“Ji siix-mukws n̓iin”

My clearest memory of school when I was a child is the yearly project on culture. I say, yearly, because it seems like every teacher in the world thinks that they have developed the “BEST IDEA” to get kids to not only explore their personal histories, but to appreciate the cultures that they come from. I wouldn’t say that I was a cynical recipient of the ever-present “culture” project, but I wouldn’t say that I was enthusiastic either. In fact, my general thought was that my culture was pretty boring, and I’d really rather study someone else’s culture. Any culture.

Paper That Makes You Want To Do Something

Dutiful, obedient, compliant – I would trudge to the front of the room to collect the large sheet of white paper that my teacher wanted me to fill with the patterns of my cultural background. Then, there I would sit, wondering just what was my culture? As I had already done this project the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that I already knew what my mother would tell me when I asked her for help. “You are Canadian,” she would say, “just show what it means to be Canadian”. And I would sigh and stare at that big piece of white paper. Are we Scottish? Irish? English? Continue reading

Reflections on “A True Story” by Lucian of Samosata

Link to “A True Story” by Lucian of Samosata

It would be only too easy for a contemporary citizen to idly pick up “A True Story” and judge it a trivial fantasy of no consequence. Lucian’s mock epic style invites criticism from a reader honed by YouTube, iTunes, and Facebook. Yet, Lucian warns us at the very beginning of his work that he wants to provide more than just “pure amusement based on wit and humour”, and that his work also “boasts a little food for thought that the Muses would not altogether spurn (p. 249).” As all truly great literature does, “A True Story” delves into the mysteries of the human condition, and forces us, as readers, to think about who we are as human beings, to test theories, to alter our own perspectives about our lives, society, and culture. Should “we just resign ourselves to an exterior will and give up our personal responsibility entirely?”

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“… no other Vessel but small Boats could pass…”

“…there was but one way to enter, and that like a Labyrinth, so winding and turning among the Rocks, that no other Vessels but small Boats, could pass, carrying not above three passengers at a time (The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish)”.

What is it about struggle before getting to Paradise that we are all so enamoured with? Is it simply the Christian duplicity of telling the poor slobs of the world to suck it up because their hard efforts will eventually be rewarded after they die… a la William Blake? Or is it a true thing – we cannot escape struggle, and indeed wouldn’t appreciate Paradise anyway if it were just handed to us — probably wouldn’t even recognize it. Continue reading