Thursday, July 09, 2009


It seems aspirate is the word the month for me. It is a word of many meanings. I can mean inhaling air or something else into the lung as in "He nearly drowned after aspirating too much water." It can also mean, in medicine, the removal of liquid or gas from the body. Or, as aspire or aspiration, the desire to achieve or gain more of something.

Twelve or thirteen days ago, surgeons were discussing whether to aspirate my severely bloated abdomen after an appendectomy left my bladder and bowels dormant (painful).

Then earlier today, I read Impolitical's account of Jim Prentice's verbal aspiration regarding the current government's wait-just-a-minute-now-nobody-said-anything-about-actually-doing-something aspiration regarding G8 climate change resolutions.

And a few minutes ago I found myself reading JH Kunstler's current Eyesore of the Month photo-caption regarding Sarah Palin's Wasilla city hall, who nails the issue square-thusly:
In honor of soon-to-be-former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, we present her hometown's seat of government. Like many public buildings around small-town America these days, this one was built with next-to-zero thought or care. It expresses a notion of democracy as like unto a take-out hamburger -- and many of you may be thinking... yes, that is exactly what it has come to! Of course this leaves out one the more interesting parts of the American ethos: to aspire to something finer. And to express these aspirations in our buildings. One might conclude that we're fresh out of aspirations. Have a happy holiday everybody!
America, Canada, it doesn't matter, as we both seem to suffer from a lack of aspiration, inspiration and general interest regarding our futures. Kunstler sees this in the vernacular architecture of "nowhere", but it is also reflected in political leadership, more so here now than in the US. Obama, it must be said, has inspired aspiration among his constituents and seems bent on following through on at least a few things. What do we have here? Canada, the young country which, 70 years ago mobilised almost overnight to turn a skeletal and decrepit armed forces into the one of the world's largest and most potent to meet an existential challenge to a safe and free world. Now, another existential challenge, and the party of the day aspirates excuses like those they ascribe to that long maligned British PM their supporters are so fond of paradoxically blaming for failing to start WW2 earlier in order to stop it later.

That said, it's not like the other party we might elect would be much different - they just present better. Their last leader, who took climate change seriously, lost because he wasn't macho enough to win. This is sad. Not only because it suggests a macho facade, no matter how poorly orchestrated and shallow, still whispers 'leader' in the minds of many of the public as if contests of privilege are still decided with clubs and spears. 10 000 years and were 10 feet out of the cave. But also because it puts us on a path of choosing deeply conservative (in the literal sense) leaders beholden to obsolete social and economic orders at a time when we need the exact opposite.

So I guess were going to have to wait for the this shallow, aspirating and expiring modernity to drain away before we'll change. I hope we can hold it together enough to make the transition to a new world viable and orderly. It is sad because sometimes I see this world so pregnant with promise I think the water will break tomorrow. And then I see the news and watch all those macho Spartans throw promise against the mountainside and my heart sinks. But I don't give up. We know what happened to the Spartans.

Our work really begins when they fail.

No comments: