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Howard Zinn and « Just Wars »

Howard Zinn

I'm back from an amazing conference given by Howard Zinn at my University. Wow.

First, even though the talk was taking place in a big auditorium, it got completely filled up and a bunch of us had to sit outside and listen to the loudspeakers. Nevertheless, it was great and I managed to squeeze in for the Q&A period because some people left at that point.

He said something about « just wars » which was very touching. I searched the internet to see if I could find a video that could approximate what he said (because I would think it was not the first time he talked about this) and got this one:

Me, Myself and My Own Penetrating Analysis Mixed up with Five Long, Dragging and Convoluted Questions

Now, regarding the Q&A period. mousme, happens your father was the facilitator! Why I am not surprised? ;) You father, obviously, is a smart and experienced man. He knows pretty well about the «Me, Myself and My Own Penetrating Analysis Mixed up with Five Long, Dragging and Convoluted Questions» syndrome that plagues Q&A periods. I guess most people who have worked in conference organizing and attended quite a bunch of them are aware of this syndrome. Consequently, I am, and I've grown pretty annoyed with this. So I was bracing for it. Then I heard your smart father insisting, from the outset on not making editorial pieces. I almost had my hope raised... but what do you think a lot of people did?

They made one anyway.

And your father tried, all along the way, to keep them in check. So you have all these people standing for the mikes. They should see and hear others, before them, being warned. They should Take the Hint. But no. Several of them are just preoccupied by one thing: their Own Moment of Shining Glory. « Screw the others waiting in line, it is me, myself and my own penetrating analysis ».

I wonder sometimes if it is that these people make all their own analyses alone by their computers and they crave to blurt all the stuff out at the occasional conferences they attend. And/or if they are ego-activists types who just have to draw all the attention in on themselves. Really, I'm curious about this stuff.

Dudes (and galls - but most of the time the « me, myself and my own penetrating analysis » syndromees are guys), liberating ourselves from our egos is as important as asking others to give up on their privileges and their entitlement (their own inflated ego problem)!

Not that my analysis is anchored in psychology, but you know ;) We get to feel better, at the end of the day - and we do not step on our comrades' toes ;)
So my friend mousme just posted some Sesame street silliness

Bon, ça y est, me v'la partie. Her song was sticking to my brain while I was surfing the net, so I figured I'd just respond to her in kind ;)

Here's me own Sesame Street counting song that has stuck with me through the years (especially after my cousins made a groovy interpretation of it). This song, though, is not a tipsy happy song, it is more of a high on pot song ;) It also signals I am not that young ;)

A well deserved critique

I am an anarchist, a radical feminist, and an anti-oppression activist (and yes, these positions can overlap in different ways).

However, I am not beyond self-critique.

You see, the more I have come to understand oppression mechanics and see their extent, the more I have become familiar with historical resistance to justice (in a general sense and not just in a juridical justice one), and the more I have actually experienced that resistance in my life, the more I developed a very complex and mixed feeling of Anger and Love. Anger at complacency towards injustices and resistance to openness. Love at a my fellow human beings whose felicity brings me joy, and whose harming hurts me. I do not want to get poetic here, I am just trying as best I can to describe how I feel [and since I need to get back to work as quickly as possible, I cannot dwell to long on finding the right words and phrasing to convey those feelings].

Unfortunately, my impatience (or «our», because I am not alone in this), coupled with the dimming of my hope had started to weigh on me lately (up to the «epiphany» moment, that is). I can see there is something very dangerous to loosing (all) hope and becoming utterly cynical. And it has different results depending on whether we are on the right, on the center, on the left or on the left of lefts. When we are on the left of lefts, we tend to grow a more-radical-than-thou and anti-fun attitude that proves to be more harmful than anything else. Lots of us also tend to lump up anything that is bad and oppressive (no matter what its degree or shade of grey is) in the utterBad category. For instance, many radical leftists and anarchist posit that there is no difference between Obama and McCain. Sadly and ironically enough, this is binary thinking, one of the main tools of oppression (although some power positions are, indeed, binary).

Of course, that lumping of shades of bad into utterbad comes partly from historical experience. Too often in the past, radical activists have sided with reformists in the fight against injustices and their actions gradually became diluded and their effectiveness eventually dwindled. As long as we will not work on the root causes of a problem, we will stay mired forever in putting plasters on bobos. However, staying alert at the cost of fun undermines the very objective for which we fight: more love, equality, and happiness. I don't know how we can taste happiness with grim faces. Or how we can imagine that after being all grimmy with staying alert and fighting, we will, all of a sudden, become happy. As if the opening gates of Revolution were like the opening gates of Heaven.

