Returning from Meaninglessness

Back now from a break in Canada.  Reconnected with people.  Drank too much.  Recharged.

Love in Herodotus.  Pura vida.

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Published in: on 6 April 2010 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  

Disclaimer

Here are some accounts of my recent travels, studies, and ideas.  A lot of it is sarcastic and crude.  Very little, if anything at all, will provide any sort of insight or catharsis whatsoever.  At the very best it may erode you generally as a human being.  Please contact me for permission before using any part of this web log in any way.  Cheers.

Published in: on 4 March 2010 at 12:12 am  Leave a Comment  

A Discussion of O-A (O:WIBN)

From my first non-travel log post here.

“We have been discussing in our Media, Peace and Conflict Studies class whether objectivity is possible, whether it is practical, and whether it is good.  I think it can, under the right circumstances, be all three.  In any event, this has been an imperative for me to actually formulate and write down the principles that I believe in.  This is not a prescription for anyone else, just what works for me.”

Well, this issue has come up again with salience, and I thought I’d stimulate the mind during this narguile session by elaborating on the principles I wrote down here last September.

On the Six Principles of Objective Altruism

I think that objectivity and altruism are necessarily interdependent for the following reason.  For both of these frames of being, the first step is to look, think, feel and endeavour outwardly.  The foundation of objectivity is to eliminate the subjectivity of the self.  In antithesis to the Ayn Rand conception of objectivism, anything resembling real objectivity requires that we favour ourselves no more than anyone else (and no less).  Even if the Nobel prize-winning peace maker or the Secretary General of the United Nations or the woman or man on the brink of discovering the cure for cancer perceives evidence that suggests their life has more value than that of a serial rapist or someone about to take their last breath, it’s important to remember that we have no idea of really knowing what is valuable, and therefore no one can have more objective value than anyone else.

Altruism requires the same, to endeavour toward the needs of others at least as much as one would toward their own.  However, if this is done out of desire or inclination, such as the missionary who clothes and tends to lepers in Calcutta because it satisfies religious imperatives, or the doctor in Zimbabwe treating tuberculosis because it fulfills and brings meaning to their life, then I don’t think it can be called real altruism.

I would argue then, that real objectivity absolutely requires altruism, and that real altruism absolutely requires objectivity.  Now as for the principles themselves.

1. There is no right, there is no wrong. There are no truths, only half truths.  ”True Aim” is understanding “half truths” as they are; “Untrue Aim” is believing them to be truths.  All conflict stems from Untrue Aim, all peace stems from True Aim.

(Inspired largely by Alfred North Whitehead).  This is the big one. Ideas should never be manipulated into facts, and we should never believe anything absolutely, or at all without reason and knowledge, even if and especially when we find ourselves desiring to.

There might seem to be a glaring contradiction here.  If there is no certainty, if nothing can be perceived as really true, then how can this principle itself be true or hold any weight?  This is a “caveat” called Pyrrhonism, and it was problematic in the 4th century as well.  The issue I take with this skepticism of skepticism, is what it leaves us with- specifically nothing.  If I hold a red apple in my hand and announce that the apple is red, a skeptic might say “well, how do you know that it’s red?  Does having red skin make it red?  Is that what constitutes redness?  Can the light refracting off the fruit’s surface really be said to define it?”  And I would value these questions.

The Pyrrhonist standing next to him, however, would question the skeptic further, asking “how do you know that the questions you’re asking have any value?  What do words mean?  Can you really determine what Jared really sees, thinks or believes by asking him how he knows the apple is red?”  And I would lower my head and exhale in exhaustion.  And then the Pyrrhonist standing next to the other Pyrrhonist would say, “but my fellow Pyrrhonist, how do you know that the questions you’re asking the skeptic have any meaning or value?  What does ‘red’ even mean?”  and the third Pyrrhonest would ask “how can that question have any meaning?  Even what I’m saying now is completely meaningless, because if nothing can be known with certainty, then we can’t even know that nothing can be known with certainty.”  Do you have a headache yet?  I do.

