table of contents
we start at the END OF THE WORLD. What does gender have to do with surviving the apocalypse?
meanwhile...claire wilkins & Allie Chenoweth take a look at the future of birth control & family. Has the nuclear family blown up for good?
would you want to live in a world that`s entirely “developed”?
take a look into the crystal ball to SEE YOUR FUTURE.
What does the future have in store for DISABILITY STUDIES?
go behind the shelves at
BAKKA PHOENIX, Canada’s oldest SF bookstore
in afrofuturism, SPACE IS THE PLACE.
FASHION FORWARD bio-technology
it’s time to put a stop to a very serious problem in the geek community...
FAKE GEEK GIRLS! No,
we’re just kidding. it’s
...the end. 18
and then...we have three different takes on the future, anxiety, and trying to plan ahead.
table of contents by Jade Bryan, Sarah Crawley, Pauline Holdsworth, and Wenting Li
letter from the editors & contributors I’m in the office flipping through old comic books and thinking about the future, having just decided that in September I’ll be moving to a city I’ve never been to. The future used to be in Toronto, but now it’s somewhere else. As someone who sees the world through anxiety-coloured glasses, the future tends to mutate into terrifying monsters and worst-case scenarios. But this week, working on this issue (which is a nerd’s dream come true), I’ve been feeling like I’m living in the best of all possible worlds. We decided to go with a retro sci-fi aesthetic for this magazine, and it’s been interesting to look back at projected versions of the future from different times. I’ve been imagining future versions of myself, knowing the countless days spent in this run-down office listening to Dr. Horrible and picking out comic book motifs for page numbers and arguing about tracking and kerning are always going to be lurking in the background of those futures. I know the way we lay out pages and the technology we use will someday seem incredibly old-school, but this is where we’re starting. This has been my community for four years, and I don’t want it to end. But sitting in the office listening to our ridiculously talented first-years plan and scheme for next year, I’m struck by how interesting their vision of the paper’s future is—and how they’re already doing things we couldn’t have anticipated. It’s rare that you can sense the future in what you are doing now, but that’s how it felt making this magazine. Over the last two years, we’ve been working to reinvent The Strand from the ground up—to make it a critical voice of campus, to overhaul our design, to have more long-term content—three goals that come together in this issue. It’s simultaneously scary and exciting to watch something that you’ve put so much of yourself into take on a life of its own and have a future without you. But I really, really like the way the future looks from here. -P.H.
Jade Bryan Sarah Crawley Wenting Li Emily Pollock
Pauline Holdsworth Muna Mire Patrick Mujunen
Amanda Aziz Allie Chenoweth Sarah Crawley Johanna Lewis Thea Lewis Emily Pollock Grace Quinsey Claire Wilkins
Matthew Casaca Blaire Townshend
Amanda Aziz Jade Bryan Allie Chenoweth Benedict Darren Sabina Freiman Pauline Holdsworth Johanna Lewis Tara Mactavish Stephen Michell Muna Mire Emily Pollock Jesse Ryckman Claire Wilkins
Special Thanks Bakka-Phoenix Bookstore, Dr. Trimble the Uber-Articulate, Jayne Marie, Joss Whedon, OMBC, and Starbeez.
Graduation Banquet 1T3, Monday April 8th in Burwash. Doors open at 6:30, dinner at 7, Reception and After Party to Follow If you have questions or concerns, please email Savannah Sloat at email@example.com
Sustainability and Green Reps present: Rewire Seminar Wednesday, March 20th 8pm-9pm EM302 Come learn how to make easy changes in your life to be more ecofriendly!
Vic Variety Show March 29th 8:00-10:00 (doors open at 7:30) $5 ($4 in advance in VUSAC)
Vusac Elections This Week 10 exacutive positions, 4 Board of Regents representatives, 9 Victoria University Senate representatives, and 10 Victoria College Council Representatives Vote March 21-25 at voting.utoronto.ca
the end is extremely fucking nigh re-reading the politics of gender, Race, & disability In the apocalypse By Pauline Holdsworth & Johanna Lewis If you want to survive the apocalypse, your social status might mean more than your get-away bag. Think about the bodies that cultural texts show us after the world ends. Think about the way black characters always die first, about how the people who might be able to reproduce are told it’s their duty to have children regardless of their wishes or their sexuality. What does it mean to be a survivor in a world where you’re not expected to make it? We spoke with Dr. Trimble—a professor in the Women and Gender Studies department currently teaching a class called “Feminism, Zombies, and Survivalism”—about the way gendered, racialized, and generational politics operate in apocalyptic fiction. There’s something about this particular historical moment that has us thinking about the apocalypse—not just as entertainment, but as an exploration of our collective anxiety. “I think part of it is that everyone feels, in some way or another, this feeling of unsustainability. Whatever your location on the political spectrum, there are questions of what is unsustainable, in terms of economics, in terms of the environment, and I think that always prompts questions of what comes next. What comes after an inevitable disaster?” said Trimble. Frederic Jameson famously suggested that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism. In an age where averting environmental crisis requires profound systemic change that we’ve failed to commit to, we’re left with a pressing question: How do we continue when all of this is gone? “There is this sense of living within this all-encompassing structure or system that has become so common-sense that the imagination literally fails at the edges of it. Can we actually imagine a world that is differently organized, in a really profound way? Can we imagine what revolution looks like in this context?” said Trimble. Apocalyptic fiction has the potential to offer us that differently-organized world—but instead, it often reinforces these structures, and shows how persistently we are attached to them.
For Trimble, the TV show The Walking Dead demonstrates a “failure of imagination” when it comes to thinking outside of the tried-and-true “lone wolf” narrative—a position usually only assigned to white, patriarchal figures. Through this survivalist frame, we are expected to root for those who survive, because they are capable of surviving. As Trimble argued, the narrative becomes one of, “those who were meant to make it, made it, and therefore everyone else was kind of a disposal body.” Such social Darwinist logic becomes a matter deemed justifiable and even necessary given the circumstances. The Walking Dead is particularly interesting in terms of its representation of children. [Warning: spoilers] There’s Sophia, the innocent young girl who disappears and returns half a season later, zombie-ified and stumbling out of a barn to run at her mother. There’s Beth, the youngest daughter of Hershel, who by Season 3 is playing house with Carl and has stepped up to fill the “mother” category vacated by Lori when she dies. And then you’ve got Carl. In Season 2, he’s given his father’s sheriff hat and allowed to shoot a gun, and by Season 3, when Rick and Hershel are “incapacitated” (more on that later), he steps up to “become a man”—going out on his own, telling people what to do, locking prisoners up. The dramatic contrast between the ways these younger characters grow up highlights the gendered expectations in apocalyptic scenarios. “He’s coming into power, while the girls are coming into motherhood—or death,” said Trimble. “That is part of the conservatism of survivalist scenarios—part of Carl’s authority comes from his youth, that he is the future, therefore he is the one who’s in a position to say this is how it will be done. And that, in my experience, in terms of what I’ve seen, tends to authorize an incredible amount of violence.” This focus on younger generations reveals another framework that dominates representations of post-apocalyptic social structures. Although far from the only possible option, survivalist states are so often responded to in circumscribed ways: a person’s worth becomes inextricably connected to their vitality and health (i.e. how long
“Thinking about what it means to survive for people who aren’t ‘meant’ to survive is about contesting the way that we can imagine the future. If we assume that only those who are meant to survive are the ones that are going to shape the future, then the possible ways of imagining the future become quite narrow.” they’re going to be around) and to what they have to contribute to the group (i.e. what justifies their consumption of precious resources). Such a framework, shaped by the “survival of the fittest” expectation, wields immense violence. How do we think about illness, aging, madness, trauma, and disability in a world in which someone’s perceived health (and so assumed longevity) determines ultimate authority? When belonging to the social unit—in a context of unimaginably high stakes—becomes contingent on being categorized as “useful”, as “valuable” in the narrowest of senses? How do the existing forms of violence done to disabled people get reinforced, multiplied, and mutated in this kind of landscape? Part of what gives Carl the authority to assume this role is that the two competing patriarchs from Season 2—Rick and Hershel—are both “incapacitated” in Season 3. For Hershel, it’s that he’s bitten by a zombie and his leg has to be cut off before the infection spreads to the rest of his
Art by Sarah Crawley & Emily Pollock body. For Rick, it’s that his wife’s death—and the horrors of the world in which they’re struggling to survive—have left him traumatized, to the extent that he sees things and hears voices. Rick’s madness and Hershel’s disability are what provide the opening for Carl to assume his patriarchal role, even though he’s barely a teenager. The implications in this scenario about usefulness, fitness, and vitality are intimately connected to larger, structural narratives about who’s “meant” to survive an apocalypse. “Thinking about what it means to survive for people who aren’t ‘meant’ to survive is about contesting the way that we can imagine the future. If we assume that only those who are meant to survive are the ones that are going to shape the future, then possible ways of imagining the future become quite narrow, because only certain kinds of bodies are going to make it,” said Trimble. When we start to wonder who’s locked out of the future, it reflects the kinds of bodies and skills we prioritize today. Who do we see as “contributing” to society? Who do we imagine as a “burden”? When we’re already invested in these forms of violence and actively drawing these lines today, we shouldn’t be surprised when we see people abandoned for “slowing down the group” in apocalyptic fiction. For Trimble, survivalism as a movement and a narrative tends to be inherently conservative. In survivalist fiction, the people given the authority—and the better chances of making it to the end of the story—are overwhelmingly straight, white, and male. These representations merit criticism in their own right, but focusing exclusively on fiction about the future also eclipses the ways in which, for many members of marginalized communities, everyday life is an act of survival. “Survivalism, as a movement, as a set of beliefs, would certainly define survival as something that happens in the wake of a catastrophe. But for a lot of people, day-to-day life is about survival, because there’s already been a catastrophe,” said Trimble. When marginalized people are those with experience surviving overwhelmingly hostile conditions, when those are the people who have had to learn to assess danger and escape routes
