Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 6, No. 1, 2007
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Diane Gordon
Robert Rotondo
Dan Stefik
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
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Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somverville
David Solway
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward




During the past couple of years as Senior Editor of Arts & Opinion, Mark Goldfarb, vetter extraordinaire, has had to decide either for or against articles that are submitted for publication. Here is a collection of his often wry, witty, ironic, insightful comments, (culled from unshredded, intra-virtual office correspondance) which gathered as a whole, constitute, in the best sense, a criticism of life. They come in no particular order.

Skin and lungs are our first line of defence against external pathogenic factors - and both are stressed to the max when we run hard.

I suppose in a hundred years from now when everyone breathes bottled air the way everyone today drinks bottled water, when the ozone layer rips beyond human surgical repair, when this planet becomes one big ball of death, people will wonder frustratedly why I, knowing full well the consequences of my actions, continued to drive my gas guzzling, environment polluting car, continued to support the corporations that control Life.

Welcome to my world. I crawled out of bed today at 4:30am. Must be our residual ornithic genetics. As I fell asleep last night I was thinking your exact thoughts - that editors make writers look good - and that if those writers had a lick of sense they'd know it, appreciate it and learn from it. It's not for naught that authors, in their prefaces or acknowledgements, gush fluvial gratitude to the folks who meticulously and painstakingly read and re-read their manuscripts.

One has to wonder what droplet of hope we humans have of achieving peace and eliminating our barbaric streak when it is so difficult for us to drive five kilometers without giving someone the finger. Old World culture such as the tea house discovered by Avi in Istanbul may be hard, if not impossible to find in Vancouver. For one thing, smoking is not permitted in BC restaurants. A burger and coke brewed under Mickey D's golden arches, served in a Styrofoam plate on a formica tabletop, might be this city's nearest - and furthest - equivalent to the nargile and mint tea of a traditional Turkish serai.

If, as Avi postulates, it is our reconnection with history that makes the ancient tea house comfy and cozy, I would add that it is as much its pace and space, the sense of stability and eternity it imparts, and the organic melding of ecology and gastronomy to which we owe the allure.

Action is all that counts. Thinking isn't doing and counts for naught. True too that what we think is natural to us is often another form of conditioning imposed without our consent or conscious knowledge that we mistake for our true nature and which traps us throughout our lives. Indeed my yin, solitudinous and loner nature has another side to it, a yang, gregarious side that craves the company of the pack. Life is an endless struggle to break those bonds. To become fluid and powerful like water, to find our own level and place, to course over or around all obstacles - until our very essence flows freely like the river itself.

Now there's a writer who cares about how he says something at least as much as what he has to say, who chooses his words wisely in full knowledge of the fact that to survive the wilds of the blank page a mighty word is all one has.

Just completed a shirtless run under a sun that did a 30 minute drum solo on my traps, deep-frying them to samosa status. Summer has shrivelled my track, reduced its jade plumpness to a wrinkled, rumpled raisin. The once proud grass that grew to leonine lengths during the early part of the season now sports a mousy mottled coif, like freshly cut straw roasting and bleaching while it waits for the bale, looking for all the world like a tired and glammed-down David Bowie. Each time I rounded the bend where my T shirt hung stuffed through the mesh of the home teams's dug-out fence I'd glance at the tattered skein, half expecting to see a sagebrush lizard scaling curious and exploratative along it. Obviously going where no lizard had gone before.

I agree completely with your Homeric on the effects and art of writing. When words transcend their literal meaning and move beyond the category of assembly instructions for an Ikea bookcase, they hit our funny bone, tap into our intuition, and reveal more than any set of poorly translated Japanese instructions ever could. Excellent writing conveys the invisible, unuttered and untranslatable communication that often only takes place with eye contact. Real eye contact. The kind you allude to in Me and Michelle when you speak of eye contact between lovers. No surprise you end your paragraph with "enuff of this". This deep method of exchange via eye contact or writing is as personal and self-confessional as human beings can possibly be. An invitation - or for that matter a B&E - into someone’s innermost self should be taken very seriously.

Six and a half billion people on the planet speaking thousands of languages and thousands more dialects of those languages and life still boils down to the irreducible boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy looks for another girl. Make the appropriate substitutions for queer folk.

Snowploughs and salt trucks barrel down boulevards where alpacas and llamas once meandered. Every step on crunchy snow is paradoxically remindful of softer, redder desert sands. Your bones do their best to keep from cracking in temps 60 degrees colder than what they've become accustomed to, your sinews tighten and shrink unmercifully like thick wet ropes and all your senses struggle to fathom a sun that doles out crusts of warmth in so random and arbitrary a fashion.