So rather than resign all thought to oblivion, I choose to accept the one truth that nothing can be completely true or right- there are always unknowable victims and unknowable perpetrators, often in the very opposite places that we might imagine them to be.  If someone breaks into your car and steals your stereo, do you indulge your emotions and blame them?  Do you consider yourself a victim deserving of sympathy, and the thief a perpetrator to be reviled?  Consider the sociological evidence that crime is overwhelmingly a result of societal mores that hold material gain to be the only real indicator of success, while at the same time denying the opportunity for material gain by legal means to significant portions of the population?  Are you not at least partly responsible for your stereo being stolen by accepting, living in and contributing to the societal structure that necessarily made it happen?  Some people relax with Zen Buddhism, but this objective realization brought me peace and tranquility the first time this situation happened to me as a teenager.

The most important application of this, I think, is to war and peace.  Is it possible to wage violent conflict against another group or nation or state, without believing the half-truths you perceive to be whole-truths?  Is it even possible to consider them an enemy?  Could Palestinians launch RPGs into Israeli civilian territory, or could Israelis deny food and water but give generously white phosphorous to Palestinian refugees, or could Al-Bashir employ the Janjiwid in Darfur, or could the Sri Lankan government put Tamils in concentration camps, or could any other atrocity in history have been endeavoured without otherwise good men and women taking the half-truths of their positions and perceptions, and transforming them into whole-truths to be rallied under and bloodthirsted for?

To hold the concerns, fears, angers and rationales of another, of one’s enemies, to equal weight, importance and value as one’s own, is to make peace.  Is to be peace.  To help conflicting parties to find the common ground to reach this point, I think, is to be a peacemaker.  And all this really requires when you get right down to the heart of it, is simply to understand half-truths as being what they are.  That’s all there is to the key component of objectivity.

I’ll be updating this one principle at a time… If you’ve any interest, check back periodically.

Published in: on 3 March 2010 at 11:59 pm  Comments (1)  

Objective Altruism

1. There is no right, there is no wrong. There are no truths, only half truths. True Aim” is understanding half truths as they are; “Untrue Aim” is believing them to be truths.  All conflict stems from Untrue Aim, all peace stems from True Aim.

2. Act always to serve others rather than to please them; these are often diametrically opposed paths.  Be aggressively passive and resented more than appreciated, and you will better both yourself and others.

3. There is inclination and there is duty; this is a dichotomy.  If duty is endeavoured out of inclination, it is false.  If duty is endeavoured solemnly, it is service.  Indulging inclination is the path of Untrue Aim, service is the path of True Aim.

4. Emotion is the forbearer of inclination.  It belongs exclusively in private life.  Reason is the forbearer of service.  It should reign in public life.

5. Believing or disbelieving without adequate evidence is indulgence in inclination.  It is Untrue Aim.  Instead be always questioning and critical, this is service and True Aim.

6. In all things, act and speak as though the world was as it should be, not as it is, and in doing so you will help to make it so.  You will be perceived as a fool, a meager sacrifice.

Published in: on 3 March 2010 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Hippies and 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.”
– Daniel J. Boorstin

A few minutes ago I received an electronic letter inviting me to a presentation on… and I swear this is real…  “the ONENESS of LIFE“.  It started out pretty reasonable- problems with media, education, structures, leaderships, dilemmas presenting possibilities of their collapse, and et cetera.  From this followed ideas for change and resolution through alternative media and educational reform, which struck as naive-but-sane.

And then: “Most of you probably already know there is LIFE beyond the Earth in the stars“, and I’m thinking “oh jesus fuck he’s a Scientologist”.  And then I read the line that came right before that.  Because I’m dyslexic, I guess.

