My Pixel XL died last night.

I had left it open on the counter, Instaopened with a Kevin Hart video on pause. I was in the middle of showing it to my boyfriend. We never got around to finish the clip because when I went to pick up my phone, it was the black screen of death.

Enter me feeling frantic, worried, hitting the power on and off as if some miracle were to come out of the blue. Enter me sending healing vibes to my phone. Enter me trusting that if I place it on charge, maybe they’d come back to life the next day.

Well it didn’t.

So here I am speaking with my teleservice provider, applying trouble shooting to my phone (when I know that it’s legit not going to work because I’ve been trying everything I could find on the BSoD on the intranet), and lo and behold, it’s still not working. I tell Friend it’s dead. Friend tells me that it might be ‘half-dead’ since it connects to my computer so there is a possibility of revival if I were to send Pixel to Google, the manufacturer.

“Thank you for letting me know. I don’t have time for that, so can you tell me about your other products?”

Today I learned that Pixel 5 is out there now. I thought the latest one was Pixel 4 but it wasn’t. I had a good laugh with Friend. They offered me P5 with so and so per month. Too expensive tbh. The camera’s the same on the 4a so I decide to go for the basic plan: 20$ extra per month, waived 45$ welcome fee. I mentioned that I don’t need to have the latest gadget anyhow & this is emphasized by the fact that I had my Pixel for 3 years before it just couldn’t anymore. I pushed her too far. Maybe it was the 2000+ pictures I stored in her and never backed up to delete. Maybe it was all the apps. Maybe it was just time to say farewell, and welcome something new. I’m going with the latter.

Thank you, Friend, for letting me know I have access to a new phone in 2 to 5 days.

When I check in with myself and how I’m feeling, I’m feeling weird. Like there’s definitely symptoms of withdrawal because I keep thinking about the feeling of pressing my finger on her back, her vibing, and opening up. But she’s not available right now and might not be until she gets fixed. I notice shame is present within me too ’cause I think that I am to blame for her mistreatment. She was an extension of me, you know? But she’s moved on, and I guess I am prompted to as well.

C’est la vie & Life goes on.

The last time something abrupt happened to me re: cell phone technology is when I lost my first Google phone in the metro. I had changed winter coats that day, and the coat I wore didn’t have deep enough pockets. It must’ve fallen out accidentally ’cause I never saw that phone again. That same day, I bought a new phone during my lunch hour. I had that Apple 4s until I just couldn’t any more because she was just being difficult with all the updates. From that experience, I learned that I’m just not an Apple kind of person.

Shh. Don’t try to convince me. Standard is set.

Google’s my main squeeze and I’m grateful for it. Minus Big Brother listening to the intimate conversations I have with my friends but we get some and lose some… I surrender. And I recognize that’s what’s kind of beautiful in all of this. We live, we learn, we grow, and along the way there are some things that no longer serve us as they are not meant to stay. We might hold onto them for dear life and make them work because we want them to but we can’t. There is a line that’s got to be drawn because they can only take so much, just as we can only take so much.

Enter a little laugh about how I as a millenial am writing a blog post about my phone dying and how serious this is for me.

But it’s just so much more than that. I channel into the collective about boundaries, grief, surrender, letting go, and how inviting new energy welcomes something magical to manifest. It’s winter here, and I’m in my experience of winter in so many ways… Intuitively I sense that when I receive the new extension of me, she’s going to usher in Spring. I visualize vines interconnecting my human body and mind with her new features, whatever they may be. There’s something mysterious about the unknown. The Void. The mystical omnipresent entity waiting for the light to shine onto her. There’s something deeper here…

We’ll see what happens next.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Dear 2020,

Dear 2020,

There is a lot that I can say about you, 2020. In the beginning of the year, I had high hopes for you. I expected many things from you, and I assumed that you were going to be the year where I would change. This time last year, I did not want to make any resolutions for you because in all the other years, they just didn’t happen, and I was tired of feeling disappointed in myself for not achieving my unrealistic expectations. I decided that you would be different. As I have been doing for quite some time with my cousin, we decided to name you, “The Awakening.”

And by golly did you awaken the f out of me.

2020, you have shown me that as much as there is good in the world, there is beauty in seeing the bad. You have shown me that placing happy band-aids on wounds doesn’t help the healing because them happy band-aids can be made of toxic materials that do more harm than good. You have shown me that when you see a wound in yourself, it is important for you to take care of it. And this is a big lesson for me here because for so long, I’ve been seeing wounds, slapping a happy band-aid on them, and pretending that it’s OK. But it’s not. I’ve got wounds and THAT is OK. It’s OK for me to not be OK. It’s OK for me to see the hurt and pain in the world and feel the discomfort of those feelings. The ones that I labelled “bad.” The ones that I pushed down deep inside me because I thought I was “bad” for feeling them. You have shown me that it’s OK to feel it all and accept them as they come. I have realized that these feelings are messengers with meanings, and I can discover how my thoughts and feelings work together. And how they are influenced by my behaviour, by those around me, by the media, and by all sorts of stories that are out there in the world.

