Western philosophy because of its obsession with concepts. Reality gets filtered through some kind of grid of conceptual analysis, people get put through that as well, and they do not actually get treated as people. Consider Richard Dawkins’s book, The Selfish Gene. For someone who is meant to be a Spock-like scientist who pays attention to the world around him, he is really, really awful when it come to the question of ethics and how ethical change came about. Throughout the book he is trucking along in his system and it is obvious to him that ethics can be explained in terms of evolution. He claims that the ethical revolution is the result of memes – replicators that are the conceptual equivalent of a gene and allegedly act like cultural viruses.29 But, once again, his science presumes history. He ignores what actually did change the ethics in the Roman world. I do not want what Croce would call pseudo-concepts to explain actual historical change. I want reality. What in the world is a meme when it’s at home? Has anyone ever seen one? Unfortunately for Dawkins, there is no evidence for memes. You cannot explain morals through science. Origen knew this when he responded to Celsus; Plato knew this. The most important things about humans do not fit into these tidy categories and the ancients knew it.

“Jesus claims that before Abraham was becoming, he was already ‘is-ing.’“

That’s why you get some of this brilliant ethical guidance in the Bible, like ‘love God and love your neighbour as yourself.’ This can mean something different in every situation because every situation is unique. The Bible does not give detailed rules about every set of circumstances because history and human life is too vast and too complex to cover all those bases. Instead, it simply tells you to love God and love your neighbour and then you have to work out what that means in your particular situation. In one instance you might have to read somebody the riot act, and in another one, almost identical but a little bit different, you need to put your arm around their shoulder and give them comfort. But what it does mean is this, and this is actually the stunning thing: you do not brandish your concepts and force people into them. Which is what I think typically happens 28. Jn 8:58. 29. The Selfish Gene 192-193.

Besides poor, old Richard Dawkins, I think that Christians also tend to let concepts control their understanding. Christians start putting these rules in place, our own little conceptual grids, and we start rolling right over the top of people. We come across as the moral police of the universe. We are not concerned with growth, authenticity, or creativity; we are concerned with controlling people’s behaviour. But this is not going to fly because we do not live up to the kinds of things we talk about. We just don’t. But if you understand love, then love is something that gets worked out in a relationship in a particular moment in time. We cannot reduce Christianity to being some kind of idea or philosophy – it’s not. Truth is personal. And because it’s personal that means that you must take every personal moment seriously. 45

all, showing you good things you don’t deserve.

Photo by Nikki Rader

Take the scene of the woman caught in adultery. We could spend a lot of time talking about this because the historical setting is stunning. It takes place during the great feast of the Tabernacles, where Israel remembers when God showed them grace by providing for them in the desert. The feast celebrates the actual coming of God’s presence among his people. To remember that moment in their history, there are these massive candlesticks lit only at this time of the year set up in the temple that bathes the whole area in light. Then Jesus stands up and says: “I am the light of the world!”30 Later on, they celebrate another part of this feast where they bring water up from a brook and pour it upon the altar, remembering when God gave them water in the desert when they did not deserve it. And Jesus stands up and says: “Let anyone who thirsts, come to me and drink (...) Rivers of living water will flow from within him.”31 All this stuff is going on.

Instead, as Christians, we should be looking at what God’s character is actually like. According to John, “this one was full of grace and truth.” Grace is an interesting word. I think the best definition for me is unmerited favour, where somebody does something really nice for you, not because you deserve it, but just because they want to show a favour to you. John is claiming that this Logos, this thing that lies behind the universe, that you thought was some unchanging philosophical idea, or a set of ten rules you had to keep is not like that at all. No. This one that came among us was, first of all, unmerited favour and truth. And notice the order. This god does not begin with condemning you. He comes, first of 46

And right in the middle of it is this grubby, little story of some woman who was caught having sex with somebody who is not her husband.32 The Pharisees drag her out, accuse her in public, and threaten to stone her. This whole debacle kind of messes the whole ceremony up. What is this story doing here? Well, my point is, folks: if the Jesus thing cannot handle this, then it is not worth going there. When he is confronted with this woman that they want to kill, he says “I don’t condemn you.” He drives off these people that want to kill her and only then, after he risks his life, does he say to her: “Sweetheart, this isn’t how you should live.” Now, you might be thinking: “Hang on a minute! What about naughtiness?” But this should not be the question we ask as Christians. The real question we should concern ourselves with is “what about God?” That’s the question. The real question is what is this truth that underlies the universe really like? People are too complex to put into these kinds of 30. 31. 32. 31.

Jn 8:12. Jn 7:37-38. Jn 8:1-11. “Reason in the Emotional Life” 57.

grids. John McMurray would say that because we are not just thinkers, but are also agents, the highest form of human agency or activity is love.31 Love isn’t a concept. It’s an action. And you find that over and over again in John’s gospel. John rarely uses concepts, but is always talking about verbs, things that human beings, persons, do. If you don’t believe John McMurray or John’s Gospel, well, at least believe The Beatles. So do not get conned into thinking that spirituality can or needs to be argued on a conceptual basis. Because the truth is personal, Christianity does not become a philosophy. It can’t be. It’s about what happened and what happened is a group of Hebrews came to believe the radical and heretical claims of Jesus. They also claim that there is somebody, one person, who has gone through death and come out the other side, transformed. Something happened that caused these beliefs. Their experience, despite the fact that it was a spiritual one, cannot be simply written off as scientifically impossible. I don’t give a stuff what science thinks can and cannot happen. I don’t give a rip what philosophy thinks is and is not possible. I am only interested in if there are good historical reasons for believing that Jesus Christ actually rose from the dead. That’s the only question that matters. If there are, then philosophy and science just need to stick it in their pipe and smoke it. They have to put up with it because they have to deal with reality. Endnotes Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica. 2. Ed. Thomas Behr. Boston: Pearson, 2008. Aristotle. Physics. Trans. R.P. hardie and R.K. Gaye. Raleigh, N.C.: Alex Online Catalogue. Accessed 8 Feb 2009. < cgi-bin/catsearch?bid=3835025>. Bacon, Francis. The New Organon. Liberal Arts Press: NY, 1960. The Bible. NAB translation. NY: Catholic Book Publishing, 1986. Clement of Alexandria. “Exhortation to the Greeks.” Exhortation to the Greeks, The Rich Man’s Solution to the Newly Baptized. Trans. G.W. Butterworth. London: Harvard UP, 1999.

