Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Reading break so far... ACK.

Well, if you wanted to know the differences between a traditional, recurve, and compound bow I could now tell you of them, at length, as well as identify typical accessory tools and expound for at least a good ten minutes on the merits of varying lengths of arrows.

That's right, mes amis. I have returned from an archery tournament. The actual archery was fun and funny. You haven't lived until you've seen an arrow-tip buried in the gonads of a high-density foam boar. I laughed heartily, and would have taken pictures were the camera not a corpse about my neck. I carted that thing around like an albatross, man. It was pleasant to listen to the chatter of archery-afficionados gathered all about, grand to wait with bated breath as door prizes were called. However.

The stupid barn was cloudy with dust and the scent of urine and every time I had to walk through the door I literally gagged a little bit, then threw up in my mouth. Of course it would be the height of impoliteness to actually spit out the puke, so back down it went. Ah. The mores of civil society, where you can't even feel free to vomit in polite company. Give me barbarous times any day. In all honesty, it was a pretty wonderful time, though a little bit annoying that we were boxed in and couldn't leave for hours on end. I was feeling the hunger, man! And their concession sucked.

Afterwards, bestest bud (who was in the archery tournament, and thus my presence there is also explained), who shoots an unsighted recurve bow (which means that she needs to cultivate certain upper body strength as well as an eye for aiming, unlike those dastardly compounds, who get to use stabilizers and sights and don't have to keep the pressure on the string once they've got it drawn), camped out on my apartment's living room floor. Originally she had the couch, but then she flopped over and complained that it was too short for her. I had the on-floor mattress; we simply switched places and went back to watching Dead Like Me and Samurai 7. The couch has never been too short for me; I state because I curl up into a ball to sleep. Bestest bud disagrees and chooses to mock my shorter stature. What a jerk.

Bestest bud soon will leave for sunnier climes; well, Victoria is typically sunnier than Prince George I've been told. I don't know if it's true, having never been in Victoria for longer than a week. I suppose once bestest bud is down there I shall make the pilgrimage to visit, or maybe dig around for a bit and explore. I do love me the lower mainland, plus associated areas, given Victoria's not the mainland at all. But it's kind of sad, watching bestest bud go. I'm happy for her; but it's going to be lonely. She departs 4 days hence. Ahh. So little time.

I've started to hit that place where I go, "What should I do now?" Knowing that I'm just about done school is starting to terrify me. I have this sudden urge to flunk all of my classes and retire, hermit-like, into the life of an intellectual recluse. Only they'd probably take away my intellectual creds once they found out I flunked all my courses. Yikes. Judgmental bastards. But really. I don't know what I want to do. Or where I want to go. Mostly I'm just bored; and scared. Not a very fun combination, let me tell you. Whoever heard of someone being scarily bored? Boredly scared? Let me just say, like Peter Pan, I never want to grow up. Though I'm legally an adult, 'teen' still suffixes my age. Until I hit magical 20 I claim the right to remain a child. Or at least a teenager. I have a good six months left. Ack. That's actually hardly any time at all. (And speaking of Peter Pan, WOW. Barrie wrote orgies right into the text, oh yes he did. After a bit of google-fu, it comes to light that 2 of Barrie's 5 male charges committed suicide, one of whom being his especial favourite. Suspicious? I think mayhap, especially taking into consideration he didn't have much of a hand in raising the last two boys - neither of which killed themselves - and of the older three, the only one who didn't commit suicide was killed in the war. Not good stats, J.M. ol' chap.)

