Posted by: Dan | May 2, 2016

April Reviews

Discussed in this post:

5 Books (The History of White People; Other Council Fires Were Here Before Ours; Ojibwe Giizhig Anang Masinaa’iganAusterlitz; and Nostromo);
2 Movie (10 Cloverfield Lane and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night);
3 Documentaries (Crumb; In the Realms of the Unreal; Salesmen).

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I saw a picture of you today when you were a child.  You had a gentle smile.  You look shy and sweet and tender – like the kind of kid who wouldn’t say a word if he was abused.  And you didn’t.  None of us did.  But for you abuse has just steadily been overshadowed by chronic pain, long-term illness, and dis-ease.  Yet, for the most part, you still don’t say a word.

(I’ve been thinking how strange it is that I used to describe our childhood as “sheltered.”  I think the term “deliberately isolated” might better capture what was going on.  It wasn’t that our parents were trying to protect us from the evil out there in the world – it’s that our dad didn’t want others to know the evil we experienced at home.)

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Posted by: Dan | April 3, 2016

March Reviews

Discussed in this post:

3 books (Geronimo: His Own Story, How Forests Think, and Mausoleum of Lovers);
1 movie (Underground);
4 documentaries ((T)ERROR, Land Without Bread, Night & Fog, and There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane).

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Apparently Kim Kardashian caused a bit of a ruckus by posting this selfie with the line “when you’re like I have nothing to wear LOL”.
At first I thought maybe I would replicate the picture, as I’ve done with other pictures of Kim or celebrities like Miley Cyrus.  It’s part of how I question cultural constructs of gender.  I find it amusing to explore how people react to an average-looking man in his mid-thirties posing in ways that are ubiquitous in images we see of women who are in their early twenties (or any age, really, as long as their body matches with cultural constructs of female beauty).  But, as I thought about it all, I ended up getting sad.

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Posted by: Dan | March 31, 2016

Poverty as Plague: The White Death

Part One: Dirty Water

As of January 1, 2016, there were 135 drinking water advisories in effect in First Nations communities (that is to say, on “Indian Reservations”), across Canada.  This is excluding British Columbia, where another 26 drinking water advisories were in effect as of February 29, 2016.  If you actually read through the advisories, you’ll notice that many have been in effect since the mid-1990s and have no sign of not being in effect any time soon. Altogether, over 109 communities are impacted.  It’s hard to know the exact figures because many communities do not have a population listed but, based upon the information available, we can estimate that this impacts over 75,000 people.  Over 75,000 Indigenous people living in conditions of poverty we tend to associate with some of the poorest nations in the two-thirds world — we are talking about people who lack buildings with heat or insulation (despite living near the arctic), who lack running water, and who cannot drink or bathe in the water that is available to them.

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A lot of rich Christians are celebrating the forgiveness of their sins this weekend.

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Posted by: Dan | February 27, 2016

February Reviews

Discussed in this post:  Two books (Quantum Physics by Humphrey, Pancella, and Berrah; and The Medicalization of Society by Conrad); three or six films, depending how you score it (Andersson’s Living trilogy, Vinterberg’s Hunt, and one disappointing one about David Foster Wallace) and three documentaries (Dreamcatcher, Running From Crazy, and Prophet’s Prey).

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Posted by: Dan | February 21, 2016

Desire, Contentment, and Dispossession

Part of what makes desire interesting is that it cannot ever be satisfied. Perhaps we can momentarily satisfy certain cravings (for some kind of human contact, for a bigger TV, for a warmer coat), but we inevitably find ourselves wanting something else or something more. This is where the Lacanian notion of the objet petit a comes from. The objet petit a is the unobtainable object-cause of desire. It is that which would ultimately and completely satisfy our desire once and for all — which is why it is unobtainable.
Mostly, we all realize this at some point — that we will continue to want and that nothing will ever be able to completely fill this hole of want inside ourselves. So, despite the eternal discontent of desire, we find ourselves desiring to be content. We desire against desire and imagine if we do not want anything, we will attain happiness.

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Posted by: Dan | February 5, 2016



I have been thinking about Eduardo Kohn’s book, How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human along with Ye-weh-node’s teachings in Language of the Stones and elsewhere.  I have been thinking about what Glen Coulthard says about the connection that the Yellowknives Dene feel with the land — that the land does not belong to them, but they belong to the land — and how this is a common belief amongst the various Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.  And I have been thinking of the words I heard from a Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Elder who said, “We have different languages because we come from different lands.  It is the land that gave us our language.  We speak because the land gave us speech and different lands speak differently.”

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Posted by: Dan | February 2, 2016

January Reviews

[A few years back, I stopped doing my monthly book reviews.  I’m going to try and get back into that as well as maybe doing some film and documentary reviews.  Rather than doing formal reviews, I’m mostly going to use these texts or films as springboards for thought so I won’t always be providing very detailed analyses of whatever title happens to be under discussion.  I’m sure google can lead to any number of more traditional reviews.  Also, I’m happy to hear in the comments about what other people are reading or watching and enjoying!]


1. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James.


Jamaica is more than Bob Marley as the CIA knew full well in 1976 when the Rasta who sang against downpression and isms was shot.  Although Papa Doc Duvalier was firmly established by violence and terror and money in Haiti, the Cuban revolution had succeeded against all odds.  Granted, Che was already dead for nine years but his witness and words — ¡hasta la victoria siempre! — lived on.  In the mid- to late twentieth century much of the Caribbean was in flux and it was hard to know where the cards would fall.  Would the the people manage to shake off the yoke of colonial imperialism, foreign powers, and client rulers willing to betray their own people for personal profit, or would those powers triumph and beat the people down in order to maintain ever growing disparities between the rich and the poor?

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