early, to be resilient in the face of violence, why do we so rarely see them after the world ends? Trimble offered an important shift in how we think through survival: “I think that one of the concepts I hang on to as an ethical alternative to survivalism, which as all of those really masculinist, white connotations of ‘fortify your plot of land and get a gun’, is Roger Simon’s concept of survivorship.” Survivorship, instead, is about placing yourself in thoughtful relation to the others around you. “What he’s thinking about is how you awaken to the fact that you have survived. But you’re not just awakening to the fact that you lived and a bunch of other people didn’t, but to the fact that you have survived the dead. So survivorship puts you in an ethical relationship with those who have not survived… There’s an ethical framework that opens up when we imagine sur-
“Survivalism, as a movement, as a set of beliefs, would certainly define survival as something that happens in the wake of a catastrophe. But for a lot of people, day-today life is about survival, because there’s already been a catastrophe.” vival as being sort of on the backs of others, as being something that comes at a cost,” said Trimble. “And I think for people who experience survival on a day-to-day basis, that’s part of what that experience is—recognizing that it’s been a hard road for a lot of people, and you’re coming in the aftermath of that.” As an academic coming out of a cultural studies back-
ground, Trimble’s engagement with “the apocalypse” tends to be through resistant reading practices. These reading practices open up the possibilities and narratives behind mainstream apocalyptic fiction, whether or not the author intended to bring them into play. “One of my reading practices is to look at the questions of who are the figures that haunt these narratives. In something like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which is a typical father-son journey, the son’s continuing life is what authorizes all of the father’s violence against everyone around them, and authorizes his incredible isolation—but for me, what’s so interesting about that narrative is that in the background, there is this mother, who has committed suicide before the narrative even begins,” said Trimble. “This is the character that the narrative just forecloses on, and says, that’s the giving-up route, that’s the way out that we can’t countenance, that we can’t actually come to terms with. What kind of thinking, what way of evaluating the scenario, is at work in her choice? For me, it’s that she sees the cost of survival. She sees that in order to survive, there’s a kind of economy... You’re going to have to hoard resources. You’re going to have to kill threatening others. You’re going to have to economize on everything. I think hers is a really compromised attempt to resist that economizing impulse. To say that yeah, there is a high, high cost here, and I’m going to bear it all myself—which becomes this really self-destructive act. I don’t think that’s where we want to end up, but I think we need to pursue the line of questioning that that opens up.” What these questions open up is the possibility of imagining that those who didn’t make it to the end of everything are people whose stories are still worth telling, whose choices and motivations and trauma demand being taken seriously. When we’re only invested in those who survive, we’re not considering the violence they’ve committed to get there or the implications of the worldviews they espouse. By re-reading the apocalypse, and seeing what those dominant stories suppress, we open up an entirely new way of envisioning the future.
Art by Emily Pollock
The Future of Birth Control 2213
By Claire Wilkins
regnancy has always been a major concern central to human life. Some of the earliest humans had no idea where babies came from, and speculated that children were made not through having sexual intercourse, but through eating certain types of fruit. Humans have gone to extreme lengths to avoid getting knocked up, and family planning was a regular practice even in areas where people were told by religion to “be fruitful and multiply”. Methods used to prevent pregnancy and disease have been very creatively (if at times absurdly) produced. Former methods were not as safe or efficient as modern ones, and often involved chemicals, herbs, or body parts that prompt the question: “How the fuck did they even think of that?” In the Middle Ages, women were advised by magicians to wear weasel testicles on their thighs or hang their amputated feet from their necks (not so sexy, to say the least). Settlers of New Brunswick drank a mixture of beaver testicles and alcohol to prevent pregnancy. Even as recently as the 1990s, Australian teens used candy wrappers as condoms. Though these tactics may seem bizarre now, we only believe them to be so because of our distance from them in cultural and temporal space. What methods are we using now that may someday become obsolete? And more importantly, what methods foreign to us today may soon become the norm? The increasing individualization of technology is pushing us into a world where not only will our iPhone apps be personalized, but our contraceptive methods will be well. Scientists are currently developing multiple new and improved birth control options that could redefine reproduction for our generation. The Contraceptive Gel Currently being studied in multiple countries, Nestorone is a dermal gel that suppresses ovulation but doesn’t stop periods. The gel is applied to the stomach, inner thighs, and shoulders once a day, which allows estrogen and progesterone to be slowly released into the bloodstream. What’s cool about the gel is that it dries quickly and leaves no residue on the skin, and is also unlikely to cause acne. Like the patch, the gel is transdermal (meaning the hormones are released through the skin), but unlike the patch, the contraceptive gel is invisible and can’t fall off. Contraceptive gel could offer a more subtle form of external birth control that is easy to apply, and less obvious than the patch. The One-Size-Fits-All Diaphragm PATH (a global non-profit organization) has developed a new form of the traditional diaphragm and is pushing to
get it approved by the FDA in 2013. The SILCS diaphragm is a method of barrier birth control created for women in developing countries with limited access to contraception and medical care. Traditionally, a fitting from a physician would be required to obtain a diaphragm. The SILCS diaphragm is a single-size model and fits a broad range of women, which means that a pelvic exam wouldn’t be required for use. It’s inexpensive, non-hormonal, reusable, and protects against pregnancy and some STIs. This diaphragm is closely tailored to a woman’s preferences and offers a lot of personal control. It has a removal dome, making it easier to take out, when not engaging in intercourse. This option gives more direct and immediate accessibility to the women who use it, giving them more control of their own bodies and choices.
The increasing individualization of technology is pushing us into a world where not only are our iPhone apps personalized, but our contraceptive methods are as well. The Career Pill Dr. Roger Gosden (aka Godsend) is an American scientist in the process of developing an oral contraceptive that can delay pregnancy until a woman’s later years, allowing her to pursue her career without forcing her to sacrifice her hopes for a family. The pill does not prevent the ripening of eggs like the traditional birth control pill does, but simply delays ovulation. This method is an exciting option for women who want to fulfill their workplace potential but also want to have children later. The career pill offers both the job and the family, without anxiety about the biological clock “running out”. The Dry Orgasm Pill A change we’ll see in the future is the proliferation of contraceptive options for males. One such method has been dubbed the “dry orgasm” or “clean sheets” pill. Developed by doctors at King’s College London, the pill is a combination of medicine for high blood pressure and schizophrenia. It causes muscles to clamp down during orgasm, completely blocking the transport of sperm. The man reaches sexual climax but does not ejaculate, thus the “dry orgasm”. This option would prevent pregnancy and potentially prevent
transmission of all semen-borne STIs (including HIV). Male contraceptives still face a cultural resistance however, and so the shift towards male-oriented birth control should be expected farther off in the future. RISUG Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance (or RISUG) is the development name of a male contraceptive created in India that targets the testes. The vas deferens (the vessel through which sperm moves before ejaculation) is injected with polymer gel. The walls of the vas deferens are coated with a clear gel that is suspected to lower the pH of the environment, killing the sperm. Although it’s still in its experimental phase, RISUG has been seen to be very effective. It only caused one unplanned pregnancy out of 250 volunteers, apparently due to a faulty injection, and the injection can last for up to 10 years. This method is one of the more extreme and permanent forms of possible future birth control choices, but has been found to be reversible. The Dissolving Condom Researchers at the University of Washington are working on a new form of contraceptive that upgrades the female condom. It not only prevents pregnancy, but also protects against STIs, releasing preventative drugs after use. The condom is made using “electrospinning”, a process where fibers are created out of liquid using an electric field. The material is able to block sperm and release chemical contraceptives and antivirals. Cloth-like fibers can be woven very thinly to create dissolvable webs that prevent unplanned pregnancy and block STIs. This method gives back control to women in preventing HIV and pregnancy in a more affordable and less invasive way. Dissolvable condoms are also environmentally friendly because they don’t end up in a landfill after use. Now you can get rid of your birth control quickly and easily after sex—if only there were such an option for those drunken one-night stands that you’d rather forget. In the face of the terrifingly undefined future, our generation can at least find comfort in the knowledge that we will have a range of choices in birth control methods. A variety of tailored contraceptive options will help put us back in control of our own futures by giving us a reproductive efficency and safety (and thus, a peace of mind) that past generations weren’t able to experience. We might actually have the opportunity to fuck like there’s no tomorrow.