In order to make this post at least a little bit useful in any way, shape, or form, does anyone know of Japanese-Canadian authors/poets? I already have: Kerri Sakamoto, Hiromi Goto, Joy Kogawa, and Roy Miki. I've had to discard Ruth Ozeki and Ruri Pilgrim for being Japanese-American; it made me sad. I really liked Ozeki's "My Year of Meats". It had class. However, I'm trying to gather up possible course material for an independent study, and I want to focus on Japanese-Canadian lit with an emphasis on the clash of language structures, as most of these authors either speak English as a second language or were exposed to English through the linguistic lens of those who spoke English as a second language and thus imposed a certain other-language-structure upon the structural codes of English (I'm not sure if this is making any sense yet...). The reason why it has to be Japanese-Canadian specifically and not Japanese-American as well, or even Japanese-English, is that part of the study is going to examine how Japanese-Canadian lit writes back against traditional Euro-centric Canadian literary values, the Canadian canon, if you will, although of course now at least Kogawa's "Obasan" has been incorporated into said canon. Or has it? Ahhh. I'm being overly verbose tonight. I blame tiredness and existential angst.

Friday, February 16, 2007


My procrastination tendencies were just horrifically enabled. Something must be wrong with the world. It must have tilted, off-balance, resulting in a production of some strange gravity where my slackery is what holds me upright rather than what drags me hideously down.

Anyways: the second McSweeney prompt: Write a short scene set at a lake, with trees and shit. Throw some birds in there, too.

There was a mountain of shit piled on Hogsback's shore. It dwarfed the surrounding centuries old jackpines; it loomed threateningly over the few cars parked slightly up hill. "Dear Lord," one camper said to another. "It's majestic, after a fashion," was the reply.

Each watched as a flock of small birds, singing back and forth to one another, alighted atop the shitpile and promptly sank up to the breastfeathers in it.

I kind of take things literally some of the time. In other news: I am out of milk, which means I must drink my coffee black and abstain from cereal unless I wish to have a very dry throat. This makes me vexed. Verily, it is so.

The problem with thinking is that once you start, it's kind of hard to stop.

I don't know what the general experience of English majors has been, but for me, specifically, I've typically been dealt with scornfully. My course-load is impressive, but only for someone of non-English major-hood. I may be smart, but only in an English major context. I think this attitude to English majors is mainly because we don't really LEARN anything in the modern-traditional sense; we don't memorize horrific amounts of detail (unless we happen to end up in a Mac-Hay class, in which case, God have mercy upon us), we don't acquire overtly practical skills, at most we could be said to bull-shit amazingly convincingly.

And it's true, to a certain point. English majors aren't exactly trained to be skilled in trivia. Not for the most part, at any rate - I mean, we're expected to know general causes and factors that influence the development of literature. We're not expected to know the kreb cycle, or the exact progression of Hitler's forces in Africa during World War II. No one quizzes us on the gestalt approach (unless we're working within an inter-disciplinary context), and no one asks us to give an equation for the velocity of rockets breaking through the atmosphere. Most of us aren't good at math; most of us can't do anything beyond very basic calculus.

And our lack of general ability in these fields, as a group and not an individual by individual basis, is what colours the perception that English is the default major. In a lot of cases it is. But this status isn't because English is an incredibly easy discipline. Enough people struggle with it to illustrate that it is, in fact, quite difficult to acquire the rules governing it; the only people who actually say that English is easy are those who have spent their entire lives speaking it, being trained to think in its system of associative bundles, of grammatical structuring. Speak to anyone who has had to learn English as a second language - I lived with one for my entire life, and around many others while I was a child. My mom is Japanese; a lot of my friends can't understand her English. They say her accent is too strong. They don't understand her sentence structure, they get confused by her seemingly strange linguistic leaps. They ask me to interpret my mom's English into their English. What about any of this is easy? English is not easy. English is the majority of North America's basis of communication, and it breaks down.

In the English study discipline, this is important - the study of how meanings are formed, and how they have changed, and what they have changed into, and why they changed at all. Language is the outward expression of thought; English can therefore be said to study thought. Maybe this sounds familiar; maybe I should be stopped and told, "You're thinking philosophy now, you're going down the wrong track." But English is a chameleon, it blends in with many if not all of the fields in humanities. Philosophy concerns itself with asking questions and seeking possible answers to those questions. This is what all other disciplines, from the hard sciences to the soft to the humanities, attempt to do - look at context, formulate hypotheses, test them, find answers or more questions.

