Here we go again…(did I mention this blog was a lone cry in the wilderness? ;))

A reply I wrote to A Norwegian, Øystein Runde, who wrote this article for the CBC: “Trying to understand tragedy in Oslo.”

I’m including this because, to my surprise, Mr. Runde has quite thoughtfully replied to my critique.   For those of you who want to follow his commentary on the Breivik incident, you can visit his website: http://www.oysteinrunde.no/.

I’m including our exchange here (I’m assuming Mr. Runde won’t mind), because the somewhat confrontational (if ironic) tone of my website aside, this exchange is precisely what one sees too little of on the Internet, and what I am aiming toward with my critiques:

——————

Unfortunately, as long as people such as yourself insist on this obsolete good-evil binarist distinction we will not arrive at a better understanding of what Breivik did.  You share a lot of views with Erik Abild, to whom I have already replied here.

You seem to have a lot of Idealist assumptions about what human nature is, thereby forgetting the “nature” in human nature.  Nature doesn’t give a damn about our moral order; those of us who think “God” created nature also know, deep down, that the devout are murdered, swept away in natural disasters, etc.  You can chalk it up to “the lord works in mysterious ways,” but that doesn’t explain the fact that nature is indeterminate, forever eluding our understanding.

What does this have to do with Breivik?  You commit a fatal mistake in labelling him as “evil.”  Good and evil do not exist in Nature; who are you to say what is “human” and what is “inhuman?”  Perhaps you should remember that there are almost 7 BILLION of us on this planet; do you really think we can be one politically-correct “human” family when so many of us overpopulate this planet and compete for limited resources?  I will say to you what I said to Abild: if the day ever comes when food and water become scarce you are going to see exactly what it means to be “human” in an indifferent natural world.  Rage, vengeance, and the drive to preserve one’s own group (be it family, ethnic or religious group) are part of what it is to be a human being in an indifferent world, just like faith and forgiveness.  Repressing that (and you DO repress it) won’t help anything.

All of this is, as I said, to criticize your binarist “either/or” thinking.  A country is either “soft” or “hard”?  Someone is either “good” or “evil”?  “Human” or “inhuman”?  The distinctions you make are exactly – exactly like those you purport to criticize.  Read some history – humanity does not equal the sweetness and light you paint it as here.  Your “healthy realism” is seriously ailing.  Your self-admittedly “blind” adherence to justice does just that – blinds you to a more comprehensive and intelligent view of humans, who are animals (whatever else we are).

Thus, Breivik is just as “human” as you or I.  For every Breivik who murders innocent people there are thousands who share his views but don’t act on them.  And there are yet MORE of us (myself included) who agree with multiculturalism and immigration in principle but are harshly critical of their politically-correct implementations.  We could have used this tragedy (and it is a tragedy) to productively ask some difficult but necessary questions about immigration and the concept of “multiculturalism.”  How should we negotiate admitting people who adhere to exclusionist religions (the 3 monotheims of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the best examples) who disallow women from pursuing, say, love interests with “outsiders” (Judaism and Islam are notorious for this)?  Who think the rest of the world is going to burn in hell for not sharing their beliefs?  Of course, not every Jew, Christian or Muslim believes this – but do radical Islamists (Zionists, Christian fundamentalists) who preach hatred AND promote such actions have a place in a democracy (and, lest you think I’m anti-Muslim, I will state that in a different historical moment I could be talking about Christians or Jews or [insert religion] here as well).  I am not talking about freedom of speech here; I am rather talking about the transition from thought to action that is openly endorsed by certain members of religious systems.

But did we bother asking?  No.  We simply recapitulated all of the same battle lines and for-against discourse that contributed to our present situation to begin with.

It doesn’t surprise me at all that your views get web space on the Canadian Broadcasting System – which is a veritable bastion of politically-correct denial on the subject of (Canadian) multiculturalism.  But sir, you and the CBC may keep your obsolete, Enlightenment-era “sanctity of human life” – you have the right to believe what you want, but it is completely unrealistic to think that all 7 BILLION “miracles of life” are going to be treated the same on a planet with limited resources.  It simply cannot be done.

