Viva la revolucion

So everyone’s excited, because that most glorious of occurrences is upon us once more. The three-day weekend, the Monday which won’t feel like a goddamn Monday, because (unless you’re working overtime), we will be chilling.

I am not, nor will ever be, the one to dismiss or criticize a holiday, especially a paid, federal holiday. But I come to ask myself what exactly we’re supposed to be celebrating this Monday. My calendar informs me that we’re taking the day off in honor of the Queen, more specifically, Queen Victoria, who ruled the British Empire more than a century ago. Of course, anyone who’s ever seen a map, or has a basic understanding of geography, knows that Canada is not the UK, or England, or Great Britain, or any of the myriad names with which the former owners of the world style themselves. Yes, Canada, last I checked, is a sovereign nation.

Why, then, are we celebrating the reign of a foreign monarch? I’m a history major, so don’t come up to me and remind me of the fact that Canada, for a long time, belonged to Britain. They came over here, did their thing, and arguably did (most of) the (white) people of this continent a great deal of good. But this is 2013. I will not try to discuss the Commonwealth, which seems like No Longer So Great Britain’s attempt at at least fronting as though it’s a world power. Rather, the point I’m trying to make is that it might be time to take the Queen’s face off our fazools, and make Canada a state with no ties to the British Empire anymore. Can we leave them there, with their kings and queens and rooks and anything they like, and just be us, over here? Canada is no longer a part of Great Britain, so why continue to pledge allegiance to the Queen? Why don’t we cut that charade?

Are you ready for the next episode?

Are you ready for the next episode?

Sometimes, in the course of writing, I answer my own questions. The reason the charade is not cut is that the monarchy is a symbol. As with all symbols, it is multifaceted, and in Canada, it is here because it is wanted here, though by whom I can’t quite say. Most people accept it, for their own reasons. The symbol, seen and accepted, becomes legitimized. Self-sustaining. But a symbol is very hard to topple. It tugs at people on an unexplainable level. We become attached to them, they represent us. They summarize, and incarnate, complex feelings and thoughts. They provide answers.

But what answers do we need right now? Why should Canada, which is sitting pretty atop a massive reserve of every resource that man covets, with space like forget about it, and with the kind of standard of living that causes most countries to jealously talk shit behind our backs, want to rock the boat? What kind of answers does Canada need right now?

Well, believe it or not, Canada, as far as I can observe, is still a country in search of its identity. We are newbies on the world stage, having timidly accepted our independence when our British overlords decided that they could save some money and soldiers by simply giving us nominal independence and calling us a “dominion”. Sure, that sounds like a cool name, until you actually think about it. This country was a dominion, in other words, we were dominated by the British, and constantly subjected, like a reluctant kid who has to follow his parents to all kinds of boring functions, to the whims of the Brits. Now, I’m not saying Canada shouldn’t have gotten involved in the World Wars, for example. Kaiser Wilhelm was no doubt cruisin’ for a bruisin’, and Hitler, well, was Hitler. We took it to them, but as auxiliaries of the British, not as our own nation.

What kind of nation should Canada become, then? Well, that’s where we have our work cut out for us. I’m going to use a word now, which may immediately cause either hate-boners, or regular boners: separatism. There is a place in Canada called Quebec, in which the people there speak a strange language known as French. The French-speaking Canadians have often felt marginalized in the larger Canadian society, and in light of the historical context, it’s not completely incomprehensible. We’re supposed to be a bilingual nation, though. Why don’t we add that to the discourse? Why don’t we take this country in a direction that we choose, not one determined by the royal tomfoolery of an archaic royal family from another country? Replace the symbols, replace them with our symbols. And in the process of agreeing on this shit, we might be able to come together, for real, as a nation.

