Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Aristotle Tackles History

Excerpt from Aristotle's "The Poetics":

The difference between the historian and the poet is not the difference between writing in verse or prose; the work of Herodotus could be put into verse, and it would be just as much a history in verse as it is in prose. The difference is that the one tells what has happened and the other the kind of things that would happen. It follows therefore that poetry is more philosophical and of higher value than history; for poetry unifies more, whereas history aggregates.


Monday, February 16, 2009

How is everyone/introductions

Hello, everybody - how is everybody doing? Adam how are you?And the rest of you guys, are things well?

For those who have posted but I don't know, I'm Alex and it's wonderful to meet any of you.

Anddddd while I am at it:

Adam, and everyone else, but especially Adam, maybe Shane? Trey discovered this poppy shoegaze outfit called Asobi Seksu, and I have fallen in love with their latest album, Hush. Have also heard good things about their previous album Citrus (I think?). Please check them out, because I love it? Trey Erik and I (maybe more?) will be seeing them in Pontiac in a couple weeks.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

All-Purpose Dressing

This is one of those orally-passed-down-from-my-parents recipes.
It is primarily a salad dressing, but I tend to eat it on anything.
Recently, I have eaten it on pasta, bread and pizza.
This is a kind of vague recipe because my dad was kind of vague when he told it to me, but I think you really can't mess it up.

1 clove of garlic
pinch of sea salt (the kind with the big grains)
maybe 4 tbsp olive oil?
about 2 tbsp balsalmic vinegar (but if you're as addicted to balsalmic as I am, you will want 3 or 4 tbsp)

in a bowl, crush garlic and sea salt together with a fork
add olive oil and vinegar and whisk them

This is really good. I have been meaning to post it for a long time.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

little dumb bits I write to my best friend in my diary, of course:

The lake still cracks, Morgan.
Whatever rooms still fog.
That's as far as my car goes
in wet weather; that's
the last rut in the torn out road.

I spilt the oil on the white page.
I yolked the dirty water with thin ice.
We couldn't contain ourselves on
the bridge over the city. We have
nitrogen in cans and time release
capsules, and the legacies of
other death wishes, the other
legs of other frenzies
where we can stand.

I'm tired of the branch outside the window
where it hedges against its brethren, its same kin.
I can't stand smoothness through glass.
Let's be honest. It's the right size to grip,
and smoother than a wrist--I mean
it tapers better into itself.

We pretend we have our reasons: the part
where I ride in the backseat of the car
with my eyes closed. The cold seats,
the other people's warm legs through
blue jeans, and the dull dip of yellow
lights against my shut lids as we
cruise the asymmetries, the bought
escape routes.

I pretend to love the lateness of the night
before it surprises me. I pretend the
twice-flickering street lamps are allowances
of fate, and that I could have a place
in a place I haven't claimed. I imagine.
Imagine! And eventually I always
come back here, Morgan, to this perch,
to this pamphlet Niagara-- barrel and
rubber boots and a false
sense of distance.

"You are tired of my metaphors." It was
dark before the snow melted, and afterwards
the ice formed a stomped and disintegrating
sheet on the ground.
Who knows? Sometimes the winter is
only okay as it settles your memories
of past winters; and sometimes you
can't contain the arching: my
back, my arms, my throat.
I am trying to say I'm leaving in
so many words. I am also allowing
that I may not go.

(I will write you letters about wood
grain, bulk, the level and the valleys
where I plan to rebuke the shortened
ground, other fantasies.
Because I dream in dumb mirrors of
the self quartered by its own
earnest paring knife.
Take me to your house! I want
to see one house without white
shelves and young bolts. I
want to see your kitchen table
through the convex lense of
empty jars--)

Friday, February 6, 2009

after living a dream...

How do you learn to live after you have lived a dream? It is quite the dilemma.I suppose I should begin by introducing myself, I am friend of Adam’s we met in Tuxtepec in Oaxaca, Mexico and spent many nights chatting during our Ruta Maya trip to the south of Mexico. I have recently had to return home to Australia. For me it is harder to come home than it was to leave; everyday I think about my friends and family that I left behind. It is astonishing really that they can become such a fundamental part of you within one year. I learnt so much from them and I love them unconditionally, exchange students and Mexicans alike.
I have to apologise though if this does seem a little random... but such is my life at present... and i thought perhaps this is an appropriate introduction..
For almost an entire year leading up to the exchange I thought about and certainly in those last five or six months when I knew I would be going to Mexico. Before that year I had hardly ever considered going anywhere but Europe, I wanted to go to France, but talking to people somehow made me change my preferences on that final country selection sheet and I am so glad that it did... My point is, you think about it, dream about it, talk about it for so long and when you arrive you almost don’t want to get off the plane you are so nervous and unsure. And then it begins, this dream; it is harder than you thought it would be, but so much more rewarding and beautiful too. (I am actually tearing up while listening to you raise me up in Spanish (por ti sere) right now, how sad hahaha) There are actually these moments that you have after a while and everything is settled down and you are staying with people you actually like and have local friends and you wake up and you just think “I am doing it!” and it is wonderful and all seems perfect and at peace and life is good. However when you come home you have to deal with leaving you find that it is even sadder than when you left your old life because you don’t know when you will be able to return, who will keep in contact? Two years? Three years? Twenty five years? When will I return? I am hoping for November, but it is impossible to say and only for a few weeks at a time, it is just not the same. Not to mention the fact that you have to deal with the fact that no one really cares about all of these amazing experiences that you have had, for you it was a live changing experience but I suppose that it is just not all that important for anyone else. The problem that now faces me is that now that I have lived my dream, it is so hard to move on... there are so many wonderful journeys on which I am about to embark, university, travelling, etc... but all I can think about is what I had to leave behind. It is strange, even if you are completely aware of how long you have with something before it ends, whatever it happens to be... from finishing school to exchange to a holiday to a job to a relationship, somehow if you really care about it, it never makes it any easier to let go of.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Feminism and Anais Nin

Some excerpts from the Diary of Anais Nin about women/feminism, and then a discussion a little later:

“Talking with Henry I experience the sensation that there will come a time when we will both understand everything, because our masculine and feminine minds are trying to meet, not to fight each other. June could only be perceived by way of madness. The territory of woman is that which lies untouched by the direct desire of man. Man attacks the vital center. Woman fills out the circumference.”

