Its been a long and arduous journey from going from high school graduation to university. Its taken everything I have financially, emotionally and mentally to make it this far. 60,000 dollars. Thats how much my brain is now worth to this government that has taken so much from my family and my people. It has taken my land, my father, my grandmother, grandfather, uncles, aunties, the list goes on and on. I am feeling just a little bitter about the actual cost it took for me to get the western education people keep telling me I should be proud of. And I am proud, proud to have survived and pick up where my father has left off. On one hand I can get a great job and easily move myself forward in this society as an academic or consultant or whatever but that would only mean widening the gap between myself and my brothers and sisters back home. It took all these years for me to earn my place among white people for me to now crave earning my place among my people. To bring something home that my people need now more than ever. Hope. Hope is something that another had to have in me before I could find it in myself. So I want to bring home hope for the younger generation and use myself as an example of someone who can not only excel in science but in our traditional ways as well. I would like to show them that it was a science, physics, that brought me to my own understanding of spirituality and forged the foundation of my motivations in school and life. The famous and infamous double slit experiment that shattered everything I thought I knew and assisted me in building an understanding that we are not matter until we are observed, We don’t matter until we are observed. And today I feel observed, honoured and like I matter. Hard work has paid off and now I am in between things again, in between university and traditions, work or more university, but its my choice and thats what I am most grateful for. Now where my life goes is my choice. I’ve earned it and funny enough, after all that education all I want to do is go back to the land that made me if there is anything left… It’s hard to think that my family use to be so powerful and self sufficient until the government took it all away from them, and they still expect me to pay them another 60,000 on top of it. Maybe one day I could have so much money that I can just start buying all that land back, its all just energy after all and if there is anything I’ve learned from university its that for a lot of energy to be released it takes a bit of energy input directed in just the right way and a catalyst is born.
Pollan, Michael. 2002. The Botany of Desire. pg. 113-179. Random House Trade Paper Backs, United States of America.
The depression up till this point began to eat up my life and I had exhausted all of my options. A lifetime of broken bones, broken hearts and broken dreams both filled and plugged the well of tears that was my heart. Up until the point that I became so desperate for a taste of tranquility from the torment of the moments of regret that ran over and over again like a broken record in my mind. They invaded my mind, my dreams and my life. This pressure squeezed tens of thousands of dollars from my already broke pockets and pushed me to a state of desperation that had me… depressed. depression. depression. depression. That feeling that blinds ones eyes from even the most beautiful of days, can spin anyones kindness against them and bleed the energy out of any situation. The silent cause of over half of all suicides. The silent cause of my near suicide. On the surface I was “happy”, I made people laugh frequently, using my sense of humour as a cover for the fact that if anyone said the wrong thing I might snap on them in yet another attempt at self sabotage. I said “fuck it” more times than I care to admit. Then the day came where I read an article that described the potential benefits of magic mushrooms in the treatment of depression so I decided to say “fuck it” one more time.
Down the hatch and into the rabbit hole, I proceeded with the intent to find something, anything other than the drudgery of coping with reality I had. I was by myself in my apartment while my roommate was out. 4 grams of gold caps that varied in size from a thumb tack to about the size of penny with half a toothpick for a stem. At first I didn’t feel anything so I sat on the couch smoking cigarettes until it happened, I looked at the wall and it started bending in and out, convex and concave. At this point I had decided to wander around the apartment and became extremely sensitive to things I wouldn’t typically notice. I went to the bathroom and could hear the ocean, then I walked down the hallway and it felt like it was stretching and took way too long for me to make it back to the living room. I then decided to just lay down on the couch in silence and as soon as I closed my eyes I felt like I was falling through space with the earth as we spun together around our axis while spiralling around the sun. I had to open my eyes to make sure that I was still in my apartment and as soon as I gained the gumption to be with my mind I closed my eyes again and proceeded to let myself fall again. I had to trust that my mind wouldn’t fall out of my body and it was the closest thing to an out of body experience that I ever had. As I fell I looked around and could see the blur of matter around me but it wasn’t solid, everything was… fuzzy and I wanted to touch it but I had no body so I looked down to where my hands would be and could see that elements started to come together, first water with water, fire with fire, earth with earth and together they combined to form air, all in the shape of my hand. As my focus moved around I could see that I wasn’t alone in my falling, Everyone I ever met was there too but we all looked like eyeballs, just single eyeballs. Each one slowly opening and closing, turning into dirt an opening again. My focus zoomed out and the eyeball/dirt surface to see a giant, like one of those giants from shadow of the colossus for playstation 2, but their skin cells were made of people. We were the cells of one giant organism, like the fractalization of life.
