Aflicktion: The Wreck of Hope

Originally uploaded by ocean.flynn.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Nanuq of the North II: Animal Rights vs Human Rights.” Speechless. Uploaded January 3, 2007.

The Bush administration took advantage of the way in which all eyes turn towards Santa’s North Pole, where big-eyed talking polar bears, reindeer and seals live in harmony, to announce that they would save these creatures from Nanook of the North. See story.
For a divergent point of view read Nunatsiak News article.

Nanook (nanuq Inuktitut for polar bear) was the name of the Eskimo hunter captured on film in the first documentary ever produced, Robert Flaherty’s (1922) Nanook of the North , — still shown in film studies survey courses. Nanook the Stone Age-20the century hunter became an international legend as a lively, humourous and skillful hunter of polar bears, seals and white fox who tried to bite into the vinyl record Flaherty had brought with him. (The real “Nanook” died of tuberculosis (Stern 2004:23) as did countless Inuit from small communities ravaged by one of the worst epidemic’s of tuberculosis on the planet.)

On August 13, 1942 in Walt Disney studios’ canonical animated film Bambi it was revealed that many animals with cute eyes could actually talk and therefore shared human values. Nanook and his kind became the arch enemy of three generations of urban North Americans and Europeans. Hunters were bad. Cute-eyed animals that could talk were good. Today many animals’ lives have been saved from these allegedly cruel hunters by the billion dollar cute-eyed-talking-animals-industry.

The White House has once again come to the rescue of these vulnerable at-risk animals. (There was an entire West Wing episode in which a gift of moose meat was rejected by all staff since it came from a big-eyed-talking-animal. See Ejesiak and Flynn-Burhoe (2005) for more on how the urban debates pitting animal rights against human rights impacted on the Inuit.) Who would ever have suspected that the Bush administration cared so much about the environment that they would urge an end to the polar bear hunt, already a rare phenomenon to many Inuit since their own quotas protected them?

When I lived in the north the danger for polar bears did not reside in the hearts of hunters. Nanuq the polar bear who could not talk was starving. He hung out around hamlets like Churchill, Baker Lake or Iqaluit, looking for garbage since this natural habitat was unpredictable as the climate changed. Some people even insisted that there was no danger from the polar bear who had wandered into town since he was ’skinny.’ That did not reassure me! I would have preferred to know that he was fat, fluffy and well-fed. Polar bears die from exhaustion trying to swim along their regular hunting routes as ice floes they used to be able to depend on melted into thin air literally. They die, not because there are not enough seals but because they need platform ice in the right seasons. That platform ice is disappearing. They die with ugly massive tumours in them developed from eating char, seals and other Arctic prey whose bodies are riddled with southern toxins that have invaded the pristine, vulnerable northern ecosystem. Nanuq is dying a slow painful death. Nanuq is drowning. Although he doesn’t sing he is a canary for us all.

Climate change and southern industrial toxins affect the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic first. The Inuit claimed in 2003,“Global warming is killing us too, say Inuit .”This is why Sheila Watt-Cloutier laid a law suit against the administration of the United States of America. Now the handful of Job-like Inuit who managed to survive the seal hunt fiasco of the 1980s and are still able hunt polar bear, will have yet another barrier put between them and the ecosystem they managed and protected for millennia. When I see Baroque art and read of the Enlightenment, I think Hudson’s Bay and the whalers in the north. It wasn’t the Inuit who caused the mighty leviathan to become endangered. Just how enlightened are we, the great grandchildren of the settlers today? Who is taking care of our Other grandparents?

Since the first wave of Inuit activists flooded the Canadian research landscape fueled by their frustrations with academic Fawlty Towers they morphed intergenerational keen observation of details, habits of memory, oral traditions and determination with astute use of artefacts and archives to produce focused and forceful research. When Sheila Watt-Cloutier representing the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) was acknowledged with two awards in one year for work done to protect the environment, I wondered how many cheered her on.