“We know very little about woman. In the first place, it was man who invented ‘the soul.’ Man was the philosopher and the psychologist, the historian and the biographer. Woman could only accept man’s classifications and interpretations. The women who played important roles thought like men and wrote like men.”

“It was through psychology that we discovered that man’s illusion about his objectivity was a fiction, a fiction he needed to believe in. The most objective systems of thought can be exposed as having a subjective base. Now, the way a woman feels is closer to three forms of life: the child, the artist, the primitive. They act by their instant vision, feeling and instinct. They remained in touch with that mysterious region we are now opening up. They were inarticulate except in terms of symbols, through dreams and myths.”

“Man must fear the effort woman is making to create herself, not to be borne of Adam’s rib. It revives his old fears of her power. What he forgets is that dependency does not create love and to control nature is not a greater achievement than to control woman, for there will always be the revolts of instinct, the earthquakes and the tidal waves. With control one also killed the rich natural resources of both nature and woman. It was woman who reacted against the great dehumanization of man by industry, the machine. Man reacted by mutiny or crime. Woman sought other ways. Mutiny is not in her nature.”

“Man is always trying to create a woman who will fill his needs, and that makes her untrue to herself. Many of my ‘roles’ come out of this desire to fulfill man’s needs.”

"When the neurotic woman gets cured, she becomes a woman. When the neurotic man gets cured, he becomes an artist."

I was sort of bewildered by some of the parts of these quotes, so I sent it to my friend who is known for being a feminist and uber smart. She said some things that were incredible that I would like to quote for you all here:

"I disagree fundamentally with binary gender constructs. I believe that while there are differences between men and women, these do not dominate our lives and effect every single aspect. At the end of the day, we are two halves to the human race. Even then, what of transgendered folk? There is a lot more than just apples and oranges. But at the same time, we can't deny that our world is very much the construct of masculine pursuits, if the tradiotional definition of the world. And that if humanity embraced typically "feminine" values, we'd be better off for it, which is what Nin gets into when she talks about "women imagining themselves"."

"The whole idea of the MAN/WOMAN dichotomy is a really Abrahamic thing, too. Many indigineous cultures have the concept of a third gender/sex, so I think trying to argue there are only two binary genders is to unconsciously accept only the view of Abrahamic religions which in itself isn't functional for a global world.
But humanity seems to be BENT on rejecting anything that might be "feminine" -- so I think if we deconstructed the whole idea of categorizing traits, there wouldn't BE a stigma to either gender "attributes". We would just be PEOPLE who act in ways, to emotions that are all a part of the human experience."

About the concept of third gender vs. abrahamic religion:

"So I'll use the Aboriginals and South Asian cultures for examples, because they're the ones I know the most about. When the Europeans came to North America, they noticed that every single tribe (the Iroquois claim they don't, but history account says otherwise) had a group of what they called "berdache" I believe. It's actually an offensive term that comes down to translating into "rentboy" or something. But basically, they were either men who dressed and took on women's traditional roles in society, or women who dressed and took on men's roles in societies (including sexual preferences, usually). They were always seen as sort of ... magical, to be blunt. That didn't save them from being killed if they did decide to go to battle, or a village was raid, but it gave them somewhat special status. And, interestingly, if say a male "Two-Spirit" (as LGBT Aboriginals call themselves today) was sleeping with another man in the clan, the other man wasn't seen to be homosexual or a Two-Spirit himself"

"And then let's look at India subcontinent.
Hinduism is a religion with many, many Gods and Goddesses and everything in between. Sexuality never had the taboo it seemed to gain in Abrahamic religions. There is the concept of the Hijra in Hinduism (with different names in Sikhism, Jainism, but same idea) who are a seperate group of people who would be identified as LGBT by us. They have a semi-divice status as "the third sex" ... the actual old Hindi word for it translates to "third nature". They're not considered fully male or fully female, but sort of ... a combination of both. Instead of how a lot of intersexed people feel the pressure to "choose" a gender. But see, that whole culture of ... "appreciation" eroded in like Punjab, which is right on the border of the Islamic region (even though Sikhism doesn't pay attention to gender either). Punjab regularly is in contact with Islam, an Abrahamic religion which teaches seperate doctrines about man and woman. And I mean, look at Christianity and the story of Adam and Eve. The whole idea that man comes first, and woman as the "other" and different. Is prominent. That idea has become popularized in India too, with the arrival of the British and their traditions, obviously. South India used to be a matriarchal, as well, as in matrinlineal name derivative, matrilocal marriage practices, etc., but that all got deconstructed when both the Aboriginals and the Indians came in contact with the Abrahamic, Judeo-Christian doctrines of "man's sphere" and "woman's sphere"."

"And I mean, all three religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) have instituionalized God as a "He".
Sikhism's founder, Guru Dev Ji Nanak, explicity spoke out against misogynistic and sexist practices during the 1500s. He declared God as neither Man nor Woman, but both Mother and Father of the people. Now, again, because of outside influences, almost all translations of Sikh prayers and texts refer to God as "He" in English, even though that's not right."

SO. That's huge and a lot of really interesting stuff. But discussions on either what she said or what Nin said?