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Stockholm University--February

Posted 5 February 2005, 3.48 pm by Lilith

I arrived at the university in darkening light of early afternoon--an hour and a half early for my class, in order to validate my student card and register for a course segment later this spring semester--only to be greeted by indignant beeping at the card activation machine: "How DARE I assume it would know I paid electronically to have my card renewed just this morning?!"

Thank the gods for the nice girl at the social anthropology student office--she was rather understanding about the machine, and registered me for the classes anyway (while letting me know the damn machines take a week to register the fact one has paid before they will validate the card). Joy. Of course, while she reviewed my records, we also discovered that one of my grades from the fall semester has somehow dropped through the computer cracks, and was not registered at all--great! Looks like I am going to have to dig up the actual exam essay with professor's remarks and the grade, or contact the professor, or even both. Not at all the fault of the nice student office clerk, so I resisted the urge to growl out loud. I think I will send her a thank-you card (or maybe a note to her boss), as she is a lifesaver at the worst of times. Hm--for that, I will also need to, one day, find out her name. Thinking about mailing the card made me realize I don't even know it.

So, with an hour remaining till the class, I need to find a nice spot with a chair and table, to settle down and wait--Stockholm in February doesn't exactly invite frolicking in the park or being outside for any amount of time beyond the necessary at all. Indoors, there is a bustle of activity even during classtime, as off-lecture students crowd in the halls and find places to slap a laptop or paper notebook down, and type or scribble furiously, filling the air with a comfortable tap-tap-tap-scratch-scribble-scratch, the noise of actively learning crowd. I love this atmospehere, the crowds sitting in the university coffee shops and arguing over books, and important or trivial issues. It is the atmosphere that really makes me feel alive, the one where I feel I really belong. I think I could go to school all my life and never get bored.

I find a seat in one of the large study areas of the linguistics building, near the nexus of all activity, the large departmental bulletin boards, the intersection of the moving streams of students, the coffee shop with doors flung open and bright lights illuminating pastries and fruit behind the glass, and the stands for projects near the main stairwell.

At one of those stands, there is a Polish university delegation with booklets spread all over the counter, and posters pinned to the counter-front and the bulletin boards behind them--probably recruiting exchange students from Sweden to come for a semester or two in Poland. Polish universities need the money Swedish government shells out on its exchange students--not that I would begrudge it to them, far from it: the accomodation deals they were offering were quite nice as dorms go, actually, and I hear Krakow is beautiful at any time of year. The thought of going on a student exchange yet somewhere else in Europe was almost tempting for a moment--until I remembered that I am no longer single (and yes, boyfriend and two cats do count), and, besides, I think I have outgrown the time when living in dorms (even nice ones) full of noisy students seemed like a fun thing at all. I also was rather cooled by the thought that at this point, going on an exchange stint would not help me with Ph.D. admissions a year hence--not to mention that I would miss boyfriend to tears within a week or even less of being away.

Strange--or, perhaps, not too much so--how moving to another continent shakes one's sense of independence. Here, with my still rather rudimentary Swedish (and fluent English), I have trouble getting things done--not due to the language at all, but because I do not know where and what and how these things should be done. I am a child in this country, trying to grow up faster to lighten the load my boyfriend and friends have to carry on my behalf. Having been an independent adult for years prior, it is a rather unsettling feeling.

Hence, the university courses in Swedish this semester. The language courses might not (won't, probably) improve my understanding of the society and how its bureaucratic machinery operates, but it will definitely improve my ability to learn to understand the aforementioned social machinery, and make job search easier as well. That, and I like to know the language of the area where I live fluently--not to mention that I need decent Swedish to successfully graduate with my Magister degree next year. I start Magister classes in the fall, and I must be ready to understand lecture in Swedish (all course texts are in English), come hell or high water.

I've become terribly goal-focused in my old age, even, I note, for my own peace of mind.

The break is over, and the frantic running-around of students subsides in the main stairwell. I have about half an hour before I move to search for room number something or other in the huge, lumbering, multi-storied maze of this building.

In the meantime, I am going to get some coffee.