Collingwood, R.G. Idea of History. NY: Oxford, 1993. Croce, Bennedetto. Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic. Trans. Douglas Ainslie. London: Vision Press, 1959. Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. NY: Oxford, 2006. Descartes, René. Discourse on Method. Trans. Donald A Cress. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1998. Foster, M.B. “The Christian Doctrine of Creation and the Rise of Modern Science.” Mind 43 (1934): 446-68. ---. “Christian Theology and Modern Science of Nature (I).” Mind 44 (1935): 439-65. ---. “Christian Theology and Modem Science of Nature (II).” Mind 45 (1936): 1-27. Macmurray, John. “Reason in the Emotional Life.” John Macmurray: Selected Philosophical Writings. Ed. Esther McIntosh. UK: Imprint Academic, 2004. ---. “What is an Action?” John Macmurray: Selected Philosophical Writings. Ed. Esther McIntosh. UK: Imprint Academic, 2004. Origen. Contra Celsum. Trans. Henry Chadwick. Cambridge UP, 1980. Parmenides of Elea. Parmenides and the Way of Truth. Trans. Chard G. Geldard. Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish, 2007. Pinker, Steven. “The Stupidity of Dignity.” The New Republic. 28 May 2008. 9 Feb 2009. < Stupidity of Dignity.htm>. Plato. “Phaedo.” Collected Dialogues of Plato. Ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton UP, 1961. ---. The Apology. Trans. Hugh Tredennick and Harold Tarrant. Penguin, 1993. Vico, Giambattista. The First New Science. Ed. Leon Pompa. Cambridge UP, 2002. Art from page 32: MS 10675 from the Malatia Gospel by Toros Roslin. Illuminated Manuscript, 1267-8. Matenadaran, Armenia. Art from page 33: (Top Right) Heraclitus by Hendrik Ter Brugghen. Oil on panel, 1628. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. (Middle Right) Head of Parmenides of Elea. Museum of Velia, Italy. (Bottom) The School of Athens (detail of Plato and Aristotle) by Sanzio Raffaello. Fresco, 1509. Stanza della Segnatura, Palazzi Pontifici, Vatican.


Biblical Women Mariam, Eve, Salome & Magdalene

Cara Sheppard



Cruise to the Edge of the World: Journals of Captain Jamie Decker Rhoda Hodjati With Illustrations by Marc Junker

When I had journeyed half of my life’s stay, I found I had lost the path that does not stray. And in short, I was afraid. I have witnessed many an American dancing in timeless sunsets along a great blue Caribbean horizon. I have seen countless mornings swimming with butterflies, pure white ones who can languidly flap their wings. This is the American dream and I’ve seen approximately one million of them come true in a thousand different harbours on 77 cruises: one ship for every American lifestyle! I’m surprised that there are actually 77 of them. I can tell you all about shark fishing. How you choose your spot, perhaps on the other side of Islas Marias where the winds and the currents are strong. It whips through your eyes and ears until you can’t see or hear anything. And then you toss out a long, thick line, strung between buoys, with other lines coming off it underwater. You must have hundreds of these lines, each with a nasty hook baited for shark. You leave your lines anchored overnight. In the morning you bring in the line and haul the dead and dying catch aboard. And I have grown weary.

I have decided that I need a trip from which I cannot return.

On October 28 Set out on the waves, Little guessing then that fate Would leave them castaways. Expressly designed for travel enthusiasts who long to reach out-of-the-ordinary destinations on a more intimate ship. It’s always important to take into account your own personality and lifestyle when selecting the cruise experience best suited to you. The right ship is the one that fulfills your fondest vacation desires. Luxury goes exploring! It really all comes down to this one question: what does adventure mean to you? ---------------------------------------------------------50


The 26th in the Morning everything being ready, I intended to have sailed but both wind and Tide being against us, I was obliged to wait until noon of the 28th. The SW wind was succeeded by a calm and the tide turned in our favour, we cast off the moorings and with our boats towed the turning in our favour, we cast off the moorings and with our boats towed the turning in our favour... Expect ultra indulgence; uncompromising quality; bold innovation. Is anyone out here more innovative than us? Yes, she’s called mother nature. We have on board with us many American Seamen who claim to know their business in these territories. We also have seven sisters native to this land functioning as servers, cooks, and deck swabs. These sisters have with them several dogs which they claim to use for hunting purposes. And so jokes abound about the Sea Dogs. Our passengers include a Juan David Lorenzo, middle-aged computer enthusiast, who claims that his family does not even know he’s at sea. And his friend, who goes by the nickname of El Farsero. Though this name does not appear on the manifest, I have yet to hear him called by anything else. For myself, I generally conclude the marriage of a friend to be the funeral of friendship: all former endearments run naturally into the gulf of that new and strict relation, and there, like rivers in the sea, they lose themselves. Alas, I digress. We have a British surgeon by the name of Anderson who seems to have taken this voyage to hasten a cure for his failing health (?). It is my sincere hope that Anderson’s skills as a surgeon have yet to fail him, as I have the feeling we may need them before our voyage comes to an end. There’s nothing like a cruise ship to bring the gang 52

together - and keep the gang together. The land bordering upon this seacoast is an extraordinary environment, truly one of the world’s last natural paradises. The Sound offers an authentic expression of island culture as well as high hills and deep Valleys. The atmosphere simply resonates with joie de vivre, for the most part clothed with large timber, such as spruce fir and white cedar. The more inland Mountains are covered with snow, in other respects they seem to be naked, formal wear is forgotten, and the dress code is ‘country club or resort casual.’ Whenever it rains with us there is a trickling a demure mining of the stone below a slap slap lapsing into the ties that bind it to the shore above snow falls on the neighbouring hills, engendering: one rock to another

the climate is however infinitely milder than on the East coast of America under the same parallel of latitude. By the evening of the 28th we had strong signs of an approaching storm; these signs did not deceive us: we were hardly out of the Sound before the wind in an instant shifted from NE to SEBE and increased to a strong gale with squalls and rain making it so dark that we could not see the length of the ship. The weather has now begun to clear up, so that we can see several leagues round us and I have steered more to the Northward. ----------------------------------------------Between 11 and 12 o’clock we passed a group of small islands lying under the Mainland; (sea bastions) incremental changes pile up and lulling stupefying unrelenting us .