I don’t cheer so much anymore. I am too overwhelmed, too hopeless to speak. I myself feel toxic, perhaps another pollutant from the south — my name is despair. I don’t want to dampen the enthusiasm of those activists who still have courage to continue. For myself, I feel like the last light of the whale-oil-lit kudlik is Flicktering and there is a blizzard outside.

Footnotes:

From wikipedia entry Sheila Watt-Cloutier

In 2002, Watt-Cloutier was elected[1][4] International Chair of ICC, a position she would hold until 2006[1]. Most recently, her work has emphasized the human face of the impacts of global climate change in the Arctic. In addition to maintaining an active speaking and media outreach schedule, she has launched the world’s first international legal action on climate change. On December 7, 2005, based on the findings of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, which projects that Inuit hunting culture may not survive the loss of sea ice and other changes projected over the coming decades, she filed a petition, along with 62 Inuit Hunters and Elders from communities across Canada and Alaska, to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that unchecked emissions of greenhouse gases from the United States have violated Inuit cultural and environmental human rights as guaranteed by the 1948 American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.[5]

2. See also David Ewing Duncan’s “Bush’s Polar-Bear Problem” Technology Review: The Authority on the Future of Technology. From MIT. Information on Emerging Technologies. March 09, 2007. Duncan claims “The administration tells scientists attending international meetings not to discuss polar bears, climate change, or sea ice.”

Note:

See We Feel Fine for innovative use of this image in an upcoming publication.

Digitage elements:

Caspar David Friedrich’s (1824) The Sea of Ice
Tujjaat Resolution Island, abandoned, DEW line station DINA Northern Contaminated Sites Program (CSP) web site
My photo of ice floes in Charlottetown harbour, March 2000
A section of my acrylic painting entitled Nukara (2000)

Selected Bibliography

Eilperin, Juliet. (2006). ““U.S. Wants Polar Bears Listed as Threatened.” Washington Post Staff Writer. Wednesday, December 27, 2006; Page A01

Fekete, Jason. 2008. “Nunavut opposes anti-polar bear hunt movement in U.S.” Calgary Herald. May 29, 2008

Gertz, Emily. 2005. The Snow Must Go On. Inuit fight climate change with human-rights claim against U.S. Grist: Environmental News and Commentary. 26 Jul 2005.

The Guardian. 2003. ““Inuit to launch human rights case against the Bush Administration.”

Stern, Pamela R. 2004. Historical Dictionary of the Inuit. Lanham, MD:Scarecrow Press.

DEW line contaminated sites in Nunavut.

www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1104241,00….

www.grist.org/news/maindish/2005/07/26/gertz-inuit/index….

This will be updated from EndNote. If you require a specific reference please leave a comment on this page.

Creative Commons Canadian Copyright 2.5 BY-NC-SA.

del.icio.us | swicki | Technorati Profile | wordpress | Flickr | blogspot | photoblog | digg | gather | thinkfree | Picasaweb | Carleton homepage

Sunburst during Blizzard

I really need to get outside and dig deep into my garden with my bare hands, pulling out weeds that are uprooted so easily in the good black earth. It is oddly calming for me.

I have learned too much technology this morning and I need to relax in the real physical world. There is nothing quite as physical as black earth under your finger nails. When I come back I want to consider the catalysts that led to my ongoing inquiries into the positive presence of absence, memory work, social exclusions, museology . . . Perhaps my inquiry is instantiated in the embodied Sarah Ekoomiak. I need to share what I have already gathered on her contributions but I cannot do this legitimately in the social sciences. So this will perhaps be in the form of a Flicktion. I will examine why in regards to these key words:

tarmac ethnology Sarah Ekoomiak Google News customized brain imagery Away Iqaluit airport Adobe Photoshop anthropology sociology cyberdelirium del.icio.us ethical topography of self everyday life Flicktion forgetting folksonomy taxonomy communal memory reconciliation RCAP geotagging Road to Nowhere hospitality qualia reflexivity methodology social sciences wikipedia

Technorati spider release

November 1, 2006

In my attempt to understand how Frimr reached its scores I found sites called blogjuice? which led me again to Technorati. I had visited their site before so this time I decided to register. I now have a Technorati Profile. I am now trying to use Technorati to refine searches for key concepts such as memory work, answerability, post-national, ethical topography of self.

