Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Monday, March 13, 2006

One Life to Live...My Carpe Diem Missive

Those of you who frequent my Blog or search my archives will see that I spend a lot of time debating ideological issues and abstract visions of a world that we will probably never live to see. Growing up, and to this very day, I have had a fascination (not necessarily admiration, let’s get these points very clear here) with things like the rise of the Third Reich and Soviet Union as they were purely driven by ideologies and visions of a different kind of world (a horrendous one in the case of the Reich, and, from the initial rumblings, of Utopia in the U.S.S.R.). Let’s face it, here in the Enterprise Culture of North America, the whole ideological movement exists solely on the periphery, rarely gaining enough popular support to make the foray into the mainstream. For example, the rich are getting richer while the poor aren’t making much headway, but the socialists are no where to be found. In the last Canadian election I listened to several candidate features and when the 18 year old suitably dressed candidate for the Marxist-Leninist Party spoke, you could tell that he was there more as a joke and to appear cool in front of his little gang of non-conformist friends who see Lenin’s face on a t-shirt as a fashionable protest because it looks cool (makes my think of "Hypmotise" by System of a Down: 'why don't you ask the kids in Tianamen Square/ was fashion the reason all of them were there'). I am being harsh here, certainly, but I am speaking more from frustration regarding the lack of choice. It was nice to see the Green Party fare somewhat better, but they still didn’t manage to elect anyone. It is very apparent that leading this country is much more of a job interview to become a CEO than ideological visionary.

So, it’s back to the microcosms. The University of Alberta is the big school here in town and where I did my Education degree. As expected, this is the hub of most our city’s activist groups, alternative radio and source of ideas. As of late, the Student’s Union (SU) there has made some pretty interesting choices. This is an interesting study of “being my brother’s keeper” as discussed in an earlier Blog entry on my site. The SU bristled some years ago when the UofA signed an exclusive deal with Coke to sell only Coca-Cola products on campus. Freedom of choice and corporate influence on campus were the main issues. In more recent years, the SU has begun to fight against fast food on campus, in an attempt to offer student’s healthy alternatives. Again, interesting to see the ideology pressed into motion, but now we are hitting that slippery point of deciding what is good for you and what choices you should be permitted.

Now, a couple of days ago, there was a write-up in the paper about a motion by the SU to ban smoking on campus (inside and out), as well as to ban the sale of tobacco products. Smoking was banned inside campus-wide some time ago, with the exception of the dorms. The SU received 60% support when the students were polled, pitting democracy against personal choice and personal protection. This also creates some interesting arguments, such as what do you do for smokers who live in residence? Is this too much control? It will be an interesting experiment in any case. Have smokers replaced Communists as the infernal bogey-people of the post Cold War period?

Regardless, we live in a bandwagon, fixative culture. I’d be interested to see what is really worse for you – daily consumption of fast foods or use of tobacco products. I must say, though I am a non-smoker and tend to eat a minimal meat organic whole grain diet, that I really question these health ‘evils’. I know lots of people who have lived fairly healthy lifestyles and been very sick, had cancer, died, etc. Then there are those that I know who have smoked all their lives, eaten horrendous meat and fat laden diets, survived World Wars and gone on to be 90! My Father-in-law smokes a pipe religiously, loves his traditional British food and enjoys a drink regularly, survived the rations and bombings of WWII just outside of Sheffield, England, is turning 70 next year and I’d be hard pressed to find a man his age in better health or happier (he also says that smoking a pipe should be mandatory to save on Health Care). Then there’s a good friend of mine who had breast cancer at 28, was a non-smoker and had no history of the disease in here family. I figure there’s a hand that we’re dealt at birth and only some, but little control as to what cards get played.

So, pulling full circle in a St. Thomas Aquinas kind of way, perhaps life isn’t about political ideology, but rather a matter of being passionate about your little corner (as Auntigrav pointed out in a response in a former missive). Love life until you are too busy to die, do unto others as you would have done unto you and make love not war!

…Perhaps I’ll even run for the Communists next time around, and will definitely be watching Rollergirls this evening!