Our progress has been slow. At 3AM with a gentle breeze at North we have proceeded to the Southward down the Inlet, and met with the same broken ground as the preceding day but soon got clear of it. Daylight has availed us little as the weather has been so thick that we cannot see a hundred yards before us. At half past four we were alarmed to hear the sound of breakers on our larboard 53

bow. I immediately brought the ship to with her head to the Northward. A few hours later, the fog cleared away a little and we could perceive that we had escaped very eminent danger; we found ourselves three quarters of a mile from the NE side of an island. There were several breakers about them and yet I had conducted us through between the rocks where I should not have ventured in a clear day, and to such an anchoring place that I could not have chosen better loveliness. -------------------------------------Of late we have had Variable light winds with showers of rain. In the morning the wind fixed in the SE quarter and we resumed our Course to the Northward. At noon we observed the depth of water to 16 fathoms. ------------------------------------------------------------At 1PM the sight of a large field of ice left us in no longer doubt about the cause of the brightness of the Horizon we had observed. For the ice was quite impenetrable and extended from WBS to EBN as far as the eye could reach. Here were an abundance of Sea Horses, some in the water but far more upon the ice. We were at this time in 20 fathoms water, close to the edge of the ice which was as compact as a wall and seemed to be ten or twelve feet high at least, but farther North it appeared much lower, though its surface was extremely rugged and here and there were pools of water. And then there are ten Seamen who are determined to hunt, led by two of our passengers. El Farsero is the most adamant. He says that if they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t go a-hunting the Sea Horses he will instead begin to hunt the Sea Dogs on board. It is unclear to me whether or not he is speaking of the dogs owned by the seven Sisters I have employed. I have spoken to the Sisters and they have agreed to lead a party on shore at the earliest opportunity. We have now land in every direction. But I have given up the design of going within the island or into the bay as neither could be done without great loss of time today. -----------------We now stand to the Southward and after running six leagues shoaled the water to 7 fathoms, which depth continued for near half a mile and then it deepens to eight and nine fathom. At this time the weather which had been very hazy cleared a little and we saw low land extending from South to SEBE about three or four miles distant. The East extreme forms a point which was much incumbered with ice for which reason it obtained the name of Icey Cape, but the other extreme was lost in the horizon. At half past 1PM we got close in with the edge of the main ice, it was not so compact as 54

that which we had seen more to the Northward, but it was too close and in too large pieces to force the ships through it. On the ice lay a prodigious number of Sea horses. We are not in want of fresh provisions, but still all of the Sea Dogs now insist upon hunting. I have decided to hoist the boats out to kill some. More to see. More to do. Much of the plentiful dining onboard is inspired by the regions sailed. -----------------They did not appear to be that dangerous animal some have described, not even when attacked, they are rather more so to appearance than reality; vast numbers of them would follow and come close up to the boats. The female will defend the young one to the very last and at the expense of her life whether in the water or on the ice; nor will the young quit the dam though she be dead so that if you kill one you are sure of the other. The Dam when in the water holds the young one between her forefins. Sea Horse Cordon Bleu, and it’s all served with a smile. -----------------One of them said, ‘Lets build a fire.’ They did as he said. They did it not for the sake of preparing a meal. They did it for nothing. And the dogs ran back and forth on the ground around the fire, squawking up at them like gulls, they say. The one they called ‘El Farsero’ and his friend, Juan David Lorenzo, were entrusted with a great part of the Liquor that was for the whole party. They had made free with it and stupefied themselves. They were talking it over and he said, ‘Let’s put a dog into the fire.’ They agreed one and all. The eldest Sister said, ‘Put black bear fat in the fire first.’ And they did what was said. They put black bear fat in the fire. 55

It started to burn. Then they hobbled one of the dogs. burned completely away, they looked up above.

They put it in too.

When it had

And after they had traveled for a while, the mist settled in. They had not gone far when the dogs caught wind of something. They chased it. When they had killed it, the day was ending. They cooked it, and they ate it, eating their fill. It was fatter than black bears usually are. They did not give a thought to this fact. It was different from black bear, and its hair was matted in strands. They gave not a thought to this matter. The youngest Sister said: ‘Our mother is sending things down through the clouds to us.’ Food of many kinds was lying there: pine noodles and clover roots. Later she began to steam pine noodles, they say. -----------------Our situation is now more and more critical, we are in shoaled water upon a lee shore and the main body of the ice in sight to windward is driving down upon us. It is evident that if we remain much longer between it and the land it will force us ashore again. It seems nearly if not quite to join to the land to leeward and the only direction that is open is to the SW. Women are as capable of penetrating into the grounds of things and reasoning justly as men are. The main body must be moved by command, like the waves of the sea; for the strong wind of authority pushes. -----------------A drum is sounding and a Sister is calling. ‘Here the Spirit Who Handles the Bow is coming!’ ‘Well now, the Spirit who Lies on Her Back on the Water is coming!’ ‘Now Spirit with the Bulging Eyes is coming!’ Then the eldest Sister came up for a look and when she came near: ‘Now the Spirit Half of Whose Voice Is the Voice of the Raven is coming!’ And the youngest Sister said, ‘It’s true.’ And then it was night. They lay down. At daybreak El Farsero looked up. Then he looked around. He saw that they were surrounded by steep cliffs of ice, walling them in on all sides. He roused his companions. They all sat up. They looked everywhere around. They saw steep cliffs walling them in on all sides. They saw no escape, and they were unhappy. Then they saw the same dog that they had burned completely away walking around at the top of the cliffs. One of the Sisters who hunts with dogs said, ‘Lets build a fire.’ They did as she said. They had no idea what else they should do, so they kindled a fire. 56

