Thursday, March 30, 2006

¡aprende español!

Today's soundtrack:
"All around the World" by Oasis

So. I'm tickling M's feet when I notice that he's wearing these thick winter socks.
"Why are you wearing winter socks?" I ask. M smiles.
"Because winter sucks."

Bueno. Estaba haciendo cosquillas a los pies de Miguelito cuando ví que él llevaba puestos calcetines de invierno.
- ¿Porqué llevas puestos calcetines de invierno? -pregunté. Él sonrió.
- Por que el invierno es una mierda.
Bueno, algunas cosas son más diviertidas en inglés.

Friday, March 24, 2006

the perils of legitimacy

Today's soundtrack:
"Eres Mi Religion" by Maná and Zucchero.

So there I was, The Kite Runner in hand, lecturing away to a class of houseplants (if you don't get the Kid Koala reference, there's nothing I can do for you), and one them shouts out "Hey, didya hear they're making a movie of it?" Sigh. No, I didn't.

Here's my problem with the book. Okay, fine. Here's one of my many problems with the book. It perpetuates the stereotype. Don't believe me? Fine. Write down what comes into your head when you think of the word "Arab". What images show up? Now, read The Kite Runner. This isn't an Afghani writing from an Afghani perspective. This is an American writing from an American perspective. The people in this book are either good, faithful Muslims or bad, indulgent Arabs. The people are poor, backward, and unable to help themselves. Drumroll please because here come the Americans! Yes, I know it's not in the book, but the invasion of Afghanistan is clearly the unwritten epilogue to this whole cliche-ridden, stereotype-driven "book" (I use the term book solely because it consists of pages with words, and these pages are fixed, on one edge, to a cover of some kind). People are picking this book up and thinking "oh wow, this is all written from the Afghan perspective. Aren't we wonderful and inclusive! And look, they think American dominance in the Middle East is good, too!" Then we pat ourselves on the back, feel good about what our governments are doing, and go about our day. Nevermind the fact that women are virtually non-existant in this "book". Nevermind the fact that it's the best bit of propaganda Bush/Harper could hope for. Nevermind the fact that it's wholly unoriginal in its use of disability to indicate purity (Tiny Tim, anyone?). What absolutely kills me is that the stereotype that is hindering the West's ability to understand the East is being (unconsciously?) repeated through the mouth of this Afghani-American writer, thereby giving it a scary level of legitimacy.

Sort of like on The Daily Show the other day. This general from the Iraqi Air Force (under Saddam) was on. A cheery, grandfather-like figure. No mention of the Kurds. But hey, Saddam had those weapons. Oh yes sir, he shipped them all to Syria just before the Americans showed up. And by the way, it's a good thing the Americans showed up, too. Oh yes. Legitimacy.

And now there's going to be a movie. You know what, I'll save you some time. Just watch Disney's Aladdin.

Apologies to D for the vague references to subjects discussed in the Class-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

ode to hypocrisy... or lunacy... or possibly idiocy

Today's soundtrack:
Da Vinci's Inquest on CBC

Came across this.

"These people are crazed fanatics, and I want to say it now: I believe it's motivated by demonic power. It is satanic and it's time we recognize what we're dealing with"

Thank the gods Pat Robertson is here to warn us about all the crazed fanatics.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

in escape of laundry and editting

Today's soundtrack:
Kate and Leopold on CTV

I have procrastinated long enough. So today, in a fit of procrastination (in avoidance of dishes and thesis writing), I scanned in my favourite pictures from Spain.

I have this thing about arches. Those of you who have seen my pictures from Italy can vouch for that. This is a long archway on the way out to the gardens beside El Escorial.

M wanted me to take this one. It's really quite an incredibly huge building.

This is from inside the cathedral in Toledo.

I don't know if this is simply the dread talking (I have a meeting with my supervisor on Wednesday), or the desire to see greenery again, but I would really like to be back in Spain. If not for the art and the beauty of the place, then just for the coffee.

