Editor’s Note Maral Saghaei-Dehkordi If the cover didn‟t sell the punchline, the theme chosen for this edition of The Edge is “Mirror articles”. I can already hear my philosophy teacher saying : „‟utilisez des propos nuances, étudiez les problématiques‟‟. Well, guess what? life has to be studied the same way. We think things are a certain way, but really we don‟t have it all figured out (contrary to what I thought at 15). John Lennon said : „‟ life is what happens while you are busy making other plans‟‟. This Saturday, while I was at a friend‟s house, I realized I couldn‟t remember the last time I had let myself live. So, if I may, let me share my conclusion with you : even if you feel you are at the most stressful time of your life (specially directed to all of you who are applying to universities), take the time to remember what used to make you happy. You are not so different from the person you used to be, only more experienced. To you, my friend with the pronounced lipstick, I‟m pretty sure you would still enjoy dressing up your Barbies (I know I do). And to you over there with your laptop on your knees typing
frenetically, I will bet that you used to have a tamagochi that rocked your world. And here I am, pretending I know anything at all about you. I‟m still the girl I used to be at 15, I still wear my converses and pretend they‟re the prettiest shoes of all times, I still wear my hair hiding my face and I still believe I‟m gonna find myself a beautiful real life Ken. So go ahead, call me a naive loser. I am Maral Saghaei, 19, 5 foot 2 and I‟m pretty awesome in my pajamas ! It is a bittersweet goodbye that I say to all of our readers, as this is my last Editor’s note. Do not worry though, because I am leaving you in the warm hands of Alexandra Mateer and Sara Giguère who I am sure will do an excellent job during the year to come. I will finish by asking everyone who enjoys reading us to send me (by mio) your comments and opinions about The Bohemian Edge (what do you like/dislike, any tips/advices/ideas?). It has been an honor to bring you this paper and you have gifted me with the greatest happiness by reading us. Thank you!
The Team Alexandra Mateer Camille Banville Pelletier Boyao Zhang Cleo da Fonseca Émile Doyon Maral Saghaei-Dehkordi MAx Gene Nantambu Sullivan Sara Giguère Yitong Zhang
Writer Writer Writer Writer Writer Editor-in-Chief Writer Writer Writer Editor, Artist, Cover
Mrs. Ellen Sittmann Consultant Mr. Stephen Silvester Consultant
Russia Nantambu Sullivan The Russian Federation is a great power whose leaders must have very short memories. If they should have learned anything from the 20th century, it is that authoritarianism is a scourge on societies. Vladimir Putin is Russia’s second president, he has overseen a period of great economic growth, arguable political stability but also the harassment of investors and the restriction of the media. Vladimir Putin intends to return to the Kremlin in March, which may require considerable election fraud, similar to what was witnessed in late 2011 during the parliamentary election, nonetheless he will in all likelihood win and further corrupt the Russian political system. Instead of resigning and recognizing that political repression has inflamed his people. Mr. Putin will reemerge as the chief executive of his country and perpetuate a type of governance that threatens and imprisons its opponents. The Russia of the 21st century has become a corrupt kleptocracy. It is under the helm of Vladimir Putin that Russia has subverted democracy, internally through rigged elections and the intimidation of opposition candidates, and in Russia’s neighbourhood as the Kremlin tries to reassert its hegemony in the old Soviet republics and even in the Middle East. The actions of the Russian federation are not all the grand design of Vladimir Putin but he has been in one position of power or another since 2000. It is reasonable to conclude that, as former president and current prime minister, it was under his orders that Russia invaded Georgia in 2008.