They did it - but not for the sake of preparing a meal. They did it for nothing except to have a fire to sit by. They saw no way out. And then dogs ran back and forth, squawking up at them like gulls, they say. They were talking it over and the eldest Sister said, ‘Lets put the brainless one into the fire.’ They agreed, one and all. ‘Put black bear fat in the fire first.’ And they did what was said. El Farsero was fed to the fire. For a while he burned. His skin shriveled up and his eyes bulged. This was because he was frightened, they say. Then he vanished completely and stood in plain sight walking around at the top of the cliffs. And he called to the others to do the same. ‘Come on, do what I did. I suffered no pain.’ So the Sisters who hunted with dogs began to feed all of the Seamen, as well as El Farsero’s friend, Senor Juan to the fire. Today, that cliff is called The Tall Thin Rock of Ice, they say. -----------------“Seawater corrodes vessels with amazing speed - rusts them, exfoliates paint, strips varnish, dulls shine, coats ships’ hulls with barnacles and kelp, clumps and a vague ubiquitous nautical snot that seems like death incarnate.” David Foster Wallace, “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” Then the Sisters who hunt with dogs took the moss that covered the ship and burnt that too. Nettles had grown over parts of the ship and they burnt those too. Then they tied feathers into one another’s hair. The eldest Sister got into the bow. And one of them lay back in the stern. They went down the inlet, they say.


short grain ad 2009:Layout 1 21/11/08 3:47 PM Page 1

Submit Your Work to

2 1s t an nual s hor t grain (with variations) contest / $6000 in prizes / 2 categories with 4 prizes in each: poetry in any form including prose poem; short fiction of any style including postcard story / every entry receives a free 1-year subscription to grain magazine / new deadline: april 1, 2009 / for full contest details visit: w w w. g r a i n m a g a z i n e . c a

Issue #9: “Movement” Deadline: February 28, 2009 Issue #10: “Adaptation” Deadline: July 15, 2009 58

2 1 s t an n ual con tes t

Memewar presents: The Short Line Reading Series A space where artists can connect, debate and collaborate.



Claire Cybulski


kevin mcpherson eckhoff

Selected Verses From The Pain Itself

Nunc mattis. Cras porta nibh. Sed iaculis purus eget purus. Curabitur risus justo, aliquam ullamcorper, convallis a, ultrices sed, ipsum. Aliquam ornare tellus in libero. Vivamus sit amet orci vel nisi euismod feugiat. Aliquam vulputate. Phasellus sed purus. Pellentesque pharetra dolor sed ante. Nulla magna. Quisque bibendum erat sed turpis. Mauris sed augue. Mauris sagittis lobortis pede. Suspendisse facilisis. Nullam fringilla tellus vitae est. Donec viverra elit. Quisque pede est, sodales sit amet, auctor vitae, convallis consectetuer, pede. Suspendisse porttitor, urna id malesuada tempor, velit ligula rutrum nulla, in aliquam mauris lacus nec lectus. Fusce imperdiet convallis tellus. Sed dictum odio non nisi.

Nonce to the mat of rushes. Tomorrow, the gate, the nib. But to the javelins, he/she/it needs pure, pure. He/she/it will be arranged/seen/ attended, laughed to the justice, some the ullagone, the valley by avenging, but itself. Largely to equip the earth into I free. We may be alive, he/she/it may be, he/she/it may love the god of the underworlds, even if not the Euhemerism, the feudist. Some to the vulsion. The kidney-bean, but pure. Beating the quiver, the pain, but before. Large/great/big/vast/huge no. Which he/she/it had been requiring to be drank, but of the disgrace. To the Moors, but to the augur. To the Moors, to the arrows of the labour, to the foot. To have hung up easy. The no frangible, the earth is the lives. While the ferret/similar animal. My God. Which he/she/it is to the foot, the companions; he/she/it may be, he/she/it may love, the seller, the lives, the valley, the consectator to the foot. To have hung up the ferry man, the pot, the ill-advising temper, may wish the shoe strap, the shovel, no, into some the Moors of the basin/tank/tub, nor read. He/she/it will bestow the dark valley, the earth. But said to the hate/hatred/dislike/ antipathy not, if not.


Maecenas id mi. Morbi molestie felis. Praesent vel risus ut enim ultricies venenatis. Fusce commodo tristique nisl. Suspendisse ultrices ante sit amet pede. In a sem. Nunc lectus mi, molestie id, convallis dictum, dignissim quis, neque. Duis tortor nibh, facilisis eu, volutpat vitae, laoreet pellentesque, elit. Quisque consequat pellentesque tortor. Suspendisse est neque, venenatis et, sodales ut, pharetra eget, neque.


Maecena, it 1001. The sicknesses, the annoying cats. The surety even, laughed to namely avenging, you imbue or infect with poison. Dark, suitable, the sad nil. To have hung up before avenging, he/she/it may be, he/she/it may love, to the foot. Into, by the s. Nonce, read 1001, annoying it, the valley said, the dingus which nor. Aulus, I am tortured, the nib, easy. Well done! Bravo! Of the voluptuous, the life, the labret beating. My God. Which consequent beating I am tortured. To have hung up, he/she/it is, nor you, imbue or infect with poison and, the companions too. He/she/it needs the quiver not.

Ut a eros. Ut posuere, quam id eleifend laoreet, nulla dolor congue nibh, in viverra felis ipsum vitae est. Maecenas consequat sem. Nunc est ligula, fringilla varius, mattis sit amet, blandit eget, arcu. Phasellus sollicitudin. Nam elementum adipiscing eros. Integer sit amet lacus. Integer nulla mauris, aliquet non, faucibus sed, ornare id, odio. Sed eu augue ut turpis convallis posuere. Etiam imperdiet rhoncus neque.

Us, by the masters. To have they put/placed/seated, which it, the elelendish, the labret, the no pain to the conga of the nimbus in the ferret/similar animal. The cats is he/she/it itself, the lives. Maecena, consequent the s. Nonce is the shoe strap, the different frangible to the mat of rushes may be he/she/it, may love. He/she/it flatters, he/she/it needs, by the bow. The kidney-bean, the solicitude. For the elements, the adipoceration, the masters. The fresh troops, he/she/it may be, he/she/it may love the basin/tank/tub. The fresh troops to the Moors, the aliquot not, to the pharynxes, but to equip it, to the hate/hatred/dislike/antipathy. But, well done! Bravo! To the augur, to the ugly valley have put/placed/seated. And also he/she/it will bestow the rhonchus not.