2020, you are made up of so many stories. Sad ones. Happy ones. Traumatizing ones. Scary ones. Hopeless ones. Hopeful ones. Childish ones. Warrior ones. Sovereign ones. Fake ones. Truthful ones. And I have realized how incredibly important it is to take them all in. Allow them to just be as they are meant to be and let them go as they need be. And that’s the thing, 2020, you taught me how to embrace the changing seasons and take responsibility for my perception of them. I woke up when I realized that I have been consuming a lot of stuff which are not mine because they are based on illusions. Illusions that I have held on to. Illusions that served me when I needed them, but now that I am uncovering this truth, I see the benefit of creating my life in my truth. I want to continue writing the story with the Truth on my side.

My friend, I don’t think you were intentionally trying to hurt me when the pandemic hit. I don’t think it was your intention to try to kill me. If anything, you’ve forced me to be home and stay home so I can learn how to just BE with myself. So I can reconnect with the “I am” inside me. So I can see the shadow aspects of myself and also see my truth in them all. So I can sit with myself and discover that I’m not alone. Cause when I take the time to learn how to shine a light on the parts of me I’ve abandoned, I heal.

2020, I thank you for helping me see my wounds so I can understand the truth behind the illusions and heal them. I’ve got resources outside of me, whether it be connecting with family, friends, teachers, etc., and I’ve got resources inside of me, whether it be journaling, singing, listening to music, writing, breathwork, consulting my guides, trusting my intuition, reading, etc. You taught me that I am strong and fierce when I express my truth, and how I value creating my life and accepting what comes next. I value not knowing everything and trusting the process. As above, so below, I’m learning how to be the flow, you know?  

And truthfully, I am grateful for all of it. I am grateful for the pain, the heartache, the panic attacks, the anxiety, the fear. I am grateful for witnessing the struggles, growth, and awakenings of those around me. I am grateful for the experiences of holding space for myself in a soft & true way so I can be the best me that I can be. I am grateful for the choices I can make as I learn how to take responsibility for myself first. I am grateful for learning how to accept the reality of a situation for what it is and let go of my expectations. To just let it be and be with it fully. No judgment, no self-criticism, no victimization. No more lies. Everything is perfect and as it is, and all is well in my life when I channel into the Truth.

2020, you were so interesting, and I think the big impression you’ve made on me is one that others might share as well. You created so many ripples, so many vibes, so much in so little time. There’s beauty in all the parts and I see how you became into “The Awakening” for me.

I hope that you know deep down inside that I love you for being you. From my point of view, I’m glad we had the chance to be with one another, and I’m proud of the shifts I’ve made in my life because of your influence. You are perfect as you are, and I know that when the clock strikes midnight, it’ll be 2021. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to forget you, my friend. Know that you’ve been a big help to my world as I know it, and the lessons I’ve learned with you are ones that will always have a special place in my heart.

Farewell, 2020, and travel well.

Jennifer

Postmodern Paleo Lifestyle in Practice

It is interesting to note the degree to which human beings have expanded the food industry since the hunter-gatherer Palaeolithic Era. Grâce à la domestication des animaux, and strategic understanding of how agriculture flourishes in certain climates than others, humankind has developed and continutes to innovate technological systems that allows for the industrialization of food to dominate our postmodern society today. Supermarkets provide North American consumers with all to their appetites content and more, allowing them to sink their teeth into already prepped meat you can enjoy with your family. And look: it’s on special! Even better, right? The mass production of food supporting ‘First World Countries’ aids in the emergence of health issues like obesity, type-2 diabetes and cancer, to say the least.

And Africa is still hungry.

Poverty continues to exist around the world. And it pains me to state that the basic needs of access to water, food and shelter are not available to all human beings on a global level. When my mother came back from her vacation to the Philippines, she explained to me how some Filipinos knocked on my Lola’s door, asking for some rice after hearing by word of mouth that she had donated some to another neighborhood. The stereotype is that all Canadians are wealthy. And this evening, my father watched a local man scam three people for money, saying that he needs it for bus transportation, when instead he lied to buy Harvey’s burgers for himself and his girlfriend.

Should I feel guilty for refusing one’s request on the basis of trusting in my own gut instinct? At the end of the day, it all boils down to me, and I am grateful for the privileged right and freedom to choose what I wish to exercise in this world.

There is no need to experience the karma of killing an animal for your own surival anymore, and we can’t hear plants scream. This leads me to ask what I feel is a moral dilemma: What should I eat? As an undergraduate student studying Sociology, I am interested in the way social systems influence the conscious collective of society. This piece is an homage to Ethnography, for I am fond of exercising my own agency and self-reflixivity as a human being forever curious about the ways in which I am influenced by my social environment.

So, starting this Monday, I am going Paleo, for a week.

Notice that this lifestyle change is limited in time because I do not know if I can actually commit to eating everything but refined, processed carbs and dairy products for life, given that these food categories are basically the largest portion of my daily calorie intake since I was born. Luckily, I have the moral support of my friend, Jessica, and her boyfriend, Max, who is also partaking in this endeavour. Despite the fact that the Paleo lifestyle seems strenous in nature, I believe that it is important to develop evaluations about certain things on the basis of experiencing them for yourself, rather than judging the mere tip of the iceberg via first impression observations.