Most of you probably already know that 9/11 was a lie“.  It was at this point that I realized it was possible for me to take this letter less seriously.  My first thought was “wow”, followed by the confusion of how this had anything to do with the rest of the e-mail, followed by another head-shaking step backward from my faith in humanity.  Either the fine chap who sent me this is completely detached from reality or has reason to think that most people feel certain enough to “know” that the 9/11 attacks were “a lie”.  Just to be safe, I feel compelled to prepare for the improbable latter.

I think most North Americans are generally bored, and somewhere in between ennui and imagination, I can understand the appeal of these kinds of constructions.  To be fair, here is the extent of the entirely speculative “evidence” presented for these arguments, to my awareness.

Loose Change | Zeitgeist | 911Truth.org

The idea is that the 9/11 attacks on the world trade center were “a lie”, that is it was set up by the American government with controlled demolitions explosives inside the building.  It’s a pretty exciting idea, even if you’ve never set foot in the U.S. or known anyone who lives there.  It’s the stuff of Ian Flemming, that evil megalomaniac despots in the highest seats of power are using mind control and death rays to take over the world.  Who wouldn’t want to buy into that?  V for Vendetta is one of my favourite films!

Alas, if only we were brains in vats.  Many independent institutions and organizations have physically disproved these kinds of ideas with the help of experts from the fields of engineering, architecture, pyrotechnics, mathematics and physics, but this should probably be redundant; the real problem for the 9/11 conspiracy theory is the problem that it means tens of thousands of average, everyday construction workers, policemen, firefighters, paramedics, bystanders and public officials kept one of the greatest lies in their country’s history a secret.  For no personal gain.  In the most hyperpatriotic nation in the world.

The attacks did happen, and though I don’t find it personally exciting to my enmity (I thought those “I <Plane> NY” T-shirts were hilarious) I can understand how these allegations of 9/11 being a lie could be significantly damaging to the emotions and psyches of people who lost people they loved.  In addition to being completely retarded.

To perform an immediate 180 degree turn, there is some evidence for considering that there could have been something fishy going on.

The Project for a New American Century has been and continues to be one of the most influential groups for policy making in the U.S., and to summarize and simplify heroically, the 9/11 attacks and Iraq War drew out as if strictly following the PNAC principles and objectives like an actor reading a script with the occasional ad-lib.

This is what can be called circumstantial evidence.  It “makes sense”, and the possibility that Cheney, Wolfowitz, Kristol and Rumsfeld met privately with Bin Laden in a dusty Afghan shack or a fucking submarine or something, would seem to be cognitively balanced with reality.  This would hardly make 9/11 “a lie”, it would only mean that there were a few white people involved in the killing of other white people instead of only brown people.  Why is that so much more terrible for some people?

The bottom line is that there’s really no solid or even solidish evidence for any of this, and therefore to believe it is simply a demonstration of what a person desires to believe.

And this brings us back to hippies, but first let me state my personal definition of the word.

Hippie: n [hip-pee] a sampler or dilettante in a cause or belief system who relegates the dilemmas or devotions of others into their own distractions.  See also: Hippiness, Hippie-esque, Hippitastic.

I see the population of “The West” as inclusive of two types of hippies, what you could call minor and major for want of better terminology.

Minor hippies practice astrology, believe in fairies, drink yerba tea, see auras and/or do kundalini yoga.  These hippies are fine, I can love and respect these hippies.  Theoretically I would respect them more if they weren’t hippies, but you take the crazy with the fun.  The defining characteristic of a minor hippie is that their practices are exclusively internal; they don’t really affect anyone else.

Major hippies are defined by the externalization of their dilettantism, and can be identified by their adornment in little rubber bracelets which indicate the dilemmas they choose to distract themselves with.  Also beware of anyone who drinks fair trade coffee, drives a hybrid, wants you to give peace a chance, or who is proud of anything they have done for its vague and indirect effects that they can’t actually explain or demonstrate… to be safe you should probably also avoid anyone wearing green.