The political musical chairs played by Vladimir Putin (Prime-Minister from 2008 to 2012, former president, 2008-2012) and Dimitri Medvedev subverts and slows down any hint of democratic reform. It perpetuates a political culture of corruption (Russia is 143rd on Perception of Corruption by Transparency International) and it doesn’t allow real representation to take place. The Russian people are protesting for slow and gradual reform which is wise considering the history of 1917 and the 70 years thereafter. Unfortunately, Russians might have to wait until 2024 to witness any political change at the top. That is because Russia’s constitution was recently amended to extend the president’s term to 6 years from 4. The political shuffle from president to prime minister to president again is only testament to the concentration of power in Russia. Does he truly believe that his strongman rule has tamed the chaos of postsoviet reform? Should he and his protégé Dimitri Medvedev be blamed for the criminality in the Russian state? Or is it as The Economist sometimes suggests, Russia’s bureaucracy that is a disorganized mess? Either way it holds Russia back politically and economically. Corruption may cost the country $300 billion each year and Russia has plenty of economic catching up to do. It is 52nd in per capita GDP. Competitive politics should be the standard in this country. It is unnatural to have one man in power for so long. It is worrisome because if power tends to corrupt, what must it do after 24 years? Is Vladimir Putin motivated only by self-interest?
Russia Boyao Zhang December 2011 was a month of political turbulence in Russia. Tens of thousands of Muscovites marched in the streets of Russia’s capital to protest against the Kremlin in the wake of the most recent legislative elections won by United Russia. Its leader, Vladimir Putin, has attracted popular anger by announcing his intention to return to the presidency for 2012. The Russian middle class, thirsty for political changes, struggles with great impatience to do away with the Putin era. They have already begun to envision, not without reason, a democratically reformed Russia with greater freedom and transparency. Bathing in material and financial comfort, the Russian middle class (to which most of the protesters belong), has forgotten that Russia is still in great need of political stability. It can be objected that democratic reforms do not conflict at all with political stability, since key demands of the protesters regarded transparency issues in elections as well as the registration of opposition parties. However, those demands are aimed at indirectly weakening Putin’s power. With United Russia’s current unpopularity, another legislative election could mean the loss of many seats in the State Duma. Russia cannot afford to see Putin deposed or politically weakened. Only a ruthless leader such Putin can bring political stability to the country. Russia’s problems have always been conveniently blamed on the government’s bureaucratic corruption. True, corruption does play a major role in undermining the political stability of the country, but we have to examine its source. During the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia saw a rise in power of oligarchs. Oligarchs were
opportunist entrepreneurs who, through connections with members of the government or other illegal means, seized many state assets (raw material and oil companies) during the wave of privatization under President Boris Yelstin. Russian oligarchs became so powerful that they could interfere with legislation. Some of them were also involved in organized crimes. Yelstin’s government was powerless against the oligarchs; in fact, his re-election in 1996 was largely funded by them. However, Putin was able to do what Yelstin could not. Oligarchs were hit hard under his administration. Business magnates such as Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky were forced to leave the country after having their assets seized. The most prominent of all oligarchs, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, owner of Russia’s largest company Yukos, was arrested and prosecuted in a criminal court (Putin took this occasion to put Yukos under the control of the State). Under Yelstin, oligarchs were untouchable. Under Putin, oligarchs were still untouchable. Yet Putin dared to touch them (though Berezovsky actually helped Putin to come to power). Putin’s attack against oligarchs was thus instrumental in strengthening the power of the state. One may also argue that the Putin administration also has its favorite among Russian oligarchs, which makes them no different from the corrupt Yelstin government. However, with Putin, things are largely different: Putin’s actions have already been scared the oligarchs into submission. His ruthlessness keeps the oligarchs at bay. Another significant factor threatening the internal stability of Russia is Chechnya. Located in Southwest Russia, Chechnya is
known for its separatist tendencies. The Chechens attempted to earn their independence through two bloody civil wars with Russia during the 1990s. After the wars, Chechen Islamic militants took many hostages at the Beslan school in 2004 and attempted to use the hostages as leverage against the Kremlin. Of course, Putin responded with a controversial method, killing many hostages in the process. But this is just the perfect example of his uncompromising position towards the situation in Chechnya. Now why is the Chechen question so important to Putin? Chechnya is only one of the twenty one republics within Russia which are inhabited by dominant populations of nonRussian ethnicities. There have been talks of secession in many other republics, such as Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and Sakha. The successful secession of Chechnya would be a green light for those republics to secede as well. Many of those republics are home to major strategic raw materials such as oil and minerals. The simultaneous secession of four or five republics would cripple Russia both politically and economically. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians have been struggling to build a viable democratic system. Unfortunately, even today, the country is still stuck at the historical stage of â€œstate foundationâ€?, if I allow myself to use a Machiavellian notion. The political system is largely imperfect, for it is plagued with corruption. A strong and ruthless leader is thus required to maintain the political stability. Nevertheless, there is always a heavy price to be paid for immediate stability. Ultimately, it is up to the Russians to decide their fate.
