Friday, September 30, 2011

What am I doing again?

For the first time in my long tenure of schooling, I saw that I may well be wasting my time with what could easily be described as bs (sorry but swearing is so unnatural for me). Graduate school has already been a trying journey for me and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier now that I've lost my way.

What I mean by this is interacting with scholars and scholarship that is utterly meaningless to my goal of addressing and changing social problems; especially those that deal (in one way or another) in oppression. I realize this aim is way too vague a way of saying I want to help people and that my scholarship and attaining this status of Ph.D. is the only way I can imagine of being of any real help. I want to find solutions to issues powerless individuals deal with, thereby being a barrier breaker or at least a bridge maker of sorts.

Throughout my travels in academia, I've made it a point to put to use (or at least try to) any sort of scholarship I came across towards this goal. My current academic endeavors (of witnessing the compartmentalization that comes with the 'creation' of a 'new' space of knowledge by way of theorizing how to track 'global' media culture a la the thingification of something or other in children's toy movies, thus making it difficult for someone to have agency over their experience of something that does nothing for people living lives that deal in/directly with inequalities ), and hanging out with people smart enough to see through the bs of these endeavors, has made me question myself and what I'm doing; and not in that reactionary way where my self-esteem has been challenged via humiliation.

How can I use these pockets of 'knowledge' that seem so useless to people? I wouldn't dare tell those close to me about these things I'm 'learning' because a huge who cares would be in their words and stares.  Nothing screams out the  frivolity of upper-class tendencies than participating in some of these conversations being had. I've never felt that way about my studies until now. I need to do something productive about this discomfort fast because I really do want my Ph.D. But I also want what I eventually do and what I am doing now to matter, or at least be a step in the right direction of realizing this goal. Silencing the experiences and struggles of the 'real' world by dwelling on how our fantasy worlds are constructed and exist seems a bit of a misguided step backwards for me.

I am in serious need of guidance right now.

Until next time....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Re: Drinkin'

So, a while ago I revealed my general dislike for most alcoholic beverages except the really sweet ones. I might have even mentioned that if Ocean Spray decided to make alcohol, however, that I might be in trouble when it comes to becoming an alcoholic (jokingly of course because I generally exercise good judgement). Well, thanks to Really Cool Guy, that moment has arrived. You see, he introduced me to a drink called Lambic. Here's one explanation for it. I have another one: magic. Never did I expect to find a beer that tastes so wonderful! My favorite flavors are frambois (raspberry) and peach. Finally, a drink that matches my preferred outlook on life (or at least what it could be)-- sweet, good, and generally pleasant. Those of you who are opposed to bitter alcoholic beverages like me must taste to believe! Really, it's like happiness in a bottle (you can see me smiling just thinking about it)!

That's all for now.

Until next time...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Full Metal Alchemist ponderings pt. 3: The Quest for Greatness

***Disclaimer: It's been more than a few months since I've seen this series. I might not be remembering things  as correctly as I should. Please, offer scrutiny but be kind about mis-stated events.***

To start off, I love the idea this show has communicated about alchemy; that it is the act of breaking something down to its elements and using those elements to create something seemingly completely different...

So, after having dinner with a few friends, and speaking with one who had seen the show with her children, I was thrown back into pondering aspects of the show that seemed poignant. When this "Wannabe Nerd" (according to her child the "Real Nerd") started speaking about the role of the homunculi as the seven deadly sins, I was reminded once more of my love for this show.

You see the character "Father" is an artificial being, a homunculus who takes on human qualities after making contact with human blood. "Father" is a brilliant being, even before taking on physical qualities of "humanity". Despite "his" brilliance, "Father" quests for the status of Godliness--going so far as to consume it--and believes that doing so requires the purging of "his" flaws; from which the homunculi--each carrying the name and quality of  one of the seven deadly sins--are "created".

This purging, however, proved to be "Father's" downfall since "he" failed to acknowledge that these "flaws" are what make "him" whole and are thus necessary components of "his" being. The  status of deity could never be realized because "Father" never saw "himself"--as "he" was originally--as great. "Father" only noticed "flaws" and while purging "himself" of them, neglected to realize that "his" quest was one that was saturated by these very "flaws" "he" chose to deny about "himself". Apologies for the redundance and/or lack of clarity.

All of this makes me wonder about who our "Fathers" are in our lives or society? These artificial beings or entities on a quest for perfection--even God-like status--but wrought with unacknowledged contradictions. Entities ultimately responsible for the loss of billions of lives because of this quest (it was "Father" who had the knowledge of how to create a philosopher's stone and used others to help "him" bring it to reality). Entities that attempt to rid themselves of perceived flaws that are actually necessary aspects of their beings.

For me these artificial beings--or homunculi--take many forms: religions, knowledge, progress, myths, other social constructions... Social things that might not have started off as evil in their intentions but because of the lack of inward recognition of what makes them whole, became oppressive and therefore evil.

Inside of ourselves even, we are taught to purge ourselves of "flaws" because they limit us, when perhaps it is the act of doing this that is limiting in its counterproductivity. Why not understand these aspects of ourselves and our worlds since they are what make us whole?

I think of the idea stated about alchemy stated earlier and think about how we try to do this with ourselves; trying to create a greater element, a greater person or world, but when the essential elements--things we might not realize are essential--are taken out of the mix, how can it be expected that the result will be "golden" when those key ingredients have been taken out? It should be expected that nothing short of disaster  results in not valuing what was already there.

So in seeing ourselves as we are, and seeing the greatness in that, we are acknowledging our Godliness though we appear not to be in that form? Perhaps that's what I've taken from this aspect of the show. If lead can be turned to gold--assuming the same elemental ingredients are involved--we should see ourselves as beings that possess similar qualities right? This then confuses me when it comes to the concept of equivalent exchange--which is a concept that is scrutinized yet valued when it comes to Ed giving up a part of himself for his brother Al (and others along the way). Ah I'm not exactly sure how this fits into my musing. Maybe it doesn't.

Well now all I need to do is figure out what this looks like for myself and how I engage my social worlds...
What would it look like for you?

Thoughts are welcome and appreciated as usual.

Until next time...