much like this…
With each cell starting out on the periphery and deciding where each of us will go, some of us into nothing and others into something. I could see that there were others just like it and that, if I wanted to stay, I would need to earn my place into its heart, where all the light was. I came to become a part of the heart of this goliath and felt like there were secrets that I wasn’t aware of up until this point. The next thing I knew was that there was another giant but it was dark and void of any definition and they were fighting. Sometimes some of us would all get hit at once by this giant nothing and feel dark. It was terrifying, scarier than any monster. Just imagine being nothing, never existing, being a 0. Then I found out that we had the choice, it was up to us whether we become nothing or something and suddenly I felt a sudden overwhelming happiness, I was something, I am something. In that instant I felt valuable, like I had something to offer. After years of depression all it took was a little bit of psilocybin, some introspection and feeling like I mattered. huh… its always the simple things that change your life. That was over 2 years ago and today I am on the verge of graduating from university… I’ll be the only one in my family to do so, maybe I really am something. Since then I said “fuck it” to other things like cigarettes, alcohol, drugs and violence.
That was almost 3 years ago and today I am authentically happy and proud of myself. I have found my imagination able to run wild without restrictions or fear and am now capable of love, I know it sounds hippy dippy but mushrooms changed my life for the better.
Now, although forgetting is valuable, I will never forget that experience… even though it was mostly in my own mind.
Well it looks like I stuck to my guns in my ranting but reading the botany of desires chapter on cannabis made me feel like it was appropriate to share one of my experiences with drugs. I guess I better talk about who interesting I found witches broomsticks were and how cool I think it would be to oversee a witches gathering. I found Pollens honesty endearing, especially since it was a gardener growing pot just to see if he could. I also had a lot of envy of his adventure to Amsterdam. The part about emojis and greeks was a bit curious and frankly he could have done without but it seemed like he may have smoked a bit of pot and went on a bit of a tangent writing that part, which is absolutely fine.
Over all the chapter was quit informative and entertaining.
Elegant Death is the only words that came to me at the end of this chapter…
The beauty of death is that it is an experience that every single human will share, no matter how young or old. Although birth can only occur naturally in a handful of ways, death has the blessing of variation. A person can die from a heart attack, a car accident, get kicked in the head by a horse, eaten by a lion, get crushed by a pop machine, die of smoke inhalation, burn up in a fire, drown in water or drown in air (pulmonary edema), they can die by getting electrocuted, getting stabbed, shot, impaled, decapitated, starvation, blood loss, air loss, heat loss, freezing, overdose, suicide, being bit by a snake, swallowing rocks, throwing a radio in the bathtub (electrocuted twice), undernourishment, malaria, Ebola, dengue fever, bubonic plague, small pox, chicken pox, pellagra, rickets, crickets and/or baseball bats. Among the most interesting causes of death for me has always been death by poisoning, this method generally has the most interesting and complex stories accompanying it and just enough nostalgia to bring me back to my childhood. I found the description the types of poisons and their evolutionary emergence to be extremely fascinating. I am finding myself compelled to read the triumph of seeds in its entirety, too bad the semester pressure is starting to terrorize my soul, at school again way past my bed time trying to get yet another assignment done, drinking my mint, honey and lemon tea and trying to fight off a god awful sore throat and runny nose. Maybe I was poisoned by a contaminated puff of air from an espionage agent from the Donald trump campaign who can’t stand the thought of another Educated native bring up questions about land rights and title. The point