Don’t Worry… Be Happy Émile Doyon Sometimes, the clock stops ticking. Sometimes, things don’t look so good. Sometimes, life hits you so hard you can barely recover. But one thing is certain, for all the times of great despair, for all the rainy nights spent crying in your beds, for all the moments you wish to forget, there is always something good. Yes, it’s difficult, yes, it can be painful, but you must never forget that you are the only master of your destiny. If you decide to cower in your anguish and refuse to fight back, you’ll never escape from your pain. But how? How can you fight this pain? How can you recover from this permanent punch to your stomach? The answer is quite simple: optimism. Every situation has its opposite. Even if sometimes it can be really hard to see, there is always some good in the worst. Light always comes after darkness. So look, look again until you find the glimpse of hope hidden under all the rubble and ash. Don’t forget there is
always someone who notices you, who cares. Take a new perspective on life. Amaze yourself when confronted with the simplest things that obscure your path: the shy caress of the wind over the fresh newly-cut grass, the mesmerizing acrobatics of birds in the air, the laughter of a child. The world is full of beauty and it’s all yours to discover. Stay close to the ones you love and embrace them as they reach out to you with their hands full of love. Take a moment and close your eyes to realize that life can be a neverending sunrise to those who decide it so. Only you can decide whether or not to see it. You are the only one who decides to extinguish a flame, or to burn a candle. Don’t forget that tomorrow is a whole new day, and that the past is the past. There will always be people there for you…. Shadowed friends that fly near you as angels watch over you. And don’t forget to smile.
The Queen Alexandra Mateer
Mirror, mirror, on the wall Who is the fairest of them all? Say I, and doom me to an eternity Of staring into your crystal clarity But bestow your favor unto any other And awaken envy that none can smother For you are the soul of each and every Looking glass, the sole beholder of all beauty You see me for me, for who I am truly Unmisted by love or dislike, your only desire: The truth, reflected for all to admire Though should all truths be born? Once uttered, with none to warn They shatter. Grant me this, A bewitching evil; bliss.
Like those Wolves and Sheep Cleo da Fonseca We sleep while sheep bellow below the veranda. A sudden howl to the moon. Sound of shattered ice followed by pumping blood. The me finally awakes. It speaks only once. By itself. After that, packs and flocks of this world carry on with their holler. In unison. I cross the field and jump off Convention Hill. They laugh. Like animals.