With this in mind, I’d like to reflect on that which I have experienced so far before embarking on this one week journey time-travelling back to the Palaeolithic era:

The first area I would like to explore is that fact that my intention for practicing Paleo is to challenge my own beliefs about food and health. I believe that it is important for me to take responsibility for my own health, in order to promote that kind of vibes I believe others can benefit from. We have the ability to choose that which we consume, and blaming others for our own misery is a scapegoat for not taking responsibility for our own actions. I do not want to be that kind of person. I want to be the kind of person who treats her body like a temple, and chooses to love herself for who she is, instead of focusing on the negative loop cycle of that which I am not. I am aware that I have the tendency to be hyper-critical towards myself and my own physical body – sometimes consciously, most times automatically – and that is a carence I want to improve, and ultimately, eliminate from my being. I don’t know if it’s possible, but I will never know unless I try.

So I am giving myself a chance.

Dr. Masaru Emoto discovered a positive correlation between human consciousness and the molecular structure of water in his research, whereby water reacts one way to positive thoughts and words, and reacts differently to negative thoughts and words. The liquid water demonstrated molecular difference when it was frozen. I believe that my own human body will positively react to positive thoughts and words generated within myself through self-affirmations that embody feelings of self-love, acceptance and support. Perhaps my body will positively react to the healthy sun foods and proteins that I consciously choose to consume for my health and happiness… I mean, I don’t feel good after binge-eating an entire bag of chips and I don’t like the way my stomach bloats after eating it. Those negative thoughts of shame and guilt directed towards my being are generated by the mere fact that I chose to eat the bag of chips, so maybe I shouldn’t be eating the bag of chips to begin with.

This week is definitely going to be interesting.

The second area I would like to explore are the knowledge systems I use to understand what the Paleo lifestyle is all about and how the Paleo ‘diet’ is projected out into the world. There are few people in my circle that practice Paleo. Therefore, Pinterest is my main source of knowledge. I have to admit that the word ‘diet’ is frequently associated to the word ‘Paleo’. In addition, I am constantly seeing phrase combinations like ‘allowed’/’not allowed’ as well as ‘eat it’/’stay away;’ notions linked to morality that emphasize what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad.’ From this, I prefer to adopt a Paleo lifestyle for a week because it encompasses my conscious choosing of a healthy food consumption practice that focuses on possibilities rather than limitations. It is in this regard that I believe future conversations about the Paleo lifestyle places a greater emphasis on health, creativity and abundance when it comes to food in order to steer clear from the ideas of deprivation, restriction, and loss.

I really want to focus on what this journey will bring to me.

I therefore uploaded a grocery list of all the foods the Paleo practitioner chooses to consume and brought that list with me to Provigo. I must say that you can go pretty far with 46$. The amount of money spent on healthy alternatives has always been a deciding factor for me to not buy healthy, however excuses only go so far. The kind of change I want for the world will never come if I continue to support the industrial food industry. And why not opt for healthier alternatives? I am happy to say that I finally bought my first spaghetti squash (yay!) and it is presently baking in the oven (double yay!). I must admit, Pinterest is colourfully painted with an array of recipes and ideas I never even thought of. I did my research on how to bake the squash for instance, and now I’m already thinking of making a guacamole salsa to go with my veggie noodles. I’m a little bit worried about whether or not the foods I make will satisfy my body’s needs, but I think we all get a little antsy when we face an opportunity for new growth. Thankfully, with the help of my friends and the internet, I am comforted by the fact that I am not alone. Moral support is at the tips of my fingers, and going Paleo is the start of something new!

I am happy to share my experience with you and welcome your advice and feedback. Thank you ♥

 

LogIcNcomics

When I learned that I was assigned to read “Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth” for my Sociology of Power and Knowledge class, I was ecstatic. For the first time in my four years of attending university, I could finally lose myself in a medium of images and words, paired together in the best of ways: the graphic novel.

The story begins on September 4, 1939, by introducing recognized mathematician and logician, Bertrand Russell, as a guest speaker in an American university. In the face of World War II, students holding varied points of view question his position towards the Nazi invasion of Poland to justify whether or not they should participate in the war. It is in this context that Russell elaborates on the role of logic in the state of human affairs by questioning ‘logic‘ itself. Accordingly, he explains his stance by returning to the past through a series of flashbacks in order to illustrate how he became the mathematician/logician he is today. Bertrand Russell weaves a telling autobiography that explores of his childhood, adolescence and adulthood. The graphic novel thus unfolds to reveal monumental events in his personal life, education, and career so as to demonstrate the origin of his curiosity in math and logic, and how his passionate quest for certainty ultimately drove him towards insanity.

It is important for me to emphasize the brillant genius of Apostolos Doxiadis (author), Christos Papadimitriou (author), Alecos Papadatos (illustrations) and Annie Di Donna (colour) for they have created a medium that serves as a vehicle for their audience to explore ‘reason‘ via past, present and future lens. That which is most fascinating to me is the fact that the authors have drawn themselves and incorporated their respective thoughts/concerns/reflective questions in the interludes within ‘Logicomix’. For instance, there are segments where they postulate whether or not their ideas will be mis/interpreted by the reader. I really enjoyed the fact that they presented themselves debating amongst one another, and frequently questioned thematic elements present within the novel as they delve deeper into reasoning by simplifying philosophical theories that are complex in nature. I admit there were moments where I found myself lost in translation because Russell continuously uses technical terms that are quite challenging… All in all, I felt like the graphic novel came together as the authors literally presented themselves reflecting on the direction of the storyline as well as the evolution of its characters within the book itself.