In Quebec, Victoria Day is known as the Journée des Patriotes, to commemorate the rebellion of 1837-38 against the British. The message is not exactly subtle, but nevertheless, the idea is sound: At least those fucking guys lived here in Canada. Ask yourselves, Canadians: what loyalty do I have to the monarchy, what does it mean to me. You all, who come from everywhere around the world, what attachment do you have to the royal family? Do you love your country? I do, that`s why I want to see it move forward. Let`s cut out this fake royal formality, let`s save our tax dollars, let`s decide, as one people, what kind of country we want Canada to be, going forward. It’s been real, UK, but it`s time for us to go our own way. Our Prime Minister should not even be nominally accountable to the Queen. And once we finally decide to take that step, and engage in a real, inclusive discourse, which might actually lead to actual, you know, change, we`ll find that the differences which seem so steep and entrenched now, between East and West, or French and English, are really not that significant. We`ve got a massive, virtually empty, and resource-rich plot of land, and we can do whatever we want with it, because we`re the ones living in it.

If you asked me, the day we renounce our fealty to the British royal family is the day we`ll enter a golden age, guided by that greatest and deepest of commonalities which binds all Canadians: how much we don`t want to be like Americans.

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Au nom du père…

Voici une courte histoire que j’ai écrite à Paris, dans le cadre d’un de mes cours. C’est l’histoire d’une entrevue entre un général retraité et un jeune journaliste, et elle est divisée selon les deux points de vue. En d’autres mots, la première section est relatée par le général, la seconde par le journaliste, la troisième par le général, etc.

Aussi, this story is rated R for violence and coarse language, reader discretion is advised 😛

Au plaisir de recevoir vos commentaires!

I survived the 2012 apocalypse

First things first: Yes, I know it’s safe and easy to write dismissively about something the day after it’s debunked, but I would rather not take my chances when it comes to divine wrath. When you assume, you make an ass out of “u” and “me”.

Breaking news: the world has not ended on December 21st, and shows no signs of being about to do so. So it turns out that the religion of that empire that collapsed 10 centuries ago is not, in fact, a valid source for predicting the end of everything. On the plus side, we might’ve figured out what that head in the middle of the calendar is laughing at.

mayan-calendar

Hard to believe, but it seems we’ve misinterpreted this

The ‘2012 phenomenon’, though, has implications that are more sociological than eschatological. Simply put, the fact that most of us (myself included, I’m not trying to hate on nobody) looked up at the sky for incoming planets says a lot about the spread of knowledge in our day and age. This is not the first time that doomsday predictions have been made, and I think most of us remember Y2K and all that. Then, too, people were scared of the sky falling on their heads, but at least the reasons provided were, on some level, rational. Most non-tech people (which was pretty much everyone back at that time) believed that problems could occur with the zeros and the ones and the clocks resetting  whatnot, with the ensuing nuclearized robot uprising a logical conclusion to that train of thought.

12 years later, though, it seems as though we don’t really have an excuse. Your local conspiracy theorist might’ve provided you with his or her interpretation of what was to happen on this day, but a simple Google search results in about a thousand different scenarios for the Earth’s comeuppance. A mysterious planet hauling ass straight through the Solar System, a big old volcano waking up right under our feet, E.T. coming back to Earth with his crew…. The diversity of scenarios is enough to produce B-movies for the next fifteen years, and the main thread linking them all together is “that shit with the Mayans”. And we bought it. Some of us bought it at face-value, some of us convinced ourselves of it over time, and others still bought it because everyone else seemed to be buying it.

Now, I have a friend, let’s call him D. He’s what you would call a skeptical person, and requires a certain quality of evidence before buying into an idea or proposition. University-educated, academically minded, he’s the kind of guy that will constantly ask for “your sources, bro”, and actually check them. I have another friend, whose fake name I will think of later. He’s not quite as rigorous in his source-checking and evidence-scanning, and proposes ideas which, although making sense on some level, are not really verifiable, vaguely defined, and often metaphysical in nature. Roland tends towards the spiritual and the esoteric, basically.

Yes, the conflict of mentalities is quite entertaining, and their debates often turn into a titanic struggle of ignorance versus truth and progress versus stagnation (in their minds). Obviously, the Mayan Question was a recurring topic of discussion, and both of them would, within minutes of beginning discussion, fall back onto entrenched positions like it was the Somme River around 1916. One side firing straight data, the other carpet-bombing with un-falsifiable assertions. So, while entertaining to me, the “debate” was effectively going nowhere.