In his essay Some cyonide to go with that whine? Obama's victory and the rage of the barbiturate left, that you can find on his red room blog, Tim Wise nails it pretty well.

Fortunately, we are not the Borg and some of us do have fun. But we should all heed the words of Emma Goldman, who was herself an anarchist:
At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.
I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business. I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. "I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things." Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world — prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal. (1931, p. 56)
* This incident was the source of a statement commonly attributed to Goldman that occurs in several variants:
If I can't dance, it's not my revolution!
If I can't dance, I don't want your revolution!
If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.
If there won't be dancing at the revolution, I'm not coming.

This is but a perspective from one single activist. Many others are aware of the importance of fun and I presume many others could provide intesting thoughts on this.

I guess the fear lots of us have - at least it is the fear I have - when we insert the fun component, is that fun be taken even more often as an excuse for prejudice than it already is. For instance all the racist, sexist, heterosexist humor that are excused away as «only being jokes». All the sexist and racist and heterosexist imagery, songs, movies (or components of movies) that are minimized as «just» being funny. Because «we know how much anarchists, feminists or anti-racists can be "humorless" or "funless"». I fear our stressing of heeding the importance of fun can be construed, by lots of people as being allowed complacency and prejudice.

How can we go around this. My bet is that we try to show that it is possible to have lots of fun without prejudiced humor. This, is just an example, and wow does he make me laugh! :D
Cultivating non-prejudiced fun is precious. It allows us some breaks and we can even mix it with activism! :D

...as usual I wrote far more than I first wanted, and I did not even mention all the nuances I wanted to bring forth. But hey, I need to go have fun correcting my students copies :P

Yay!! Another completed article :D

I just finished writing my second article tonight, wouhouuuuu :D

It's entitled : Insultes ou simples «expressions»? Les significations de la gamme d'épithètes «gai», «fif», «moumoune» et tapette» et les implications de leur usage.

It's basically about the meanings of «fag» and the like. I'm contrasting my analysis to the ones made by Plummer and Pascoe, although I cannot go into lengthy details in that specific article, for lack of space. I would very much like to produce an english translation of the original version, which is more complete - to my eyes.

Also, I received a letter from a publishing house. They found my thesis very interesting, but offered no formal commitment unless I make it more accessible to non-academic folks. Since I intended to vulgarize it anyways, it really is not a problem. I will call them shortly to know if I can meet them and discuss more precise terms.

That's definitely a positive :D

The «Friend» Status

I'm in a curiosity mode.

My friend mousme has written a post about her mom's non-acknowledgement of her girlfriend BorderCrossing as being her girlfriend.

I would be curious to hear my non-heterosexual friends talk about their own experiences. Has this happened to them or not? Or differently?

How about acknowledgement in daily life. From other family members, friends, co-workers. How does it go? What are the different reactions and terms in use?

I would also be curious to know if any of my heterosexual friends have witnessed non-acknowledgment behavior or not? What are the words you hear other people use when they are talking about two people in a same-sex relationship? Or simply, the ways they are describing it?

Bye-bye Audrey, bienvenue Alex

I am so not 23 anymore :P Gee. I had a soft background headache throughout the day that made it impossible for me to concentrate on my work. There was this sort of perpetual cloud in my brain. And I really did not drink that much, honest ;) I mean, I did not feel sick or anything and was careful not to cross The Threshold, which I have come to skillfully recognize after some years of experience ;) I drank water in between and all. I guess I did not drink water enough and I also guess I am more sensitive to brain shortcomings nowadays because I rely more heavily on it for my work. When I was 23, the morning after I was going off to work at the drugstore feeling far worse then I did today and still being able to function.

But what a night!! My friend Alex, who is transitioning from F to M, was holding a symbolic party to officialize his passage. We bid farewell to Audrey and welcomed Alex. Actually, he came out as Alex some months ago and friends have started calling him Alex for a while, but that makes it more official. We had such a great time, and Alex was very touched by the fact that he was surrounded by a lot of supportive friends. Some had prepared super cool sketches for him, and I hoped in to take care of the party decorations :)

I feel blessed to have a friend such as Alex. [And I should add, since I never got to write it on this blog, that I feel blessed to have several wonderful friends]. Alex has asked me, last week, to accompany him to the hospital to receive his first testosterone shot. Actually, he got to deliver it to himself and was instructed on how to proceed. It was a very important moment for him and I was very touched that he shared it with me. We then got to talk for the whole afternoon (with him expressing his emotions about it all first, because it was a very emotive day and experience). I feel I am learning a lot from him. That was very enriching.