 

Anyone who has even skimmed this blog can easily discern my views on multiculturalism and immigration in Canada from my reply to Erik Abild.  Anyone who can read will see the sort of nuanced discussion I’d like to see take place on these issues.  How strange(?), then, that the CBC should persistently ignore my attempts to post my views on their Comments pages.  As a result – and because my views are far more coherent and considered than people whose views were allowed – I’m including here my reply to Prithi Yelaja’s “Multicultural Canada: a Haven from Norway-Style Violence?” in an attempt to at least get my views out there.  There were some intelligent comments posted on the CBC website which are worth looking at – they critique Yelaja’s flawed argument just as I tried to do.  But in the absence of mine, my issues with it are in my reply below – which I emailed to PY and attempted to post to no avail (in the case they are posted and I’m just jumping the gun I will update this accordingly).  So here it is (with a few modifications):

Pritha Yelaja:

How disappointed I was to see the same old naive battle-lines drawn in this article!  Canada’s discourse on multiculturalism and immigration remains profoundly suppressive and repressive – you are either for or against multiculturalism; it either is or is not a “haven” from violence like the Norway tragedy.  Unfortunately, your article perpetuates this reductive either/or.

Of course, it’s expected that you trot out the familiar propagandist images of dark-skinned Canadians celebrating Canada1.  take a good long look at the first picture designed to grab your attention -is it not an icon of the “success” of Canadian multiculturalism?  The sweet, doe-eyed little girl used as a tabula rasa for the oh-so-happy coexistence of Canada and South Asian culture?  Do we not know how journalists use imagery to shapr reader complicity to their arguments?  Now don’t get me wrong – generally, this propaganda is positive.  But when it’s overused in a culturally neurotic compensation for the real problems facing Canada and other countries, how can you expect any honest and objective criticism of Canadian multiculturalism – that is, one that discusses its benefits and drawbacks – when you insist on the same reductive binarist thinking as racists?  You’re just on the other side of the fence.2  Your article is fixated on defending multiculturalism at all costs by those evil racists out there, somewhere – and the problem is that the thoughtful, intelligent nuances in this debate are left entirely by the wayside.3

I wish this article was something more than good old-fashioned head-in-the-sand Canadian political correctness, but it is not.  I wish I could somehow shake the conviction that the CBC actively discourages serious debate beyond its politically correct discursive boundaries; as a corollary, I wish their feedback option were something more than simply the illusion of a “democratic” exchange of ideas.  But it is my unfortunate (and hopefully limited) experience that views such as mine are continually repressed from Canada’s hand-wringing babe-in-the-woods discourse on immigration and multiculturalism – whether it’s me or someone else making these observations.  But perhaps that’s expecting too much from the CBC as the national organ of government propaganda.4  Nevertheless, my growing disgust with gross reductions of the situation on both sides compel me to write.  Your article is ultimately just more evidence that Canada is much more culturally conservative than most people care to acknowledge.

The only remaining question: will you (PY, the CBC, or both) ignore the sender (my email address, as well as the confrontational nature of my website, provide you the perfect politically-correct opportunity to do so), the message, or both?

 

  1. I wonder if this is where the CBC’s PC alarm went off?  Erroneously word-associating my use of “dark-skinned” with racial condescension?  My use of “propaganda” here is not derogatory – it is meant to underscore the interested nature of all argument.
  2. I wonder if this, too, is where the CBC’s PC alarm went off – by mistakenly reading this as me calling someone racist?
  3. You don’t even bother to distinguish between immigrants and refugees, which are two very different types of person who come to Canada (just as they are in Norway, where for every one immigrant there are roughly 5 claiming “refugee” status).  I make this distinction merely for distinction’s sake; commenting on this is off-topic so I leave this as is.
  4. Which isn’t really that ominous or damning – after all, every government on this planet propagandizes their core values apart from the disputes characteristic of a multiparty democracy – Canada is no different.

ALL HAIL QUEEN OPRAH!

Posted: 4th August 2011 by traumaturgist in culture
Tags:

I really need to use this creative outlet more often…combatting e-diocy takes a lot outta ya and it’s refreshing just to let the creative juice flow in baroque little rivulets apart from the torrent :D….