If you encounter the major hippie, there are some basic things that you should know to avoid an excruciating and condescending lecture, or at the very best, a boring conversation.

  1. Do not indicate ignorance on any issue, problem, dilemma or cause.  Not even imaginary ones- just play along.  If you do show the hippie that they can “teach” you something, it will prompt the hippie to bore you with endless overviews, simplifications and snippets until you pass out from boredom.  If this happens, the hippie may shave off your hair to give to PETA for human-fur coats.
  2. On the other hand, never allow the hippie to realize you actually know something about any issue, problem, dilemma or cause in question beyond the shallow drivel they get from Keith Olbermann and the Utne Reader.  This capacity to make the issue real for the hippie may spook them into blindly fleeing from the situation, possibly hurting or even killing themselves by running in front of a canola-fueled bus or something.  Remember, hippies are people too.
  3. Don’t make sudden eye or hand movements, as it may cause the hippie to attack.

Major hippies are some of the most dangerous people in the world, because they habitually construct these hazy clouds of trendiness and pseudo-compassion for causes and dilemmas they haven’t bothered trying to understand, thereby creating the illusion of support and awareness for any dilemma in question.

Why would the Canadian or U.S. governments take any action in Darfur or Gaza or Sri Lanka or the Congo or Bolivia when so many their citizens are already so pleased with themselves for wearing a T-shirt or maybe handing out some fliers?

Why would the international community make a meaningful commitment to address food security and grotesque socioeconomic inequality in the Global South, when the MakePovertyHistory campaign already solved the problem?  They did, right?  Remember all that finger-snapping Sean Penn did?  I mean, when the popular trend changes from poverty to climate change, indicated by the change in colour of bracelet people are wearing, it can only mean that poverty is over.  Right?

It’s great to seek and promote inner peace and positive attitudes, but when this replaces the imperative for rational and realistic ideas, arguments and solutions to the very real dilemmas that people and populations face,  we begin to enter into galactic douche territory.  I want to see everyone heralding this brought to a Tamil camp in Sri Lanka so they can tell the malnourished, amputee mother of three live children and fifteen dead ones that she should have had “a better awareness of her connection to and relationship with and relationship to LIFE”.  Or brought to the next summit on climate change, and try to overcome national interest stalemates by explaining to them the “essence of the ONENESS”.  That’s probably bordering on harsh, but I think this is something worthy of indignation.

Love in Erasmus.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 2 March 2010 at 1:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

How to be a Fox News Anchor, Part Deux

Today a goodish part of the school began the University for Peace Model United Nations Conference, or UPMUNC.  I’ve always thought these things would have to be pretty lame, like the UN, or models, or conferences.

They are not.  Our media team worked our asses off and had a blast, thank god for the slave driving Rosie and editorialastic-bombastic-fantastic Katelyn to keep everything going.  I got to make a fool of myself for most of the day, and subsequently meet the British ambassador and a fellow Post-Westphalian Optimist (though… I don’t know if I got her name… or the ambassador’s name for that matter.  I’ll just call them Mabel and Gussy, for now.)

You can read the script for the intro video in the preceding post… playing Cogney T. D’Sonans I think I understand a small part of how Heath Ledger felt playing the joker, and have a new found appreciation for Stephen Colbert.  Channeling that much ignorance, arrogance and idiocy… it’s extremely exhausting.  I nearly broke into tears when I took my first gulp of Guinness upon arriving home, seriously.

Here are a few excerpts from the interviews today, paraphrased for brevity; everything we did today was 99% improvised.

———-

Cogney, regarding accusations of human rights violations by the Honduran interim government of Michelletti: Yeah, but allegedly the ousted president, Zelaya, was trying to become president for life.  Do you think he wouldn’t have committed human rights abuses?

Dora, the interviewee, responds by completely decimating and disproving my weak and misinformed argument, using a lot of sophisticated logic and complex language.

Me, blinking: there you have it folks, the accused perpetrators of human rights violations saved Honduras from a nightmarish communist takeover.