I continue to find so many free, useful and fun internet services. Flickr is by far the most entertaining. For keeping track of bookmarks, which I call my webliographies, del.icio.us and swicki offer much more than I could ever have imagined. Swicki even does it with image collages of your individualized tag clouds. I have been learning how to interconnect my Flickr with WordPress and Blogspot. That is also amazing.

Frimr Pumpkin I have decided to no longer keep an account with Frimr, a fictional site that offers to track how famous you are becoming on the Internet. I just could not figure out how to fill in their on-line form. Apparently my score jumped from 0 to 9999 and back down to 0 in a few weeks because of the way I entered my ‘feeds.’ I didn’t even know what a feed was until I tried being a frimeuse. (This term in French for boastful: ‘Link me, I’m famous’ ) Since I am in this for the pure pleasure as well as the teaching, learning and research I prefer not to work too hard to keep track of my score.
del.icio.us | swicki | Technorati Profile | wordpress | Flickr | blogspot | photoblog | digg | gather | thinkfree | Picasaweb | Carleton homepage

Folksonomy II

October 29, 2006

Folksonomy II Using Adobe Photoshop I layered Friedrich’s (1818) Voyageur au-dessus de la mer de nuages (1818), a Google Earth generated image of Garibaldi Mountain region, British Columbia (49.51.20.64N – 122.57.18.09W elev 6026′ eye alt 13964) and my del.icio.us tag cloud as it emerges from the fog of my thinking. Tags are user-generated so the author chooses how to categorize each .url. Eventually a pattern emerges from this exercise in taxonomy from the ground up. As I visit other peoples’ blogs and del.icio.us webliographies, I learn better ways to categorize certain theories and/or theorists. Gradually I changes these tags, folksonomies or ethnoclassifications so that I can better connect with others making similar journeys.
del.icio.us | swicki | wordpress | Flickr | blogspot | photoblog | digg | gather | thinkfree | |Picasaweb | Carleton homepage


Creative Commons

Creative Commons from my online Flickr album is composed of multiple layers. They include a .jpg of the Google Earth generated globe which is inverted, stretched and manipulated in 3 other layers, ripples from an M. C. Escher print and a stunning photo by a Professor Andrew Davidhazy from Rochester, NY. described on a few of the 80, 000+ references to him on Google as modest, talented, a great teacher and a ghost expert for photography. I have just licensed my work on line with the Creative Commons. Their icon lets people know that they can use your work for non-commercial reasons if they attribute it to you; they can make derivatives but they have to share-alike. Of course the challenge with Goggle Images is some of the most stellar images available are difficult to track down in terms of authorship because there are already so many derivatives. This was the case with this drop of water by this well-known professor who continues to do astounding work. I left a comment on his web blog but I re-entered it three times before I realized he had wisely included an administrator’s block for unedited entries. It may take him ages to even check his comments. When he does he will find to his annoyance in his busy life, that I’ve inadvertently left three. More than that I just emailed him instead of Flckr’s team re: emailing our Flickr photos to WordPress. He is going to put me on his ‘block permanently list.’

An Inuit friend reminded me that many Inuit of Canada view the world from a circumpolar point of view. In honour of my Inuit friends and students from time to time I view the earth through their lens. I positioned then froze the globe from a circumpolar point of view using a Google save screen option. So I have geotagged this to the north east of Baffin Island, perhaps somewhere near Pond Inlet. Hello to the family of Julia and Ernie! Their family photo in their traditional clothing taken when they visited you in Pond Inlet in 2005, is framed and hanging in our home on Vancouver Island.

Del.icio.us Topographies and Tag Clouds An Adobe Photshop image consisting of 5 layered images: my Del.icio.us cloud tag, title layer, google generated 3-D virtual space with branching rivers as metaphors for organically emerging rhizomic pathways,

a miniaturized image of Vancouver, BC’s skyline, the del.icio.us tag cloud image (my first since I began to use this free social bookmarking tech tool) and an altered topographical map of a site where a meteor landed. This final layer was inverted so the meteoric collision with the planet became the sun in this delicious cloud.