“Oprah Winfreyism” defined at UrbanDictionary.com

 

the Internet and the Culture of “knowledge”

Posted: 1st August 2011 by traumaturgist in culture
Tags: ,

So lest you lurkers (and I know you’re out there) think that all I do is point out peoples’ idiocy and generally shit on everything, I thought I’d permalink to a very interesting article by Chris Colin on Wired called “Rate This Article: What’s Wrong with the Culture of Critique.”  Since I already commented on this and I don’t know if this link will ultimately disappear or not, I thought I’d include my original comments below (with a few modifications and additions):

I agree with a lot of what Chris says (except for acknowledging Roger Ebert as an authoritative source of any knowledge). But where Eric Davis refers to Internet culture as a “culture of knowingness” versus not-knowing, I would extend this to critique the status of this knowledge itself.  For the most part I would not call this knowing, but the illusion of knowing.  That is to say: yes, the Internet presents us with an astonishing amalgamation and proliferation of factoids…but how often does this coalesce and congeal into knowledge about the world that we “take with us” when we get up and go outside?  How often do we really perform this cognitive activity – at once so banal and so important – as we surf?  Perhaps virtually we’re continually on the verge of constructing knowledge; perhaps if we could halt the inundation of imagery, video clips and review systems we could see that an atomist accumulation of factoids (Pippa’s butt measurements, the toxin levels in Amy Winehouse’s corpse, the serial killer I’d be according to a Facebook app, how many people Like this video of a barking cat, such-and-such “Top-10 Amazon Reviewer” gives book X five stars, exactly how many stupid things celebrity X says) does not, in itself, constitute the weltanschauung we all dynamically construct every day?  I’m not saying anything particularly new when I argue that when this construction is subsumed within a parade of information the ability to reason and argue decreases.1  What’s more, this flow of information is increasingly geared, through cookies and unerasable(?) LSOs, to our own histories to give us the comfort of having ourselves reflected back to ourselves within the virtual pool.  Anyone remember the myth of Narcissus?

As a scholar who is eternally wistful for what the Internet could have been and eternally at odds with what the Internet is (I rant about this a lot – here, ironically enough), I must insist: having an amalgamation of factoids and statements does not constitute knowledge. Whether one looks for it on or offline, knowledge comes to be within the very interstices of facts – how they are put together, reasoned through, dismantled and built anew.  You cannot learn that from the Internet.

I am convinced that what will teach you this (or teach it most effectively) is an Arts/Humanities education when taken seriously and not derogated as a waste of time from trade-related programs. Trades (sciences, business/economics etc) excel at giving you rote amalgamations of knowledge for a certain end, but economics, not really at teaching one how to wander through the proverbial garden of ideas and appreciate their relevance. This is what the liberal arts, approached with the right openness of mind, can do in the 21st century.  Perhaps i’m drawing too binarist a comparison between trades I don’t know anything about here – but my goal is to point up a disquieting trend against abstract thinking (the kind which, in my opinion, helps construct knowledge) that also moves toward the rote knowledge that exists within predefined disciplinary systems (economics, law, the sciences etc).  Of course, these systems wouldn’t exist without the inspirational “abstract” thought that engendered them; but that interrelationship is a whole other article. 🙂

Let’s face it – the Internet is tailor-made for lazy people.  At times I’m one of them – even though I am trained in rigorous critical thinking, I’m sure I lapse into moments of mental laziness where I let the cavalcade of virtual objects do my thinking for me.  But this is precisely why my quantity and quality of Intenet exposure is severely limited (and being a graduate student with no life helps :D).

A final note on reviews and rating systems.  Chris makes an excellent point when he observes the plethora of ratings, review systems and “most recommended” lists.  My comment on this: recommended by whom, exactly?  Are these real people recommending these products/services?  How can we tell?  I remember something I read long ago about how when Egyptian nobles were buried in tombs, the priests would construct false rooms with broken walls and leave broken vases and items strewn across the floor.  The reason?  If thieves managed to break into the tomb they would (hopefully) get the impression that someone had already been there and robbed the valuables (whether this was successful or not I leave to you to ponder).  Now the priests wanted people out; yet in the twenty-first century, the same tactic is used to bring people in.  “Oh, look – 1000 people have already liked this article or this product!”  Are they real people?  Or are they the equivalent of vases scattered by a virtual architect building up a product or idea in our minds as a result?  Add to this the number of websites that actively harvest forums posts from other websites (e.g. webhostingtalk.com provider reviews inevitably pop up on other forums sites across the Internet) and the signal-to-noise ratio of the Internet changes accordingly.

 Sorry Chris…I declined to rate your article. 🙂

  1. How many times have people quoted to you a variant of the following: “arguing on the Internet is like running in the Special Olympics…even if you win, you’re still retarded?” Assuming, for a moment, this is true – is it because of the argument, or is it because of an increasing inability to register and sustain critical argument on the Internet? Or is it plain ol’ anti-intellectualism – our inheritance from the 1980s – transplanted on to the web?