The Me inside We tells Me, not Us, (like those wolves and sheep) how to bawl and howl longer, yet â€˜tis no longer for them â€“ or for anyone else than the Single Side: one fool only Instead of the outside mind, so full, I choose My insanity confined less dull. The We (once and for all) (no matter how much you bhawl) Beca me .eM
Umbrellaless MAx Gene I listened to the hushed tones, the died-out colours, playing like an old record. I recalled a lonely perfume. It reminded me of too many guitar tunes written from broken strings. Too many lonely hours washed away drinking cognac in abandoned bars. Too many shattered bones found along the way. I listened to the murmur of the rain pouring down on my face. Cars sped by, splashing mud on my withered dress. Twilight consumed by darkness. I deliberated a sign, flattering the moroseness of another dying day. Looking at lampposts always made me feel empty inside. They often reminded me of secluded monks who could not speak their thoughts. They stand, helplessly overlooking majestic snow-covered streets turn into filth and grime as cars roll by, erasing the pureness, day by day. There they remain, witnessing the change of seasons, the years gone by, from dawn to moonlight. Condemned to silence, they pray without a whisper, curved by age, casting a single humble light. And only lonely birds come to perch upon them until they learn to fly away. How many memories do lampposts have? What starved existence, watching life turn into death, watching people come and go, watching doors open and close, walls erected and destroyed. Where do these memories go? Tortured by motion, but shackled to stillness, lampposts lead lonely lives, haunted by their past. I felt like a lamppost sometimes, especially that day. As stillness crept into the melting snow under the mercy of the heavy rain, I felt like that dog that ran away. That dog that ran away with no one looking. Umbrellaless. I loved inventing words when Lamppost Syndrome hit me. Umbrellaless meant much more than just being outside without an umbrella. It was my poetic way of saying shelterless. I felt too rigid for emotions, but I somehow became their slave. When the sun returned to its womb, I became chained to the fleeting things, the dying casualties of the day. Nights always made me a melancholic dreamer, forever waiting for you to come, to come this way, to take my hand, to dry this rain, to cure this illusion, to make me wake. Waiting. There I was again, that day, waiting, watching everything turn into road kill. Waiting. For you to say your name, for you to break this chain of anger, of fear, of remorse, of immobility, for you to unchaste the plastic monotony of each step I take, for you to prevent senility from killing me before each bleeding sunrise. There you were that day, your intoxicating scent sashaying behind your crouched silhouette. Smoking the coldness in the air, your hunched form sought a dark corner, a dark corner for shadowed thoughts. Stranger you were, to me and to yourself. I knew I was looking for youâ€Ś You shuffled your hair like one of those abandoned animals, philosophizing on rainy highways, howling, searching in buried manners. Could you see me? Could you see this lonely form? Could you see this broken lamppost, with fading light too weak to shine, with peeling paint on a body too weak to support itself in the gusts of wind? There I was, waiting. Waiting. And there you were, thinking. Thinking. Look my way, will you. Sing me a lullaby. Unmask the nothingness that people see. Or were you but a stranger who could only see a lamppost, like all the others? An umbrellaless life. And so, hoping, I let the rain pour on my face and criedâ€Ś
In the Mirror of the Restaurant Camille Banville Pelletier This moment is... awkward. She is awkward. I haven’t seen her for so long. I was expecting a bit more of enthusiasm from her. She was so pretty as always. We sat. We spoke a bit. She didn’t look mentally there. The menu arrived. She asked the waitress one or two questions. We ordered. She was looking around her, more and more distant, she was answering my questions -yes, no, hints… Her fingers were playing with the napkin… She seemed anxious. “I swear! Everything’s fine.” Little smile. I didn’t know if I should believe her. Our plates arrived. What a nice smell. There’s nothing like food to change our mind. One bite. I lift my head up. Her fingers were dirty, her mouth was full. She was literally swallowing her dinner. I laughed a little bit. She seemed slightly embarrassed. And she continued until the last crumb. I wasn’t done. Silence. “Excuse me”. She went to the washroom. 1 minute. 2 minutes. 