As I unpacked some random boxes of books last night I came across my copy of Vincent Mosco’s The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace. The day before I was reading a bizarro yet interesting paper that linked myth, metaphor, public policy and spatial data infrastructures. The next day I came across a creative commons video that typified the concepts in the paper. Later that afternoon I attended a talk about a geoscientific experiment in the prairies. As I tried with all my best to pay attention, I realized, simply, that scientists can be terrible story tellers. Today I picked out a few other boxes from the locker room, and et voilà, as I opened the the flaps, at the very top of the stack, I re-discovered the Power of Myths by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers. I recalled listening to the audio years ago in Fujino-Machi (Wisteria Fields) in Japan, especially Campbell’s captivating voice. So, I am happily reading away on the bus on my way to the worst ritual ever - parent teacher interviews. As I climb the old stone sculpted stairs of Ottawa’s oldest collegiate, dressed in the suitable props to perform the professional mother at an upscale high achieving school look, my head is full of converging ideas which get rudely disrupted by the reality of the teacher parent student child interaction.
The talk was fine until which time the teacher wanted to know if I was going to take my son with me on take the kid to work day? The teacher was none too pleased when I explained that my son’s life is quite interesting as it is and that going to work with me was not going to make it any more interesting. She then suggested that I find someone else to take him to work. Work! All the kid knows is people working for goodness sakes! Is that the best we can do for him? We agreed he would instead go to school that day and work on his math with her. The next part of the exercise was to visit the VP and then the soccer coach. Are these neo liberal western institutional contemporary characters our archetypes? Shesh! We need some spicing up! I get back to my wonderful reading, at this point rushed, annoyed and jacked up on green tea.
Later, I am invited to the Writer’s Festival to hear a reading by Austin Clarke from his book More. In the lobby I meet a local writer friend who goes on to explain his experience of farting out Beatles songs a couple of days ago! Eventually this man from Barbados, with a round tummy, black blazer, blue cotton pants & worn brown leather shoes donning a magnificent mane of grey dreadlocks walks to the podium. He transports me to the streets of Toronto, into a Caribbean woman’s reflections of garbage, belongings, homelessness, invasion, blackness, police brutality, scents, touching, pastors, cognac, sermons, enrapture, the absence of men, loneliness, a basement apartment, Jona in the Belly of a whale. He also talked about a guy in Barbados making fake poop songs with his hand under his armpit. I loved his irreverence! There he was loaded with stories, and the poor white lit prof who was all stiff and formal could not add lib beyond her scripted questions which he just did not bother answering and instead told unplotted stories. Turns out is writing is musically inspired and the readings I heard invoked a sense of place and geography and he took me there with wonderful sweet language, accent, rich descriptions of smells and metaphors. Wonderful!
As I listened, geography, data, narrative, scents, stories and wonderment raced though my brain! I pondered the absence of metaphor in my daily life, sooo needed to keep me inspired, to help me understand my place in the world, what life is all about, to make tangible the complexity, to continue the journey, unravel the signs, to accept destiny, enabling narrative to unfold and to discover the myths that can/do unite us at this time so that I may attach meaning to what I do. It is this meaninglessness that has stagnated me, this invisibility, and I can see that I need to good story that includes a band of merry animated characters with interesting traits, a few incredible flaws and huge hearts to keep them and me together on this collectively shared journey.