KIDS Allie Chenoweth
sking anyone in their 20s what they want to do with their life is a stressful enough question as it is. But if you really want to make a few of them squirm, ask them, “So, do you want to have kids?” Looking at the current landscape for university graduates (myself included), a vast majority of us have a pretty serious case of collective tunnel vision. We seem to only be able to consider our academic and career prospects, letting many other concerns fall to the wayside. Don’t get me wrong: I’m really glad that we’re well beyond the point where the ultimate goal for a female university graduate was to obtain a ring with her diploma. And we have every reason to be extremely concerned about where our careers will go. But I’m a person who is inherently terrified at the idea of limiting the options available to me in the future. What if our dismissal of the possibility of making our own families in the future ends up biting us in the ass? Why aren’t we thinking about the families we may or may not be having in the future? Or at least, why aren’t we talking more openly about the issue? Part of what’s missing from the discussion is how we imagine our future families and what we choose to define as “family”. We still seem to be stuck in the idea that the logical progression in life for (typical heteronormative) family-making is: Step 1) establish career, Step 2) establish committed relationship, Step 3) establish family—steps 1 and 2 have more flexibility in their timing, but the “having children” part can only occur after those initial facts are settled. While we’re still in our early 20s, this constructed timeline convinces us that family is a distant future, when in fact it’s much nearer than we assume. So let’s talk about it. For those of us who do see ourselves having our own families, most of us imagine that we do so when the conditions are ideal: namely, with financial stability and, often, with a long-term partner. And for many of us, those ideal conditions don’t seem remotely feasible in the near future. When I think about the prospect of starting a family, my biggest anxiety by far is the financial stress. Given the current economic realities for many early-20-somethings, it’s almost impossible to imagine being able to afford all the costs of having and raising a child. It’s hard to tell how long we will be floundering—we have too few jobs and too many overly educated young professionals. We can’t predict when those conditions will change, but we’re still quite a few years away from the boomers retiring. Hell, a staggering number of people in their 20s are moving back in with their parents because they can’t afford to live on their own; no wonder it’s impossible to imagine
starting a family when many of us are still living with the one we grew up with. Our generation may continue the trend of couples (not necessarily with children) becoming common-law simply for the financial benefits of splitting living costs between two people—though it’s on a caseby-case basis that co-habitation is either a success or a nightmare. And while an established career and financial stability seem like lofty goals, the idea—at this age—of finding someone with whom you would consider having children seems even more preposterous. How we imagine “significant others” at our current stage of life is probably not incredibly conducive to family-building, which contributes to our mental-distancing of a time when we might start our own families. This is another one of those problematic concepts that we’ve latched onto even though most of us probably know better—the idea of only being able to start a family with someone you are in love with, committed to, and completely compatible with—an adapted version of The One (an idea which I hope we can do away with in the future). We always think about creating a family under conditions that are static, stable, and situated. Despite our knowing that life tends to be none of these things—and that we might not be ready to “settle down” even if we could—we keep waiting for these “ideal” circumstances to begin thinking about having a family. And regardless of whether you do seek these “ideal circumstances”, you might be using concerns about the far-future as an excuse to disregard family building in the nearer future. You might be apprehensive about having children outside of a committed, long-term relationship, but given that Statistics Canada predicts that 43.1% of married couples are divorced before their 50th anniversary, even marriage is no guarantee that the relationship will work forever. A cynical (and arguably pragmatic) response to those kinds of statistics might be, “Well, if almost half of marriages are likely to end poorly, maybe there’s no point to getting married at all.” Because when you imagine the family you’ll have, you probably imagine it as being happy and “intact” (to use the parlance of Stats Canada) for the rest of your life, or at least until your kids are adults. Few people set out to have a kid planning on splitting future Thanksgivings and Christmases, though that’s an increasingly common reality. But what about people who don’t want to be in committed, long-term relationships at all? Our culture has yet to widely accept living alone as a lifestyle choice compatible with a successful, emotionally-fulfilling life without a committed partner. And we have yet to broaden our
definitions of family so that it can mean whatever anyone wants it to mean. I would love to see that attitude shift in our culture, particularly in how it pertains to women. The idea that a woman isn’t “complete” or able to be happy if she doesn’t have a committed partner is absolutely absurd. It seems like the declaration of “I’m happiest being single and living alone” gets interpreted, more often than not, as, “There is something clearly wrong with me.” For some reason, we’ve been able to normalize the idea that
MORE IMPORTANTLY, WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT NOT HAVING OR WANTING A COMMITTED RELATIONSHIP AND WANTING TO BUILD A FAMILY ARE NOT FUNDAMENTALLY INCOMPATIBLE IDEAS. not wanting kids is perfectly reasonable (though that was pretty unheard of a generation ago), but we can’t fathom that some don’t want to pursue committed relationships. More importantly, we need to understand that not having or wanting a committed relationship and wanting to build a family are not fundamentally incompatible ideas. Anyone who wants children but doesn’t find or doesn’t want a partner shouldn’t be scorned; just as anyone who has no desire to have children shouldn’t be viewed as “family-less”. Definitions of family don’t necessarily need to include children but may include different kinds of people we haven’t typically associated as “family members”. In the realm of sexuality, we’re making a lot of strides towards an “anything goes” attitude: that sexuality is individual, complex, and has a million different facets, that no one should feel obligated to fit into any category, that, ultimately, you should do what makes you happy. Why can’t we feel that way about families? We are the ones who will define how our society thinks of the concept of family in the future--and although our thoughts may be drawn to more pressing concerns for our futures, it’s a conversation worth having right now, when we have all the time and opportunities in the world.
BEYOND DEVELOPMENT By Benedict Darren
irst World and Third World. Developed and report by the Jubilee Debt Campaign indicates that developing. West and East. These are the des- foreign investors and development banks have reignations we use to classify countries based ceived approximately $320 million per year from on their economic development, life expec- Mozal, in contrast to the Mozambique government’s tancy, infrastructure advances, and overall stan- revenue of $15 million. Policy alterations imposed by dards of living. the World Bank have generated massive profits for The United States and Canada together spend foreign investors and donors rather than promoting upwards of $35 billion annually on international aid local development. aimed at supporting the development of the ecoMeanwhile, Mozambique’s debt to the World nomic, social, and political landscape of developing Bank is currently almost $5 billion. Interest charges countries. An underlying assumption in such projects incurred through SAPs cause a disproportionate is the existence of a developmental gap, and that accumulation of debt to the World Bank, creating developed countries should assist developing coun- a vicious cycle in which further loans must be tries in bridging this disparity. But as we look to the taken to pay back debts. The recipient future, an inexorable question remains: with devel- government becomes locked into a opmental aid handed out by privileged hands, is it permanent state of dependency right for us to insist on a world where all countries on the West. Further down are “developed”? this road, it’s not hard to To this day, foreign aid administered by devel- imagine a future in which oped countries reflects a Western template for the world will consist development. If we maintain the course of what of nations deemed we call developmental aid today, the developing “developed”, but deworld will be one of structural and ideological ho- prived of sovereignty mogeneity. The World Bank, a multilateral financial and ultimately reliant institution, hands out loans to developing countries on external (read: Westto achieve its core mandate of poverty reduction, ern) assistance. but these loan provisions are contingent upon meetAs university students, ing neoliberal policy targets outlined by the World it’s convenient for us to Bank’s Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs). True think that developmental to their name, SAPs enforce market deregulation, aid is solely political, best privatization, and trade liberalization, effectively left to high-ranking officials in restructuring the domestic economy of the recipient supranational organizations such country. By dictating a nation’s economic policies in as the World Bank, the International exchange for developmental aid, the World Bank Monetary Fund, or the European Union. However, undermines that nation’s sovereignty. developmental aid is something all citizens are intiIn Mozambique, the World Bank sponsored a mately connected to. Many of us are involved with SAP titled the Economic Recovery Program. Eco- non-governmental organizations (NGOs) focused nomic reforms instituted by the World Bank required on improving and transforming quality of life. NGOs the Mozambican tackle diverse issues government to lift of human rights, enprotectionist barriForeign aid administered by vironmental responers, primarily export and perhaps developed countries reflects sibility, duties on natural most visibly, devela Western template for de- opment. Even those resources like aluminum. This prompted velopment. If we maintain this of us without direct a flood of foreign involvement with course, the developing world NGOs have likely investment in the will be one of structural and made some kind of construction of Mozal, an alumicontribution to a deideological homogenity. num smelting facilvelopmental effort, ity from which the be it through finanMozambican government levies 1% tax. In addition cial donations or voluntary service. to reducing government revenue, export tax exempBecause NGOs present an image of charity and tions increase foreign extraction of key domestic re- benevolence, it’s often hard to see the shortcomings sources like aluminum, while diminishing value added in their work. Many NGOs compound the problems through job creation in the local aluminum industry. caused by SAPs by pursuing their own agendas and In essence, the SAP in Mozambique has facili- priorities without consulting local governments. Extated the assimilation of the Mozambican economy clusion of the local government allows NGOs to acinto a global market economy tailored by the West. tively supplant government in administering services Developmental aid is devoid of any respect for de- for their own people. veloping nations’ capacity to manage In Haiti, the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 their own growth. killed an estimated 230,000 people, prompting The argument that recipient countries hundreds of NGOs to descend upon Haiti. Initially, benefit the most from aid implemented international donors acknowledged the vital role 8 by foreign donors is dubious. A recent the Haitian government had to play in leading its
own recovery. But this was easier said than done. Only 1% of donor funds dedicated to emergency relief were directed to the government in the first wave of aid money which flowed into Haiti after the earthquake. Even Haitian NGOs were neglected, receiving only 0.4% of the aid money collected. Some may argue that channeling aid funds toward NGOs avoids the problem of governmental corruption, ensuring that the money remains accountable. It is this perception that the local government is unqualified and incapable of producing results that predisposes it to external manipulation. The newly appointed Haitian prime minister, Laurent Lamothe, spoke about the issue in his statement to the Canadian Press: “Basically, the development assistance, because of the perceived weakness of Haitian institutions, was routed directly to NGOs and Canadian firms. That weakened our institutions.” This encourages Haitians to turn to NGOs in place of their government for basic services, reinforcing local dependency on foreign aid. Even prior to the quake, foreign aid in Haiti ranged from 113% to130% of the government’s revenue. After the quake, foreign aid amounted to four times the Haitian government’s revenue. With an unknown number of NGOs operating in Haiti, it’s worth questioning whether our aid is accountable to the Haitian people. With the undercutting of national sovereignty so palpable, the virtue of our current model of developmental aid is questionable. In Mozambique, the World Bank has shaped the government’s economic policies through conditional loans. In Haiti, dubbed a “Republic of NGOs”, foreign donors and NGOs now constitute a force rivalling the national government, but richer, and in many ways more powerful. Unless we want the developed world to be a neocolonial Western world, we cannot continue to impose our usual formulas for development on other nations. Though the prospect of poverty reduction and equitable living is commendable, we need to respect the right of sovereign nations to institute development on their own terms. Investments by international banks and NGOs should focus on programs that build local infrastructure and stimulate local economy without fostering dependency on foreign aid. Most importantly, these processes must actively involve the government of the recipient country. For the sake of a better future, we must radically re-evaluate our definition of development.
A DISABLED FUTURE
By Sara Deris
hirty years ago, there was no such thing as Disability Studies. The role of “disabled” had never been actively examined, and it was commonly accepted that a disabled person was on his or her own— a victim of unfortunate circumstance. In the 1970s, the Open University in the UK ran a new course titled “The Handicapped Person in the Community”. It was met with great interest, and subsequently the University of Kent introduced the first Masters degree in what would be later known as Disability Studies. The first academic journal to support the new field was established in 1986, and was called Disability and Society. As the discussion grew, the medical model of disability was critiqued, and Disability Studies scholars began to think of disability as a social creation, rather than an individualized medical issue. As scholar Lennard Davis put it, “disability is not an object—a woman with a cane—but a social process that intimately involves everyone who has a body and lives in the world of senses.” Disability Studies is not a study of individual disabilities themselves, but the social climate that creates disability. Currently, very few international and even fewer Canadian universities offer any serious scholarship in the field of Disability Studies, and it is often met with the scorn that the feminist movement was met with in its earliest days—the accusation that it is not a legitimate scholarly field. Few people outside of the scholarly environment. Have knowledge of Disability Studies and the huge insight it offers into representation, pop culture, narrative, and other intersecting social categories. Disability Studies is still new enough that every theory is innovative, making the present an amazing time to be involved in this scholarship.One can literally watch the theoretical foundation of an entire field unfold in real time. As it stands, the burgeoning field has quite a future in academia. However, in order for Disability Studies to have a full academic future, scholars must backtrack into the past and further inspect the history of disability. Moving forward is problematic without looking back, and Disability Studies—with its rapid growth and increasing scholarship—has teetered dangerously close to doing just that. Very few studies of the history of the treatment of disabled people have conducted, and all have been covered very narrow time frames; for example, Martha Rose’s work on disability in the ancient Greek world, and Douglas Baynton’s work on disability as a justification for inequality in early American history. More research must be done on the treatment of disabled people throughout history—a difficult task considering that there are very few actual testimonies from disabled people explaining what it was like. The research must take a more round-
about approach, by reading into laws and orations, as well as examining archaeological evidence. The assumption made by the majority of those considering the development of society is that it has been linear and forward-moving; that every move we have made has been an improvement, a step in the right direction. This could hold true with thought on disability if the history is not thoroughly examined. Disability was not, in the past, considered a medical “problem” in need of a solution, nor were disabled people isolated and made to feel like disability was an individual issue with no place in the public sphere. The introduction of the concept of the “norm”, and “normalcy” in the period of 1840–1860 gave birth to these ideas, and the subsequent obsession with “l’homme moyen”, statistics, and a consistent, strong “body politic” further enforced them. The industrial revolution, with its need for similar bodies able to perform repetitive strenuous tasks, resulted in the isolation of disabled people. Disability was then used as a justification for inequality;―“scholars” wrote that slaves would be unhappy with freedom, biologically
predetermined to be slaves. Medicalized disability was used as a “legitimate” means of undermining the rights of African American people. In the New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, “the negro race” was biologically of a weaker constitution than the superior white race, suffering from “inferior organisms and constitutional weaknesses.” In 1851 Dr. Samuel Cartwright “invented” disabili-
ties that he claimed were specific to African American people and justified slavery. Drapetomania, the compulsion of a slave to flee, was particularly common. Dysaesthesia Aethiopis was “a desire to avoid work and generally to cause mischief”. It was commonly known to overseers as “rascality”. Its cause, like that of Drapetomania, was a feeling of equality, and therefore occurred more in free African Americans, “although it was a common occurrence on badly-governed plantations as well.” Later on, when immigration controls based on race became taboo, entrance to America could be blocked on the basis of their possibility of becoming a public burden to which apparently, certain races were prone. In order for Disability Studies to have a fully realized future, further work must be done on fleshing out the history of the treatment of disabled people to fully understand current attitudes. In addition to tapping into the past, the future of Disability Studies will move forward and outwards, enriching other fields based on the examination of social categories, such as race, gender, and class. Rosemarie Thomson, a prominent Disability Studies scholar, introduced the “disabled woman figure” and “feminist Disability Studies” in her 1997 book Extraordinary Bodies. In addition to contributing to the field of Disability Studies, Thomson’s work serves to produce a feminism that “is more capacious and subtle in its understanding of identity, subjectivity, and social relations.” For example, the study of disability complicates the feminist critique of the sexual objectification of women, the regulation of women’s reproductive rights, and the issue of who is seen as “fit” to be a mother. The study of disability will also further enrich studies of race, as the otherization of marginalized ethnicities may be examined through a Disability Studies perspective (for example, Sartje Baartman, “the Hottentot Venus”, and Julia Pastrana, “the Ugliest Woman in the World”, in American freak shows). The future of Disability Studies will look back to examine the historical treatment of disabled people and how these histories have influenced modern-day perceptions of disability, and simultaneously expand and enrich the examination of intersecting social categories. Disability Studies has the ability to “transform, and not simply add to, current considerations of bodily identity.” Here’s to having a department of Disability Studies in every university in 30 more years.
By Jade Bryan
am a solitary wanderer / a child of gypsies / the earth is my mother / and the sun my older brother” (“Ma Maren Ma,” Fanfare Ciocarlia, one of the great Romanian gypsy bands). The Romani people have a rich and often misunderstood culture. “Strangers in strange lands,” they are nomadic people whose roots stem from ancient India and Egypt to points all over Europe. The Romani people have a strong belief in community and a bond with nature and spirituality, and despite their persecution throughout history, their unique traditions are woven into the fabric of the prevailing culture. When travelers from Eastern Europe, Ireland, Scotland, and countless other nations migrated to North America due to exile or persecution, each town and village they passed through became imprinted with fragments of their remarkable way of life. Perhaps the most mysterious of these cultural fragments is fortune-telling. Historically, certain Romani people were seen as being gifted with psychic abilities, and used this to bring money into their community through palmistry, tea leaf reading, and tarot cards. These mystic abilities are said to be intergenerational, and although our culture has largely came to favour skepticism, and scientific rationality; some of the spiritual magic of the Romani still exists as we search for something beyond the material world that surrounds us.
Among the skyscrapers and pavements of Toronto, there are hidden places that stand still in time and preserve the wagons and lyrics of the Romani. They keep the past from being forgotten—from the prophets at Delphi in Ancient Greece to emperors of China in 1150 BCE who sought advice from divination masters of I Ching. Our society is made up of countless cultures, including a new age spirituality that transcends time and place, and philosophies that come out of Buddhism and Paganism alike. Most don’t know much about this psychic community that exists in our city, and we are usually too busy planning our paths to the future to actually stop and look at them. Jayne Marie, a Toronto-based psychic specializing in Tarot card reading and numerology, sees her life purpose as helping people to understand their paths and futures so that they can make choices to get what they want out of life. “[You don’t have the choice] if you’re born here, or you’re born someplace where you’re persecuted, [but] all those thing alter […]who you are. Our culture defines us in many ways. There’s always the chance of where we were born, who we were born to, social factors that are out of our control. But you have the right to define how you’re going to deal with it.” Jayne Marie uses the Tarot not to predict an absolute future, but to provide people with insight so that they can use free will to change their outcomes.