Mauris nec augue. Vivamus gravida elementum dolor. Sed elementum arcu ac urna. Aenean sed nisl. Cras et nisl. Nulla pulvinar imperdiet orci. Ut nec eros vel orci condimentum egestas. Proin cursus tristique arcu. Ut ac leo. Aliquam et lectus. Ut magna risus, feugiat nec, ultrices vitae, posuere non, orci. Duis varius fermentum turpis. Aliquam ullamcorper, arcu a tincidunt tincidunt, pede ligula rhoncus tellus, at feugiat tellus lectus ac nunc. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Sed commodo, eros vitae gravida commodo, lectus odio tempor metus, vel tempor felis magna ut augue. Morbi libero risus, tempus sed, ornare sed, rhoncus vitae, nunc. Vestibulum sit amet justo quis lectus vestibulum tempus. Nunc sit amet tortor. Curabitur libero odio, lacinia a, bibendum a, lacinia nec, sapien.


To the Moors nor to the augur. We may be alive, pregnant, the elements, the pain. But the elements by the bow and the pot. Aenean, but the nil. Tomorrow and the nil. He/she/it will bestow the no pulpiness of the god of the underworld. To nor the masters even of the god of the underworld, the spice, the need. Hence, the running by the sad bow. To and the lion. Some and read. To large/great/big/vast/huge laughed, the feudist nor the avenging lives have they put/placed/seated, not the god of the underworlds. Aulus, the different fermentation, the disgrace. Some the ullagone by the bow, by the incident, the incident to the foot, the shoe strap, the rhonchus, the earth, but the feudist, the earth, read and now. The entrance before itself, first in the pharynxes, the god of the underworlds, the grief, and they have put/placed/seated the avenging beds of Cura. But suitable, the masters, the lives pregnant, suitable. Read to the hate/hatred/dislike/antipathy the temper, the fear, even the temper, the cats large/great/big/vast/huge to the augur. The sicknesses, I free laughed the time, but to equip, but the rhonchus of the life, now. The entrance he/she/it may be, he/she/it may love to the justice, who read the entrance, the time. Now, he/she/it may be, he/she/it may love. I am tortured. He/she/it will be arranged/seen/attended. I free to the hate/hatred/dislike/antipathy, the edge/fringe/hem of garment, requiring to be drank, the edge/fringe/hem of garment nor the sapiens.

Vivamus arcu. Vestibulum enim. In hac habitasse platea dictumst. Nulla a risus. Praesent lectus. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Cras luctus, metus sed fermentum commodo, orci nisl tempor urna, a tempus turpis orci a mi. Curabitur fringilla. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus Aenean facilisis, eros at semper facilisis, ante urna porta orci, id ultricies orci nibh eu mi. Praesent semper nunc non pede lobortis congue. Integer rhoncus. Ut blandit purus non sapien. Sed at sapien.

We may be alive by the bow. The entrance, namely. Into, by this, have the broad way the dictums. No, by laughed. The surety read. Class, they may adapt silent the sociosqu to they turn the shores through our marriage, through began the Greek wedding chant/refrain. Tomorrow, the grief, the fear but the fermentation, suitable, the temper, the pot of the god of the underworld, the nisus by the god of the underworlds, the time, the disgrace by 1001. He/she/it will be arranged/seen/attended, the frangible. With, to the associates, born to the Penates and they will be in labour, the large/great/big/vast/huge rich/wealthy mountains. He/she/it will be produced spontaneously, the buffoon, the mouse. Easy Aenean, the masters, but always easy, before the pot the gate, the god of the underworlds. It, the avenging god of the underworlds, the nib. Well done! bravo! 1001. The surety always now, not to the foot of the labour, the conga. The fresh troops, the rhombus. To does he/she/it flatter pure, not the sapiens. But, but the sapiens.


Morbi turpis justo, lacinia accumsan, semper vitae, elementum sed, ligula. Aenean eget dolor. Etiam faucibus interdum tellus. Aenean sed turpis. Pellentesque aliquet tempus nibh. Curabitur nec nisi sit amet risus ultrices pellentesque. Mauris mi ipsum, elementum non, tristique non, suscipit sed, tellus. Maecenas vehicula nisl ut metus. Phasellus in tortor vulputate eros convallis molestie. Phasellus cursus ultricies elit. Aenean vitae metus eu purus fringilla sodales. Sed ut elit. Maecenas faucibus justo. Nulla velit dui, interdum sit amet, auctor nec, imperdiet vel, orci. Vivamus blandit, purus ac lacinia lobortis, dui elit malesuada arcu, a ultricies nibh odio id leo.


To the justice of the sickness, the disgrace. The edge/fringe/hem of garment, the accusing, always the lives, the elements, but the shoe strap. He/she/it needs Aenean, the pain. And also to the pharynxes, sometimes, the earth. Aenean, but of the disgrace. Beating the aliquot, the time, the nib. He/she/it will be arranged/seen/attended, nor if not, he/she/it may be, he/she/it may love, laughed avenging beating. To the 1001 Moors, the elements not, sad not, he/she/it undertakes, but the earth. Maecena, the carriages of the nisus to the fear. The kidneybean into I am tortured, the vulputat, the masters, the valley, annoying. The kidneybean, the running, avenging. My God. The fear of Aeneanus, the life. Well done! Bravo! The pure frangible, the companions. My God. Maecena to the pharynxes, to the justice. He/she/it may wish no Aulus. Sometimes, he/she/it may be, he/she/it may love, the seller nor he/she/it will bestow even, the god of the underworlds. We may be alive. He/she/it flatters pure, and the edge/fringe/hem of garment of the lobar, Aulus. My God, by the ill-advising bow, by the avenging nib, to the hate/hatred/dislike/ antipathy, it, the lion.

In imperdiet pulvinar massa. Sed augue nisi, molestie eget, luctus a, mollis eu, metus. Pellentesque placerat metus sit amet quam. Ut placerat sollicitudin augue. Pellentesque luctus. Cras blandit dapibus pede. Cras tincidunt. Aenean vitae magna ut massa tincidunt tristique. In placerat. Quisque molestie nisi ultricies nisi. Nunc tincidunt quam vel sapien viverra pulvinar. In vehicula eleifend felis. Integer erat. Maecenas et nunc. Vestibulum sodales, purus eu bibendum commodo, metus nulla aliquam elit, non laoreet diam orci id turpis.