This brings me to the recurring theme of madness in the story. Bertrand Russell was always fascinated by the mysterious, the unknown, and questioned the forbidden as a child. His curiosity led him to towards the realms of mathematics and philosophy, and it is through laborious studies that he realized that the basis of previous work in these disciplines were founded on ‘hunches‘ instead of actual ‘proofs‘. From this analysis, Russell devoted his life to construct ‘reasonable reason‘ for logical things are algorithmic and algorithms = definitive set of rules and commands. In his search for THE Absolute Truth about logic, Russell has many love interests in different moments of his life. As a young man, he marries a beautiful woman, however their relationship does not last because she loses satisfaction in him as his interest builds increasing momentum in his work. In addition, as Russell develops the “Principia Mathematica” with Alfred North Whitehead, he loses himself in the fantasy of delving into a love affair with his comrads wife.

It is interesting to note that the majority of Russell’s life was spent in contemplation, and in debate with other academics. This ongoing conflict internalized within him mirrors into other facets of his social life. As I read ‘Logicomix‘, I felt like there are many aspects in Russell’s life that he “should” have cared for (i.e. his marriage, his other friendships and other relationships) but did not at the end of the day. His commitment to his work is impressive to say the least, however I believe that his continuous strive for knowledge-seeking was at the expense of his own happiness. It is remarkable to see Russell’s life dedicated towards his vision, and that which he sacrifices in order to complete the mission he set out for himself. However, when his apprentice Ludwig Wittgenstein proposed a theory that challenged what he believed were sound logical foundations, I cringed at the thought of realizing that those many hours and days and months and years of establishing what he thought once was, was in fact, not, thus shattering his own life’s work.

With this in mind, I found the notion of human relationships of significant value throughout the literature. Bertrand Russell’s intention to recreate the foundations of logic lead him to obsess and fixate on the matter, which almost lead him to throw himself off a building. This indicates the necessity of maintaining an intimate bond with others in the world because our social environment helps us stay grounded and focused when we experience resistance within ourselves, so we don’t lose ourselves as we look up towards the clouds. It is therefore important to nurture healthy social lives for human relationships influence us in the best of ways, if we are open to receiving the kind of love others breathe onto us. At the end of the day, our interactions with others remind and guide us to be the best version of ourselves. Wittgenstein ironically threw Russell’s point of view of balance, however it is through such resistance that Russell finally understood that the experience and journey of Life is more valuable than solving the defined destination logic rests on.

 

 

Ghosts of Earth’s Past, Present and Future

I finally went to the Canadian Centre of Architecture, and I am grateful to have went on the Thursday that I did, not only because it was free as of 17h30 (which is ideal for my life schedule/situation), but this has been a field trip I’ve been anxiously anticipating for the entire month of March, and I finally get to cross this “To-do” off my list.

Little did Jennifer know that this experience was one she would never forget…

I visited the CCA by my lonesome after work. I was excited to discover the building by myself, because moments like this enable me to get the feel of a new place, and such spaces allow me to unravel the ‘extra’ out of the ‘ordinary’. That being said, I originally thought the building was a tall, church-like historic piece of architecture that I had passed during my lunch hour when heading west on René-Levesque. However, I soon realized that my sense of direction has yet to be improved when I confronted a locked gate. After carefully consulting Google Maps, I finally found a the building on Baile street.

I was greeted at the main entrance by two women, given a newspaper titled, “The Reminder,” and a map to the building. As I walked up the steps to where the security man issued me to “explore the left side of the building”, I immediately found myself in front of many different coloured squares on a large wall that contained a variety of assembled words capitalized in black and emphasized in bold. As I read l’assemblage de mots, I couldn’t help but smile and laugh as I was entertained by Douglas Coupland’s, “Slogans for the Twenty-First Century.” I deemed my personal favourites:

SWANS COVERED IN OIL ENJOY ETERNAL LIFE,” & “I MISS DOING NOTHING.”

Despite the fact that his slogans made me laugh, they also hit me like a train on a track because deep down inside my being, I know that these words are meant directly pierce its audience’s minds and figuratively shatter them from within. I mean, I do not even want to think about beautiful white swans covered in oil, and the fact that I don’t want to construct this image in my mind is demonstrative of the way I, among many, have reacted towards oil spills in general. Human beings are the only creatures to blame when it comes to this recurring destructive problem on our planet. And what have we done? Turned the other cheek to enjoy the neverending cycle of temporary satisfactions that do not sustain us in the long run… like this pessimistic, hopeless, complaint/generalization about the world in which we live.

I felt compelled to capture and present one as my featured picture for this blog, because the mediums of text and image give me the opportunity to share my views with you, and I honestly believe that you have the ability to empathize with me, just as I have empathized with Coupland. The reality of our situation as human beings is that there is a general vibe emanating throughout the 21st century, and by acknowledging, accepting, and addressing the issues that disturb our planet’s well-being, we are capable of radical action to influence each others’ consciousness, and shed light on the fact that we ought to take responsibility for our thoughts, emotions, and actions.

[Enter me, snapping away the colourful squares to my friends in hopes that I contribute to the elevation of their consciousness.]