At 12 times the price and one tenth the flavour you'll wonder if it's worth it. It won't tingle on your tastebuds the way alive food does because it isn't alive. It's embalmed. Packed with the goodness of pesticides, vaccinated with the friendliness of fungicides and, if the CFIA ever gets it's way, irradiated and fumigated. An avocado that would do Sebastien Dufault (local embalmer) proud.

Again the problem disappeared only to reappear later. This time pharmaceuticals wouldn't work. Antibiotics and hydrocortisone creams were powreless weapons against the beasty bacterium which were now wearing newly designed bullet-proof vests or had developed their own resistance to the drugs I was taking. Hey, humans aren't the only species with an immune system and a will to live. All life strives to survive. I abandoned the western mode of germ warfare and made dietary changes, lifestyle changes and gave myself moxibustion. The rash and itch vanished and haven't since returned. Like the herpes zoster virus, they're probably dormant, hiding in my five o'clock shadow, waiting for the propitious, andropausal moment to gobble up my face and destroy my harmony. Such is life.

Sunday. The day millions of faithful, with their hopes of forgiveness and prayers for salvation, flock to church. Millions more, with their stacks of French toast and rashers of bacon, wisely flop in front of their TV's, whence the ministrations of God's apostles excrete. Take a drive down Queen Mary Road and you might spot a cult of pilgrims crawling up the 283 cement steps of Saint Joseph's Oratory, en route to a chat with Brother André's statue located at the southern rear of the Basilica. Blind or deaf, drug lord or junkie - everyone's waiting for a miracle. I know I am. I'm not baptized but I am circumcised, my dick notarized, the deal done in blood.

In general and with few exceptions, mainstream and academic treatments of history including Bush-Cheney/Nixon-Kissinger versions, are fictitious and devoid of any humanity -- men in suits who reduce all phenomena to dollar signs, economical equations, collateral this and expedient that; arrogant Abrahams who would sacrifice their only sons for a few nuggets of gold. Our culture measures health and wealth as money and analyses all human endeavour from a business perspective - with one eye always on the bottom line. History books may as well be written by accountants.

No nutrient is an island unto itself. Everything is a co-factor or inhibitor of something else.

About the FGM acronym. It's been on my mind as well these last few weeks. It strikes me as a slick, convenient and callous moniker - a witty ditty - that erodes the seriousness of the issue. Are all these acronyms a sign of our fast-as-light times, or merely the latest trend in marketing, a fashion statement so to speak? Our attention span has plummeted inversely with the rise of our disposable time (and disposable income). We've become such chronophones that all manner of communication has been reduced to webchat abbreviations. LOL. :) How ironic in view of the fact that the average North American life expectancy has almost doubled from 47yrs of age in 1900 to 80ish if you were born in 2006.

I am still picturing Leonard (Cohen) in the movie's final scene, planted like cement, like a meditating zen monk, like a stalk of bamboo wavering ever so slightly in the breeze, singing Tower of Song, his cataracted eyes guileless as an Arctic snowstorm, his flawless, booming voice stronger than I have ever heard it.

I can taste your walks against sea-salt cliffs and precipiced papal fortresses, your swims off bleached beach buttes. The only things ancient in this town are its ecosystems of extraordinary beauty and environmental importance, most of which are being destroyed to build more important things like Wal-Marts, subway lines, four-lane highways and more malls. How many Starbucks and Gaps do we actually need?

Are we living longer? Stronger? Perhaps longer and stronger than we have in the last couple of thousand years. I don't know if we're living better than we did 5,000 years ago. There's no written history. There are however oral histories that claim some of us once lived much longer and vital lives. For all we know we've travelled this road before, blown ourselves up before, and started all over again. Certainly many lives are snuffed out or immeasurably truncated through auto accidents (the other side of the technological coin). A fact which, like war, has simultaneously resulted in medical innovations to keep up with the mangled mass of human tissue that dot our highways and war zones. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. DG will find a job five seconds after she graduates. Similarly, the medical and pharmaceutical industries have been kept on their toes and quite rich by fallout from the agro-chemical industry, the food industry, and their own egregious malpractices. McDonald’s supersizes your blood pressure and gut with one hand, provides a gymnasium on their premises with the other, and Pfizer does the rest. We let them do it. In Flanders fields the poppies grow. Row after row after row after row.

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