‘Folksonomies’ is an organic emerging term in an organic emerging system. Is it perhaps an example of autopoiesis constituting and nurturing its own rhizomic organization? There are economic, political, social as well as ontological and axiological dimensions to the unfolding taxonomy of cyberspace. Tag clouds leave visible trails of a blogger’s inner life. Unlike solitary browsing through library stacks or flipping through pages of a book, internet searching and browsing leaves digital imprints that allow us to retrace where we were yesterday in terms of our understanding of a topic. Theoretically how well we understand a debate or discussion informs how discerning we are in our judgments. Our ethical topography changes as we travel and encounter Others whose ideas and/or values resonate or are in dissonance with our own. Encounters with the stranger, one whose experience differs greatly from our own in some way, provides us with an opportunity to re-evaluate previously held beliefs or assumptions. In welcoming the Stranger in friendship with a heightened degree of hospitality that includes a willingness to tolerate ambiguity temporarily, to briefly at least set aside prejudices, we open ourselves to the possibility of fresh insight that expands for both of us. It is only through the invention of unique terms such as folksonomies, or ethnoclassification or perhaps tag.clouds that I might filter through infinite numbers of blogs on taxonomy and find the like-minded individual who is concerned about the potential emergence of an inclusive taxonomy that somehow includes the more socially vulnerable not as objects of charity but as fully participating members in civil society.

Frimr was the ninth free topographical tool I investigated in my exploration of the connectivity/content potential. On Hallowe’en 2006 we parted ways. Christophe from Frimr could not explain to me which of the feeds I had listed on my Frimr account were not mine. He could not explain why my score was too high. (I suggested to him that maybe the site urls that hosted my feeds were being counted in as my feeds because of their programming?) I know I’m not famous but I also know I play fair.

The size of the Frimr icon (which I had compared to a pumpkin) as it appears on a Frimring member has something to do with being a boastful frimeur or frimeuse. The idea behind this fictive service is that the user can map out their presence or absence on the web. The first time I realized I had a zero rating was a bit unsettling. Why would anyone expect anything else unless you publish or blog in a network or community hooked into the blogosphere?

Anyhow a couple of weeks ago the audio stopped working on our aging television, the VCR conked out and my beloved Kodak digital camera died after having been a hard working member of my team for many years. After having used up my two for a toonie budget of DVDs I took out a number of free public library DVDs on the centuries biggest storms, tours for tourists, Einstein, etc. Dave was able to hook up the sound from the DVD directly through the speakers which he borrowed from my PC so I can watch DVDs on our television but not VCRs. Leno and Jon are just not as amusing watching with captions. The timing is off and the spelling is impossible. So during this period where I am off on medical leave I began to explore what is free out there in this virtual space where smart people fix broken things and help me to find useful stuff including where I’ve put my own things. I don’t have any idea how it works. But if only a few people find something that I have done provides them with a pointer, an idea or a new word, maybe all that energy, passion and hard work teaching, learning and research can still be socially useful.

I had become more courageous in moving from my status as blurker (is that the word? I can check it on the glossary of blog terms I have bookmarked on my del.icio.us space) to searchable participatory citizen of the blogosphere. It was the rapture of deep space provided by Google Earth that lured me out of my security zone. It was the tagging on Picasa, then Flickr that enmeshed me even further. It was the seamless interconnectivity between certain sites (I’m still figuring out which are which) that compelled to get more deeply into it.

Mirrored mountain, marina and clouds

The fish bowl/rose bowl
often half-filled or empty reflecting my own image and the subtle changes in light of my embodied living space became a visual metaphor for the complex reflexive way I see and live the world Strange it is that I am still unable after all these months to pick up the phone to call a dear friend or family member or to write them a personal email but I feel safe, solitary and satisfied while growing this strange, organic rhizome of virtual synapses from the security of my fish bowl here in this tiny but stunning island village. It is easier for me to compose the bulk of this reference letter as a blog than it is to open an MS Word document and write it. How can I be so verbiose and speechless at the same time?