I was very intrigued by the simplicity of the CCA itself. Inside, the walls were left blank and bare, and I admire how this visual blank slate draws visitors towards the masterpieces in each gallery. A laminated Globe And Mail article titled, “Farmer battles firm over modified seeds,” was accompanied with a brief abstract explaining how a Saskatchewan farmer sued Monsanto because their “Roundup Ready” genetically modified crops were contaminating his own canola seeds. I was shocked to learn that this environmental issue dates back to 1998(!) I had no idea that Monsanto has been around for that long. I only found out about GMOrganisms two years ago.

In class.

In university.

At that moment, I felt so out of the loop, you know? And in that moment, the words written on the CCA billboard, “It’s All Happening So Fast,” resonated a whole lot within my being because there is just so much that I don’t know about my own Canadian environment and I feel like I am constantly playing catch up. Nevertheless, this uncomfortable feeling of not knowing is meaningful to me because when I realize that that which I used to know is not what it seems to be, I’m positive that I am not the only one feeling this way. There’s a reason why something exposed to me stands out from the rest because a deeper sense of awareness allows me to experience a new, relative truth.

Moving forward, I learned a lot about Canada when exploring the CCA. I marvelled at the before/during/after pics of a forrest in “construction”, where Canadians intend to preserve peat bog/wetlands and uphold plantation via invisible mending. The advertisements of the Canadian Coalition on Acid Rain brought me back to my childhood when my mother first introduced the notion of acid rain itself. At the time, I did not understand how rain could possibly turn “bad” and hurt us as human beings. At the time, I knew there was a hole in our ozone layer, but I assumed the problem would fix itself. Because the Earth takes care of us, so she could take care of herself. I did not know the gravity of our planet’s environmental situation to its full extent… A decade later and I’m still trying to figure it out.

#TBT when I entered the Nuclear Family Room. I admired the CCA for shining a light on what I can relate to: sitting in the den, watching television shows with my family. It’s interesting to note that the museum incorporated the stereotypical set up of a living room, and uses its main features (the sofa and electronic box) to project the kind of vibe that is almost alienating to the self. I was so excited to sit on a white square in front of an old-fashioned TV because it brought me back to a place that was so familiar and yet felt so distant, like a beautiful memory that comes from time to time and gradually disappears in modernity. I watched “Rundown”, a short 1994 film that depicts a man pouring a 170-litre bucket of glue on a dirt road in 1970. I interpret the act as a symbolic representation of the way humankind imposes themselves in the environment surrounding them, and peaces out when the damage is done.

In contrast, it is important for me to emphasize that the CCA is not just another museum that focuses on the not-so-sunshine moments of the past. Accordingly, Marcelle, the security guard, urged me to visit the Tea Room “built entirely of mahogany.” He explained to me that the Shaughnessy House was a safe haven for young women in the nineteenth century, and that the CCA building was built around it in order to conserve and restore the historical residence. A sense of serenity overcame me when I entered because the environment emitted an ambiance elegantly maintained and cared for in its 1874 condition. This led to me to discover my favourite part of the CCA: the Devencore Winter Garden. I felt like I was in a sanctuary when I stood in the middle of the room because I was surrounded by flowers. Words cannot describe the beauty of this place… and to think that at some point in time, there were government officials who wanted to tear down this historical treasure.

[Enter the image of a plant growing through concrete.]

I am grateful for this experience because I realize that there is a whole lot of good in a world that may appear in disarray. My beliefs are constantly challenged and ever-changing when I am exposed to new information, and I am fortunate that I have the ability to learn and grow wherever and whenever I may be. I see clearly that I am a lifelong student in this world, and it is of utmost importance for me to focus my attention and perception on the meaningful things that align with my ambition and purpose. I know deep down inside that it is necessary to use the present moment to the max, for it is in the way we care for our own microbiome that we influence our social environments to care for theirs, and I like to think that this intention aids in cultivating a future that supports sustainable, ecofriendly systems.

 

 

Realities, altered: subject to the matters of the minds

When I think of the word ‘fact’, I think of my 9 year old self that appropriated ‘realness’ and ‘capital T for Truth’ to things that I perceived in my environment. For example, when I looked in the mirror, I identified myself as a girl because I learned from my family and friends that I was specifically, a girl, and not a boy. Moreover, I was a girl with brown hair, because I learned that that was the real colour of my hair, and I expressed the Truth when my grade school teacher questioned why I had used the colour yellow in my family portrait assignment. I have learned a profusion of facts from the moment I’ve been born, and these learned facts are internalized information that’s been exposed to me in my social and physical environment. Throughout the years, I have learned the importance of using my critical thinking skills to better understand the reality I perceive and internalize, because not everything presented to me is as it seems, and that, in essence, is a fact.

What constitutes a ‘fact’ today is an interesting topic to embark on as I write from within what I refer to as the ‘Technologic Era’, the age of Information/Digital/New Media. Nowadays, facts consists of measuring and gathering data as found in Statistics, Mathematics, Quantum Physics, Science, the list goes on. Facts may also be revealed from within the outcomes of studies that involve a research question and use the Scientific Method as a methodology to identify whether a particular hypothesis is ‘true like in Sociology and Psychology. Facts can be captured through film and photography and can be used as forms of proof and evidence which are particularly useful in the fields of Law and Medicine. With the internet, and a big thanks to the World Wide Web for easy access, human beings have the ability to digest and internalize all kinds of information they seek at the mere tips of their fingers, through the five senses. With this in mind, this blog post aims to illustrate how ‘facts’ serve as important components that make up the whole that is our perception, for subjectivity lies at the foundation of what is understood and represented as objective reality.

Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park’s “Wonders and the Order of Nature” discuss how in Medieval times, between the 12th and 14th century, conversations about ‘wonders’ in nature begin to be organized into stories that bring life and meaning to these unique occurrences. With this in mind, careful construction of these meanings revolve around the word of God as an omnipotent presence that has unleashed said ‘wonders’ on Earth as symbols that convey a message from the heavens. It is in this episteme that subjectivity arises, because those who denote a particular thing as a wondrous creature has already an idea revolved around what is normal, and that which is considered abnormal. The latter serves as a foundation upon which different opinions and belief systems can explore the reasons for its mere presence to the eye. As such, I found it intriguing to read about the superstitious claims of conjoined twins, recognized as ‘monstrous births’, that changed over time between the 14th and 18th century. The amount of meaning and importance that arises from the birth of conjoined twins is appealing to read, for the parents and priests were deemed responsible to determine whether they were human and should be baptised, and whether the public had to partake in any acts of official offering to God in order to ward off disasters, plagues, and the like. Documentation in both written and illustrative forms were crucial to digesting the birth of conjoined twins, and this is impressive to me as the reader because when I read this story, I know that at the end of the day, ‘monstrous births’ are not so ‘monstrous’ to me, because I refer to these births with the term I learned in biology, coined in science and human genetics: ‘Siamese twins’.

Image of Objectivity” by Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison is a thorough analysis that evaluates how ‘objectivity’ has changed over time between 16th and 19th century Atlas makers. First and foremost, 16th century Atlas makers focused on presenting atlas images, type specimens and lab processes that were ‘true to nature’ because said illustrations were inaccessible to members of the scientific community due to their rarity. This was before the invention of mechanical reproductive means so their images were reliant on artistry. With this in mind, ideals of realism were embedded in the early attempts to produce knowledge through ontological and aesthetic perspectives, whereby this naturalistic approach serves as a symbolic essence to demonstrate the artist/scientists’ appreciation of beauty in working objects. However, these observations were infused with a proposed theory, similar to the stories and superstitions brought to life when ‘wonders’ in nature were perceived. When the scientific community realized how subjectivity arose within these ‘objective’ pieces of the past, mid-19th century scientists aimed to use mechanical methods (like the camera obscura, followed by the invention of the x-ray, varying optical lenses, and film) that restrained the human sense of morality in order to promote individualized concepts of metaphysics (time, space, identity, being, etc.). Now with the invention of mechanical means of reproducing images, scientists and the like constantly policed themselves through interpretation, selectivity and judgment in their work, and developed a form of anxiety when it came to demonstrating what they deemed as ‘objective’. Their burden of representation encouraged emotional detachment to their work, however the audience who viewed their work now held the burden of interpretating said representations. Enter the statement: “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.”

With this in mind, it is interesting to evaluate the production of knowledge as it is expressed in written pieces that are contingent on time and place in human history, and how written documents comprise of epistemes that intertwine and overlap. This has led me to form my own conclusion when it comes to the subject of objectivity. When I think of Bruno Latour’s statement, “We Have Never Been Modern,” I’m compelled to agree with him on the basis that throughout human history, all forms of knowledge come from a specific time and place, and said knowledge has been interpreted by an individual, who cannot possibly represent their subjective points of view in an objective format without any personal associations whatsoever, because their inferences are relative. This is the reason why I have chosen “The Little Golden Book of Alternate Facts” as the image for this blog post, for everything that I have ever learned in my life time has been internalized the way I best saw fit in the moment that it was presented to me. So I created categories within my mind that was either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘truth’ or ‘false’, and subjectively placed what I learned into said categories. And I’ve realized that the things I thought were Truth in the past are being challenged by my Present self. This leads me to the assertion that we cannot be separate from our environment, and that this idea of science ‘representing objectivity’ is relative and thus contingent on time and place.

As a lifetime learner, I can embrace science as Latour implies, however it is not ‘fact’ or an ‘Absolute Truth’. Instead, I see the discipline/way of understanding the world/belief system as an unlimited documentation of stories, subjectively written, and all with the purpose of understanding where we’re coming from, by illustrating our perceptives and making meaningful inferences about the world we perceive. Latour also suggests that science is never certain (which is a fact, haha!), and I believe that there is a lot of power to uncertainty. Our perception is grounded in the sense that we can move mountains with the stories we tell ourselves and others, and our understanding of reality is based on the stories we’ve processed within our minds. And at the end of the day, all these stories encourage me to question/criticize/hold skepticism/stay curious to what I perceive/internalize/digest in my reality, to keep my feet on the ground and keep my head held high, in hopes of discovering something that will figuratively make my mind bleed, and lead me to something new.

SunDate @ the Redpath Museum

I invited my boyfriend to the Redpath Museum on Sunday, January 29. I was excited all week to visit my first museum of the year, and even more thrilled to explore this new environment with my best friend, David. I was not very much interested in history as he was when I compare our childhood interests, however I do find that my fondness and appreciation towards the subject grows as I do in years. I highly believe that it is because we find ourselves marveling at a time that was once present, and it gives us a sense of comfort knowing that perhaps future others will ogle at our world captured in time. It is interesting to note that I write this hoping that the present moment will be cherished and valued as I have learned to cherish and value the past.