Really?

I’m talking about this little tidbit from the “A Room of Our Own” self-styled “radical feminist” website at http://aroomofourown.wordpress.com

“Talking Cure,” A.K.A. “Soft P0rn,” A.K.A. “A Dangerous Method”

Now maybe I’m partial this this particularly ignorant post because I’m a fan of psychoanalysis; maybe it’s because I’m looking forward to the movie; maybe all of the above.  But this couldn’t be passed up; it’s a classic example of how most people on the internet don’t give a shit about thinking through the things they say and attempting a coherent argument.

Leaving aside the fact that “The Fabulously Mean Mutineer Queen of Power Kitty Glendower” bases her review on a trailer; this must be pointed out as an object lesson of the glaringly obvious: that 1) “radical feminists” don’t necessarily know shit about psychoanalysis, and 2) “radical feminism” can be used as an excuse for vapid stupidity and hypocrisy like so many other movements out there.  To wit – the contradiction that is the object of this post (and which was, surprise surprise, not accepted for AROO’s blog…snif)…

The poster writes:

Hollywood (a generic term for almost everyone making contemporary films) is determined to revise history. There seems to be something particularly sinister about revising history in film. Thus, we have Keira Knightley mucking up the Edwardian era with present day BD$M sensibilities in A Dangerous Method.

 Yah-huh, Miss Glendower.  The Edwardian period was….what?  Clean and pure?  And this isn’t even considering the fact that the “Edwardian Era” is derived from a period in English history – so you’re really just making a thoroughly anglocentric categorization of A Dangerous Method, which is a film about the psychoanalysts Freud (who was a German Jew) and Jung (who was a Swiss Catholic) and their careers (which unfolded predominantly on the European continent).1  So sorry milady, but despite your quaint infatuation with movie costumes you won’t find your favourite Edwardian Heroine in the film (or in the book, which you apparently should have looked at first).2

But let’s keep in mind Glendower’s blank incomprehension of the focal point of the film – psychoanalysis – and move on to her description of Knightley – “Nothing like a woman portraying a woman who wants to be beaten and fucked at the same time.”  Not even Freud For Dummies would risk such an inane categorization of psychoanalysis or Sabina Spielrein, whose noteworthy contributions to psychoanalysis – had you bothered to check – would have made a much more interesting blog topic than your self-flattery.  Miss Glendower…time to clean those prudish little feminist lenses and move on to..I dunno…reading the book instead of just watching the movie?  In reducing the productive complexities of psychoanalysis to simple quips designed to net you admiration from your e-friends, what you do in fact is commit the same rewriting of history (again, through your distorted “radical feminist” lenses) you purport to avoid and critique in Hollywood.  Ahh..nothing like vulgar feminism!  Like vulgar Marxism or vulgar capitalism, it’s always good for a laugh or three…

 But I guess Miss Glendower can always convince herself I’m a male and safely discount anything I say as “suspect”…kinda like the heavy hand of Oprah who smacks down into prime-time damnation anyone who disagrees with her or questions her logic, except here there’s way more feminist poseurism.  Womens’ “spanking and fucking” might be in for criticism at AROO, but draw any attention to the radical feminist self-masturbation there and boom!  You’re safely relegated to some sort of misogynist out-bin and ignored.  Put differently: you get “dicked and kicked.”

 

  1. But even this needs clarification; Jung would later (~1913) call his discipline analytical psychology against psychoanalysis.
  2. John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: The Story of Jung, Freud, & Sabina Spielrein (New York: Vintage, 1994).

This is a reply I just wrote to a piece written by one Erik Abild on the Oslo tragedy, which you can find here: “Faced with inhumanity, we must be more human”.  Normally I resist responding to most of what I read on the Internet (the reasons are obvious, right?), but I was compelled to reply to this for reasons you can read in my reply below:

I’m writing to convey the utter dismay I feel after reading your piece entitled “Faced with inhumanity, we must be more human.”  I stumbled upon it while reading the news; normally I realize the futility of posting opinions on the Internet, but the stark naivete of your article compels me to reply.

Now I will be clear: I did not begin reading your piece expecting that you, as a humanitarian worker, were capable of ideological neutrality with regards to the horrific events which recently transpired in Norway.  The romanticized beginning of your article dispenses with any pretence to that.  What I take issue with, in the main, is your naive assumptions with regard to what is “(in)human”, what constitues a country (be it Norway or Canada, where I live).  I will try to restrict myself to these points.