————-

Cogney, to the Australian delegate on the UN Environmental Programme, regarding action on climate change: “Climate change… great lie?  Or GREATEST lie?”
————
Cogney, writing for Chrysti for an interview with the delegate from the Maldives, a country which is about to sink into the ocean as a direct result from global warming…
“Okay, so hypothetically assuming that climate change could be real… why would you guys live in such a dangerous place??”
———–

It’s a little disturbing, but some part of me is actually looking forward to becoming Cogney again tomorrow.  I imagine it’s the same way Charles Manson felt before attempting to start a worldwide race-war, or that Niccolo Machiavelli felt every time he resumed writing the Prince.  I’m just lucky to have so many incredible friends who won’t let me give into those demons of ignorance, arrogance, and complete detachment from reality.

Love in Neil Kavuto.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 24 February 2010 at 8:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

UPMUNC Fox Intro Script

Voice of Robby: Your voice, fair and balanced: THIS is Fox News.

Katelyn: I’m Chrysti Kirsty, and with me as always is Cogney T. D’Sonans.  Bringing you up to date fair and balanced coverage of this meeting of the global community.  (How’re you doing this evening Cogney?  >> Dandy fine as always, Chrysti.)

Jared: That’s right; we’re filming live from the United Nations conference in El Rodeo Costa Rica, to see if this time they will actually get something done.  (What do you think the chances of that are, Chrysti?  >> Slim to none, Cogney.)

This conference will discuss an investigation into human rights violations in the wake of the June 28th Honduran coup and the violent and divisive aftermath, this conference will discuss an investigation into human rights violations.  We’ll find out what’s happening, and tell you what this might mean for America.  (Thank God we don’t have human rights violations in America, hey Chrysti?  >> It’s a terrible situation, I thank God every day we don’t have this kind of thing here Cogney.  >>  Well, we are above it.)

Katelyn: Then, the international spotlight will move to the situation of migrant workers worldwide, and their “exploitation”.  Will this crusade for the freedoms of invasive workers from the South be a major blow in the fight against illegal immigrants?  We’ll get to the bottom of this issue, and what it means for you.

Jared: Finally, the socialist climate change conspiracy gets back on the global stage.  Following the Copenhagen summit last December, alarmist rhetoric of crisis and catastrophe rings loudly in the air.

Katelyn: What does this mean for America?  Taxes, taxes, taxes.  If this conference results in real action you can expect the recession crunch to tighten further still.  We’ll investigate the ins and outs of this issue and what it means for you and your family.

Jared: We’ll be back soon with extensive, fair and balanced coverage of this United Nations conference.

Published in: on 24 February 2010 at 7:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

How to Be a Fox News Anchor

I’ve been convinced to join the model UN conference programme at UPeace, and have signed on as a Fox News anchor named Cogney T. D’Sonans (hee hee) to report on it.

We filmed our introductory segment yesterday with my co-anchor Chrysti Kirsty, after tying my hair back and powdering it white with flour (along with my mustache and goatee) to disguise my hippie appearance, I’ll post the transcript after it’s been shown at Upeace.

Love in Steve Ducey.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 23 February 2010 at 7:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Of Race and Racism

Earlier tonight a Upeace student performed a series of monologues on campus which she has been doing for a few years, called “Mixed”.

Here is a link to a segment of it, for context.

It’s about the external ascription and self assertion of race and ethnicity from the perspective of people who blur labeling and bend stereotypical ideas.  First I want to comment that it was extremely informative, enriching and entertaining (I completely lost it at the use of the antiquated and ridiculous term “quadroon”).

My interpretation of the piece’s central theme was the irrelevance and the imaginary nature of an idea of “race”, and it’s inspired me to write down my thoughts and arguments about race as they have been for many years.