See, I don't agree with casting English majors in a derogatory light. Maybe only because I am one, but still, I find that I'm being trained to analyze texts, to contextualize, to ask questions and deconstruct and reconstruct, to try to understand the thoughts of authors, of narrators, of characters, to continuously alter my framework of interpretation to gain new readings. The last point is the most difficult one for me - to actually and consciously change my value system, the way I perceive reality (without the aid of chemical substances), is hard for me to do. But that's what education is about - reformatting your brain, learning to think, learning to shift modes of thought.

An English education is a significant education. It is difficult to do well in the discipline, especially at an upper level. If anyone doubts, let them read Derrida, Said, Bhabha.

And wow, that's kind of a long rant. ...oops.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I didn't tell a lie!

Okay, so, this is actually ridiculously late given that I said I'd update 'tomorrow' and when 'tomorrow' came, I... well, let's just say that for me tomorrow never came. Which is actually kind of true, since tomorrow never does actually arrive. Um. Yes, I realize I'm trying to justify my laziness. Oh! A good excuse for not having posted when I said I was going to post: I sprained my ankle! Yes, this doesn't stop me from typing, but it does put me in horribly debilitating pain! Or, y'know, enough pain that I have to hobble about and whine piteously to all and sundry who will listen. And offer chocolate. (Which actually happened! I got chocolate and flowers! 'Twas the awesomest of the awesome.)

Anywho, how, what and where, the above picture is in honor of (the now belated) Valentine's Day. Here's hoping everyone had one in some way filled with love! Mine was filled with tests. Two of them. Yeah.

So here is the 1st of the McSweeney Prompts:

Prompt: Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man's friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.

Table decided it disliked being used as a murder site. Beforehand it didn't quite have an opinion one way or another, but recent experience with spurting blood streaking its veneer and tickling down its legs, coagulating around its feet, decided it. Kinesthetic sense was the only one table had, after all - no eyes no sight, no ears no hearing - and it liked being stroked down with warm cleaning cloths more than it enjoyed the slam of bodies on top of it.

You've got it made, photograph-frame grumbled. Look at my glass covering. It got cracked. Do you know how annoying it is to look at this place through fractured eyes? I keep on seeing multiples of everything, which is not pretty. At all. I mean, you'd think the neighbours would have smelled something by now and gotten this place cleaned up.

Photograph decided not to add to the conversation. It was hard to talk while in pieces; and the fragments of its image that had been smiles had blown out the window days ago. The scraps that were left anchored themselves in clotted blood. A photographic pair of linked hands had long since disappeared.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Writerly things!

So, I realize that I post an absurd amount of links to this blog. But the internet is a vast and scarily interesting place, and I like to explore; moreover, I like to take others with me. You know, in case of sudden e-bear attack. (The survival instinct is strong within me; I'm a true northern Canadian.)

One of the funnest places to internet-stalk is McSweeney's website. It has a tremendous amount of cool things on it. One of these tremendously cool things is, also known as Thirteen Writing Prompts, by Dan Wiencek.

My goal? Is to write all of these prompts in the next 13 days. I can already feel that it is a mistake. Ah well. Man-yacks as they say. Or perhaps that's just me. And if anyone feels like joining in, it'd be like a party! Well, not really. Only in my head.

The first of these prompts is: Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man's friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.

My response = tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

*oscillates wildly*

This post is devoted to things that are awesome. Why? you ask. Well, because for the most part lately the world has not been awesome. Apart from stupid budget cuts at the university, and friend-related-abandonment, and the breaking of coffee making machines, and the impending Doom of the Eye Appointment with the Eye Drops of HORROR, and the never-ending march of deadlines approaching and passing whilst I wave wildly (like the alliteration?), the world has actually sucked.

Therefore! Awesome things that cause cheerfulness! And mayhap awe! To begin with, the picture above. Is it not awesome? Methinks it may be.