It seems, then, that, from the standpoint of a neutral observer, it can be said that both parties are in fact dumbasses. Two different viewpoints, but the same quality to both: an extremism that keeps new information from entering their hermetically closed perception. Roland didn’t bother to read up on what was actually up with the Mayans, or even interpret critically what he had been told about them. And D., well, God bless him, but this guy will not even admit the possible existence of something if it’s not presented to him in a scientific format.

News for you, D.: Science is dope as hell, but it’s a flashlight trying to illuminate the Universe. In other words, it’s entirely possible (though perhaps not probable) that an invisible space giant is floating over your house right at this moment, just waiting to take a shit on your roof. And Roland: go read a book.

It’s considered proper form, when writing, to have a point. So here it is: in the words of Weezy, “Informate before you speculate”. And most importantly: avoid the extremes.

Strange dreams

In the spirit of this December 21, 2012, let me tell you about a strange and vivid dream I had last night. I was having a picnic with my (ex)girlfriend, between two buildings. To our left was a fence, to our right a clearing that seemed to give on some park. During the course of our picnic, two huge, scary-looking dogs (I remember identifying them as lynxes, though they seemed more likely to be from some other world). They were walking past, looking at us, and I lost my nerve. I ran to hop the fence to get away from these monsters.

My girl stayed sitting, informing me that all I had to do was ignore them, that by running I excited them. She was right; one of them came at me rapidly, the other one coming in a few seconds afterwards. It was too late to go back and try and remain calm: I one-timed over the fence, turning in mid-air to face the oncoming hounds. In my Matrix-like backwards jump, I was close enough to one of them to see death in his jaws and claws, but he ultimately missed me, by a few inches. When I got back up, I realized I had two gashes, marks that ran the length of my forearms. I felt no pain, no fear. And when I woke up, I was left with the strangest of impressions.

Coincidence? Symbolism? Jack shit?

The boundaries of language

Qu’on soit francophone ou anglophone québecois, on se doit d’écouter “Québecois de Souche”, des Cowboys Fringants (Oui, le titre du vidéo en tant que tel est plein de fautes, et je m’en excuse de la part de l’épais qui a posté ça tout croche.)

Now, don’t be scared of the title, or of the band’s name, no one’s going to have their existence threatened. Make sure to listen to the words, and if the Cowboys’ folksy neo-rock riddims make it too hard for you to follow along, lyrics are here

D’un point de vue lexical, entendons-nous que tous les termes employés sont parfaitement acceptés, et comprises dans le registre de la langue franglaise. In other words, le monde y parlent généralement plus ou moins de même.

Il faut y réfléchir, quoi. C’est comme si à force de quelques siècles de communication, le français a genre évolué, acquérant des nouveaux termes afin de faciliter la communication et la cohabitation. Sans pour autant exploser ou disparaître.

The versa’s vice is that, if you’re an English speaker, you’d have to be pretty dim not to be able to communicate on some level in French. About a quarter of the words are straight English, and a further fifth simply French pronunciation of English words. Just a little something to ponder, alors qu’ on voit de la haine comme lors des dernières élections, et qu’on se met à parler dans certains cercles médiatiques comme si on est dans des camps rangés. Jusqu’où vont les différences?

This article was quite difficult to write, you know. Word’s spellcheck was going crazy, and changing from accents to non-accents a constantly-reappearing challenge. Nevertheless, I learned something, about the boundaries of language as a talking point and factor in the public discourse vis-à-vis the issues that concern and unite and divide and incite us.

(That last paragraph is from a dialect of English known as Classical B.S.)

MANDATORY FRENCH TRANSLATION OF CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH[1]

Cet article fut assez difficile à écrire, vous savez. La fonction grammaticale du logiciel Word péta les plombs, et devoir aller d’accents a pas-d ’-accents fut un défi qui apparut constamment. Néanmoins, j’ai appris quelque chose, sur les limites de la langue en tant que point de discussion et facteur dans le discours public vis-à-vis les issues qui nous concernent et nous divise et nous incitent.

(Le paragraphe ci-dessus provient d’un dialecte français nommé le Nymportequoix)


[1] Pour plus d’informations concernant la susceptibilité du contenu électronique de désignation ‘blog’ aux lois et modalités de la Charte de La Langue Française tels que déterminés par la dernière soumission de l’Assemblée, veuillez vous addresser aux offices du Bureau de la Commission sur la Protection du Cyber-Français dans l’Espace Virtuel Québecois (La BCPC-Fdl’EVQ), organisme spécialisé de la Régie Ministérielle du Gouvernement du Québec. On a des bureaux un peu partout.