In will bestow the pulpiness, the mass. But to the augur, if not he/she/it needs annoying, the grief by soft. Well done! Bravo! The fear. Beating the place rat, the fear may be he/she/it, may love which. To the place rat, the solicitude to the augur. Beating the grief. Tomorrow, he/she/it flatters to the sacrificial feast/meals to the foot. Tomorrow, the incident. Of large/great/big/vast/huge Aeneanus, the life to the mass, the incident, sad. In the place rat. Which annoying, if not avenging, if not. Now the incident which even the sapiens, the ferret/similar animal, the pulpiness. In the carriages of the eleifendus, the cats. The fresh troops was. Maecena and now. The entrance, the companions, pure. Well done! Bravo! Requiring to be drank, suitable, the fear, no some. My God, not the labret, the goddess, the god of the underworlds. It of the disgrace.


So You Wanna Be a Rap Superstar? Thor Polukoshko I first came across War Party while writing an essay about First Nations hip hop. Considering War Party’s prominence in the Canadian hip hop scene for being the first Native rap group to have a music video (“Feeling Reserved”) air nationally on Much Music, it would have been difficult for me not to come across War Party—the Cree hip hop group founded by husband and wife team Rex and Cynthia Smallboy, from Hobbema, Alberta.

Having spent two semesters writing my paper (which, in part, involved analyzing some of War Party’s lyrics and music videos), it was a bit of a celebrity-moment for me when Rex responded to my email, telling me, “Hells yeah, I am down [for an interview].” For a large portion of the other English students in my cohort, I imagine that this would be the equivalent of getting an email response from Dickens or Chaucer.


My own academic studies aside, what really makes War Party so great is that despite the fact that the group has opened for such artists as the Wu-Tang Clan and Ice-T, has collaborated with

Photo Courtesy of Rex Smallboy

That’s right, I said it—“essay” and “hip hop” in the same sentence. They let you do this sort of thing in grad school. Suffice to say, while my fellow English students were reading up on aspects of First Nations literature and Métis poetry, I was bobbing my head to the grooves of the seriously undervalued genre known as Native rap (hard at work formulating a thesis, of course).

Chuck D (of Public Enemy), and has won “Best Rap/Hip Hop Album” twice at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards (in 2001 for their debut The Reign, and in 2002 for Exclusive Rez Cuts), War Party still performs small concerts (sometimes with as few as 14 audience members) for Native youth across Canada, using their music to educate young boys and girls about Native issues, including substance abuse, suicide, and positive activism. Hip hop great KRS-One (of the influential New York rap group Boogie Down Productions) would call this “edutainment”—making great music while teaching, and being socially/politically relevant, at the same time. I had a chance to discuss a few ideas with Rex—from Native hip hop, to spirituality, to Chuck D. The following is from my email correspondence with him: Memewar: I’ll start off with a simple one. Who is War Party? Rex: War Party is now a duo performance act. Cynthia and I have been original members since we started years ago. We are now just a duo. Over the years we have gone through various members who have gone on to pursue their own musical interests such as Tom Crier and Karmen Omeosoo with Rez Official.

society looked at my people and rap provided me with a way to share my perspective as a Native person. I also wanted to address the Native issues with respect to social justice. M: Why hip hop? Wouldn’t a more traditional Cree form of music be the best way to stress specific Native issues? What does hip hop have to offer that other genres of music don’t? R: Hip hop is something that is popular with youth. It was a way for me to share my views with the next generation of Canadian Natives and express how I felt about our place in society. I know the culture and our traditional songs are very important and there are a lot of good people passing on the teachings in that way too. M: Do you see your music (or the messages in your music) as specifically Cree, or does it go beyond the tribal and racial? R: I have been told from people who hated rap music that they enjoyed my songs and that they would reconsider listening to rap music. Music is a universal language, and our message and music has been heartfelt from all races that have experienced it.

M: Could you tell me a bit about the upcoming album, Brave?

M: As a follow-up question to the last one, who do you want to listen to your music?

R: Well I still might change the title to be honest. It’s a work in progress. I am writing about a lot of different things that are important to me like how things have changed for the worse on my reserve because of crack, and how we are more successful as Native professionals.

R: I am not sure. When I write, man, I write to the government, Canadian society, youth, elders; everybody is in my thoughts when I try to address an issue.

M: Obviously, First Nations issues are an important aspect of your music. This might be a bit of a broad question, but what is the purpose of War Party in relation to these issues?

M: First Nations rap music is clearly a very small subgenre of hip hop (a few of my friends were surprised when they found out it even existed as a genre). If you could recommend a few groups/performers to people who have not listened to Native rap before, who would they be?

R: When I started getting into rap music my goal was to make it cool to be Indian/Native. I wanted to change the way

R: Red Power Squad, Rez Official, WOR, Knightshield, Tru Rez Cru, Redd Nation, Litefoot, Da Skelpa Squad, Joey 69

Stylze, Won 18, Julian B, Manik, Blood Rez Crew. Check out; there are a lot more. M: In a genre of music that is generally seen as an African-American form of expression, how does War Party, as a Canadian First Nations group, fit in? R: I think we have paid our fair share of dues over the years. We have been ostracized because we were not black and have run into the same criticism that Eminem has faced as a white person doing rap. People have said that we are trying to be black. This music and the black artists who perform hip hop inspired me to want to go out there and be proud of who I was and where I came from. I was not trying to be black, I just admired their strength. M: At what point in your career did War Party overcome this race barrier? What signaled to you that you were a legitimate hip hop group...or maybe more importantly, when and how did you prove the critics wrong?


R: Well, look at a song like Naughty by Nature’s “Ghetto Bastard;” they represent where they are from in their music. That is something that we have tried to accomplish in our message—to represent where we are from. That is what hip hop and real rap is about; to keep it real, stay true to the game and represent where you are from as best you can. Growing up in Hobbema is an experience that I value. It has provided me with opportunity and hardships that have helped me grow as an artist over the years. M: Why do you think it is important to stress where you come from? R: I think it is a way of sharing your stories. Your trials, victories, and experiences help to inspire people. M: How important is it for you to incorporate traditional Cree sounds, images, and beliefs into your music?

R: We have overcome this situation by proving our worth and strength as authentic artists. We proved the critics wrong when we were able to perform at events with multicultural crowds, and win over the crowds regardless of color.

R: I like to reflect who I am and that is something I do in production sometimes. But if I feel something else I go with that vibe too. So it can go either way.

M: The Indian Reserve is an idea that keeps coming up in your music. Can you maybe say a few words about why the Reserve is so prominent? Also, how important is it for you to represent Hobbema specifically?