Also: is very awesome. Incredibly awesome, in fact. It is daily MONSTERS. How much more awesome can you get? is wistfully beautiful and beautifully smart. Melikes a webcomic about 'romance, sarcasm, math and language'. Dude, curse words. In other languages. The good, it does not get any better. It's an adventure! With particles! ...awesome for those with no physics knowledge; for those with, there are pretty diagrams! That move! How sparkly.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnd that's all, folks.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

ahhh! babel! babble! babelbabble!

"They are great private of spessimetro, the OH -, that is I."

I have discovered the method through which the Canadian supersecretspyleague can communicate without anyone ever being able to decode their supersecretspymessages! ...the problem of course being that by the time the message has gone through the encoding machine (also know as the Babelinator, like the Terminator only with WORDS and thusly much more awesome), not even they will know what is that they have said. Still. Brilliance.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Canadian? Nay! Hyphenated!

I disagree with the commonly held belief that the inherent danger of being an English major is a tendency to post- and -ism things to metaphorical death. I mean, post-'s and -ism's aren't in themselves dangerous. Actually they're quite fun. You can attach and detach them at will, like breakaway lego pieces.

No, the danger in being an English major is to analyze things to death. Usually pointless things. Things seeking authentification, which draws in other English majors, or post-English majors who have gone on to become theorists, professors, etcetera. (Note how I cleverly included a 'post-'. I have learned well in my English major ways.) The whole point of this was to bring the blogpost to the subject of Canadian identity, but it was taking too long going the roundabout and witty way, and I have a paper due in 2 hours I have yet to start writing. Procrastination, another skill perfected through English major experience.

Anywho, to take another shortcut, I just slogged through an article about ethnicity and identity and the pitfalls of multiculturalism, etcetera, so on, so forth. (It was pretty readable, actually, and by Bissoondath.) So! Much was made of hyphenation of identity, which seemed to scream hybridization in altered form to me, but whatevs.

Arg. I hate exposition. It takes too long.

In short: I think Canadians would make excellent super secret spies. I mean, internationally speaking, as we seem to lack any kind of cohesive national identity, which would make our loyalty to "crown and country" kind of questionable. You know, since no one really pays attention to the crown and the existence of an actual country seems debatable. So! Due to our hyphenated state (for example, take your typical Chinese-Canadian, Indian-Canadian, Jamaican-Canadian, Japanese-Canadian) we, nationally, occupy an unspecified zone of hybridity (this wasn't actually Bissoondath's point: he argued for a possible casting aside of hyphens and embracing identity as 'Canadian' with no extra add ons, proving that he fails at post- and -ism speak and therefore also at being an English major, shame on him). Our hybrid status makes us exceptionally fluid on an international scale identity-wise; give any hyphenated Canadian a good reason to be loyal to any particular government/country/etc., and chances are, they will be entirely devoted. Or at least amused with the novel experience. And also, by retaining the overt (non) identity of Canadian, these individuals would be widely accepted on many social and political levels. Which, obviously, necessary for being a spy!

God, I make no sense. I try to prove my logic, my logic falls apart. I should just give up. I mean, I just know I should not go into why all mimes are ninja in disguise, and as all ninja are also spies, logically all spies are mimes.

....and that essay deadline appears to be creeping up on me. Ack! Many acks! Haha, man-yacks.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

the f-word

so in the corner store, yesterday, with a friend, i let slip the f-word and she was shocked.

"i don't agree with that word," she said. "it's so rude."

and i said sorry, i don't mean to make you uncomfortable.

"it doesn't make me uncomfortable, it makes me angry," she said.

for it to make you angry it has to unsettle you, i said.

"i just don't get it," she said. "i just don't get why people use it all the time. it does such negative things."

or maybe people just say it does negative things. maybe it does positive things, but since it's said to do negative things, the public buys into the negative reputation and subverts the positive reality. did you think of that? did you think of why you can't say it? i said. did you ever wonder what the first person to use it thought of it? and why they used it?

i said, i want to know when feminism became a dirty word. and i want to know when dirty became bad.