But before I begin, let me state some things clearly: I do not endorse what Anders Breivik did.  I’m not anti-Muslim, although I am harshly critical of Islam and other monotheisms. Nor am I anti-immigration in principle, but I am severely critical of naïve, uncritical immigration policies and the idea that we should simply be generous and let people in. Now that that’s out of the way…

Mr. Abild, are you as a single person, really so arrogant as to pretend to real knowledge of what a country is in its essence? Are you so wise as to know what it means to be “human” or “inhuman”? What you are going to have to realize is that Anders Breivik is just as much a part of “humanity” – and “Norway” – as yourself; no amount of feel-good hands-across-the-world ideology is going to change that. Human beings are animals (whatever else we are above that) and that means (among other things) that we are territorial, tend to function in groups that exclude others. We will obviously privilege our own groups in the name of survival. Your ideology notwithstanding, our existence as bipedal animals (whatever else we are above that) before an indifferent nature means that we are locked in the same mortal struggles as other organisms on this planet. Some groups struggle against others with bombs and guns; they are nevertheless human and it is dangerously reductive to assume otherwise.

There are almost 7 BILLION people on this planet; do you really think a meaningful sense of community can emerge with so many people on the earth – let alone when most of them (in China and especially India) live in poverty?  If the day ever comes where food and water become scarce, I’m afraid you’re going to see how misguided your idealism really is as your global human community is going to shred itself tooth-and-nail to survive.

You write:

concepts such as democracy, openness, equality, community and freedom. These are loaded concepts, shared by many nations, but which are also viewed differently by many. The sum of how we, as Norwegians, fill these concepts with meaning – by our actions as individuals and a society – perhaps best defines what Norway is.

True enough!  What you don’t seem to want to realize is that Breivik did precisely this – filled these concepts with his own meaning as an individual Norwegian.  But you hasten to nullify Breivik’s stance by saying his  attack is “without meaning,” and in doing this you perpetuate the same lack of awareness and unwillingness to discuss the complicated issues surrounding immigration as most of the uneducated populace.  You need to realize that Breivik’s attack absolutely has meaning – whether its meaning is palatable to yourself or not.  Instead of productively using this tragedy to recognize that all is not rosy with immigration, and that the dissident voices need to be heard1…instead of using it to bring up the hard questions about Islamists (as a subgroup of Muslims) and immigration, you choose the easy and unthinking way out.

Yet not only do you do this; in fact, in the excerpt below you perform a certain kind of reductive violence on the very cultures you purport to defend.  You write:

 Today, here in Norway, many politicians and people state that “today we are all AUF” (the name of the youth party). And we are. Just as we all were Japanese when the earthquake struck, or as we all are Somalis when we read about famine. This feeling of community is a part of being human. And this communality, the shared experience of humanity, is essential to hold onto. In the face of inhumanity, we have to be more human.

What an insult!  Do you feel the trauma of the Japanese who have lost relatives in the earthquake?  Were they your relatives?  Of course not.  Do you feel your stomach contorting from lack of food, or the brutal sun as you walk across the desert?  You do not.  Are you really so naive as to think we are all one big community who feels each other’s pain?  Are you so blind to the very different struggles each culture endures when faced with crisis?  Apparently you are.  Your words are the words of a privileged Scandinavian projecting his own psychological needs on to the life-dramas of others.  It is unproductive and embarrassing.

An objective discussion about the benefits and drawbacks to immigration must take place if we are to attempt a more enlightened view.  This leads to some difficult and complicated questions.  Do you bother to ask them?  Do you bother to ask yourself about the difficulties faced by a democratic society that feels compelled to accept blatantly exclusionist religions such as Islam (and, to a slightly lesser extent, Judaism and Christianity)?  There are no easy answers to these questions, as much as you seem to try to avoid that fact.

I am someone who believes in immigration in principle but utterly against the way it is implemented in countries like my homeland, Canada.  I am against monotheist religions in principle, and am strongly critical of Islam as a result (but say the same things about Jews or Christians, or even Buddhists insofar as they believe themselves to be “special” and mount terror attacks).  I believe that it is a brute fact of history that Islam is – at least at this stage in human history – more exclusionist than the other monotheisms.  At the same time, it’s important to distinguish between Islam and Muslims (since there are Muslims as ambivalent about Islam as myself), and between moderate Muslims and radical Islamists (the latter I believe should not be allowed to immigrate).  Do I pretend to know these dividing lines?  No.  But for countries to function these lines need to be drawn, and it is possible to draw them, however provisionally.

