Well well

It’s hard, when you’re in graduate school, to prioritize your physical health. Mental health awareness campaigns, resources, all that good stuff is made available (at least at my institution) in what on good days I think is evidence of the way that society is changing to recognize the holistic nature of our ontological health, and on bad days merely a response to the fact that students keep trying to kill themselves because Anthropocene.

I digress. I was in a car accident last year about this time, and I now have a whole new appreciation for students with mobility issues, chronic pain, and chronic exhaustion. I even kind of know what it’s like to be (briefly) addicted to opioids.

None of which is particularly helpful in analyzing literature for my thesis, but it’s helping me learn to be a more empathetic human being, which imo is kind of the point of life.

I’m thinking about my physical health a lot these days, is I suppose the point of this post. I could take it further in academic inquiry into my subject (what does it mean to be disabled / “infirm” in a post-apocalyptic setting?), but I’m not. Check out Mad Max, though, since that was one of the questions that drove the narrative in the first place, as George Miller used to work as a doctor and saw quite a few car crash victims.

Video on research

This is an older video, taken Feb 2017 (ish) where I talk a bit about my thesis project as it was at that point. It’s not evolved too too much past that, a year later, though I have written almost two chapters so far while past!me hadn’t written any.

Enjoy my glasses-less squinting and trying to look like I’m not struggling to focus on the interviewer. Forgive the um-ing and ah-ing; I hadn’t practiced this at all.

The video is part of the larger project of Just Powers to communicate research on energy transition and the shifts in social and political power that will inevitably follow. You can check out the site: http://justpowers.ca/ and click on “iDoc” on the sidebar for more cool videos.

Musings

Typing posts up is exhausting and takes my mental energy away from where it needs to be (e.g. my thesis, maybe), so I’m not going to be making any more gigantic posts about theory – or, well, I won’t be pushing myself to do so, at least until my dissertation is over and done with. Life is too short to hold oneself to academic standards for writing that is non-peer-reviewed – and, let’s face it – that isn’t generally even considered by a hiring committee for a traditional academic job, or tenure review board.

Academically, I am spending a lot of time thinking about the ends of days (there are many), and it is depressing and disempowering these days in a way that it wasn’t when I first embarked on this PhD research four years ago, since my topic was not actually that relevant to contemporary politics & news in general. Now it is, and I am slightly bitter about it.

Not academically, I am also spending a lot of time thinking about environmental collapse, sociopolitical regression, the rise of fascism world-wide, the sixth extinction, climate change, biodiversity loss, etc. Despair seems to be the flavour of the times.

Hope doesn’t have to equal ungrounded optimism. I am finding hope in small things; staying with the trouble, to parrot Donna Haraway. Right now, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass is helping me immensely with that. I’m reading a few chapters a week for a course I am auditing, and is reminding me of the importance of grounding oneself, of having a sense of place – and of being a being that is part of a place. I highly recommend checking your local library for a copy.

On Cyborgs, part 2

Cyborg theory, in its ability to work across oppositional binaries like technology/human, culture/nature, constructed/given, helps philosophers (and thinkers in general) in forging a way forward beyond what Donna Haraway called the “informatics of domination” back in 1985: self/other, masculine/feminine, white/black, subject/object, real/virtual, heterosexual/homosexual, etc and the implicit hierarchy of the first term over the second.* Going beyond binaries, refusing to devalue integral aspects of our being, realizing that parts of our selves that we thought were inherent are actually constructs / the result of cultural forces, and then working to move forward with that knowledge. Pretty nifty, right?**

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On Cyborgs, part 1

So, cyborgs. If you grew up in the 90s like me, you probably get an image of the Terminator, or the Teen Titans character, or Neo. That’s where I started, but not exactly where the theory of cyborgs started, and that’s the theory I wanna talk about in this post.

Warning: I’m pretty steeped in feminist writing praxis of framing arguments with personal experience so it may or may not get personal up in hurr.

