Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cars and Bodies

I've come to feel that getting a prescription from the auto mechanic is similar to getting one from a doctor, they both can tell you bad news, give you advice on what to do, and you have absolutely no frame of reference to understand any other alternatives. You're completely at the mercy of their knowledge. So if the surgeon says you shouldn't get surgery (on this case for my ligament) I can't really argue, even though in theory it would seem better to have some way of securing things in my ankle rather than going the rest of my life with bits and pieces of me missing, making it more like to reinjure. Today I turned my car over to the mechanics who basically gave me a prescription for over 1200 in repairs. Since I know nothing about how cars work (comparable to my complete lack of knowledge about how the anatomy works) I can't really argue with their recommendations. Total powerlessness. Ick. 

Ahhh...good times in Michigan...keep em' comin!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Some thoughts...

So just as I was hitting the point of no return on my "progressivism" section of prelims (the point at which several scenarios seem far more appealing than reading ONE MORE BOOK on the progressives--scenarios like:  "I'd much rather stub my toe multiple times than read another book on this...I'd much rather snort chloriney pool water up my nose in that way that leaves that burny feeling...I'd much rather watch paint dry" etc....) and then to my surprise I've been inspired again by a book; although not so sure this book counts as on the progressives or was written by a historian, but none-the-less, it falls under my "progressivism" category of readings. 

So what of this inspiration you ask? Alice O' Connor's Poverty Knowledge. One of those books where you begin reading it and within the first two pages you can scratch your head and say, "wow, I'd never thought of it that way before." And it's not that the other 80 books I've been reading in the last couple months aren't likely chocked full of "aha" moments, but it just goes to show the power of clarity in writing. Some of these authors (George Lipsitz would be another of my faves) can articulate in such a way, that they could pretty much sell you on anything.

Oh yeah, and just a warning for those who intend to be tuning into this recently posting wwwwsmurfybadness, it will likely be rants about books for the next several months, as my brain doesn't seem to have much room for other human thoughts these days. So bear with me or tune in after December for (hopefully) less nerdy posts. 

So now that you've been warned, I've been having thoughts lately (hence the "some thoughts" title) about how people writing all these books strategize change. It would seem to me that many scholars come at U.S. history as socialists and many (at least the ones I'm reading lately) then try to work within the nation-state/capitalist framework to understand the roots of all evil in the U.S. (all the isms: racism, sexism, capitalism) and I'm wondering about this whole nation based deal because I'm not really sure if the nation or citizenship provides the best framework for finding a "usable past" or those heros we want to see as lacking self-interest. I definitely get the need to retain an accountable entity for the ways in which all the isms have played out in this particularly spatially bounded area we call the nation, empire, settler colony (all of which seem to apply). I think part of what makes me wonder about this whole nation/citizen frame is it seems that at the root of many of these problems are pathologies of privilege, and I don't know that history (which seems to continually reinforce a nation-based model for understanding everything) has enough tools or the language to attack that. 

So these studies keep looking at the nation's promises, citizens views of themselves and the nation, and all the contradictions therein--the myths of the nation, etc...and then wonder why don't people see it (most often, why don't they see it the way enlightened historians do?) This then begs the question of who sees it and who doesn't (the former often those who experience the brunt of the isms or academics trying to write books about them, and the latter typically those who have privilege and aren't aware/or don't care about their complicity in perpetuating the isms). So it would seem to me important to have better tools for understanding the psychology of privilege and entitlement, and how to locate empathy and compassion--not just in sentiment, but if we were to take some of policy suggestions offered by academics, you would need ways for entwining empathy and compassion into an understanding of fairness and social justice to the degree that those with privilege would be willing to (or forced to) give those privileges up for fair redistribution. This seems to be what many of these books are calling for, but I'm wondering if there has ever been a situation in history where that has happened (without bloody revolution...ahhh, and I think I'm starting to get this Marxist stuff better...).  

Perhaps this is where interdisciplinary approach incorporating psychology or some other "ology" might help us understand better how power is ever redistributed without revolution. Or even better understandings of religions might seem to help, because I've also been thinking about the secular nature of these studies (as I've begun learning of their progressive reformer roots, yay history! ;) and it also seems bizarre how much historians write about human behavior along a rational model of understanding (like, why don't people see their privilege or oppression) but what if a huge part of the "seeing it" also filters into a religious framework (as I would imagine it does for many) of predetermined/fate. So "I see you that position, and I'm in this position because God planned it that way." And if you go along with the Book of Job, one could even see the suffering of others as in some ways their privilege to be tested and prove their loyalty. So whether people "see it" or "don't see it,"more attests to the many ways in which what we see is filtered into our frameworks for understanding the world--aha, cultural history! Ok, I'm officially a big giant nerd.

On another note, I've decided if I could pick a karaoke song and steal the singer's voice for that one song, it would be Patty Griffin's "Heavenly Day." Yes, I'm still hooked. In fact, I'm still in that mode where you listen to it once, and then keep playing it over and over and over again cuz it's just that good.

I think I may have violated blogging etiquette with such a long post. Doh!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An Ode to my Ligament

I had a thought this week...after discussing the nature of my ankle with my latest doctor. She told me that my ligament was gone for good, and it made me very sad in that I didn't get the chance to say goodbye. And then it made me think back to the many good years that this ligament had served me, when it could've left earlier but chose to stick (literally) by my side (or to my bones I suppose)...it could've given out while I was climbing on glaciers in New Zealand (that would've sucked ass), could've prevented me from the many massive moves I've made over the past ten years, given out in the ocean while trying to surf, on the river wakeboarding in Australia. So in thinking about these minor catastrophes having been avoided, I concluded that while I'm sad my ligament has decided to vacate at this moment, perhaps I should be also be grateful that it was such a loyal comrade up until July. 

This ligament loss also got me to thinking about how amazing it when we come into this world with all these different body parts functioning as they are supposed to, and that so many of them can last us as long as they do. I got almost 30 years out of this ligament...and so far out of every other body part I came in with. That's pretty cool I suppose. Kind of miraculous if you think about it, given how much torment we seem to put all these different pieces through along the way. But I must say, it does feel weird to know that one of those pieces that was with me for 29 years is not gone for good. Boo. :(  

And so, dear ligament, my overly verbose and nostalgic ode in your honor...I toast you for the 29 years you gave me of soccer playing, adventures around the world, comfortably bendy yoga poses and the like, and say you will be missed! And here's to hoping that all the other feet/ankle muscles I'm trying to build up through PT now can come close to your exemplary performance.