is that espionage and James Bond movies are a part of some of my favorite childhood remembrances, spending days on end trying to catch up to my dads proficiency at 007 trivia. The thought of a real life example with the murder weapon being an umbrella and laced with one of the worlds deadliest poisons made the plane ride home not such a chore and… enjoyable. The irony of ricin is that coincidentally, castor beans also produces motor oil, one of the worlds most successful lubricants for both cars and human because it also acts as a dehydrating laxative that was quite often used as a torture tool by Mussolini and sometimes used as punishment for children in more… barbaric times. I found it fascinating that ricin was potent enough to kill a human with as little as 2 grains of salt worth. This “exquisitely deadly” poison has the ability to take the mind on a whirlwind of fantasization about the potential for this grain to be in this cup of tea sitting next to me or in a speck of dust I just so happen to inhale, ok probably not but it still evokes so much respect for the potent-ial of plants and their babies. The questions that arise from such a deadly little compound like how the heck did this thing come to be? and what else is it good for? are all good and can keep me busy for hours but I can’t help but feel humbled by the pure hairline balancing act a life really is, especially mine, and yours. How the hell did we make it this far with such a deadly world around us? I sure am grateful I did.
Pollan, Michael. 2002. Random House Trade Paper Backs, USA, pg. 3-59
Some points to think on…
The story of my apple:
During my visit with my mom in Edmonton I found myself walking through the grocery store I found myself paying particular attention to the names of the apples in the produce department; Red delicious, Granny Smith and McIntosh. I took a step back and payed particular attention to the process by which my mother acquired that bag that would end up in the tummies of a family of Rez Kids and Elders of Saddle Lake Alberta. She chose one with traits very similar to her-short, round, bright red clothing and sweet, the McIntosh looked like my mothers apple analogue- following my first year chemistry professors base line “likes attract likes” principal of chemistry perfectly. I burst out laughing when she made her choice, she had no idea what I was laughing about but laughed along in an animated laughing fit with me just for the momentary elation found in laughter, we must have looked like a couple of wildling (game of thrones) crazies howling with glee in the middle of Walmart. In the end I never did tell her what we were laughing about, she was all too happy just to join in a tiff of laughter with her son. After that we proceeded to make our way to the elders house where we continued to laugh and learn cree throughout the afternoon-perak(1), Niso(2) Nisomo(second round), Nisto(3) Nistomo(third round), Neawo(4) Neawomo(4th round)- each round crossed disjunction with a story followed by laughter and an aha! moment followed by the next round and the cycle continued until we were a little bit wiser, a little bit happier and a lot more satisfied. We showed our gratitude with a freshly picked bag of walmart McIntosh apples(not computers) and sealed our friendship with a handshake.
The story of the Chapman apple as told by Pollan:
I found the first chapter a brilliant and eloquent way of describing a modern story of domestication through the eccentric Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman. The story of the american apple served as an excellent example of darwinian selection, complete with random variation, differential survival, and heritable traits. I think I inherited my moms crazy and I wouldn’t be surprised if we found some relation to Mr. Chapman. I found it amusing that a “feeble minded or feckless”-pg. 26- could be such a force of sexual transformation, acting like a flying penis, planting seeds all over the country side and under the spell of the ever seductively sweet apple. Now I know where Pollen came up with the namesake of the introduction and chapter,”The human bumblebee” and “Desire:Sweetness”.
Short and sweet, just like the McIntosh.
Pollan, Michael. 2006. The Ominivore’s Dilemma. Pg 15-119. Penguin Group, United States of America.