12 2 04

Posted 22 January 2005, 6.27 am by Princess

untie my muse and stir this fire.
Tamed, it is pale and leaves me
cold.
almost absent from my own life.

warm me and let my skin burn
this heat remembers me
and I know you do too.

dark muse,
tired and broken,
come listen

listen to a sweet song of words
and feel them on your skin
reach for me-

I dare you.

My Dentist Has A New Lamp

Posted 15 January 2005, 5.01 pm by Villager

My dentist has a new lamp. The old one seemed perfunctory enough, though this one is a little brighter. Maybe that explains it. The old one had a little steel plate in the middle that gave a dim but barely distinguishable reflection of your mouth when reclined in the chair. You were never quite sure if you would have preferred a clearer reflection, to witness the brutality being carried out inside your mouth. Would it be worse, seeing the incisions being made, the tooth excavated by something that wouldn’t look awry on a building site (a slightly bigger version, at least)? The blood, the puss, creeping down your throat on a mission to invoke the gag reflex after the trauma of their release? Or would it be somehow easier if you were able to match sensation to action, take all the mystery out of it? Such thoughts as these did occupy the mind, but without answer, so glance instead to the frame of the lamp. This was rather dull, but in a worthy effort to distance yourself from the assortment of pains you’d meet with some success in making it interesting. If you caught the right angle, the reflection of light would dance between shapes with just the faintest of movements. Best not move the head too much though, who knows what awful calamity might befall following a sudden jerk, or even a twitch. I hope I don’t sneeze.

It always takes longer than you think. You portion out the parts of the lamp for scrutiny and stare at them until their utility in distracting you fades, so you move on. Suddenly, you’ve run out of lamp. Your eyes dart around looking for fresh stimuli, posters instructing proper dental hygiene, a table full of torture instruments on the table. In the panic to find something, anything, to latch onto – something to read would be marvellous – your sight swings up and into full view comes the dentist. There’s something extremely disconcerting about the facemask dentists wear, at least when you’re being operated on. All it leaves are eyes, cold and intent, menacing even. Before you’ve even decided to, your eyes dart away. It just feels wrong. There’s something unusually awkward about it, as though you’re being invaded in some way but you both want to deny it. You can’t see the hands, except for when they leave and enter the operating area. All of a sudden you become aware of the surprising downward pressure being exerted upon your jaw. I wonder if that’s necessary or peculiar to my dentist. Thoughts try to wander further. How should one think of a dentist? As a technician, a surgeon, an artist?

Not any more. No, the minds that produce and procure dentist lamps have decided that a crystal clear, mirror view of events is better. I was anxious enough at the prospect of having a tooth removed with seemingly negligible anaesthetic. To have it done and SEE it being done, well, that’s quite another prospect altogether. I was overcome with a sense of dread, a refined and particular sense of dread accompanied by a suggestion of betrayal, and of helplessness. How could they do this to me? Without even so much as a hint of patient consultation. The bastards.

I couldn’t look. Even during the anaesthetisation I couldn’t bring myself to witness what feels like several feet of needle violating the most tender of muscles. I am dispatched to the waiting room whilst I am “numbed up” and am left to ponder the forthcoming terror. Children sit in silence, despite the presence of numerable toys. They know it too. They know what awaits them when they are summoned to the pale room with the big man in the scary mask. And then to be insulted with compensation in the form of a smiley sticker. Why do only the children get stickers? Am I no longer deserving of compassion for my suffering? When my name was called – something that always takes less time than you hope and anticipate – I returned and skulked into the chair, mumbling to the affirmative that I was suitably numb. I opened wide, clenched my eyes shut and did my best to pretend I wasn’t actually attached to the tooth anyway. I’m not quite sure what was done before the actual removal – I neglected to look, and I wasn’t told - but it hurt more than the main event. It was by something of an accident that I did open my eyes. There was an interlude in the pain, and my muscles relaxed. When I saw the size and shape of the instrument she had in her hand, my eyes were transfixed. It was violent, reasonably painful and incredibly difficult to look away from once I was watching. I don’t normally have a photographic memory, but that little scene plays itself over in my mind easily enough.


