Thursday, July 28, 2011

Some Secrets

I have been thinking- isn't it funny how the pronunciation and syllabic emphasis of a word or phrase changes it's entire meaning?

For example- 'some secrets', depending on how you stress the words, could mean several things.  'Some secrets' as in 'hey, those are some secrets you're sharing with us!'  Or 'some secrets' as in 'hey, I've got some secrets to share with you.'

But no, today's title is a softer 'some' and a defeated 'secrets' as in 'some secrets are not meant to be shared.'  Some secrets are meant to be squirreled away in some dark corner, left to gather dust in the recesses of our minds.

Some secrets are meant to haunt only the person keeping them.

Cheers, Friends...  and look, it was almost more cheerful than my previous post?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I am the Brutality of Vision

I am sitting in a coffeeshop at the moment, trying not to feel bad about eating a cookie when I have barely eaten anything in about a week.  Welcome to the heartbreak.

The worst part of being an eating-disordered creature is the inevitable, cyclical, sickening slide back into it.  It hurts; it strains the soul; it creates desperation where there should only be acceptance.  Whether this slide is a result of an impossibly bad week (in my case this time), an offhand comment (has happened in the past), or a stomach flu that makes you remember the twisted satisfaction of starvation (has also happened in the past), it is not a happy experience.  In fact it is such a collision of the physical and the emotional and mental that it is impossible to detail.

I don't mind sharing this because I am fairly confident that most people I know have some idea of my own deeply distressing problems with myself.  There is no good way to explain what one goes through when one's brain and body begin to mutiny.  It is weird- obviously.  On a side note, I am sick to think that some unfortunate individuals glorify what I do to myself.. but I do it over and over as if I glorify it as well.  I don't like it but some grooves in my brain are worn so deep they are almost comforting in their exhaustion.  And there you have it, the most upsetting and inhuman part of the game- that self deprivation, deprecation, hatred, starvation and cruelty, can actually be comforting.  Yes.  And sometimes I am simply too exhausted otherwise to fight back.

I know this all seems rather depressing.  And it is. And I apologize for the fear and distress that people may feel in reading this.  But, and this should not be a news flash to anyone, sometimes life is less than thrilling.  Sometimes it is truly a bag of suck.  I have turned over a new leaf in life (is that the saying?).  I am not, by nature, a dishonest person.  But this past week, if nothing else, has caused me to believe that the only way of getting out of bed in the morning is to make a promise to be honest to everyone about everything.  No more fudging the truth.  No more painting over the painful parts solely because they are painful.  Pain is a part of the universe as much as you or I.

The difficult part (as if it could actually get more difficult than what I have already written) is that promising honesty necessarily means promising brutality.  It means promising bad moments and unhappiness and sometimes cruelty.

But there are worse things in life.  See above.

Until next time, friends.  Oh, and everyone calm down.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nous Sommes Tous Sauvages

There is a story that kicks around colonial history on the post-highschool-probably-post-university-level.  I have heard it a couple of times, but I studied this stuff so it was inevitable that I would trip over it at some point.  It is a story that more or less devastates the very western-society idea that Europeans took colonialism by storm and didn't look back- that they more or less ruled the roost.  

The story:  as France colonized the interior (think the Mississippi River area- all the way up) she employed men known as couriers du bois as fur traders/trappers.  These wood runners played a strange roll in the vast but shrinking wilderness.  They were the connection between the "civilized" French or European world and the "savage" Native American.  And here's the thing- they chose the Native American world for their own.  As these men navigated the very complicated, sometimes treacherous space of fur trading, international relations building, and survival, they actively chose to mutate toward the "savage" culture.  (And there's the rub- they gave up the lives that Europeans were desperately trying to transfer a)to the New World and b)to the natives themselves and they did it gleefully).  Because, as the fur traders rapidly found out, the Native Americans set the rules for whatever game both sides were playing.  They set the rules and then didn’t tell the French, English, or Spanish how to play.

But that is not the story I want to tell.  The couriers du bois, having assimilated so well into the native cultures, began to think and feel like their Indian brethren.  So it should not have surprised anyone when a small French settlement was attacked, it’s inhabitants basically massacred and an ominous yet telling message carved into a tree (of course, it’s always trees): nous sommes tous sauvages.  We are all savages.

Why am I telling this story?  I know, it’s morbid and weird and makes me sound not a little gleefully macabre.  I’m telling it because the education system in the United States needs to start telling it.  It need not be a story kicked around graduate school for all the cool kids to know and no one else.  The colonial education is fairly limited in the US… apparently much of its history is fairly limited… oh say, until the Civil War.  Newsflash- a lot of other events shaped the identity of this nation before it was the United States; a tremendous amount of ‘stuff’ happened before the North and South decided they didn’t want to be friends anymore- so give it up.  Give it a rest. Look a little further into the past of richer and more eloquent commentary on the human condition. 

I’m telling this story because I love colonial history and I hate that Native Americans are pushed out of it as savages.  There is no greater insult than to tell a developed, beautiful, complicated and highly individual culture that it is a savage one.  Savages?  Really?

I am telling this story because it came up at work the other day in the context of “why don’t we tell more of the Native American story?”  An excellent question anonymous visitor.  We don’t tell more of their story because, again I’ll blame the education system here, we don’t know how to.  And even if we did, we certainly don’t know how to do it in a way that coveys the grace and power of their story.  Native Americans were not passive victims in the colonization of North America, but active participants.  The eventually were victimized to the point of devastation, but they were there with the Europeans the whole time.  And they were strong; and, and I can’t emphasize this enough, they set the rules.  The cultural exchange happening in the colonies between cultures was not one sided.  It was not all Europe all the time.  It was much more equal than that.  And if it takes me telling a ridiculous story about identity change in the wilderness to get that point across, so be it. 

Now, I understand that people reading this blog know all of this.  There are like 5 of you who actually bother keeping up with it.  And you all know me well enough to have heard it all before.  And let’s be honest- you are all intellectual enough to get to these conclusions all by yourself given the right amount of detail and fact.  I am hoping that someone will stumble up on this someday and have an epiphany.  And that he or she will pick up Richard White’s The Middle Ground or Alan Taylor’s American Colonies and learn something that pushes their ideas of colonialism to the breaking point.

I am telling this story because we are all savages.