“And so it goes, bite after bite, until you feel nit satisfied exactly, but simply, regrettably, full”-P. 119 I found myself thinking about society during this last line and how perfect a reflection this last line of part one is. The parallels it draws with the land being exploited by industry and our gluttony, filling voids that we create… We should regret the way we treat the land, the animals and the food we live off of. The bottom dollar is now god and the dilemma is that we all worship this faceless, bodiless, shape shifting, hurtful killer. Where is the disconnect? Why is this such old news but so prevalent today. I may be just effected by what I was reading, not to say that the writing was bad by any means. Michael Pollan did an exquisite job at showing us what it means to eat cheap calories, before reading Pollan I was never brave enough to investigate the course by which our industrially produced food takes from farm to plate. I commend him for doing so, Pollen takes it upon himself to objectively embark on the journey of describing the natural (or not so natural) history of a bushel of corn and a head of cattle that most accurately embodies the military industrial complex. We should be eating the meal of the future, a purely synthetic “protein extracted directly from the petroleum and then ‘spun and woven into animal ‘muscle’ wrist-thick tubes of filet steak”-p. 98 meat that leaves the cow and corn out of the mix, especially if our goal is to perpetuate such a sterile and superficial society. Or, better yet, if we are willing to feed cows to themselves in the form of rendered fat, maybe we should just start feeding us to ourselves instead of the “pill-in-a-meat” style of eating we are currently undertaking. People are becoming cowards, not wanting to see the blood just eat the meat. The other day in the library a full grown mans dad called him to make sure he showered and I couldn’t help but think to myself ‘is this the type of men we are breeding-weak, dumb and useless?’ and the constant lowering of standards in schools aren’t helping the situation. Its such a reflection of the food we eat-weak, dumb and useless. Whats to stop these bodiless corporations from farming us to feed to ourselves? I mean we don’t want to meet the meat we eat, we don’t want to meet our neighbours, why not eat them? I think Dr. Don was right when he mentioned to Elder Mike that “Indigenous people are this planets last hope, if you guys didn’t do what you do, I guess you would be like everyone else.” That statement really touched me because I was starting to lose faith in white people all together, then along comes this corky geneticist who really gets it… Our being doesn’t stop at our fingertips, we are everything, the trees, the buffalo, the corn, the cow- No wonder I’m so frustrated with the way we eat. Grains that are so pail and sad, domesticated (the most sharp insult). Our foods are dead little beings just waiting to be exploited for their babies (protein and carbohydrate). I’m not even sure how often people thank the food for sacrificing themselves and their babies for us, or if they simply eat without respect or reverence. After all it wasn’t god that mad those seeds, it was mothers.
Overall pollen does an excellent job at exemplifying how the middle man (corporations) are are pulling the humanity out of our food and replacing it with mcclowns. No wonder so many kids are scared of clowns, they are rapists(land and cattle-like 534’s insemenation) and killers (of 534).
If I ever get a career, kill me and put me into a mcdonalds burger.
Diamond J. 1997. Guns, Germs and Steel: The fates of human societies. Norton. New York, United States. Chapters 4,5,6 and 8.
CBC was on point this afternoon, while I was listening to vinyl cafe stories about Tofino’s wharf, beach combing and pallets that washed ashore on the eastern edge of the pacific after the Tsunami that reaped havoc on the Japanese coast. The plummeting blue whale populations stories… Its all about the stories. It seems like coastal communities are bearing witness and feeling the impacts of climate change in a way that we cannot comprehend. We are spoiled here on the interior of BC because of our cozy nook in between he rockies and Pacific Northwest with the only signs of global warming being the shortening winters, even now, my only experience with changes in weather and catastrophes has only been the slight aftershock of an earthquake that measured 3.6 on the richter scale that I slept through. I feel spoiled. My main issue these days is the my perpetual overheating due to the lack of cold winter I have been experiencing here in Kamloops.