Well, I’ve just gotten off the phone with a lawyer whose daughter was a former student. She’s now applying for law school and needs a reference. The letter would have written itself since she has such a stellar personality but I had asked to talk with someone who knows her well so I could refine adjectives and situate the fine qualities I had come to know within the broader framework of where she has been and where she is going. I had cautioned her that I am on medical leave and have not been doing teaching or research since 2005 and a letter from me might have no academic capital. But she still preferred to ask me. It is a bit ironical because that class was the last I taught at the university that turned me into a ghost, a non-entity in the department. Talking to her father reminded me of why I loved teaching so much. With or without my letter this young woman will become a fine lawyer with a fresh approach who will examine the law from a broader perspective. She isn’t afraid to ask “Why?” Her creative, original arguments will make judges blink without being disrespectful. Her clients will be in excellent hands. She will model ground rules of fair play by debating her arguments skillfully and forcefully without belittling her opponents or making personal attacks. She recognizes her God-given talents but they have not made her arrogant or boastful. Although she is a strong advocate of human rights she has a heightened sense of inclusivity and is therefore not blind-sided by the ‘we’ question. While she has the courage to take risks she is not rash or imprudent as it is in her nature to be reflexive in her thinking.

Her father acknowledged that the law itself is not rigid and timeless but organic and changing as we evolve. I understood that he was reminding me that something might be legal without being ethical. I found these useful citations through Google which I have added to my del.icio.us bookmarks.

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. Jacques Anatole François Thibault) (1894) The Red Lily

What does it profit a poor and ignorant man that he is equal to his strong antagonist before the law if there is no one to inform him what the law is? Or that the courts are open to him on the same terms as all other persons when he has not the wherewithal to pay the admission fee?” Vance, William (1926) “The Historical Background of the Legal Aid Movement,” The Annals from the National Equal Justice Library

The following is a list of my new navigational tools for the blogosphere. Unfortunately when I try to let my dear friends know about this they are made uncomfortable my the need to download a reader, etc for some of these:

 

Via di Santo Spirito, 36


Via di Santo Spirito, 36, originally uploaded to Flickr on September 21, 2004 by Andrew Losowsky.
Since Losowsky’s photo was first uploaded as the first in an ongoing project called ‘The Doorbells of Florence’, it has been viewed on his Flickr account 3,528 times (as of 10/11/2006)! I believe he is the one who first coined the term Flicktion? His tags are brilliantly simple: Florence, Italy, doorbells and of course Flicktion. Since then his doorbells have been ringing. Check out the tag ‘doorbells’ now on Flickr and you will find 1000’s that I believe were inspired by Losowsky.

Each of Losowsky’s photos has an accompanying quirky text with pull-you-into-the-story first lines inviting the reader into (fictive) urban lives behind the doorbells. Losowsky has plans to publish ‘The Doorbells of Florence’ as a book.

I learned about ‘The Doorbells of Florence’ Flicktion project in an article by Adam Mathes, a young CMC grad student (2004). It’s entitled Folksonomies: Cooperative Classification and Communication Through Shared Metadata and has been frequently (1917 times on del.icio.us) bookmarked . It is a concise, useful article in which he describes the role of cooperative, user-generated classification (organic tagging, folksonomies, ethnoclassification) in contrast to those generated by dedicated expert knowledge workers who focus on taxonomy as a profession. The success of this organic process of social tagging is dramatically illustrated by “The Doorbells of Florence.”

I learned about tables that stretch in Ben Henick (2006) article “12 Lessons for Those Afraid of CSS and Standards” alistapart.com (bookmarked 1097 times on del.icio.us). In this article he introduced ‘Tables vs. Semantic Markup’. I don’t understand anything about Semantic Markup, css or xhtml but his code was so clean. Hopefully my tables will stretch to contents.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.