Right now, Leopold is strutting across the screen. "We are not courting, Kate. If we were, as a man of honour, I would have informed you of my intentions in writing". Oh, now he's on a white horse. Likely a stallion. Sigh. M asked me the other day why I liked the Edwardian era (we were watching A Room With a View). He saw it as a constrained, circumscribed society, full of repression. I would argue that it's the silent and not so silent movement against that repression that's so fascinating. It was, after all, the first rebellion against societal repression in this past century (sorry Hippies, but the Edwardians have it).

I'd analyze this more, but my brain feels a little like porridge today. I hope you've enjoyed the pictures.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

reflections on a white hair

I have this going joke with M. I find very blonde hairs in his beard (the only hair on his head) and tell him that he's going grey. Qué suerte el tiene, ya sé. Pero bueno, tonight, after watching CTV Local and seeing the latest hooplah over the Sheaf, I saw this glittering, shiny hair on his chin. I took a closer look, and as usual, pronounced it white. Due to his fervent denial, I brought a small mirror from the bathroom.

He looked. And looked. And became crestfallenly stubborn. "It's blonde! It's just very very blonde!" he proclaimed.

M is curled up on the futon.


a veritable sheafstorm

Today's soundtrack
"I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness

It's been an odd week at the U of S. Click here for the now infamous cartoon that appeared in the Sheaf the other week. There is also comprehensive coverage on Dave's blog (see link in appropriately named "Links" section). I've been reading the blogs, and more interestingly, the comments sections, and have become increasingly disgusted. Here, in short, is my own reaction to the whole, as it has now been dubbed by someone more clever than me, Sheafstorm.

I received McKinnon's email and, instantly, my curiousity was piqued. You see, I've been rather neglectful in my Sheaf reading as of late. So naturally, I went looking for these apparently inflamatory cartoons. When I found them, I admit I was pretty shocked. My Edwardian sensibilities were rather shocked, but not for the same reasons as others. See, I saw the Capitalist Piglet itself as being a typical anti-Semetic stereotype. The monocle, the whole "Kosher" thing, and the capitalist angle made me think of those propaganda posters that found there way onto the streets of Germany during the run-up to the Second World War. Yes, the whole idea of Jesus giving - sexual favours, shall we say? - to a pig was rather strange, but I saw the criticism of various consumer and political agencies using Christianity for profit (both financial and political) very clearly. I was still more bothered by what I perceived as some underlying anti-Semetic statement (after all, why not publish the infamous Mohammed cartoons?).

That being said, I had a rather enlightening conversation with various procrastinating English types and came to understand that there is really nothing going on but a comment on the nature of various consumer enterprises using Christianity for monetary gain (I will resist all temptations to go after the Vatican at this point). In this way, I can see how Christianity is in the same position as Islam at this point - at the mercy of various extremists who use religion for their own gains.

In this way, I find it difficult to understand the position of the various Christians out there in the blogosphere. Yes, depictions of religous figures engaged in sexual acts is disturbing. Yes, the cartoons are offensive. Offensive in the same way that depictions of the Prophet Mohammed are. I saw numerous comments calling for the publishing of the Danish cartoons, while at the same time demonizing the Sheaf and the cartoonist. I see no difference between the two, and I have a suspicion that the end goal of both the Danish and Sheaf cartoonists was for a greater dialogue on the dangers facing religions from those who would seek to exploit it for their own means.

As a final point, I personally thought the cartoon could have been different. Maybe a bit more tasteful, a little less shocking... but then all the bloggers out there wouldn't be writing about this, would they?

Were I still a Christian (lo siento Salva), I'd be more offended by the use of Christianity for profit than by the depiction of Jesus in this cartoon. But I make no claim to speak for all Christians, former Christians, angry Christians, et al. I can only speak for myself. If nothing else, we shouldn't let this opportunity for a rational discussion pass.