The sun was beating down hard in mid January and the snow was melting at a rate that I have never seen before, I was thinking to myself after reading Diamonds chapter on the haves and have nots that the primary victims of the apparent “progress” of the world were the indigenous and non white populations. Is global warming a direct result of progress? Is this the type of society I want to bring my children up in? working 5 days a week to earn my keep sounds awful, no wonder the “indigenous” were so reluctant to adopt farming. I found myself exceedingly irritated by the ignorance of diamonds statement on Page 154 “Naturally, I don’t subscribe to the obvious fallacy that every society promptly adopts every innovation that would be useful for it.” I found myself thinking “how the fuck do you know what would be useful for them” and got quite the laugh when he started to question the edibility of the mushrooms his new guinean Foré companion picked and was told to “shut up”. I felt a strange comfort in that because although this guy apparently knows a lot of “facts” about the development of societies, he was scared to even eat a mushroom and throughout the book he kept talking about the fertile crescent as if it was the greatest thing to ever happen to humanity, even though it bred diseases that the scared white people used to take over entire continents and eventually lead to the warming of the globe due to the unrestrained growth of a poison way of life, needless to say, I’m a little sore about the subject. When Lyn mentioned in class that Hunter and Gatherers only needed to forage for 2.5 days a week whereas food producing societies had to work for 5 days a week it got me thinking that we were tricked into working for a system that systematically restricts the freedom of people by forcing wage slavery upon them. If we were hunter gatherers we would have much more time for innovation and true progress. I personally think Diamond delusional speaks about the advent of food production as something advanced but I see it as a method by which humans have exploited the land to the point that its starting to burn not only the land but the indigenous people of the world, again. Its all about the story and how many believe it. I found this book speaking about the narrative of building empires from a single side of the coin. I believe, however that this story isn’t over and the fact that our society has been lagging in progression for the past 100 years due to our obsession with murder of not only our fellow humans but our planet as well has some truly inspirational lessons to be learned and dreams to be dreamt:
- If we can kick our addiction to oil and cars what would we do with our roads? -Imagine if we planted crops in place of our roads
- If we can maintain this era of peace with each other Imagine an era of peace with the land?-sure the human population has exploded and the inevitable population decline is on the horizon, but if we can control ourselves would we be able to transition from a species extinction event to a species explosion event?
I feel like Diamond has dreadfully failed to tell the story of indigenous people, although there are a lot of “facts” in the book, there is a distinct lack of “soul”. lots of great insightful information but talk about boring and repetitive in presentation.
This reminds me of a story one of my elders told me once:
There once was a white guy and a horse near a river bank setting up camp during the time of the colonials. a village of indigenous people were just up the river and they smelled him so they sent a couple of warriors to investigate the stink. When they came to the ridge that the white guy was they called in a spirit to investigate the guy so the spirit went down the hill and touched the white guy on the shoulder, he didn’t notice but the horse could see the spirit and started neighing and pulling on its ropes and the white guy screamed at the horse to shut up. The spirit returned to the indigenous warriors and said that the white guy didn’t feel it so the warriors put more energy into the spirit and sent it down to talk to the white guy at the river but when the spirit got there the white guy didn’t notice the spirit at all, but the horse started kicking and freaking out. The spirit returned to the indigenous warriors and told them that the white guy doesn’t have a spirit, and he was carrying a book that had a cross on it. The white guy was a priest.
Was Diamond just another white guy without a spirit?
Pollan, Michael. 2002. The Botany of Desire. pg. xiii-xxv. Random House Trade Paper Backs, United States of America.
The Botany of Desire, I sure am glad this is in free write form… so here goes.