M: In some of your music videos (I’m thinking about “This Right Here” in particular), you use traditional, tribal imagery mixed with contemporary, urban representations of “Nativeness” as a way of

shattering myths about First Nations people (i.e. you show that Natives can be both urban and traditional, and that it does not have to be a choice between one or the other). How else does War Party combat stereotypes? R: Funny you [mention it]. It was actually the film company that wanted to show the beauty of native women to change the negative stereotypes. I thought it was a good idea so I was down to do it, and it turned better than I expected. M: How do you see spirituality fitting into your music? R: That is something that I am incorporating into it more and more lately because that is where my life is. I turn to the Creator for guidance every time I step on stage. I ask him to give me good words to help the people that are there. To say what it is that needs to be said. God hooks me up and I am very thankful. M: What about rap music in general? American artists like Talib Kweli and Mos Def are very vocal about their Muslim spiritual roots—do you think that spirituality and/or religion is something that is important or necessary within a global hip hop culture? R: Hip-hop transcends that. I was chilling with rappers in Japan and I thought their shit was as dope as

any ill rapper out here in [North] America. It didn’t matter to me what their idea of God was, and who am I to judge? I look at religion and spirituality as different things. I consider myself a spiritual person. I believe in God. But I try to stay as grounded in reality as I can while still having faith in the invisible. If you don’t get me, the wind is invisible but we all know it is there. M: This divide between spirituality and religion, do you feel that this is a message you put across in your lyrics? R: Not really. I think it’s a personal thing. I feel comfortable just seeing myself as a spiritual person. For me it’s about having faith, believing, and trying to do what’s right in life. M: You mention that you see yourself as more of a spiritual person, so I’m just curious if when you refer to God whether you are talking about a specific God...or is it more of a belief in something that is greater than us? R: I am talking about good, truth and right. The essence of where that comes from. M: Changing gears a bit, which musical performers do you draw inspiration from? I would imagine that Public Enemy probably 71

fits in somewhere (judging from Chuck D’s appearance on The Resistance), but who else and why? R: Too Short made me want to be a rapper because he was so cool. I wanted to be cool like him. I admired Ice-T because he was so real and hard. I wanted to bring reality like him. Chuck D made me want to fight for my people like he fought for his. Cypress Hill made me want to take my place in rap like they did for their people. M: What was it like meeting Chuck D? All I can say is that I’m very jealous. R: I got to say the coolest thing was how down to earth the guy was. To meet him in person and to see he was still working towards educating people in a good way moved me. The man is inspirational and one hell of a leader for humanity. M: How did the whole thing with Chuck D come about? Is there an interesting story behind it? R: I asked him to critique my Greatest Natives album. He emailed me and I took a risk asking him to jump on the new CD. He said he felt the music and was down. I don’t know him well but I am very thankful he gave us the opportunity to work with him. It is an honor I will never forget. M: You guys have achieved a significant degree of commercial and critical acclaim in the Canadian music industry. Do you think of yourselves as “famous”? Do you get recognized in public often? R: I haven’t dropped anything in a few years and I still get recognized. It’s 72

cool because it is a good ice breaker to meet new people. It’s also cool when people are star-struck and it’s fun to just chill and show them we are just like them. I often ask them about what dreams they would like to accomplish and tell them to believe. But no, I don’t consider myself famous, just very lucky and fortunate.

For more info about War Party, visit their website at:


Meeting all your printing needs: • Colour and B/W • Small and Large format • Manuals • Brochures and more

Arcprint's GreenPlan is a nation wide program aimed at making our company, and our industry as sustainable and environmentally forward thinking as possible. Visit for more details.

4305 Dawson St, Burnaby, BC V5C 4B4 t: 604 293 0029 • • Vancouver • Burnaby • Victoria • Nanaimo • Calgary • + 300 locations worldwide 73

Grassroots Xianity C.J. Leon

When the End of the World comes, you will be channel-surfing or web-browsing, boob at the tube, zombie-d by screen. What did you think you’d be doing? Something special? When the trumpets of Apocalypse are resounding, you will hit the snooze button twice and check your emails one last time, stop at the bathroom to try-if-you-can’t and fuss over your hair a bit, because there’s almost no time left; also, it’s wise to be prudent, take care of one’s friends, and God wants us our best, u’d think never if not now. When Atlantis boils up out of the sea, which might be a while with our ice-cap situation, you will be couched, munching delicious kettle-cooked potato chips chips, chips chipsentertained, but not laughing. When Hell freezes over, devils will finally make ladders that don’t melt back to magma in their immortal artisan hands. Look out! A trap-door’s under the throw rug in your living room. Its hinges are creaky but it’s there. 74

When they drop the Bomb, in only a matter of days now, hiding under the table will require both getting up and crouching, so it’s only fair to warn you; and that’s an ass-load more than lifting a finger or thumb, so... perspective. When it all goes to shit, there will be no trees left to make sufficient paper clumps to smear it all aside. When the shit hits the fan, well, just always carry a dark umbrella with you. Always. When the dry Dead walk the Earth, jaws yawning, skins flaking, risen from centuries of death-slumber, strong minty mouthwash and anti-dandruff shampoos will be our secret weapons... but shush! We can’t let the Other Side become aware of all our cogent strategizing. & when the white Christ comes cruising down in his golden Cadillac, he’ll get the finger from squeegie punks if he refuses the clink offer of loose change. Doesn’t matter whose son you are or what your glorious inheritance: We’re talking Judgment here. 75

What are the signs? How will you know? Listen for white noise and the long pure tone of flatline. You will be offered holy salvation in three easy installments, you will hear a melancholy horn-rich anthem, and the last thing you will think will be “What the...?” Then crash, static, chaos. When the dust clears over the vacant wasteland, don’t expect human footprint trails, don’t expect frozen animal tracks, don’t expect plants, even cacti. The Earth will be floating, a blue bubble, oily, pretty, smudged with orange & green, then !POP! and after that who knows? But watch how the bits of planet scuttle like cockroaches to the walls in the vacuum of collapsing space.