Tarot cards, like palm reading, tea leaf reading, I Ching, Reiki, and psychic modalities from all different cultures, are used as a tool to gain wisdom. “You have more control over your actions than you think you do. With knowledge of that, you can make clearer choices. You can use Tarot, numerology, you can use all kinds of things. There’s not one path to the top of the mountain”, Marie says. There are three aspects to reading Tarot cards: numerology (the number), elements (fire, water, air, and earth), and symbology (the symbol on the card). According to Jayne, “Numbers are the basis of everything. Every number has a distinct influence on our lives.” Your attitude number, for example, is found by adding together the day and month numbers of your birth until only one digit remains. My birthday is September 15th, so I would add nine to five and one, which makes 15 (one and five), which makes six. An attitude number of six means that I’m a nurturer: I place a high importance on family and taking care of those close to me. In Tarot, numbers are used as symbols to interpret different meanings in the cards. Tarot and many other aspects of fortune-telling extend beyond one specific culture to become universal symbols that remain timeless. These symbols are innately entrenched in the human psyche. It is not only in psychic modalities, religion, or myth that these symbols occur; but also in disciplines we are all famil-
iar with, like literature and psychology. “Carl Jung was very much into scientifically researching the occult. I read cards as Carl Jung interprets cards: when you learn the Tarot cards, basically you are learning an alphabet to teach your subconscious mind. What Jung called these are international archetypes. What that means, for instance, is say in our culture, it’s unlucky to walk under a ladder, but that may not be the case in Croatia. But in Tarot cards, the sun is the sun in every culture. The devil is the devil in every culture. So I can read cards to you, I can read cards to someone in Italy, I can read cards for someone anywhere—these are international archetypes that reflect all cultures. The cards are there as a tool for you to connect with what Jung called the ‘collective unconscious’, which is now commonly called ‘the universe’. So you tap into your subconscious mind with the cards, and what your subconscious mind doesn’t know, it gets from its higher self in the collective unconscious. All this wisdom is out there, it’s just a matter of pulling it in. And that’s what the Tarot cards do.” Even though we’re surrounded by images and
symbols, words and numbers, it’s easy to use them without thinking about what you’re doing. Tarot cards tap into our subconscious minds to use these symbols as a way of communicating how we feel and think—whether we know it or not. You don’t have to be of a certain culture or religion to gain wisdom from Tarot, and “you don’t have to be a believer to make it work, but you have to understand that there’s more than just what we see in front of our face.” Psychics get a bad reputation in modern society as con artists who take advantage of the gullible; people who have tapped into a rich cultural tradition to make a quick buck. Psychics like Jayne, with integrity and respect, aren’t out there to make money but to do something they love and help people transform their lives. Even if you don’t believe in a collective unconscious or a higher existence, everybody can gain wisdom by stopping to look at the path they’ve chosen and where they will end up. “You have to live with intention. If your intentions are good, and clear, and kind, everything is fine. But if your intentions are for money, or for
power, or for greed, it’s not good for anybody. It’s not good for the vibrations of the universe. Every time we do something good and kind, the vibrations lift. We all rise together. There’s enough stuff in the world that’s already negative, so we should all send out positive energy,” she says. Tarot is only one of many psychic modalities, but by looking at the root of our human experience, we can better understand how we choose to live our lives. Jayne’s philosophy is one we should all live by, and even when we step out of the realm of Tarot, of crystal balls and Reiki; we can apply those positive, communal principles to our everyday lives and become more fulfilled by the path we’re on. Our culture often makes us feel like wanderers, strangers in a strange land. By focusing on our destinations—careers, money, diplomas, and GPAs—we are constantly adrift. But we often forget that the journey is just as important as the destination. Perhaps with tools like Tarot, we can start to feel less like strangers and instead take the opportunity to see the world as our caravan.
Resources to learn more To get your cards read or learn how to read Tarot: http://jmarieps.com/index.html For free talks and psychic resources: Origo book store, across from St. Lawrence market To learn the basics of Tarot for free: www.learntarot.com; American Tarot Association (ATA-tarot.com)
Reading into the future:
By Jesse Ryckman
By Tara Mactavish Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (2011) The ultimate novel for any self-professed vintage fanatic, Ready Player One bursts on to the sci fi scene with an energy that makes it impossible to put down. Cline paints a grim near future depicting the classic online game world with a twist: the game’s creator—as well as the gamers themselves—are obsessed with 80s pop culture. The fast-paced narrative and hilarious characters benefit from Cline’s warm geek-loving style. Expect references to Ferris Bueller, Pac-Man, Star Wars, and Rush as protagonist Wade Watts competes for the chance to change his life, and perhaps the world. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi (2009) This dystopian epic took home the 2010 Hugo Award for science fiction—and with good reason. Setting his book in southeast Asia in the 23rd century, Bacigalupi creates a volatile future. Biotechnology and genetic experimentation wind themselves around a plot rife with social and political unrest. At the centre of this brave new world is Emiko, an abandoned, genetically-enhanced humanoid known as a “windup girl”, who is abused and exposed to the horrors of a precarious future. Assassinations, riots, plague, mass murder, and powerful character chemistry make this an emotionally intense and beautiful book. Embassytown by China Miéville (2011) Miéville doesn’t often venture out of the realm of fantasy novels, of which he is already considered a master. Embassytown is one such venture, a sci fi tale that takes place across the galaxy on the planet Arieka, told from the perspective of resident Avice. Readers must stay alert as they are bombarded with flashbacks and references to alien races and space travel techniques that make very little sense in the early pages. It’s worth sticking at though, as the plot picks up and Avice watches her entire world change with the arrival of one man and the transformation of an alien race.
I recently had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Chris Szego, manager of the Bakka-Phoenix bookstore. Founded in 1972, it is the oldest science fiction and fantasy bookstore in Canada. I asked Szego about her thoughts on the future. The following are excerpts from our conversation. Chris Szego: Science fiction does not usually attempt to be predictive of the future. The point is to extrapolate, to explore, to look at things as they are and imagine possible scenarios for their eventual outcome. And that’s one of the things science fiction writers do really well. Jesse Ryckman: I read a comment of yours where you said that entertainment trends have been leaning largely towards the speculative in the modern period? CS: Certainly, yeah. And really, if you name the biggest ones in the past 10–15 years, they are all speculative in nature. Going back to Harry Potter—that book was the first true, absolutely worldwide entertainment trend. JR: Why do you suppose that today we are seeing such a shift when in the past, speculative narratives have not been predominant? CS: I think there are a number of possible explanations. One is ease of communication. Science fiction was the literature of the outsider. Science fiction has always had a social aspect to its fandom. Members reached out to each other, joined clubs, and made zines. They had conventions so that people who loved the same things could get together and talk about them. We have the Internet for that now—it’s become much easier to join that community. Another explanation is that the past ten years have been tough. In times like this, speculative literature that says maybe something crazy could happen is very helpful.
want is a way of thinking about something differently. Speculative fiction also often uses its conventions and tropes to look at the world now, the world the way it is. But frankly, there’s nothing wrong with an actual escape. JR: The business of bookselling has become harder due to the rise of technological innovation—I’m thinking of Amazon here. What’s your perspective on that? CS: First of all, independent bookselling has always been difficult. In the early 90s, [the problem] was the rise of bigbox stores, and that wasn’t technology, that was money. However, somewhat surprisingly, the sale of e-books in Canada has declined over the last couple of years, not risen. Here’s the thing: I love reading and I love books. As a bookseller, I want to be able to offer my customers what they want in whatever format they want. There is not yet a way that independent booksellers can sell e-books from the major publishers, but there are methods being experimented with. It’s just a format—it’s not a new thing, it’s not the boogie man. People like [e-books] for different reasons. They want to load up an e-reader before they go on vacation, but when it’s their favourite book, they want to have the actual book. They want the object; they want to be able to touch it and love it. Also, there is no e-book anywhere that is going to last as long as one decent paperback. My dad has massmarket paperbacks that he’s had on his shelf since before I was born. Can you think of any computer technology that’s still working today from that time? JR: You mean because of obsolescence?
JR: A lot of people will level the allegation that speculative fiction is escapist.
CS: Yes. One of the things we know about computers today is that obsolescence is designed right into them— books not so much. The computer didn’t make books and pens or pencils disappear, partly because we know now how electronic records can be lost. But I absolutely think that e-books are going to rise.
CS: As a purveyor of science fiction fantasy, I have no problem with that—I don’t take that as a pejorative. Interest in speculative fiction doesn’t mean that you don’t understand the world today. It just means that sometimes what you
JR: How do you see automation and technological progress affecting society more broadly? Do you see it as a positive influence? Do you see technological replacement or the reduction of positions for skilled workers expanding into
other sectors? CS: There isn’t one single answer, but one of the things we’ve seen through human history is that a major mechanical advance is broadly good for society overall, excellent for a tiny proportion, and terrible for a larger proportion. However, the idea that [technological advancement] is automatically good is naive at best. JR: Conversely, I feel that in our society there is a rejection of technological advancement, the kind of sentiment that we should “go back”. Do you think it’s possible to “go back”? CS: No. I only think it’s possible in nightmarish scenarios. But a lot of technological advances have been good: we can’t uninvent the Internet, and we can’t uninvent polio vaccines, thankfully. JR: On the other hand, the same is true of atomic bombs. CS: Hmm, more worrying. But there are lots of things that are good. We create the future every day. Every choice we make is leading us toward something, and that might not be where we want to go, but it’s not static. The most important thing is to decide what kind of future you want to have, and work to make it happen. JR: As a bookseller, have you noticed any changes over time in the community you have here? CS: Well, one of the things I’ve noticed is that people are more isolated than they used to be. They think they are more connected, but are actually connected less to other human beings. A store like this acts as a community hub. We have lots of author events; for instance, just last Friday we had Cory Doctorow. We had him off-site because it was a pretty big crowd—almost 200 people came out for that. And we’ve got a launch coming up on Saturday: Julie Czerneda, who’s very well-liked in the industry. She’s a biologist and a sci fi writer, and she’s written her first fantasy novel. A lot of people are coming in from out of town simply to see her. They want the experience of interacting with other people, of talking about the things that they love, and that’s something a store like this offers, and it’s something that’s rare and valuable. It’s that sense of connection.
the body electronic By Sabina Freiman
the future of physical selfexpression
attoos, piercings, jewelry, scents, clothing styles: these are our media for self-expression. However, they do not fully portray who we are or what we are feeling: perhaps I’m generally angry and outspoken, covered in tattoos, and sporting band shirts. But does this look also express who I am when I’m feeling quiet and sensitive, or happy and excited? Maybe not as much as it could. Picture more dynamic forms of self-expression: an electronic tattoo activated by sexual arousal, a perfume ingested in pill form that varies based on genetics and excitement, a necklace that senses your emotions and transmits those signals to other necklace wearers, a dress that illuminates depending on your current emotions. This sort of technology would express you as you are, in real time. Such technologies are likely to hold high-profile roles in the future of fashion. But is there a point at which self-expression begins to reveal more about us than we intended? Lucy McRae—originally a ballerina with a background in architecture—came up with the term “body architect” to describe her interests in fashion and how one can combine technology and biology to change the way we express ourselves through clothing. She has worked with Philips Electronics on “Design Futures”; coming up with pilot projects that showcase the future of technology. However, their ideas currently come with a caveat—“[this is] a far-future design concept. It is not intended as a production prototype nor will it be sold as a Philips product”—they have sparked a great deal of interest. Philips stresses that “this concept is testing a possible future—not prescribing one.” Let’s look at what some of these products are in more detail. The SKIN tattoo, activated by touch and emotions, takes a common form of self-expression to the next level. A video demonstration of the technology features two partners: as the woman strokes the man’s back, patterns begin to swirl out from underneath her touch. As the video progresses, the tattoo gets larger and more extensive, presumably as his desire increases. The technology behind the idea combines various sensors to pick up on current emotional states, based on bodily reactions. A similar idea is actually being developed for diabetics: a tattoo made of nanoparticles that changes colour depending on blood sugar levels.
