Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Violence in Victoria

I thought of this in terms of violence in modern North America or contemporary society, but unlike most of my posts it is an observation based on, well, actual observation. Hence I will limit my claim. BC, Canada, is a violent place. Victoria, BC is a violent place. A convenient limitation as I can include some of my own pictures this time. The pictures included here were taken last year, around sunset. I don't bike in the downtown core. I wouldn't lock my bike down there. As a female, I should be down town at night because I could be a target for rape. My male friends also find it dangerous to go downtown because fit, healthy males are the target of people who simply want to fight someone. They are targets because they can look after themselves. I over hear things about the clubs downtown, about underage drinking, fights, and people being beaten by the cops.

Why is this of interest? Because it is Victoria, BC. Victoria is a tourist town, and the capital of the provincial government. It is kind of fake, a tourists trap. It is without a doubt a beautiful little city. It is a little city. Vancouver is big, dangerous, a real big city like you read about in books. Victoria is the most European city in BC. It isn't a bad place. Isn't it strange that there is so much danger?

My second interest is the Vancouver hockey riot. It happened. Set cars on fire, fought, looted, mob mentality type stuff. In Vancouver. Canada is supposed to be a peaceful, up right sort of place.

These things got my thinking. I started to wonder if there was something wrong in our world. Everything seems calm and peaceful and yet famous people are murdered in the middle of downtown Vancouver. How is this an okay place to live? Shouldn't I be concerned?

It reminded me of lyrics from the song "Slipping" in Doctor Horrible's Sing along Blog --a brilliant superhero/supervillain musical by Joss Whedon if you have not encountered it before.

"I bring you pain,
the kind you can't suffer quietly.
Fire up your brain
remind you inside your rioting
society is slipping.
Everything's slipping away..."

It does seem, from what I see around me, that society is slipping. And yet, I don't want to associate with the villain of the piece. I do not want to have those views. I do not want to see society in that way. I must see it differently because I cannot afford to think that this is the end. People have always thought that, but we aren't in the middle ages anymore, there is no definite end. Therefore I can ask, is it really slipping?

No. There has always been violence. Cities have always been dangerous places. Paris is a beautiful city, a night city, and you should not go into the alleys. That would be stupid. It was the same in the 1800s as today. Things are actually under control. The riots occured one day, and the next day people apologised and went back to business as usual. We may have robbery downtown but we do not have a curfew and you are really rather unlikely to be shot by an enemy of any sort when walking downtown. Of course it isn't okay, and we have a long way to go before it will be, but I can still consider Victoria a sleepy tourist town even with the violence.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The slippery slope

In 1927 the Pope claimed that cigarettes would lead to "the deterioration and destruction of a Christian society and civilization."1 Today we claim it will lead to the deterioration and destruction of your lungs, but that isn't the point. The point is I think the Pope was right. I mean, I am sure it is a collection of factors which have led to a greater freedom of religion and a acceptance of a secular way of life, but all those things put together, they were right! Those people who said that allowing women the vote would lead them to be less womanly were right. I'm certainly not womanly. That might be because standards have changed: I would probably fit better in a world where womanly did not require quite so much make-up. I certainly would not fit well in a world where educated females were considered odd and out of place. I feel like no one comments on this, and I often wonder about it, because often these peoples slippery slopes seem ridiculous, but are actually correct. It doesn't need to turn out this way but in the end it does. The trouble is we cannot see it like that, because what we have now is a good thing. Maybe talking about it is dangerous. We can say 'oh, don't be silly, gay marriage will not destabilize gender norms.' It might be true that it won't, but the trouble is there are lots of people who support gay marriage because it does exactly that. It makes husband/wife a little less clear, a little less the only way to be and we think that's a good thing. It's strange, because their fears seem so ridiculous but are in the end valid. Maybe in the end what is ridiculous is that people feared those things.

1("The Pope's Appeal to Men to Reform Women's Dress," Literary Digest 72 (January 29, 1927): 27-28, 57-59.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

My last year of university

My last year of University begins in September. I feel that I have put it off long enough.

I spent the first two years living at home and moved out in third year. Part way through third year I realised that if I wanted to cook myself proper meals and remember all the classes I was taking I would have to take less classes. I can do 15 hours of class a week, but 9-12 hours I actually remember and enjoy. I loved learning, so why was I 'suffering through' it? So four and half years became six. Six years is a long time. I feel ready to be done now. Five would have been enough I think, but this way I can be awake for my final year. It certainly feels like a finally year. I will be graduating next June with a double major with honours in Philosophy and History. I wish my mother was alive to be proud of me; I will have to be especially proud myself to compensate.

It makes me queasy.

I am afraid without a constant affirmation of my ideals I will not remember what I believe in, that I will forget to be a good person and to pursue the things that I am passionate about, that I will stop writing and stop learning. I am afraid that I will become cynical and sour. I am old enough now to encounter those dreadful people who believe that they live in the 'real world.' I will say more on this real world of theirs later. Needless to say it is not the real world, but a very particular place. Everyone who lives in this place becomes obnoxious and narrow minded. This is because this reality of theirs is a very long but very narrow place and they must all squeeze past each other all the time. No one ever stands still and everyone becomes tired and overheated because it is unventilated and stuffy in this place. I do not want to go to this place. Growing up I was not interested in humans, except those who were my friends, and I would really rather not enter Sartre's hell if I can avoid it.

I am afraid also because I fear change. I fear what I do not know. It is a grand adventure but it is also frightening. I am happier to finish university then I was to finish highschool, but it still frightens me. Another town, different friends, a new life. These things scare me. What if I do not meet anyone? What if I do not pay the hydro bill and a collection agency hunts me down and drags me off to a laboratory somewhere in the underground of Toronto where they mainly do experiments on rats but sometimes on humans too? I wouldn't put it past the current mayor.

I am also the sort who likes ritual and sybolism. I am writing this because I need a last year of school. It needs to be something that I remember. I have already finished my philosophy degree. After this summer I have seven more courses to take and then I am done my history degree as well. I will audit some philosophy classes, but I will miss my friends and the group of philosophy students that I spent so much time with last year won't really be there this year. My roommates will, however.

I had a friend who I miss very much now. It makes me wish I graduated in four years because she had this special talent for making everything special and important. I need it to be special and important, because I am that sort of person. I will have to try hard to do it for myself. I will probably write more throughout the year.