5 minutes. What was she doing? Maybe I had better go see. While chewing my last fried potato, I stood up. The quest for the toilet begun. There in the back! It was beside the red, cosy counter. This place was so pleasant. I pushed the door. I saw her reflection in the mirror. She was in tears, crying like a baby, desperate. At this moment, all I was thinking was to save her from I don’t know what. I pressed her against me. She didn’t resist. She was broken. And here I was with her crying in my arms. Something was wrong. I won’t let her go. Never. This moment is a torture. I am the torturer. I haven’t seen her for so long. Seeing her made me think about before, when life was simple. It wouldn’t have been hard to believe that hundred years had passed. She was so pretty. As always. Jealousy in my stomach. We sat. We spoke a bit. There were way too many things to think about. The decisions arrived. More pressure. Thousands of questions I didn’t dare ask the waitress and some I didn’t dare to ask even myself. I couldn’t make a choice. I had to do the right thing. I felt like the entire world was waiting for me. No time. I chose. Did I do the right thing? What would it be to eat that food? What if I eat all the plate? What if I don’t eat all the plate? What would eating in front of her be like? Will there be someone to judge me except myself? “Are you alright?” She was worried. I had to change my mind. Or at least, to be convincing when saying that everything was fine. Convincing for her, for all the others and for me. Our plates arrived. Too fast. I could have waited hours. I saw the plate landing slowly and an enormous amount of prohibited things appeared in front of me. Two voices in my head were fighting, I got confused. When I came back to myself, my plate was empty, my belly was full and painful, and it was bigger. I could feel it. Long silence. I could hear my heart racing in my chest. What I had just done? The race of my heart faster and faster, I had to leave. The quest for the toilet started. Toilet, toilet... There, in the back! Obviously, I had to pass the tables, the kitchens, the counter… Food! Food! Food! Everything was saying food. Everywhere. No escape. And after this, I was obsessed. I don’t think so. I felt suddenly alone. Alone in the crowd, in the middle of the noises, the voices and the smells. I pushed the washroom door. A quiet place, a clean place. A clean place for my dirty body. I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I tried to support my gaze. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t face myself. I had failed. Once again! What was wrong with me? I burst in tears. Once again. I was supposed to be strong. She entered. I jumped. She pressed me against her. I didn’t resist. I was broken. And here I am, crying in her arms. But I am strong, I can control myself, everything is ok. In seconds, my tears will be gone and me too.
Blue Gold Sara Giguère Every day, you use water without really thinking about the action you are performing. The use of water has become appallingly common to most of you. It means nothing, because you aren’t the child in Africa who has to walk all day to obtain a few litres of water that he will have to share with the rest of his family. As a matter of fact, the only effort you have to make to have access to water is to turn a knob. On the other hand, the amount of effort you put at wasting water is another story! Leaving the faucet on while you brush your teeth, taking hour-long showers and throwing out full bottles of water just because someone took a sip out of them are just a few examples of the way you greedily use water. Nevertheless, the average Canadian uses 335 litres of water per day whereas most of the 7.1 billion people worldwide who are poor must survive on only 5 litres. I feel guilty using so much water while my kin can barely survive on so little. On top of over-using water, you dirty it, as if it had a self-cleaning system. Flushing down the toilet your old antibiotics and letting too much soap and cosmetics go down the drain can cause water shortage by 2013 in countries like the U.S. Of course it’s easy to blame it on the industries who dump about 500 million tons of heavy metals, solvents and toxic sludge into the water every year, but why should we wait for the mighty industries to act first? We have to stop telling ourselves that someone bigger than us will take care of the problem. As proud citizens of our world, we should, no! We must take the first step and set the example for others! Now think about this: today, 70% of the fresh water used on the planet is for agricultural purposes, and in less wealthy regions 80% of the water consumption is used for the same means. In most of these under-privileged countries agriculture is the only way to have access to food. What’s the problem? Most of the water used in irrigation evaporates before getting to the plants that need it. To make matters worse, the use of unclean water lands up contaminating the farmer’s crops and transmitting diseases to the population, increasing the already large number of deaths in these countries. So, what do we do? Absolutely nothing! Entire continents like Africa are asking for our help because they won’t make it without us and how are we helping them? By selling water! Canada, the United States, Europe! Who are we to decide if they should be granted access to water or not? Water is a basic necessity and no matter how rich or poor you are, everybody should have the right to it! When will we learn the worth of water? When there is none left? Only 3% of water in the world is fresh, but most of it is somewhere unreachable like in glaciers or stuck underground. Our country has the third largest reserve of fresh water; however, this does not mean that we should feel free to use it as if it were inexhaustible. On the contrary we should be trying to find ways to save water for others. I ask you not what you can do to save yourself when it’s too late, but what you can do to prevent the loss of water now!