The SKIN dress project (also called the Bubelle blush dress) uses a similar principle. Combining LED projectors and glass fibre rods, this dress billows out from its wearer as a light bubble. The inside layer is attuned to the body’s state, and projects changes in emotion to the outer layer, which illuminates in different patterns. Although it looks the same for everyone upon purchase, it will be unique to each buyer as it responds differently to each individual wearer. The Fractal project lies somewhere between clothing and jewelry. Resembling a set of crystals that can snake around your arm, torso, or leg, it uses information about your movement, excitement, and the proximity of others around you to change how it lights up. In the demonstration video, a woman supposedly gets angry (she yells out and her breathing quickens) and the crystals begin to activate in a disorganized light show. As soon as she calms her breathing, the crystals activate less frequently and soon shut off altogether. The VIBE necklace looks much plainer than the Bubelle dress or the Fractal jewelry, as it is a simple square that hangs around one’s neck. By combining conductive ink and textile sensors, it’s also able to detect the wearer’s emotions. However, it doesn’t just show them through a change in colour—it can communicate your emotional state to other people wearing the device. Philips describes this as a “shift from ‘intelligent’ to ‘sensitive’ products and technologies.” Another technology is more than just a pilot, and is currently in the research phase. McRae and colleague Sheref Mansy are developing what they have called a “swallowable parfum.” This is a pill that contains molecules that mimic our natural fat molecules, which get broken down and released in our body by specific enzymes. The pill uses these enzymes to break down its own larger molecules into fragrant molecules, which can be sweated through and left on the skin’s surface. As McRae explains in a press release, “the potency of scent is determined by each individual’s acclimatization to temperature, stress, exercise, or sexual arousal.” She goes on to say that the perfume “enables human skin to emit a genetically unique scent about who we are, and how we perform our identities.” n a way, these technologies all seem so far away that it’s hard to imagine a world of people dressed in abstract costumes constantly changing colour based on
emotion—but technology is advancing fast. As a kid, I remember thinking about how cool it would be to have a videophone, so that I could see the person I was talking to. When I was a pre-teen, MSN Messenger added a webcam chat component, but I wasn’t necessarily surprised or excited; somehow, it felt natural. When Skype was introduced I was even less interested—it was the same thing MSN Messenger offered me. But every now and then, when I watch my grandmother talking to relatives living in Israel on Skype for free, I realize how advanced technology has become in such a short time, and realize how little amazement I have actually felt. But is this idea of binding technology to biology going a little too far? Sometimes I find keeping my true feelings private to be a wise decision. Maybe the excitement I feel when I see my best friend’s boyfriend is not something I want to advertise to the world, maybe displaying the fear I feel when I raise my hand to speak up in class will not motivate me to speak up more often, and maybe I don’t want my dress to make it obvious that “I’m fine” is a blatant lie. At the same time, being more honest with our emotions could be a good thing. Maybe it will eliminate those thoughts of “I wonder if she likes me,” or spark the kind of honest conversation we really should be having with each other if things aren’t fine. Maybe it will allow people to connect like never before. We are already connected to others through technology—constantly updating our Facebook and Twitter accounts, always texting and calling on our cell phones— but we can choose to keep some parts of ourselves hidden. Perhaps in the future, self-expression will involve being comfortable enough to express every part of ourselves, even those emotions we usually try to hide. If it does, such technologies will definitely bring a whole new meaning to the question: “What do your clothes say about you?”
BLAC TO TH FUTUR AFROFUTURISM & RESISTANCE
BY MUNA MIRE ART BY WENTING LI
frofuturism is making a comeback. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it`s exactly what it sounds like. It was first coined in 1995 by Mark Dery who defined it as “speculative fiction that treats African American themes and addresses African American concerns in the context of 20th century technoculture—and, more generally, African American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future.” Essentially, Afrofuturism is an emergent aesthetic motif and a way of looking at the cultural products of Africans in the New World. It concerns itself with the dilemmas faced by people of colour today, as well as the historical legacies of slavery, colonization, and forced migration— sometimes referred to as the “founding trau-
mas” of the genre. Often, Afrofuturism allows the African American subject consuming the music, literature, or art of the genre to reimagine and reconstitute non-Occidental cosmologies and histories that are routinely excised from a whitewashed historical narrative. But the Afrofuturist does not limit themselves to the past—one of the key tropes of the genre is that it engages the potential that the future holds by mapping out aspirations for the utopian project. Another key trope involves the use of the alien as a symbol for the ‘Other.’ This not only highlights the tensions inherent in being present in a racialized body in the Western world, it also allows the genre to explore the setting of outer space—where the alien is Other, the future of technoscience is here and visions of utopia and harmony are interspersed with images from non-Occidental cosmologies. Afrofuturism is a project that si-
multaneously reclaims the past and announces bold hopes for the future. I recently had the pleasure of delving into the genre for myself. I came across a playlist put together by King Britt, a DJ who first gained fame touring in the 1990s with alternative hip hop group Digable Planets. Britt, who has the distinction of being the first ever DJ to receive a fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, was commissioned as part of an incredible online music project called Noise From The 18th Floor to curate a playlist of his choosing. Each program in the series is curated by what Director of Exhibitions at the Pew Center Paula Marincola calls a “local music expert” representing a specific genre. Britt, who is well known for his contributions to dance music, hip hop, broken beat, nu jazz, and funk, chose to mix and create an Afrofuturist playlist. The music of Afrofuturism, which
has its roots in the celestial compositions and remain present. The historical weight of the space-themed mythoi of 1970s giants like “founding traumas” of slavery, forced migraSun-Ra and the Intergalactic Infinity Arkes- tion, and colonialism has not been relieved— tra and Parliament Funkadelic, was influential rather, the opposite. People of colour conenough to Britt for him to want to pay sonic tinue to live with these painful legacies and tribute to the genre. And boy, did Britt de- their consequences every day. The music of liver the goods. The hour-and-a-half long Afrofuturism does the work of lifting playlist covers the music made from the inception of the genre in the 1970s all the way up to current music that qualifies as Afrofuturist. It includes everything from Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock to Common and Flying Lotus. Afrofuturism is a genre that is particularly informative about the Black experience, especially when you look at the music. It’s interesting that what Britt calls the “sonic People of colour continue to Live with these painful legacies and journey” the listener embarks on when listentheir consequences everying to the playlist can span seven decades, day. The music of Afrofuyet still present the listener with a set of unified aesthetic conventions and ideological turism does the work of concerns that have remained fixed over time. lifting these burdens While there have been superficial changes for the listener - it made to the music of Afrofuturism over time, is a way to escape. the core concerns of the genre have stayed the same. This makes one wonder—are the is- these burdens—for the listenerit is a way to sues that necessitated the birth of the genre escape. Going on a sonic journey to the outstill germane to the Black experience today? er reaches of the universe is a way of comThe answer is yes. The need for the genre ing home when the listener may be fatigued has not gone away. The conditions that ne- from feeling like a stranger or an alien on cessitated its arrival have not changed sig- their own home planet. The Afrofuturist mennificantly enough to render the imaginings of tality itself is about being on a different freAfrofuturism obsolete. Africans of the New quency from everyone and everything else World still dream of life free of pernicious present in this reality, this dimension, or at systemic and interpersonal racism—so prac- this time. titioners of the genre still see themselves as While the historical contexts that gave aliens, outsiders, or Others. The imperialist, birth to Afrofuturism have not changed sigand colonialist narratives that drive the need nificantly, contemporary artists have still for people of colour to rewrite and reimagine found ways of making the genre their own. In their histories, genealogies, and cosmologies her stunning debut EP Metropolis: Suite I (The
Chase), Janelle Monae rewrites Fritz Lang’s science fiction film classic Metropolis, casting herself as an android charged with saving a severely socially stratified dystopic society from itself. Other artists have opted not to do explicit concept albums, instead marrying their musical sound to a dreamy, extraterrestrial sound. Artist and producer Flying Lotus—great nephew to the late Alice Coltrane whose music is also included in King Britt’s Afrofuturism playlist—recently released his 2012 album Until The Quiet Comes to widespread critical acclaim. The generational shift between Coltrane’s music and the music her great-nephew makes is tangible, but it is also clear that Flying Lotus was influenced by the dreamy soundscapes of Coltrane’s time. It is easy to see continuity not just between the tropes and ideas pursued in the music of the genre, but in the actual sonic quality of the music itself—the reverb, the sampling of older music, the layering of sound, and the use of African percussion. Indeed, contemporary practitioners of Afrofuturism often go out of their way to pay tribute to the music that founded the genre. Today, the music of Afrofuturism is increasingly popular, even pushing into the mainstream. With artists like OutKast, Actress, Shabazz Palaces, THEESatisfaction, Ras G, and Bonobo leading the current iteration of the genre, it is clear that Afrofuturism is here to stay.