A Review of Scrapbook of my Years as a Zealot Nadya van Dijk

Scrapbook of my Years as a Zealot Nicole Markotić Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008, 320 pp, $19.95 Nicole Markotić’s latest novel is a compelling fiction of one unique personal history. The narrator is the daughter of immigrants who have come to the Prairies from war-torn Germany and Croatia. Disengaged from the remnants of her parents’ traumatic past and the life they have constructed for themselves, she fervently tries to create a sense of identity and belonging through adopting the rigid lifestyle of her beloved Mormon neighbours. The themes of self-destruction and self-creation, escape and coming to terms, twist through the entire narrative as the narrator reveals jumbled pieces of her passionate Mormon childhood and the woman she has subsequently become. Here you have immigrant heritages, family dynamics, flamboyant friendships, and the complications of belief and intentions. The childhood storyline is the most likely to grab you, and she tells it with the deliberate nonchalance of someone who knows they 78

are taking you by surprise (no matter how calm you try to appear). The supporting cast is particular enough to ring true, mostly because Markotić has the restraint to make them personable without overloading them to the point that they become attribute puppets. I believe that any piece of art needs to be held accountable for the medium it is presented in: a dance piece, for example, can fail simply because the concept would have been better served in the medium of an essay. Because of that, I have little patience for stories that take the form of a fractured narrative when there seems to be no reason for it aside from the author thinking fractured narratives are cool and that they somehow guarantee artistic credibility. Markotić does not commit this teenage art sin. No friend tells us their life story in order; we piece together their histories out of the moments we see and the moments we hear about. The fractured narrative here ends up making the book feel more human; it’s, as she’s plainly put it, simply a “scrapbook” of a life. It’s easy, really, to find a medium that fits, and Markotić reminds us of how much that decision contributes to the success of a piece. If you are so inclined, the story is rich for “issue” mining. You can muse about the roles of internal and external forces in shaping identity. You can ponder the significance of finding the quote: “Liebe ist Heimweh” (Love is homesickness) (Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny”) on the opening pages. You can introspect about your own level of religious tolerance (and what the “right” level of tolerance is). You can dissect Markotić’s purpose in ending the book as she does. Some parts of the book are decidedly more interesting than others; some moments will stay with you and others you will forget shortly after reading them. Perhaps the forgettable times are a negative aspect of the novel, but I didn’t mind that the book was a mix of the memorable and the mundane because life really is that way. It’s not a new idea. The story is strange and human; it sometimes catches you off-guard but could easily be the personal history you stitch together out of some anecdotes from a friend with an interesting past. Kudos to Nicole Markotić for giving such life to her characters.





Thor Polukoshko

the trouble with tigers #10 & 11

Cereal Junkies:


For the complete Cereal Junkies, visit our website @

Contributors Cameron Conaway is the Poet-in-Residence at the University of Arizona. Claire Cybulski is a mechanical engineer, but she doesn’t look like one. She likes shiny things, longs for efficient public transportation, and is a one-woman sweatshop in her spare time. Rhoda Hodjati graduated from York University in Toronto, and still works for the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa. Marc Junker is a freelance cartoonist, illustrator, and musician based in Victoria, BC. He is currently employed as a graphic designer/illustrator at the Martlet, the University of Victoria’s independent newspaper. He also attends UVic as a fine arts student and is nearing a BFA in Visual Arts with an English minor. He thoroughly enjoys saturday morning cartoons, video games from the 90’s, and comic books. Jainey Lastoria is a third year undergraduate student of Simon Fraser University’s Visual Art program, with vested interests in DIY, absurdity, kitsch, humour and narrative. C. J. Leon is a writer and musician with a degree in pure mathematics from the University of Toronto. A frequent performer in Vancouver, his current ideal artistic synthesis would include early Leonard Cohen, Nine Inch Nails, and Bill Hicks. Sometimes he


sings about poverty and desperation, sometimes he sings about anal sex. You can be further entertained by his antics/ artistry here: and www. Benjamin Luk is a fashion and concert photographer based out of Vancouver, BC. Over the past two years, Ben has started to realize that simply owning a nice camera opens up all sorts of doors, namely ones he probably shouldn’t be walking through. He holds two diplomas in creative fields, but seems to have lost one in the mail. Find him online at kevin mcpherson eckhoff teaches English Lit. at Okanagan College in Vernon and Salmon Arm, BC. His first book, a visual poetry collection, will be published by Coach House in 2010. Tony Power is a Vancouver bookseller and curator of the Contemporary Literature Collection at SFU Library, where he also coordinates the library’s reading series. The chapter in this issue is excerpted from Sea To Sky, a novel-in-progress set in West Vancouver and Whistler Mountain circa 1966-1970. Other excerpts from this and a second, linked novel are posted at While fighting crimes of punctuation and the terror of plagiarism, Nikki Rader still finds time to dabble in one of her favourite hobbies: photography. Oliver Rice has received the Theodore Roethke Prize and twice been nominated fo a Pushcart Prize. His poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies in the United States, as well as in Canada, England, Austria, Turkey, and

India. His book of poems, On Consenting to Be a Man, has been introduced by Cyberwit, a diversified publishing house in the cultural capital Allahabad, India. Ami Sanyal is a contributor for Beyond Robson—a Vancouver blog that is a source for arts, film, fashion, food, and news. Go to <> Cara Sheppard is a graphic designer and illustrator with an aesthetic straddling innocent and sexy, cute and slightly gritty. Inspired by mid-century pin-up art, modern fashion illustration and Japanese manga, Cara works nearly exclusively digitally. Her work can be found at and <http://www.bat-baby-design. com/> and <http://www.> Nadya van Dijk loves her job working with children and teens as an applied behavioural analysis (ABA) therapist. She is also an undergrad student at UBC majoring in philosophy. Rev. Dr. Rikk Watts studied aeronautical engineering at RMIT university and then studied art history, philosophy, and sociology at LaTrobe university in Melbourne, Australia. He received his Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological seminary and received his doctorate in Old Testament and New Testament studies at Cambridge. He now teaches a range of things at Regent College in Vancouver, including the Gospels, Hermeneutics, and the use of the Old Testament in the New Testament. He has an interest in Philosophy of History.

All Uncredited Photos and Art Contributed by Memewar Staff 85





ISSN: 1912-3310


Please Recycle. Pass it on.

Memewar Magazine (Issue 8: "Gods & Idols")  

In this issue, we discuss different perspectives on spirituality and religion. In the transcriptions of his sermons, Rev. Dr. Rikk Watts dis...

Memewar Magazine (Issue 8: "Gods & Idols")  

In this issue, we discuss different perspectives on spirituality and religion. In the transcriptions of his sermons, Rev. Dr. Rikk Watts dis...