The above picture is my attempt to impersonate what I thought was a T-Rex, and I apologize to the Gorgosaurus community for assuming so. Fun fact: this fierce dinosaur is 2/3 smaller than a Tyrannosaurus rex and this one in particular probably walked with a limp because their right leg was injured by another dinosaur (Source: https://www.mcgill.ca/redpath/ressources/factsheets/gorgosaurus).

My visit to the Redpath Museum was extraordinary. I felt like a child all over again and my curiosity to explore the unknown and learn from observation was encouraged in this educational space. I was happy to see parents visiting the museum with their children, and it was if the museum was brought to life by their laughter, questions and energy.

The main entrance hall presents the aquatic theme “Back to the Sea” which features the vertebrates of marine creatures like sea turtles, whales, seals and an impressive extoskeleton of a Japanese spider crab to say the least. It was interesting to look at the illustrations that accompanied the specific parts of extinct mammals, reptiles and fish displayed in this exhibit, and read description after description of the sea environment in which they lived. I found a cleverness in the way the exhibit displayed the bones of the seal and sea turtle. They appeared to be seated on the wall, with their faces looking down upon the visitors who would have to look up to face them. When I observed their skeletal features, my imagination filled in the spaces between their bones to paint the image of a living, breathing animal, looking back at me in my mind. It amazes me when I think about the responsibility human beings take upon themselves to carefully plan out a design and execute it, in order for others to have the opportunity to see the remains of what once was, as living art/efacts.

As we traveled upstairs to the second floor, it felt like a miracle to see and touch the trunks of prehistoric trees that were once rooted deep in the earth, and to look at maple tree leaves that are millions of years old, preserved and displayed in a simple frame, like a pressed flower.

When we arrived at the Hodgson Gallery, I was captivated by the plethora of shells collected by Abe Levine. There were so many different shell shapes and forms, my mind could not even process the intensity of the gallery itself, and I cannot even fathom how passionate Abe must have been to basically devote his life to collecting the outer exteriors of marine molluscs. Kudos to this guy for having the patience and determination to unearth this category of our planet’s masterpieces, because all these shells formed in the ocean and all these shells maybe served as the home of a little sea creature once upon a time.

I was fascinated by the crystals beautifully labeled and displaced in the same room, and I was amazed by the fact that these crystals came different parts of the world. I found it particularly funny to see an oxide/hydroxide in its own little box, beside the other hydr/oxides that were carefully placed in a big box. I did not know why this particular mineral had its own little bed, for it did lay on what appeared to be cushioned fabric, however I believe that perhaps its energy would interfere with that of the others because it had a special characteristic unique from the rest.

The Dawson Gallery on the second floor featured the excavated remains of dinosaurs, and integrated these prehistoric creatures with that taxidermied animals that make up the biodiversity of Québec. It was beautiful to walk around the room and learn about how life on earth came to be, originating from the sea, and finding its way on land. It was eye-opening to see Horton’s footprints captured in a red plastic-like mold, and it inspired me to imagine a fish figuring out how its little feet work like a baby learning to walk.

It is interesting to see the ways in which human beings have excavated and preserved the remains of these creatures, and how these artefacts tell a story and contribute to our history of the world. The taxidermied animals on display were grouped together and categorized by the different environments in which they inhabited. I eyed the black crow and pigeon that stood next to a crunched up can of coke, and laughed at the toy helicopter that hung above the birds by a fishing line string to illustrate ‘the city’.

I find beauty in the layout of the Redpath museum, and I felt like the museum itself was created in a way that encouraged curiosity, discovery, and learning. For example, there is a skeleton of an anaconda that can only be seen from the upper balcony of the museum because it rests on the display of minerals in Québec. In addition, by using the remains of a mummified human skull, a woman’s face is also on display for it was created with new technology: the 3D printer. The display made for a great before and after picture.

I really like the idea of exploring the environment of the museum as is, and reading the thick descriptions of information that interests you. I have to admit that I spent more of my visit observing rather than reading, because I was fascinated by the things within the environment, and this in itself is symbolically representative of the way historians, archeaologists, scientists, and the like, interpret the world around them. They see, and tell a story about what they see from their perspective, just as I respond to what I have seen from my visit at the Redpath via the means of writing this blogpost. I find beauty in the fact that despite our efforts to understand and unearth and reveal the relative truths that are contingent on time and place, we will forever be in the process of figuring out how to present information, both old and new, in a way that inspires others in the same way that it has influenced our lives.

All in all, my visit to the Redpath museum has taught me that we have the opportunity to capture moments in history and put them on display for all to see. In a way, we can slow down time by visiting historical museums and appreciating the little sums of moments that make up the whole of evolution. The world is always changing, and there will always be something new to discover and something old to cherish. In a way, history does repeat itself, but with knowledge comes power, and with this in mind, we have a whole lot of power to influence others the way they have influenced us through stories that spark our imagination.

The cupcake is a lie

Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is a brilliant illustration of the way humankind has transformed the evolution of both flora and fauna through a historical process of becoming and maintaining their position as the dominant species in the food chain. As a result, Pollan delineates our species as omnivores and provides an in-depth analysis on the three methods of food consumption we depend on today: industrial, organic, and hunter-gatherer.