As I walked away from the building thinking about how much I loathe seeing the dentist, it occured to me that it would be rather worse if they didn’t exist.

A letter to a freind

Posted 13 December 2004, 12.31 am by Lithia

December 11th, 2004

I'm sorry I haven't kept in touch for a bit... I've been at the hospital with my kid. He got hit by a car.

I was so mad at him before. I mean, when he started doing drugs and stole all my stuff it sucked. But, I couldn't be mad anymore when I saw him...

The first night, the neurosurgeon worked on him. His skull was crushed, and they had to put it back together. His face has a lot of stitches.... The next day, they worked on his leg, because they had to put a metal plate and some pins in it. All of his ribs on his right side are broken, and one of his lungs collapsed. It's not a pretty sight.

I've been at the hospital for essentially 3 days, with a brief stop in at home here and there.

Joshua just woke up yesterday. They said he would probably have brain damage if he lived, because his skull was all tore up. I was so afraid! My baby boy was always the most independent person on earth. He was smart and thoughtful (though always a bit disturbed), but definitely always "thinking on his feet." It was hard enough seeing my once tall and proud little boy so completely broken, with machines breathing for him and tubes and wires everywhere. But if he woke up and didn't know who I was, I wasn’t sure I could handle that.

So I walked into the room and the one eye he can open looked at me. And I looked at the eye. And it recognized me! I tried to kiss him on some of his forehead that didn't have stitches, and we talked. He doesn't remember getting smashed between the car and the light pole. But, he remembers everything except the accident just fine. He can't move right now, but the doctors say his spine is okay, and he'll be able to move as he gets his strength back.

My friend December had said to me the night of Josh's accident:
"He'll be fine. Nothing can kill that kid. You just wait. Pretty soon he's going to wake up and say something to piss you off to all hell and then you can quit all this worrying shit. Just don't smack him, no matter what he says. He's been through enough."

Sure enough, inside of a minute I wanted to smack him around. He swears he's going to kill the kid that hit him. It was a hit and run, but the girl who called the paramedics saw the kid... Agh! No "thankful to be alive." No "Gee, l've been here for 3 days. You must be so worried." The first thing he starts talking about is killing the kid that hit him...

If he was up and about like always and saying those things, that might be different, because then he's scary. I taught him to be tough and good with weapons and stuff. But, it was the drugs that gave him that unstable quality that made him seem so frightening.

Seeing him sober, lying in a hospital bed in a mangled and broken body and saying those things was just pathetic.

All my friends came to see him too. My ex who helped me raise him most of the years was there. Everyone was like "Maybe this will wake him up. Maybe he'll quit doing drugs." I want to believe that.... But, he's got the same mind he had before the accident, and he won't change his behavior unless something changes his mind.

I do feel better now that he woke me up and pissed me off real good. That means there's no brain damage and I feel like I can be sure he's going to be okay now. No matter what a rotten little brat my baby is, as long as he's alive he could change his ways. I've buried family and friends and lovers, but it would hurt me more than anything ever has to burry my Joshua. He might be an awful child, but he's MY awful child...

So, that's my last couple of days. I just woke up, and I'm going back to the hospital after a shower. I'll try to write again soon.

Peace & Love,
Jenifer DeLemont

Morrissey by Pat Reid

Posted 11 December 2004, 8.00 am by triple

‘Morrissey’
by Pat Reid
(Absolute Press)

There are few musicians more enigmatic, or so slavishly adored, as Steven Patrick Morrissey. As frontman of The Smiths – one of the most influential bands to come out of Britain in the past three decades – then as a solo artist, Morrissey has inspired adulation, outrage, confusion and controversy in pretty equal amounts. All the while, Morrissey’s private life has remained unusually private. The UK music press, in particular, has variously lauded and lambasted the man and his music over the decades, but their opinion has become less relevant since Moz set up home in Los Angeles, and unexpectedly found the Mexican-American community the source of a new fanbase.

Pat Reid has been a fan of Morrissey and The Smiths since his student days, and penned a previous volume about him – ‘Bigmouth: Morrissey 1983-1993’ in 1997. This latest book illuminates Morrissey’s meandering career path from teenage misfit to aspiring rock writer then articulate, if not controversial, singer with The Smiths, and finally to exiled, chameleon solo artist.