OF THE FAKE GEEK GIRL! By Emily Pollock
everal recent diatribes about the myth of the “Fake Geek Girl” have dragged the fraught intersection of feminism and geek culture into the public eye. For those of you lucky enough not to have read about this phenomenon, Fake Geek Girls are the biggest non-existent threat facing the geek community today. Basically, it’s when attractive girls pretend to be into some aspect of geek subculture in order to get attention. Apparently, the popularity of what used to be Pure Nerd Culture has drawn these evil succubi into conventions and comic book shops to feast on the attention of helpless geeks. The “Idiot Nerd Girl” meme, featuring a black-framed glasses-wearing girl who mixes up geek culture references, has been fairly popular for about a year. But recent articles about this phenomenon have dragged it back into the public eye. Joe Peacock, blogger and self-identified Emperor of Geek Island, wrote an article for CNN about how furious the prospect of attractive women infiltrating his fandom conventions (for all the wrong reasons, dammit!) makes him. He’s careful to say that he knows pretty geeks who are actually Real Geek Girls, but that makes his claims even more problematic. Peacock is assuming that he’s the only person qualified to give out the cards of Real Geekdom—by having some kind of superpower that allows him to look into the hearts of geeks to see if their motives are pure. Joe, you’re a grumpy writer, not the fucking Mirror of Erised. And then he goes and demolishes any possible credibility with some truly obtuse lines about these women, such as, “They’re a ‘6’ in the real world, but when they put on a Batman shirt and head to the local fandom convention du jour, they instantly become a ‘9’.” No amount of “some of my best friends are women” can make up for the fact that he’s an adult who thinks he can put a number value on other people’s attractiveness. The real kicker of the article is when Peacock, trying to define the essence of a Fake Geek Girl, says, “I’m talking about an attention addict trying to satisfy her ego…by infiltrating a community to seek the attention of guys she wouldn’t give the time of day on the street” (italics mine). Oh, I get it! These girls have committed the serious crime of being both attractive and unavailable! So the real test of whether someone is a Real Geek Girl or not is whether they will sleep with you?
Here’s the thing—it’s not just outright misogynists saying this. People like Tony Harris—a comic book artist who recently wrote a Facebook post about his hatred of Fake Geek Girls that sounded like he was drunk and typing with his face—hold attitudes towards women that are disturbing. But Peacock has written other articles decrying sexism in the media, so perhaps he doesn’t have a clue that what he’s saying is problematic. Female geeks have also hopped on the bandwagon with depressing enthusiasm and have declared, like Tara Tiger Brown in her article for Forbes, that “Pretentious females who have labeled themselves as a ‘geek girl’ figured out that guys will pay a lot of attention to them if they proclaim they are reading comics or playing video games.” These people don’t think of themselves as sexists, but what they’re saying is that a woman has to go through some sort of geekiness litmus test to prove she isn’t “just in it to get guys”. It’s also a way of pitting “attractive” women (who are usually the targets of this label) against “unattractive” women (who are generally assumed to be Real Geeks). But even being seen as “unattractive” isn’t enough to spare women from sexism—just witness the brain-meltingly awful comments about plus-sized women who dare to dress up as their favourite characters at conventions. There must be something in the waters of geek culture that encourages biases against women and minorities. Female cosplayers—those who dress up as favourite characters at fan conventions—commonly face harassment. And people who take on this culture of entitlement tend to be ostracized. When Anita Sarkeesian started raising money for a series of short videos on sexist conventions used in video games, the worst elements of the Internet responded with death and rape threats. Despite this, most geeks pride their cultural sphere as being more progressive than that of popular culture. Sexism in geek culture is like The Matrix—impossible to pick up on until we’re forced to look at ourselves from the outside. But what if I told you that geek culture is far poorer when half its potential members feel that they aren’t allowed into the clubhouse? I know what it’s like to love a fandom like crazy. I spent my summers as a kid creating elaborate maps of Tolkien-rip-off worlds and made a scrapbook of every
piece of news that I found about Return of the King when it came out in theatres, because I wanted to be a part of that world. So what I don’t understand about this Fake Geek Girl label is why you would want to drive away people who want to geek out with you. The best part about being a geek is sharing it with others, whether you’re watching the Lord of the Rings movies for 12 hours straight with friends, forcing your Discworld books on your siblings, or debating possible ways that (spoiler alert!) Sherlock could have faked his death in the last episode. The backlash against Peacock’s article demonstrates the blossoming of geek feminism online. John Scalzi, the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, wrote a scathing piece about the elitism and sexism implicit in Peacock’s piece—but it’s only one among many pieces written by passionate geeks who don’t believe that shutting out the female demographic should be the future of geek fandom. Geek feminism has become a greater subset of the geek population, and sites like Mary Sue, Geek Feminism Wiki, and even the Geek Feminism Subreddit have created a feminist sphere for talking about geek culture. These corners of the Internet have become a haven for geek women and feminists who don’t necessarily want to put themselves out there at conventions but have their own cool ideas about topics like objectification in video games. One such project, The Hawkeye Initiative, pokes fun at the impossible poses that female superheroes are drawn in by drawing a male superhero, Hawkeye, in the same pose. Initially suggested by the Tumblr-user “gingerhaze”, the idea has gained massive momentum in the last few months, flooding Tumblr with hilarious copies. For geek feminists, the Internet is a double-edged sword. Although it’s a place where misogynists can find an echo chamber that confirms their views, it’s also a tool that facilitates people getting together to discuss their weirdness in a positive way, without resorting to tired tropes like the Fake Geek Girl. But for the Internet to be a launching pad for inclusive visions of geekery, we need to give up on the idea that geekdom needs a Gandalf the Grey. Everyone should be able to pass.
All the while you’re standing still, wondering, what am I to do? Well, so was Achilles.
By Stephen Michell
A TWEEt For posterity #iWillHaveBeen That, I think, is as much as I can say. Is the notion of the “future” frightening? The future is choices; choices are right and wrong; wrong choices are pain; right choices are less pain. This is life. The future, ultimately, is that which succeeds this. It is not the dark night that scared young Nick Adams, but the looming future, as he “realized that some day he must die”. But think— Swift of foot Achilles: he could trade his young life for glory and fame, or return home to live and die privately, years later, remembered by only a few. This is the dilemma. How shall my life be spent? Shall the whole world remember my name, or will it be written only in the diaries of my grandchildren? It seems a lot to think about at this moment; still a student, early 20s, life burgeoning. To think of death is strange and pointless. I am not suggesting we think about death, but rather that we consider LIFE! It is everywhere, and always we are trying to live it— Notice: you are a being of consequence, your actions cause reactions, your daily decisions transform wicked fast into weeks, months, even years, faster now—four years have passed, graduated, done, dead—slow down, we forgot to think. Now is precisely the moment for thinking. The actions of these precious years, so ardently referred to by our parents as our youth, will drastically affect our futures. But look! Already the future is happening, all around us, all the time, advancing to the tick of the clock. Your best friend is now engaged, your brother is mov-
ing to California for a job, an old high school acquaintance has posted 16 photos of his newborn baby girl, that musician from your fourth year seminar has suggested you “Like” her new band’s page, and your younger sister’s poetry, which was once written only for fun, is now appearing in The Malahat Review. All the while you’re standing still, wondering, what am I to do? Well, so was Achilles. Let your wayward thoughts guide you. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the genius is the person who believes truly in his or her own thought: “Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense.” The bigness or smallness of your life depends not on the grand total of your achievements, but on your engagement with your own thought in the present moment—which defines your existence in the future. Emerson’s genius is wonderful precisely because it exists at the moment when present realizes future. You are trying to live. Consider Facebook and Twitter: what would Emerson think of “Like” buttons and Tweets? Would he say, “Yes! The culmination of human genius!” Or would he see social reliance? We are trying to live, but does it not seem that with each update and comment, we are actually trying to prove to each other that we are alive? We seem to demand an acknowledgment of our existence from the larger social reality—“Here, I have an idea!” Not necessarily to think, but to have our ability for thought recognized by the multitudes. My conflict with modern social media stems, I think, from a natural conservatism that plagues the mind when it imagines a future it does not understand. But tonight,
we are young! I must appreciate the changes of time, the mother of that incessant daemon called the Future. I must think— For instance, modern social media has in some ways solved the Achilles crisis. The most petite life can now also be the grandest! A quiet grandfather will die today. Tomorrow his grandchild will write a status update commemorating the glory that was his little life—and the whole world will have the ability to read it. If only Achilles had had that option, the towers of Troy might still be standing. This must be a humanist victory. Above all, modern social media will inform future historians that the humans of the 21st century enjoyed making friends. I like that. A friend recently gave me a collection of William Saroyan’s short stories, in the preface of which Saroyan offers some fine advice: “Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” I would add only that you should think about the people who are important to your present, the friends who make you good in the ever-occurring future. Then try your best to love them. Because in the end, when it comes—as it will to all of us—whether we are big or small at the close will be determined not by a stream of comments, not by a Tweet, not by a dedicatory Facebook page, but by those close few whom we have known and loved well. #theEnd
G u t a o r N a e nteed r u tu
By Amanda Aziz
ing the best in our chosen field. So we worry and pull out our hair over what we need to decide on for the future (and we have to decide now, apparently). If we fail to make a decision on time, we’ll fall behind in university. And if we fall behind in university, then we won’t get into grad school, and if we don’t get into grad school or get that internship, then we won’t get our career of choice, and if we don’t get our career of choice, then blah blah blah. And the anxiety doesn’t stop there: while everyone else is climbing that ladder or smoothly sailing on their journey to becoming the greatest of I Don’t Care What, your compass is broken. You have no plans, and you don’t know where to start. And to make things worse, if you don’t start perfecting your craft now, then one, two, three, four, five, your time is up and someone else has beaten you in the rat race. Except now you can’t start because you’re plagued with the plunging feeling you get when you realize how far behind you are compared to everyone else who apparently planned their lives the moment they were born. The “Oh god if I don’t start now, start now and make a game plan, then I am going to lose; no, I’m already losing, I feel it, game over” type of feeling. Game over. Or not. It’s funny, this pressure and anxiety, because none of this competition will matter in the future. I mean, you tell me all about your future. Tell me about your dreams. Tell me about your aspirations. Tell me your five-year, 10-year, 15-year plans. Tell me all about your future, because I like jokes. You, me, those superhuman kids that I went to school with and desperately wanted to shut up, can’t control our future. Game plans, goal charts, career maps, and everything you can do to prevent the mishaps—are bullshit. The future is uncontrollable. People try so hard to map out their futures, thinking that they can outwit the inevitable. Yes, it’s true, some direction helps, but we should be aware that the things we’re doing now may or may not have any effect on our future. When we put so much pressure into planning out every little detail, and ponder so much that we’re mentally scrapbooking memories that haven’t even been made yet, then we’re in for disappointment.