Continue reading “On Cyborgs, part 1”

Post-

Back in July, I was chatting over the phone with my parents, telling them about the research trip I was taking, the book I was reading, and generally the sort of life-update type things that you do when you live with two entirely separate provinces between their home and the one that you live in. I’m currently reading The Posthuman Glossary by Rosi Braidotti & Maria Hlavajova; on hearing this my parents wanted to know what I meant by posthuman. I entirely failed to explain it to them.

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On public writing / writing for the public

(In January 2018, I found this in my drafts folder from August 2016; I’m posting it now)

I’m currently in the midst of reading Public Poetics: Critical Issues in Canadian Poetry and Poetics, and I just finished Sina Queyras’ contribution – “Public Poet, Private Life: 20 Riffs on the Dream of a Communal Self”. I really like it. It’s vulnerable and defiant, a quasi-autobiographical account of her struggles with engaging with a public voice. It touched a chord in me.

I haven’t been updating. Yeah, I’ve been busy, but everyone is busy these days, even when we’re very much not: we’re busy not being busy. It’s not really much of an excuse. Or rather, it’s a convenient smokescreen. Real talk time: I have been tailoring my online contributions for fear of what others will say – that I switch about too much, that I just jump from one thing to another, that I am inconsistent. Over the course of the past decade, I’ve had two personal LJ accounts (plus several others), a presence on two different forums, three Blogger/Blogspot blogs, I think I signed up for Xanga once and used it maybe a few times, three WordPress blogs including this one, a Twitter account, Hootsuite, LinkedIn, FourSquare, several Tumblrs, Instagram, Facebook, oh and then another WordPress account as an editor for Paper Droids. Also now I’m involved in managing three Facebook groups for larger organizations. There are a few I’m not remembering now.

I think I just need to get over it and realize that the plethora of platforms does not matter because 1) tons of poets have done the same and, more importantly, 2) I’ve been living in a time of rapidly changing technology and rapidly changing self – I have been multiple selves over this past decade and it each self has reached out, tried to be public and private at the same time; I am consistent in the fact that I am writing out, reaching out, and the changing platform really doesn’t have a lot to do with personal choice but with the tools at hand.

Niceties

(Found this in my drafts folder in January 2018; it is unfinished, but I’ve lost the thread of my thought, so I am back-posting it now)

On Canada Day, post-Brexit and pre-US Presidential Vote, I was feeling the Canadian smugness, not going to lie. Something about having spent almost a year now with a government that seems a lot saner and less deliberately apocalyptic than the last has put part of my brain at a dangerous ease, and I slipped more readily into the national myth than I have for years. Isn’t it a nice feeling, to be Canadian? Isn’t it nice that we’re just so nice?

We’ve been telling ourselves that for decades, now. Even last year this time, when anxiety over the Harper Government was at its height, a lot of the criticism could be boiled down to a concern that we had become, as a country, not very nice. We love this myth. The world loves this myth.

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Planet Cancer: Some Speculation on Anthropocentrism & Ecological After-Images of Humanity

I came across an article the other night on concrete (The Problem with Reinforced Concrete) that, after reading halfway through, I retweeted to remind myself to read fully the next morning.* And I have, and it’s a fascinating glimpse into one aspect of the how of urban decay aesthetic so beloved by cyberpunks, and an equally fascinating rebuke of the conceit of many twentieth-century far-future science fiction novels where all that is left of humanity is their concrete.

Continue reading “Planet Cancer: Some Speculation on Anthropocentrism & Ecological After-Images of Humanity”

On writing

How We WriteWhen I was in high school and undergraduate studies, I used to keep a LiveJournal – pseudonymous and locked, of course, so that only those in my friends circle who also had LJ accounts could access my posts. It was like keeping a diary in plain sight, where I would record my thoughts and feelings and accomplishments and failures, and have a group of sympathetic and supportive individuals cheering me on or sharing my sorrow or indignation, and giving helpful advice and input on situations that frustrated me.

Last week, my friend gave me a copy of How We Write, edited by Dr Suzanne Conklin Akbari, and it reignited my drive to write non-fiction – both often and online.

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