To be quite honest, when I found out that I was assigned to read this book, I was filled with curious excitement as well as a terrible, impending sense of fear. It was not the first time that I intuitively knew that I would face another inconvenient truth about the inevitable flaws of humankind when it comes to the consumption of our planets’ resources. I mean, with our species overpopulating the planet, our basic need of food has to be met, and un/fortunately, this is Monsanto’s main argument to produce genetically modified organisms (GMOs). With this in mind, I cannot admit that it is a pleasant feeling to have and to know, acknowledge, and re-discover the ignorant self within my being. It is very difficult for me to confront certain relative truths: that I am not where I want to be, that I am still the ‘me’ that I criticize and perceive, and it appears as if some of us have found ourselves on the same sinking ship called ‘Reality’.

As I consumed the information printed within this published piece, I learned that the industrialization of food has led our species to depend on what Pollan frequently refers to as Zea Mays: corn. I also learned that corn has many other names that are frequently listed on the labels of various consumable products located within the walls of my nearest and dearest go-to grocery store.

  • Un/modified starch, glucose syrup, maltodextrin, crystalline fructose, ascorbic acid, lecithin, dextrose, lactic acid, lysine, maltose, HFCS, MSG, polyols, caramel colour, and xanthan gum (pg. 18-19).

It is scary to accept the fact that it took me two minutes to write these names down, and all enumerated are related to what I always presumed would forever remain a four letter vegetable available in a can or, my personal favourite, on the cob. When I begin to think about it, I fall into this cycle of rumination and I begin to freak out, because everything that I thought once was, was not to begin with, and I have no control over the process of industrial food production. Pollan really hit the nail in my head when I read, “To wash down your chicken nuggets with virtually any soft drink in the supermarket is to have some corn with your corn” (pg. 18). I now define industrial corn by the homonym ‘plant’, whereby the first sense of the word ‘plant’ grows thanks to our planet’s fertile earth, alongside air and sunlight, and the second sense of the word ‘plant’ serves as a powerhouse for the distribution of energy for the survival of our species, like a nuclear power plant run by human beings.

When I think about my eating habits, I am compelled to victimize myself and give into the fact that I may very well be a person that is addicted to food. I remember growing up and having my parents scold at me for not having eaten my lunch because I would talk through my lunch hour and did not really pay attention/was conscious about my health/nutrition/body at the time. Nowadays, I just can’t seem to get enough of it and rarely skip a meal. I eat over 4 meals a day: breakfast, lunch, first dinner and second dinner, with snacks in between. I have frequently described my stomach as a black hole and emphasize said black hold as an endless void that continues onto another dimension.

I am proud of my appetite, however with my growing interest in what food actually is and the origins of food itself, I find myself policing every aspect the food I encounter. I believe in the importance of being conscientious and mindful of what I consume, however I admit that I feel like I use so much energy, perhaps even too much energy, when it comes to analzying the food that I eat. And this is ironic because I choose to eat food with the intention of acquiring more energy…

Thankfully, Pollan has offered organic and hunter-gatherer alternatives to help me find some sort of stability when it comes to my own lifestyle choices as well my eating/drinking/basic consumption behaviour. I may have developed some unhealthy habits and craving rituals, but at the end of the day, I am fortunate to have the agency over what I choose to bring to my lips, masticate and swallow.

I am relieved to learn that there are farmers who practice knowledge intensive farming. The process itself is based on mobility rather than fixed structures, which therefore brings out the best from agriculture and the domestication of animals. It amazes me to acknowledge that there are persons out there who share the same concern, and really carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, because they have put so much thought and effort to design a renewable and resourceful itinerary that brings human focus back to the ground, to look at the grass and build soil from the bottom up, for the benefit of all well-beings, and especially, that of our beautiful planet Earth. The organic alternative to industrial structures allows me to accept the fact that I need not succumb to the false diversity of food at the supermarket, and this gives me an even deeper piece of mind to really care for the planet that allows me to live and breathe in the ways that I choose to be. I really admire the way Pollan describes how it feels to eat food consciously when he returns to the hunter-gatherer lifestyles predominant in humankind’s historic past, “For once, I was able to pay the full karmic price of a meal” (pg. 18).

When I think about my health today, I realize that yes, in comparison to my past self, I have become a little neurotic when it comes to food consumption, and despite the fact that it takes a lot of energy from my being to plan my meals and consciously decide whether or not I can allow myself to indulge in a Betty Crocker cherry,  chocolate covered cupcake, at the end of the day, what matters most is the way we treat ourselves and other bodies around us. I choose to take control of my health because I value my being, and I believe that we, as living organisms, ought to bring the sense of worth and belonging we generate within ourselves to our plates and platters, for all to see. I feel like there is an ever-expanding rise in humankind’s consciousness towards the decisions we make for ourselves and our loved ones when it comes to food, and our intention is set towards cultivating and creating spaces that give us more energy in the long run, so we can appreciate and savour our lives to the best of our ability. I try my best to embrace living life at the edge of my comfort zone, to shake off the lazy and devote myself to what I believe is right for me. It is comforting to know that we do hold the power to make well-informed decisions in our lives, and with the help of knowledge and information available at the click of a button, we can definitely embrace the diversity of choices we have today. As my grandmother always exclaims, “That’s what makes the spice in life!”