Archives for the month of: October, 2014

Recently in class we read a lecture by Michel Foucault, “Society Must be Defended,” that really got me thinking.

In this essay he talked about the transition between two modes of thinking: man-as-individual, to man-as-species. Before, when we had monarchy and sovereign rulers, an individual’s actions were defining. They determined, at least to an extent, life or death. If a man stole, his right hand would be lopped off. If he insulted the King, his tongue would be cut out. For even more ‘sinful’ acts, he’d be killed. Man-as-species, however, is a shift from individuation to, if you will, ‘massivism.’

I would argue that this shift of the deindividuation of the human is an era we still live in. Today man is one in a society; a nation; a population. We are all ones in 7 billion, and our governments treat us as such.

Our problems only become their problems if they are generalized: when they become the problems of the general public. The problem of one is trivial. It’s meaningless. One in the whole is nothing.

Foucault goes on to describe the term biopolitics, which is when biological processes, such as mortality rates, birth rates, illnesses etc., become political issues. An example he uses is endemics. They cause mass spikes in mortality rates, which are expensive to manage and decrease the productivity of a population. As such, there comes the “solution;” the implementation of public hygiene. It is not out of altruism, where the government personally cares for each individual’s health. Instead it’s a result of the economic consequences of that endemic. It’s a general problem, so they fix it.

What’s more is that governments use biopolitical statistics to influence our behaviour. Yes, it’s true. And no they are not manipulating our every decision. But they are feeding us grandiosely large statistics like mortality rates so that we invest in health care. They paint university degrees as tickets for high paying jobs, success, and happiness. They emphasize stats about the likelihood of accidents so that we invest in car insurance. Would so many of us pay thousands of dollars worth of insurance each year if we didn’t hear about how likely it was to get in a car accident? I’d say not.

That is the power of biopolitics.

So, what’s my point? Are we all just doing what we’re told to, in a society where our contribution to it is manipulated from us? And the summation of each citizen’s contributions creates a stable economy so that our government can function? Is our sole purpose, in their eyes, to be tax paying citizens? Foucault would say yes. Most anti-institutionalists, and countless others, would agree. And, contrarily, lots would disagree.

I would say that right now, yeah that’s probably the case. But there’s good news. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

There’s a social shift occurring. It’s becoming more evident as Generation Y graduates from college and doesn’t immediately integrate into the corporate world. We’re refusing more and more to become cogs in the machine. We’re traveling more. We’re creating new innovative jobs that we’ve never seen before. Industry as a career is fading into the generation behind us. Sustainability is a Major at University.

These are all examples of this social revolution.

Between the three children in my family, born to a businessman and a lawyer, we have three picturesque examples of Generation Y. A Canadian Athlete, who is choosing to set his sights on making a career out of sailing (check out his website here http://matthewrydersailing.com). A video game design major, who is as passionate about video games the way most people are passionate about chocolate or coffee. And a creative writing major, who is going to join the career path of the thousands of “starving writers.” None of us chose traditional careers. Each of us pursued what we were most passionate about despite the challenges we will undoubtedly face because of it.

But why should we have done any differently?

To say we know what we’re doing is a laughable misconception. We haven’t figured out how this new social attitude will fit into the world over the next fifty or so years. We’re transitioning away from what we know. We’re focusing more on what we care about. And we care less about money. We really do.

Generation Y would rather live frugally than work a 9-5 cubical job. It’s just what we want out of life. We’re focusing less on society as a whole; we’re ascribing less importance on our industrial or economical contribution. We care as much about our community as the youth always have, but we’re valuing less the monetary aspects of it.

To be clear, we’re not shifting backwards to focus on the individual again. We’re evolving into placing importance somewhere entirely new. Passion and experience. Humanity has now gone from emphasizing the individual, to focusing on us as a species, to caring about our relationship with the world, and its relationship to us. We want to get more out of life than financial stability. We want to travel because it’s interesting. We want to work towards something amazing because we’re passionate about it.

This social revolution is a shift beyond biopolitics. It’s a movement away from the institution as sovereign. It’s an evolution away being a cog in the outdated machine. We are our own machines. And our cogs are what we choose to invest our time in, not our money.

I’m not going to pretend we understand it all. I’m not to say we’re going to get it right. But we’re going to do what we love, and try to make that work.

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This past January I made a new years resolution: a commitment to myself and to my writing.

I’ve been writing the same two-book series for the last five or so years. Sad as that may seem, I’ve grown exponentially as a writer doing it. My story has been cultivated, evolved, and has never been better than what it is right now. I’ve written, rewritten, and restarted. This past January I promised myself that I wouldn’t everdo that again. I would never again open a fresh Word document and start my story from scratch.

I would write my story at a bare minimum for fifteen minutes a day. Extra minutes in one day wouldn’t carry over as credit to the next. But 0 minutes today would mean the added minutes tomorrow.

This year so far I have written a minimum (and I know there’s been countless more hours added to my daily fifteen minutes that has to go uncounted) of 72 hours and 15 minutes. I owe myself another two hours and fifteen minutes as of today.

Taken that other writing, i.e., blog posts, short stories, Worth1000 contests, other stories, essays, and any other type of writing I do on a daily basis do not count towards that fifteen minutes. These minutes are a dedication to my story, not just to my writing.