If, as you quote, “the meaning of life is to do good,” then what is this good?  You seem to imply – here, anyway – that it is to mystically, pretentiously, phantastically feel the pain of your human brothers and sisters and admit all with open arms.  While this may be an article of faith for you (which is fine), it has no place in a serious investigation of cultural dynamics.

Disappointed by your off-the-shelf “why can’t we just get along”ism, I continue to look for a more realistic response that takes into account an intelligent view of humanity.  Your hand-wringing, feel-good ideology, while appropriate for the Oprah Winfrey show, has no place in any forum that seriously discusses complex issues.

 

  1. Even the American government has realized it will need to talk with the Taliban to ensure a post-occupation Afghanistan doesn’t dissolve.

fuck summer.

Posted: 30th June 2011 by traumaturgist in Uncategorized

So the other day I was on the UWO campus watching little tour groups of wide-eyed, inspired fresh meat get led around the campus, introduced to the facilities by young cheerleaders of late-capitalist education (an enthusiasm I simply cannot map to). It was a nice day, don’t get me wrong – little white fluffs of….what is it, pollen? floating lazily through the air, this intense shade of green I’ve come to associate with London which blends so nicely with the old buildings on campus….

It suddenly occurred to me that I was part of the community! At long last I was a part of something meritoriously greater than myself, and that my actions in that very moment would help determine the course and future lives of this small group of young people walking down the hill from UC towards me! Quick now….they’re approaching – what should I do???

Of course, I did nothing. In an ideal world, I should have run past them shrieking madly, pulling at my hair and flailing my hands wildly at the airborne white fluffy stuff yelling “AAAHHHH! THE TREES! PLANTS! HAVING SEX WITH EACH OTHER EVERYWHERE! SPORENOGRAPHY!! SOMEONE MAKE IT STOOOOOOPPPPPPP!

Sometimes people just need to be fucked with. If they can’t figure that out, they won’t enjoy their time at university and I’m doing them a favor.

Muslims: YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL.

Posted: 30th June 2011 by traumaturgist in Uncategorized

Ok….this sorta thing just pisses me off. Maybe what I’m about to say is a platitude….then again, when I read things like this maybe it isn’t to some people:

Pakistan backlash grows over Internet ‘sacrilege’

This needs to be said: MUSLIMS ARE NOT SPECIAL. Now, I know you think you’re special; and if I don’t believe it, I can read that wacky piece of third-rate journalism called the Koran (which is about as factually accurate as the Bible or any other religious narrative). However, I’m here to tell you and whoever else will listen – you’re not. I know some people are rolling their eyes at just how obvious this is – but when the shit hits the fan in global culture, it’s always the simple, self-evident truths that are the first to be thrown out the window. Ironic, innit?

Now. Before I get in deep shit, I will say the following: thankfully there are Muslims that are smart enough not to fall in for such mouth-foaming fanaticism. See, this means that Muslims, in the end, are just like the rest of us – people with certain beliefs whose personal passion about those beliefs exists along a really wide spectrum – from easy-going personal faith to book-thumping, book-burning (but alas, not book-reading)1 fundamentalism. However – this also means that, just like everyone else, their beliefs and passions are going to be roundly ridiculed in this global public sphere we are all now forced to live in to varying degrees. This is a supreme irony: that in order to enter into the realm of credibility in this new global public sphere, you must first open yourself up to its ridicule; and because true irony is one of the most difficult things in the world to purvey to groups of human beings, puddingheads who are used to thinking in terms of group psychology are simply not gonna get it. All of this is precisely why Kierkegaard writes that “the crowd is untruth”, and it’s a fundamental reason why if you want to change anything, you need to change yourself first. As Jung also wrote, people who want to look first outside themselves to change the world are almost always doing this as a means to evade the difficult and arduous task of changing themselves first.

But is this the whole story? Looking generally at Muslims (insofar as this is possible), one can see why they have a reason to feel pissed off. And yes, at the risk of reiterating another platitude, America is largely responsible for this: since the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, in which America basically staked its claim to the Western hemisphere as part of a future bid for world domination through economic and/or military force, part of this global agenda2 has been the support of Israel as glorified military base in the Middle East3 and the marginalization of Arab Muslims as the dominant ethnic group in the region. As a result, cultivating good old Islamophobia is a clear benefit to cultivate (and, where it cannot be cultivated, create) support for ongoing nation-building projects in the Middle East (sorry, Ari Fleischer).