Le Roi-Esclave

This is a little story I wrote a while back, about the dangers of excessive pride (or something like that). I was inspired by the extremely dope Amin Maalouf’s style of placing a story in a pseudo-historical/mythological context, Enjoy!

For more information on Amin Maalouf, simply Google ‘Amin Maalouf’.

Lookin for a lion

A little context: this is something I wrote about a year and a half ago, during a weekend I spent in Lyon. During my time there, I had a girl on my mind. She was not with me, she was in Paris. Nevertheless, being a symbol-minded guy (hah), I set in motion a little scheme which I thought would “make her fall for me”, involving a lion statue. Aah, to be young(er) again.

Je ne nierai pas que j’avais ça en tête alors que j’explorais la magnifique et historique ville de Lyon. Je ne dirais pas que c’était un objectif, je n’avais aucune attentes vis-à-vis cette idée, mais c’était comme si elle guidait mes pas, doucement, à travers une ville où je n’avais aucun point de repère, rien à faire, nulle part où aller, quoi. Je marchais librement, choisissant ma destination au fur et à mesure, selon les signes, selon ce que mon cœur et mon intuition me disaient, et toujours dans l’espoir de trouver un lion de pierre à photographier.

C’est peut-être symbolique que je l’aie finalement trouvé, mon lion, au sommet de la colline, en face de la Cathédrale. Les circonstances qui m’y ont mené furent entièrement fortuites, ma promenade m’a emmené par-là, et je décidai, après un délicieux kefta bien ré énergisant, de gravir l’imposant mont qui surplombe la Saône, et la ville elle-même. De loin, la cathédrale était impressionnante, et comme toutes les maisons du Dieu des catholiques, un peu intimidante.

Parlant de Dieu, j’ai visité quelques-unes des vieilles églises en ville, et le sentiment de paix que j’ai trouvé en elles était envoutant au point d’être inquiétant. Le contraste entre les églises et la ville qui les abrite est frappant, et crée une sensation d’étourdissement lorsqu’on passe d’un monde à l’autre, et ce, des deux bords. À l’intérieur, c’est le silence pesant et solennel, la sensation de vide. La noirceur presque totale, refoulée seulement par la lumière filtrée des vitraux, ainsi que l’odeur particulière de l’encens, rend l’homme petit devant Dieu. C’est un peu sinistre comme atmosphère, mais je me trouvai rapidement envahi par un sentiment de paix et de calme complet.  Mais ce, seulement à l’intérieur.

J’avais franchement le sentiment de passer au monde des pêcheurs, au monde des gens stressés, qui cherchent toujours plus, toujours à combler, toujours à parler. Je regardais les gens passer, observant leurs manies, essayant de faire resurgir en moi cette paix totale de l’âme, mais peine perdue, j’étais de retour au vrai monde des humains. Et une fois cette réalisation faite, je continuai sans plus tarder mon chemin.

***

À la recherche d’un lion

Je dois réfléchir symboliquement pour le trouver

Sa trace file à travers la ville, de large en long, de pont en pont

Où se cache un lion à Lyon?

Je me trompe souvent, je suis des signes puérils

Je marche allègrement, je découvre une ville

Mais j’espère toujours réussir dans mon plan

Elle me comprendra maintenant

Des routes et des portes

Des cafés et des clopes

N’importe quel chemin que je prends, sentiment unique

Ce chemin sera la route scénique

La république me pique

Je visite le pouvoir politique

Louis XIV et la Place du Maréchal

Mais mon lion se dissimule dans le foliage automnal

Et finalement je vois Dieu, chez lui, surveillant la ville

Retranché sur sa montagne, il tente ma curiosité

Milles marches à pic, des chemins sinueux à travers le jardin

Pour simplement arriver à la porte

Je me repose un peu, je me rafraichis,

Je sors mon appareil, j’admire le panorama

La batterie meurt quelques instants avant que je l’aperçoive

Incognito mais imposant, surveillant la glorieuse entrée du temple

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