  • At 6:02 p.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    Thanks for the nod. I think also that people need to realize that we are swimming, actually submerged swimming, in Chaos. We live in the bottom of an ocean of air, filled with life of all kinds. Our evolution has kept us alive as a species so far, and as long as we don't screw it up, we may go on. I feel that way about smokers, junk foods, etc. If we choose to screw up, we should do it with moderation. We might find a death trap or we might find a miraculous cure for something. The key is to pay attention. The selling out of campuses (we have it here on grade school campuses) to corporations is a classic case of blind faith in economics, with nobody paying attention to how they turn themselves into commodities by acting like fodder. It is one thing to have free choice, another for peer pressure to call it 'free' when it isn't. The marketing tools are much more scientifically advanced than the education tools. Sex not only sells, it can make a bull mount a cow through a barbed wire fence. Don't tell me that is 'free choice'. We are ruled by our hormones as are any animals, at least to some extent. The sooner we acknowledge this, the sooner we can work to build better ways of educating and excercising our minds and bodies to be in control, rather than at the mercy of the manipulated reality we are allowed to participate in at our cost.

  • At 6:35 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I have to comment on "being" and koan sedentarial, "sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, the grass grows by itself".
    I had a Psychologist who asked me,"When you call yourself, who comes?". In Suzuki's introduction to Zen, he quaotes a master asking, "Show me your original face, the one you had before you were born.". So people look for definition and/or description of being and self. I reached for a Heidegger just now, but could not drink it in. I remembered the PBS special from Dyer on "Inspiration" and could not find its meat. But for his "coincidence" with a butterfly/incarnation of recently died friend and that he falls into Ram Dass, he babbles. Beautifully! Yet "I" seek and find doing and being separated by Western egotist view; I cannot reach back East to the desired property of doing and being as "one" way of habitation. There was the drink of Heidegger. From his POETRY, LANGUAGE, THOUGHT I only gleaned images of self seeing self in others. I believe we were looking for others atoned in self, no separate parts, but each at one and at once. My self, i don't know what this means.
    nodroganon/not the cockroach

  • At 7:02 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    p.s. to anon, nodrog, as a cockroacb, i was on the wrong blog of would, i should have said i am going out in the yard for a smoke. 2 years ago or more i was registering my daughter on campus and quitting smoking by 2 months, so as we passed by the trees outside admin i could smell the stench-fragrance of trees replaced by extreme stale tobacco smell. so the dictator-students are right to compain if i smoke in their back yard. if i die from this stuff and am cremated, well, how apt... you may be the first to kick me in the ash-hole... nodroggoutarchie

  • At 7:20 p.m. , Blogger Real-E said...

    Nodroganon, your misplaced koan comments are well founded (I love Suzuki by the way - he's written some of the best Buddhist stuff that I've read). People assume that the answer to their koan can be put into text, but so often it is a sense deeper than a communicatable strand of whatnot and more a gut feeling - that's why we created poetry I guess!

    Antigrav, the sex selling and whatnot is on the mark (great image of the bull and barbed wire!). Even the health industry has fallen prey to marketing gurus. I love picking up one of theos holistic mags and going down the list of supplements for this and that. Certainly one is left rattling from all the capsules as it certainly wouldn't be from spare change! Hot babes in Lululemon gear doing Yoga sure as heck stimulates the man part of me than some ragged looking Yogi from India, but that's the fashion mechanisim that dilutes all reputable Arts. I suppose, in spite of the fashionability of the Holistic Arts, at least it does have many more folks at least opening their (third) eye a fraction with the hopes of actually making a proactive change in their lives. I stumbled on Vegetarianism when I was living and teaching in Czechoslovakia back in the early 1990's, just before the whole Veggie movement became trendy, and likewise with Yoga in the mid 1990's (my initial interest in Yoga spawned by a former student in Slovakia). Though I maintain a Yoga practise, I do eat meat on occasion (1-3 times per month). Both pursuits have become easier with their present popularity, but you must wade through the charlatans and fluff to get down to the meat and potatoes of it all (pun intended). Sadly, a lot of folks don't see the forest for all of the trees...

    ...from fodder to ashes, life is good.

  • At 11:32 a.m. , Blogger auntiegrav said...

    The bull mounting a cow through barbed wire is a memory. The bull didn't even notice. All he knew was 'Cow', 'Heat', MOUNT!!
    Keep it in mind the next time you see a Soda Pop commercial and watch the kids respond to it.
    The sugar endorphin reactionss mimic the system which most addictions use. The chemical may be different, but the behavior is the same.
    To Anon: "Potatoes, Not Prozac" covers the success of getting people to give up alcohol by getting them away from sugar.


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