Our future is not guaranteed. In high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but felt pressured to have my PhD before I turned 30. But now, I prefer the idea of taking a few years off after I graduate from university. Working and traveling, figuring out what I really want to do, and maybe even joining an organic farm volunteer program to, perhaps, do beekeeping in a farm outside of Berlin. I just want to enjoy myself, and take the most that I can out of the present. What our generation needs to do is to calm down, and realize that this is supposed to happen: the not knowing, the lack of direction. And maybe, just maybe, we should let our future play itself out—instead of planning out the future just focus on what is happening now. And the rest, well, who knows? I’m currently in the middle of deciding what I want to major in for my university career. I have no clue what I want to do, but I know that I want to do something in the creative field. I’m just taking one step at a time because I know that if I pick out a game plan and try to anticipate my life, my anxiety will accumulate to a level so unbearable that I might not even want to get out there and make my future happen. And yes, I am still scared as hell. But I’m okay with that. Some fears are a necessity. And if you’re scared too, let’s be scared together. Fuck mapping out the future, because nothing ever goes according to plan anyway. And who knows, we both might just end up happily beekeeping in Berlin ever after.
I’m going to be turning 20 this summer. I’m not going to be a teenager anymore. I’m going to be turning 20. And the rat race is going to begin. Actually, no, the rat race has already begun. It started in high school, somewhere in between when everyone decided what career they were going to embark on, and when the top result for my Careers Assessment Test was “beekeeper” (taxidermist came in as a close second). Suddenly, in the middle of everyone’s adolescent years—when we were all just getting the hang of the torture that puberty had put our bodies through—the thought of planning out the future began to be a fun pasttime. Yeah, it was fun, all right. The next thing I knew, I found myself (in high school!) acquainted with people already studying for the LSATs, MCATs, and GMATs. People who were making their art portfolios, writing the next great piece of literature in the Western canon, and prepping their speeches for the Nobel Peace Prize that they would presumably be honoured with in the future. On top of that, these kids—these superhumans—were piling on internships seasonally. The real world was brought into high school before we had even graduated. The rat race started prematurely, and I have yet to make my run. While those superhuman kids were off volunteering at a university science lab to find the next cure for multiple sclerosis, I was still stuck on how the hell I got beekeeper as my ideal career (what the fuck, Careers Assessment Test?). I mean, I also participated in school clubs, but everybody did. In a nutshell, while everyone was getting a head start, and happened to know where their towel was, I was sitting on my ass being an awkward teenager who probably left their towel in the school gymnasium’s changing room. Mapping out the future was a thing. Planning was a hobby. Living in the future was something someone of our generation would do, all while trying to live in the present. Being immersed in a super-competitive environment has been stagnating for our generation. Soon, finding a cure for a disease won’t be enough to be the greatest anymore, and we are fixated on the toxic idea that future success is dependent on be-
By JJ Brewis
WHERE WE'RE GOING NEXT
ne of the first assignments I remember from elementary school was to draw what we imagined the world would look like in the future. My classmates drew standard Jetsons-style bullshit like flying cars and moon shoes (or world peace, which was thoughtful—albeit naïve), but I drew my family smiling and laughing. Maybe it’s because my parents fought a lot when I was a child. Perhaps it’s because all I wanted in my future was harmony. It’s impossible for me to look back and talk to that six-year-old me (though it’d be pretty cool if I could, and I’d tell him to skip the whole high school goth thing), but I’d imagine it was about wanting a somewhat attainable goal to come to fruition. Any time humans predict or imagine what the future will look like, it ends up looking like a failed version of the present or past, and is often hilarious or unfeasible, like the image of Marty McFly riding around on a hoverboard. Don’t get me wrong, I love Back to the Future. But let’s be honest—when looking ahead, we often lose sight of what we have now. After all, we as a human race have made some pretty cool shit along the way: Pop Tarts, Space Mountain, marriage equality. If I were an alien, I’d have a lot to write home about. It’s fun to dream and imagine and make predictions of where our species will move next—so long as these anticipations are healthy and will not cause us distress if we end up being off the mark. There’s a fine balance in wishing for a prosperous tomorrow and actually making it happen. Throughout my adolescence, I wanted to be many different things when I grew up—an animator, a professional wrestler, a singer. I never would have imagined I’d be in my late -20’s and still a student, floundering in a sea of opportunity. But hey—here I am, looking for ways to get my career, my heart, and my goals back on the rails. And maybe that’s okay, to fuck up along the way, to lose sight of what you once wanted in exchange for having spontaneity. Because the 18-year-old versions of ourselves who are told to pick a career path, spend the next four years building their skill set and spending the rest of their life in that niche are not really doing that anymore. And why should they? Half the time these 22-year-old grads are unsatisfied and end up doing the exact opposite anyway. Time away is good for young people. For me, it involved travelling, switch-
ing my major and dropping out of school more times than I’ve got fingers, and learning not to judge myself for getting a little lost on my journey. Being forgiving with your deviations is half the battle—the other half is fun. It’s partially about our own decisions, and partially about going with what the universe tells us to do and taking signs from what is being dangled in front of our noses. Our futures are a collaboration between premeditated plans and the infiltration of our real lives. Learning that it’s okay to lose interest, to get pregnant, to go to rehab or to Scotland or wherever you need to go. I might kick myself about not having a degree or a house or a French fucking bulldog by this point— but I also know that I wouldn’t be who I am today without the complete collection of experiences, good and bad, that
MANY PEOPLE ARE HAUNTED BY THEIR PAST, BUT I’M HAUNTED BY THE FUTURE. THE SCARIEST SHIT IS AHEAD OF ME. I’ve gathered along the way. Hell, had I stuck to my original plans without deviating from them at all, lord knows if I would even be here at all. Imagine if I hadn’t chased love to Indiana, pissed in my ex-fiancé’s mouthwash, gotten that tattoo of a dagger? This character-building shit is what makes the future fun: who knows what I’ll come up with next. The thing about the future that we seldom realize is that it never truly comes. We can tell ourselves that we will gorge on food today and diet tomorrow. But when we wake up the next day, it will be the new present, leaving the future constantly bumped off by the now, hour by hour, moment by moment. Many people are haunted by their past, but I’m haunted by the future. The scariest shit is ahead of me. The day I will have to leave school forever to enter the “real world.” The day I will have to explain a stupid mistake I made. The day my hair thins out. The day my mom will die. The day I will do
the same. It is confusing and challenging to keep up with the world because we ultimately must react to what it gives us. The way senior citizens view today’s technologies will be the same way we will react when we are their age, unless we learn from their ways and remember that when we were young, progress was important in fostering our society, our relationships and our futures. The “future” is either a closed door or an open one— depending on how you look at it. People sometimes tell me that I’m lucky for all the opportunities I get in life, and I want to tell them that I’ve worked very hard for everything I have. And most days, I wish I was further on in my life and career than I am. But I remember that there’s a lot more of the future than there is of the past, and I must spend my time wisely to ensure that I’m navigating myself through a life that I can ultimately look back upon and be proud of. Even though I don’t believe in Heaven or God or any of that, I do like the idea that when we’re done, we get a chance to look back on the future that once was—and explore what moments in life we had that were great. If we keep telling ourselves to act tomorrow, we never will. We need to act in the present or else nothing will change at all. So many people worry about what will happen tomorrow that they end up losing today. The world shapeshifts. Who would have thought 100 years ago that it would be okay for two dudes to make out on the street? Who would have thought even 20 years ago that you would one day shop naked in bed? That’s kind of the fun part of life, that progress propels us into the future while we don’t even realize we are changing the world at all. It’s only in looking to the past that we see all that we have done, allowing us to think about the future and what possibilities it holds. Maybe the future isn’t scary at all. Maybe it’s just an opportunity for more awesome things. There can only be more new rides created at Disneyland, more progressive thoughts than what we’ve seen in the past, and more opportunity for weird culinary fusions. You can’t take away the past, but you can add to it. How fucking cool is that?
The Strand Issue 11 - Spring 2013 Magazine Issue