So wow. That was all worth the non-productive day. :D


Also been trying to get new pants. I hate shoping for clothes :P «Girls' clothes» are often too «frilly» (I don't even know if that's a word), and «boys pants» do not usually fit my waist. Then, there is the size problem. I am tall and large. Yay. I came back empty handed.

Oh yeah, and I got called «yo pussy» when I was on my way home riding my bike. I ride in front of a car that's stopped at the red line. And the driver calls «yo pussy». Me not answering. «Yo pussy» again. Me not answering, mister 257 LMJ car driver drives off because the light turned green.

Definitely, sexism is a thing of the past.


Mind blowing

Well, I guess I get to learn each day. Sam, a friend of mine, sent me those links on autism:

Positively Autistic

In my language

This is definitely food for thought


And a little something more, very cute, for the enthousiastic:

Amazing Autistic Mind: The Kid is All-Write


J'ai de la misère à mettre cela en mots, mais je sens que je viens de vivre une épiphanie samedi dernier. Pas une phase subite de «bonne humeur», mais quelque chose de vraiment profond. Je ne crois pas que ce soit temporaire. Ça vient du fond du cœur et non de la tête. Ça peut paraître bizarre, étant donné que j'ai passé quelques moments sombres dernièrement. Je vais assimiler ça ces prochains jours et j'y reviendrai sans doute :D
Well, j'ai toujours en tête ma «petite» liste de choses à dire. Elle s'allonge et je me désole de savoir que je devrai faire le tri. Mais bon. Ya des choses plus dramatiques que ça dans la vie.

J'ai enfin fini ma demande de post-doc pour le CRSH. Enfin, stie!

J'ai donné une conférence à l'ACSALF aujourd'hui. Elle s'intitulait: «Aux sources des attitudes négatives des hommes hétérosexuels à l'endroit des hommes gais»: Les impasses de la psychologisation inhérente au concept d'homophobie.

Oui, oui, c'est un pur adon, greenie_breizh ;)

Ma conférence était ok, mais le fait de devoir la réduire à 15 minutes était une véritable torture.

Mais le clou, le clou c'était une autre conférencière qui clôturait le bal. Ma foi, je crois que j'allais exploser de colère. La dame s'amuse (oui, oui, s'amuse avec un petit sourire en coin) à qualifier la définition que font les femmes et les féministes travaillant dans des foyers d'hébergement pour femmes violentées de construction, appuyant chaque fois qu'elle nomme le mot violence de «guillemets-guillemets» bien sentis de ses deux doigts. Elle a sorti un chapelet d'insanités avec une telle désinvolture que je me demandais si j'étais bel et bien réveillée. Exit, donc, la violence employée pour se défendre. Exit l'intériorisation de la définition dominante de la violence (ex: «si mon conjoint m'a tapée sans vraiment en avoir l'intention, il ne m'a pas frappée pour vrai et donc ça ne compte pas»). Exit le système. Bonjour le level playing field. Le pire, c'est qu'elle disait ça devant une audience dont une bonne partie buvait ses paroles. Je brûlais de l'envie de rebondir, dans la période de commentaires et questions, pour lui en soumettre une de mon cru. Seulement, je ne pouvais pas m'imposer sur l'assistance et n'avais comme ultime ressort que celui de l'absence de questions de la part de cette dernière. Pour ne pas aider, personne n'a critiqué ses propos ou l'a relancée. Après la conférence, nous avons (très) brièvement discuté et je me suis promise un débat avec elle. Je devrais assurément la recroiser, puisque sa co-directrice se trouve à mon département de sociologie - et elle se spécialise en psychanalyse, tiens donc.

...Ma foi, qu'est-ce qu'elle attend pour aller copiner avec Yvon Dallaire??

Argh. Argh. *twitch* Argh.

Outre cela, un autre petit épisode du «retour thérapeutique». Moins chargé cette fois-ci, mais non révisé et édité pour le moment parce que je veux aller faire dodo.

Printemps 2002: la vie continueCollapse )