I’m getting there on top of school, running, family, friends, hobbies, being a University student, homework… the list of my life goes on.

And I have more going on than this two book series that’s been brewing in my head since middle school. But I’ve made a special commitment to it, and it’s stuck.

I have a passion for writing, and I dedicated myself to it. I’ve grown more this year as a writer than any other. Part of that are the diverse outlets I’ve written in. Part of that is practice. Another part is hard work.

Mostly, it’s the 72 hours and fifteen minutes.

Beautiful 🙂

Together

A phrase appears somewhere in the bracket of brain and heart;

I am pleased.

Pleasure, however, is a thought outside my zone,

outside,

and cold.

December, it snows and I am warmed by the chatter and scotch.

A train goes by and I wonder, when will it end?

I sift through the mental filing cabinet I’ve been asked to sort out

for the most impressive documents.

Aha! Now this,

this is groundbreaking.

You’re not that special, you know?

You don’t.

No.

And that’s tough.

Hard to accept, so you try to forget

the thought that was presented to you as a gift

on an unwanted anniversary, the last stuffed dog on sale at Walmart that lacks both history and character.

You wanted the heirloom polar bear with the missing left foot because you,

you’re special.

You’re the one

in the multitude,

captured and free.

FREE from the shackles of How One Should Be…

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Every time we struggle through something difficult we change a little; an alteration here, an adjustment there. It’s a process that gives us substance and texture. We learn from our mistakes, and we grow and change. That being said, if someone has never made a mistake then they have never grown. Therefore they must be a rather boring individual.

This is why I don’t find the people with a whole lot of static personal issues and self-doubt very interesting. They’re stuck in limbo; cast there by their own problems and unable to figure their way out of it. Sometimes staying stuck there is self-destruction. These are the people that play the victim. Regardless of ones own responsibilities or personal mistakes, problems are always someone else’s fault. Surely of course, they are merely the victim in this situation.

In truth, I find that the people who are most comfortably situated in life behave oppositely to this. They are the ones who have figured out how to deal with their issues in life in their own way.They accept their mistakes and their responsibilities, and they do something about them. Not to say that they’ve gotten over their problems or that they don’t have any. But instead that they’ve moved past them, or learned how to live with and through their issues.

Everyone has problems, but not everyone can deal with theirs. The people who do, (and I think of this more as a procress and not an achievement) are the people who are the most interesting. It’s because they’ve innovated themselves more. They’ve learned how not to be the victim of the negative, but rather an active individual in the positive, despite the negative. As a result, they’re the most changed individual and not the most ragged.

These are the people that I strive to meet. I cherish their experiences as I come to find out how they figured growth out: because that process is different for everyone. And we can learn from people who’ve done it. Even though in the end we might, and probably will, do it entirely differently.

That is to say, emotions may be universal but dealing with them isn’t. And figuring out how to deal is essential.

You don’t actually have to care about the environment because of your moral values or for your own personal ethics. You actually don’t have to give a hoot about animals, or ecosystems, or life outside of your own. But if you do care about your own life, you officially have to care about the environment. Because global warming is threatening the existence of humanity, not just the existence of species like polar bears or turtles or the black footed ferret. It’s actually threatening you now, personally. So regardless of what you believe in, what you care about, and what you consider to be your values, we all need to do something to stop the quickly approaching point of no return.

Here are some cute pictures of other species who are going to care about global warming as much as you do:

dunno wierd rabbit panda seal linx polar bear fox

I find it easiest to write at night. There’s this seemingly infinite bubble of silence and darkness, with nothing else waiting for you. There’s no sun, no café, no friend, or commitment. There is darkness, and the occasional siren.

In my bed sometimes I hear cars go by my window, whether it’s the early morning or the late night. I find I often wonder what reason has these drivers up and going somewhere when the rest of the city is sleeping. Maybe it’s work, or maybe they can’t fall asleep. Maybe they’re looking for something. Or maybe they’re just going somewhere and it’s that simple. Sometimes I make up stories for where they’re off to and why. It helps when I want to go somewhere else, too.

On nights like these I wish I could walk around. I wish I could see the city lights in the darkness. I wish that being a girl wasn’t such a danger in dark streets after midnight. I wish I could be free to wander when I couldn’t sleep, too. Preferably sans car though. However, I digress.

Instead I find my freedom in writing. At midnight, with nothing wanting my attention my brain can be focused. It feels like there is so much more space inside my head. I can sit on my bed in my pajamas, and make myself a cup of tea. I open Word. And that’s all I need.

But in the morning it’s different. I’m distracted by plans, the weather, opportunities, texts, school, class, friends… It’s all noise in my head. And it’s so much harder to focus on what I’m trying to say.

Afternoons are better, because I feel like I’ve accomplished something in the day already. And I can sit in a café with a coffee and just write. But there are still distractions. People moving around, leaving and coming, conversations stirring the room around me, and a continual stream of coffee orders.

It’s at home in my bed where I write the best. With the curtains drawn and in the solitude I find in those nighttime moments I create my space. Call it my creative space or my personal space; it’s just where I like to write.