I find myself on my green second hand chair having just finished my readings for Plants and People at 10:32 pm on a Wednesday night looking down at the notebook that has doubled as not only my lab journal, but my metacognitive diary and book of thoughts for plants and people. The first line I have written comes from a moment I had in lab when I found it sad that it is now unconventional to seriously take the plants point of view into consideration. This, for some reason or another, made me think of the fallacy of choice. Lets take me for instance, the circumstances in my life led me to this moment in from of my computer, although I would like to think it was all a choice to be here, but every decision that I look back on makes me feel like everything I did, whether I willed it or not, was just me taking the best course of action for my circumstance. In this moment I feel like the best course of action for me is to break down the title of the Botany of Desire. When I think about Botany I think of an old lady walking me through a garden and telling me stories of how this plant or another has saved her life during some pandemic or a legend about how another plant came into being. And when I think of desire coupled with botany I can’t help but wish that I got to pick herbs with my grandma Jenny, and all the stories of how she was such a wonderful woman who acted as the mom for all of the kids on the reserve, always taking them out and telling them what she needed for rabbit stew and bannock. I never had the pleasure of meeting her… She was murdered before I was born and over the past little while there has been a lot of talk of missing and murdered indigenous women and then it hit me… My grandma was one of them… I miss her without ever meeting her. Who knew that a poker game would change the face of my family forever… from what I hear she knew about all of the plants in our area, not only did she know about them, she knew how to use them to heal, to kill and to eat. She fed nine children, making miracles every time she took them for a walk. Although she didn’t wasn’t a trained botanist, she was a gatherer and a medicine women in the truest sense of the word, talking to plants to let them know she was grateful for their gifts, asking them if they would hurt or help her children. Gathering people, gathering plants, gathering children but mostly gathering love. I thought it would only be appropriate to couple botany and desire with grandma, we all have or had one… a matriarch, someone who held the family together… If she was still alive I probably wouldn’t be in Kamloops, and my dad probably would have never met my mom and Im sure my family would still be together in Cold Lake. A wise woman once told me “women are the spirit of a community” and I think its true. As women are the spirit of the community, although seemingly physically weak and tender, they feed and nourish communities and families, much like plants. If there are no women, there is no family, and if there are no plants, there is no us… Pollen talks about us being intermittently aware of our desires and plants only caring about reproduction, so I think I’ll speak for the potato – I am intimately aware of you Mr. Pollan, so intimate that my and aware that my “knobby charms” and “buttery yellow flesh” seduced you into planting my seed.-P.xv
I found the 4 desires that Pollan describes as very accurate and could feel those desires as he described them just by the mention of the plant species he describes-Apple(sweet-grandmas laugh)-Tulip(beauty-grandmas character)-cannabis(intoxication grandmas food)-Potato(control grandmas food)… sheesh I write a lot…
here is a break…
I found Pollans writing style very poetic and hilarious in his writing, he makes me want to read on so bad that I had to check the readings list to make sure we would be able to read more from it and thankfully we do.
He flipped the way I think upside down.”Plants are natures alchemists” on p xix reminded me how much more advanced plants are than humans, in both defence and propagation. We should consider ourselves lucky that plants chose us to take advantage of us, it was for our own benefit. “it makes just as much sense to think of agriculture as something grasses did to people as a way to conquer the trees”p. xxi-Priceless.
Today my baby radishes, peas, sunflowers and corn sprouted. 🙂 the same wise women also said “if a man can raise a seed to harvest, he is ready to raise a family.” It seems to me like all of the wise people in my life are women, I’m a feminist male who loves peas, radishes and sunflowers.
Diamond, Jared. 1999. Guns, Germs and Steel. Pg 116-130. Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing, United States of America.
This guy is a damn good writer, talking about how to make an almond. This guy must be crazy like Lyn, because she uses a lot of what he talks about in lecture and it all flows so nicely together. He starts off with hikers in foraging for wild foods and talks about how jaded they must be which served as a great point of entry to capture me as a reader and I found myself on a journey reading about how ancient scientists used latrines as their first test plots for crops and describes the selective pressures we have consciously placed on plants such as size, tastiness and usefulness. He also describes the unconscious features we have selected for such as seed dispersal in scattering peas and cereal grains. Its come to 11:51 and I have gotten tired and basically want to get this over with so pardon the shortness, I used up all of my story telling for one night. Diamond goes through the reasons for the domestication of plants such as a quick harvest, difficulties of apples, pears, plumbs and cherries to grow and the advent of grafting in china. He brilliantly connects natural selection with agriculture in the last sentence so Im just going to quote it out of tiredness “These principles of crop selection still serve as our most understandable model of the origin of species by natural selection.” p. 130
His language combines definitions with story and botanical use which was very well written.
that was rough, and long… next time ill cut back on the personal anecdoteish things