Pre Factum Qualification

Obviously ethnicity has physiological implications.  Our immediate genetic derivations of course have impacts on our physical appearances, vis-a-vis complexion, countenance, et cetera.  And of course our cultural surroundings have profound impacts on our attitudes, beliefs and understandings.  But culture and ethnicity are entirely different from “race”, which is what I want to talk about, or “racism”, the prejudicial ideas some people draw based on perceptions of ethnicity and culture.  Distinctions of ethnicity and culture are relevant  and important for diversity, but they have absolutely no bearing on conceptual divisiveness within the one human race or homo sapiens sapiens.

Ideas of “race” really don’t trace back very far.  As far as my research has yielded, these notions of biological “othering” and division within an idea of one human race do not appear in antiquity whatsoever, not in Egyptian, Greek, Roman or medieval texts.  Even in primary sources regarding the Crusades, I have never encountered a reference to the concept.

The word itself comes from the Italian word “razza”, first used to differentiate between flavours of wine.  It was not applied to people in a divisive sense until 1774, with ideas of “racialness” only appearing in 1862.  To the best of my understanding, the reason for the construction of the idea that some groups of people are so fundamentally different from others that they are a different species or race, is due to the imperative of dehumanization or “othering” to facilitate colonial genocide in the context of democratic and humanist contradictions.  Compulsions for wealth and power are all well and good for ruling elites, but when these things don’t benefit armies and general populations, you need to find alternative justifications for sending them to massacre the defenseless.

In this short video, Edward James Olmos articulates the point I’m trying to make pretty concisely.

The evidence is overwhelming that ethnicity and culture have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on things like intelligence, personality or disposition, yet I think it’s safe to say that majorities in most territories and nations still cling to these antiquated ideas.  And to some extent it’s forgivable; we’ve only been committing efforts and resources to understand and debunk these centuries-old myths through anthropology, sociology, psychology and sociobiology for a few decades, and we’re talking about ideas which have been sunk into our collective consciousness for many generations.

Similarly, when Cristobal Colon (or whatever his real name really was, he had like 700 of them) empirically disproved the ruling paradigm that the world was flat, it took a while for the idea to really sink in, for people to understand it.  And that was a very simple myth, with a very simple and entirely incontestable rebuttal.  With the idea of race we have a relatively complicated myth with a relatively complicated but no less entirely incontestable rebuttal.  Even today the Flat Earth Society continues to argue that the world is flat, and even today billions of people continue to think in racial terms.  Forgivable, but not acceptable.

That there is roughly equal evidence supporting the theory that the earth is flat as there is supporting the theory that ethnicity is a meaningful determinant of any kind, should bring us to a logical and obvious conclusion.  We need to start treating  attitudes which fathom the idea of race the same as we would attitudes which fathom the idea of a flat earth.  If you can read this, you are almost certainly a homo sapiens sapiens, or Cro Magnus human.  As such, you and I and everyone else falling under this classification come from Africa, specifically the Afrar/Great Rift region of Ethiopia, as far as modern science has been able to determine, with a relatively tiny number of generations in between which have played a role in our physiological and cultural development.

I hope that this has been quite clear in how ideas, ideologies and attitudes about race are founded in cognitive dissonance and ignorance, carry-overs from an epoch of deliberate misinformation.  Race exists in the world exclusively as an imaginary idea, and ideas hold only the power we give them.

Would you dignify an argument for a flat earth by engaging it?

My prescription is to pay the same heed to racists as you would to flat earthists: smile, nod, and walk away.

Post Factum Qualification

There are many, many situations and circumstances wherein the arguments I’m making would probably seem heartless, or even blindly naïve.  In genocidal situations, for example, such as in the cases of Rwanda, Israel/Lebanon/Palestine, the Holocaust, Guatemala, et cetera and other cases where leaders and policy makers use racial ideas to mobilize armies such as in the cases of East Timor or Bosnia, it’s a bitter pill to swallow that the victims of these blind campaigns of racially-facilitated violence could or should simply ignore the ideas, ideologies and attitudes that are driving machetes and bullets toward them and their families.

