Tuesday 18 October 2016

#AMTHINKING It’s fashionable to apologize.
Naomi Klein and Mirko Zardini at University of Toronto

Yesterday I attended a discussion about the environment between Naomi Klein and Mirko Zardini. The moderator began by apologizing that they had neglected to invite an indigenous speaker.  Well, why didn’t they? They could have invited an indigenous speaker if they had wanted to. So what’s with the apology? I guess it’s fashionable to apologize. And much easier than taking action.  Preferably you apologize for mistakes made by your forebears because they are dead and don’t have to worry about being re-elected or being kicked off the career ladder.

And while we are on the topic, I’m thinking: Why doesn’t anybody apologize to me? I want an apology from the Catholic School Board because they didn’t give me maternity leave in the 60s. I want an apology from the government because they didn’t provide me with accent-removal courses when I came to Canada and from the public at large because they made me feel uncomfortable by referring to my accent. Do you know how hurtful it is to be asked “And where are you from?” without a trigger warning?  And most definitely I want an apology from my mother for giving birth to me during WWII, a shitty environment, let me tell you, and from the Austrian government for obliging me to emigrate because they didn’t provide a suitable economic environment in those post-war years. Finally I want an apology from my late husband for dying on me and leaving me to deal the authorities, requiring me to supply a hundred copies of his death certificate and his probated will and listening for hours to canned music while waiting for the next available representative. Where are those apologists when you need them?

Thursday 6 October 2016

#AMREADING Michel Houellebecq, Platform. 

This is a book about travelling and sex -- friendly tourism, as one of the protagonists calls it -- but in between the clinical descriptions of foursomes and other procedures that might challenge the less acrobatic among us, there are some keen observations about the professions.

  • The Police. He must have had to meet people from all walks of life in his profession, no area of society could be completely alien to him. Police work is a truly humanist calling.
  • The Travel Industry. I liked holiday brochures, their abstraction, their way of condensing the places of the world into a limited sequence of possible pleasures and fares.
  • Farming. They had dedicated the best years of their lives to a hopeless task. They lived in a country where, compared to speculative investment, investment in proution brought little return.
  • The Public Servant: I managed information, facilitated acces toit and disseminated it. In a word, I had worked in the service sector. It would be easy to get by without people like me.
  • The Reader (Not a profession, you say? Well, I spend enough hours on reading every week to call it a profession). Not having anything around to read is dangerous. You have to content yourself with life itself, and that can lead you to take risks.