So suffice it to say I agree that the Muslims have generally had a rough time of it. Now, I’m not a fan of Islam (or Christianity or Judaism); I’ve tried to read the Koran and found it monotonous and rather lacking in philosophical and literary beauty that I, personally, see more in the Bible.4 But whether or not I like Islam has nothing to do with people having the right to be Muslims and more or less keep it to themselves (do I need to highlight, underline or throw down road flares around these last few words?). However – what I see here is a conflation of aesthetics and politics; a confusion of the two, based on the assumption that Facebook or YouTube aesthetics necessarily translate into political power. It’s all very chic and postmodern to say that “everything is political”, and so it is – but not always in an important way. Facebook and YouTube are more or less the Internet’s “Flavour of the Month” club for a culture with an ever-dwindling attention span; and while there are useful causes being furthered on both, let’s face it – the signal-to-noise ratio of both – not to mention the Internet in general – far, far outweighs the former.

These fundamentalist gooheads are obviously overstating things. Banning Facebook and YouTube in the name of human rights or people’s “hurt feelings” – one of the stupidest excuses there is for this sort of thing – is only going to feed into the emotional reactionism that caused this in the first place. And to get back to my previous point – if said Muslims are interested at all (and maybe they aren’t) in becoming members of a larger global community, they will have to accept the fact that Islam is going to be ridiculed. And they’re not alone – hell, look at Judaism; look at Christianity, which at the very least in North America is the most ridiculed religion of them all!

Ye gods I get sick of people who can neither think nor read truncheoning the world with their insecurities and lack of faith. Yes, it is a lack of faith. To end: if Mohammed is a prophet and saint or grand poobah of the multiverse for you, then you are a fucking idiot to demand the same of others. This is precisely the test of inwardness; can your faith survive when everything around you seems indifferent or hostile? If you believe something passionately and insist the world believe the same thing, I have news for you: you aren’t fighting Satan – you are Satan. But I mean Satan without all the cool rockstars and gifted musicians crashed out as his pad.

God, I feel like Dr. Phil spouting these platitudes….so dirty….I need a shower and a drink.

  1. Ok, ok, so they read it….but probably only every second word. And they probably skip to the wacky fire-and-brimstone parts and ignore the parts that make you think. In fact, they probably just read that parts where Mohammed comes off like some Muslim Chuck Norris punching the world with his bearded fist. And if you’re reading this and think this is blasphemous then take a long, thoughtful look at the world around you and shut the fuck up for reasons I am about to explain.
  2. Again, I’m indebted to Noam Chomsky here for making some crystal clear distinctions: this is not a conspiracy theory – it’s institutional analysis (see Manufacturing Consent)
  3. And need we mention the Casa del Negroponte? – the massive US Embassy being built in Baghdad? Will he sit on the porch with a shotgun, white suit, white brim-hat and Colonel Sanders tie while an old dog lies lazily at his feet?
  4. Now I know what some Muslims would say to this: you need to read the original Arabic! Which may be true – but the Bible wasn’t originally written in English either, and the Bible has moving poetry and great insights…

An Open Letter to UWO English Undergrads.

Posted: 30th June 2011 by traumaturgist in Uncategorized
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Another oldie, but hey – worth repeating…..

An Open Letter to (UWO) English Undergrads

As the school year winds down and I come out of another wish-you-were-beer mental haze induced by one too many half-literate undergraduate exams, I once again return to cultivating my master plan of world improvement.1 However, it also occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to remind undergraduates of a few basic facts of human existence.

Ready? I’ll try to list these beginning with the most important, but hey – for some of you dumbasses, just starting anywhere is a drunken stumble in the right direction.