But consider this: ideas about race are almost never factors in the motivations of these leaders and policy makers; they are frameworks used to control and justify populations.  It’s obvious that the defenseless person being set upon by a hate-fueled mob is a victim of violence, and it’s important for us to understand this.  I would argue however that it is even more important for us to understand that the hate-fueled mobs are victims of coercion and manipulation.

In parts of the world where racial ideas, ideologies and attitudes are still used as justifications and facilitating frameworks for violence, which by the way are diminishing in number and not increasing, obviously education and campaigns for awareness are important.  What I’m talking about here is the most appropriate and useful position to take on these attitudes and ideas in a broader, global context.

Love in MLK.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 19 February 2010 at 8:56 pm  Comments (1)  

Catching Up: Academe in Sum

In the interest of being conscientiously able to write current news and events here, I’m going to bring to summation my academic endeavours here, from last November to now.

The first class in question was Women and New Media in the Arab World, taught by the sanguine Mona Eltahawy of O’Reilly Factor fame, and tremendous literary success in general.  An Egyptian-cum-Brit-cum-Yank journalist, blogger and editorialist, Mona was a delight to listen to and learn from, and I enjoyed many a lively discussion, debate and argument with her especially under the topic of passionate subjectivity vs. detached objectivity in media (and very especially under the influences of quite a lot of wine).

The content of this course interested me in three major areas, these being that I still new very little about the nature of media in conflict, especially the “new media”, that I knew very little about feminism and gender issues in general, and that I was relatively unaware of how these issues factored into areas of study in the Arab world (in which we also included Israel and Iran).

Writing this now about to finish the seventh course in the UPeace Media MA programme, I can comfortably conclude that this has been the best class thus far.

After Women and New Media in the Arab World with Mona Eltahawy, we undertook The Role of Media in the Rwandan Genocide with Gerald Caplan.  Professor Caplan is a Canadian genocide scholar and activist, and though having specialized in the case of Rwanda for over a decade he provided for us a globally cognitive perspective.

This class was less interesting for me as it was about 95% review and refresh, and because a lot of the discussion was emotionally charged, which inevitably engenders a roadblock in reasonable academic discussion, which inevitably engenders boredom.  This said however, from a perspective where the information and ideas we studied would have been new, I can imagine a much different response.

What I enjoyed most about The Role of Media in the Rwandan Genocide was the opportunity it afforded me to write a paper about something I’ve long considered- the argument for the Bretton Woods Trio and other members of the transnational class as genocidaires, which I wrote over the winter break.  I guess I’ll elaborate on that terminology later.

Having arrived back at UPeace from an icy vacation home to Saskatchewan, I joined my friends, peers, colleagues and classmates as we began our elective courses.  Due to logistical nonsense, I had to forgo a couple of options that I would have liked to take, and went with Peace, Conflict and Development– a course sure to be a nice, easy coast into the new year given the intertwining of development and conflict in International Studies at USask.

So it was a review, but happily an intense one.  Professor Tony Karbo (Karbs), an acclaimed scholar from Ethiopia, brought us through the leviathan content involved in studying international development in the context of conflict with healthy doses of realism and humour.  I could be comfortable with calling the topic of international development with most depressing and hopeless area of study in the world, and Professor Karbo’s lecturing style helped a lot of us keep our heads above the murky water.

There, all caught up.  We’re nearing now the end of Media and Ethno-Cultural Conflict with professor Clyde Sanger, a brilliant Canadian journalist and academic whose level of experience should astonish most.  His lecturing style has been more encumbered by anecdote and conjecture than would be my preference, but it’s undeniably interesting if not cognitively engaging.

The next class will be something about Media and Terrorism with professor Victoria Fontan, compacted into two weeks with four or so hours each day, happily resulting in a three-week Easter Break.

Love in Socrates.  Pura vida.

Published in: on 18 February 2010 at 10:32 am  Leave a Comment