  1. YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL. I know, I know – some moron of a high-school English teacher somewhere told you your MySpace writing was soulful and your poetry was deep, edgy and insightful – either because they wanted to sleep with you or because you were a speck above the usual zeroheads that come through Ontario’s school system these days. Naturally this led you to believe that every single idea in your brain was similarly valuable and must obviously be rewarded with stellar marks in university. Well…allow me to disabuse you of this misapprehension. First – let me assure you that, based on the crop of cabbageheads that come through undergraduate English classes these days, your high-school teachers are as desperately in need of remedial education as you. Actually more so – because they need to be weaned off the alcohol-soaked delusion that they’re actually preparing you for university. They are not. Second – petition your old high schools to change the fluorescent lighting…maybe check the water supply? Does your school still use asbestos imported from some Central Asian country still listed under the hammer and sickle in your pre-1985 school atlas? Get rid of it…something there is scrambling synapses.
  2. GET OVER YOURSELVES. You might be victims of a poisonous, hand-wringing, doe-eyed politically-correct school system (where apparently “fucking the dog and doing no work” is regarded as an “alternative learning style”), but university is trying to prepare you for the real world. In the real world you will fail. You will suffer stinging defeats. You will encounter snakes that will stab you in the back and do whatever they can to get ahead (Christ, kid, I have to deal with this – you think you’re immune?). If you’re lucky (and I hope you are), you will meet with as many victories. But understand that while your high school doesn’t have the balls to teach you how to fail (which is, incidentally, one of the most valuable lessons you will ever learn in life), this is why we mark with the red pen.
  3. YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED. I have no idea where this came from offhand, but there seems to be this “entitlementality” among many undergrads that leads you to think that we are magically beholden to you to give you the highest marks it is in our power to give. Why? Well, because you are you, of course! How can I put this discreetly?……Fuck no. Your ideas may make some sort of idiot savant brilliant sense in your mind, but I am here to inform you that other people exist, and they do not think the same way you do (this is probably the second most important lesson university will teach you if you haven’t clued in to this quite yet). To wit: whining and bitching and complaining about how you think you deserved a different mark might have worked with spineless high school teachers eager to bodyslam you through the system so you become someone else’s problem, but it doesn’t fly here. Learn this.
  4. QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY. How many times have I had to deal with dumbass undergrads who complain about a grade they got, crying “I’m upset! I put x amount of hours work into revising this paper so I deserve at least an x%”? If you want economics and an intellectual world safely insulated from meaningful human experience, go to Ivey or the Shoe-lick School of Business. I wish you happiness in your future role as capitalist drone #4491280-3354EV. I am here to tell you that the arts and humanities, at their best, deal in human experience and life knowledge. We English and humanities graduate teachers and professors, as its custodians, are here to teach you that truly deep and meaningful thinking is painful yet beautiful, and that there is no evolution and maturity without pain and suffering. Your parents (most likely), your high school (absolutely) and this culture (without a doubt) do their best to try and convince you otherwise – we are here, ideally, to show you exactly how full of shit they all are when they try to insulate you from real life experience. Life is painful. Thinking is painful. Now I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking I’m smug and self-satisfied because you already know how painful growing up is. And you’re probably right – I grew up blissfully unaware of all the nasty shit you can find on the Internet and in other places these days. But dude/dudette, you ‘aint seen nothin’ yet. Believe it or not, the arts and humanities are the best existential investment in your future you will ever make. Economics and business might teach you how to pay the bills and subsist as a human, but we teach you how to be a human being. Trust me – it ‘aint as self-evident as you may think.
  5. Now I know not all undergraduates that step through my rooms are the worst-case scenarios I’ve described (thank God)…in fact, some of you are quite bright – which is refreshing in ways I can’t even begin to explain. But there are enough of you (and enough of you who mistakenly think this doesn’t apply to you) to warrant a statement of principle. I’m like that.

  1. This usually involves my dressing up as a little green alien/Man in Black, abducting all the mouthbreathing dolt adolescent males who miraculously made it into university, and planting my own personal version of the V-chip in your testicles so I can edit out the idiocy in your future spawn (read: all that crosseyed sperm floating around in a nutsack fuelled by stale Doritos, Internet porn, jizz-encrusted socks and knuckle-dragging despair).

I’ll just let that sink in…

Posted: 30th June 2011 by traumaturgist in Uncategorized
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Don’t ask me why this happened to come to mind, seeing as it was a year or so ago…but it’s really just too good not to share with whoever happens by here…

I got a letter from my superintendent’s office one day…the people I pay rent to. I really, honestly wish I had kept this – I’d have scanned the meaningful part and posted it for you all. Alas…however, it was one of those run-of-the-mill letters whose main point I’ve long forgotten. The kicker was this: at the end, as a sort of “helpful tip”, it reads:

“If you will not be at home, lease make sure that all chain locks are unlocked.”

I’ll just let that sink in…