Reid is an incisively perceptive writer, and his book is chatty and highly readable. It comprises a subjective though fresh look at Morrissey’s ouvre, many anecdotes and arguments about music and culture, and a discussion of the Morrissey’s sexuality, a topic which has always vexed the prurient press. Despite the singer’s claims of celibacy, and the fact that he has seemingly been single most of his life, most people who give the topic any thought – Reid included – assume him to be discreetly gay. Morrissey also has the unusual quality of eliciting a sexual response from men who aren’t gay – Reid describes him as ‘a gay icon to straight men’.

Sexual controversy has dogged Morrissey since early Smiths lyrics were suggested by music journalists to refer to child abuse. This was probably unfounded, but Morrissey went on to stir up trouble with a series of flippant though racially insensitive comments. He then compounded problems by waving the British flag onstage during a support slot to ska band Madness, whose audience at the time included a far-right nationalist contingent. Penning a song called ‘The National Front Disco’ didn’t help either (imagine an American artist singing about the KKK Klub and you can understand why this could be inflammatory) – Morrissey was deemed a racist by the UK’s most influential music paper. Like Eminem, Morrissey is an artist who uses lyrical personas, and often should be taken with a large pinch of salt – when Moz crooned “England for the English”, was he being racist, or simply poking fun?

Reid’s book doesn’t address this issue in much depth, probably due to its being written without any contact with Morrissey himself. As a seasoned music journalist, Reid could almost certainly have arranged interviews with Moz had he wanted, but chose not to, aware of the potential disappointment of meeting his idol, and wary of Morrissey’s delight in upsetting journalists. So, Reid’s assertion early on that ‘this book is about Morrissey, his life, his music and his sexuality’, is only partly true – he discusses all those things, but the book is possibly more revealing about Reid himself than about Morrissey. Nevertheless, some of the most interesting and entertaining parts of the book are nothing to do with Moz – Reid is an informed and lively guide to the politics of the UK music press, the changing currents of the music scene and the wider popular culture. Reading his book is like having a long, opinionated conversation with a wittily bitter old friend. By the conclusion of the book, Reid realizes he’s gone off topic, and acknowledges that he’s “not really writing about [Morrissey], but about the things that happen around him, and the debris that trail in his wake”. This book will speak to Morrissey fans of every denomination - Reid avoids the common journalistic assumption that readers are familiar with all the music and artists that he knows, and thorough annotations make his arguments accessible whether or not you’re conversant with the intricacies of the UK music scene. The really interesting parts of the book deal with the aspects of music and popular culture which Morrissey has variously confronted, confounded and controlled. Whether you’re a devoted Morrissey fan or just interested in how the music scene has evolved over recent decades, there’s treasure to be found in Reid’s “trailing debris”.

La Ville des Vides (The City of Voids)

Posted 11 December 2004, 3.23 am by Villager

Take me away from this place,
Where flies do gather, stink and die
Pass me by, turn your face,
Rushing to live, forgetting why

Terrible youth stains the walls
The old afraid, stay indoors
Beggars as lepers stare, shivering
This shameless circus of
Shameful anonymity

Brave the cold, take the tube,
Ugly glare of neon loneliness
Hold your breath, hurry now,
With darkness comes menace
The rats smell blood, ever closer

Not peace nor rest,
Even in the dead of night
Demons lurk, and whisper,
In sleepless shadows
Everything moves, nothing alive

Unseen, I suffocate
In a commotion of melancholy
Choking on blackened emptiness,
The sadness endures.
Please, take me away.

Training Day

Posted 30 November 2004, 12.00 am by Duncan-O

I feel glad I drank an extra cup of coffee as I unbutton my green woodland-pattern fatigues and pull on a pair of powder-blue OR scrubs. It's my first day training in the burn ward at Brooks Army Medical Center--indeed my first day training in any hospital--and I'm still rubbing sleep from my eyes in the hopes of not making any mistakes. I'm having a little trouble pulling the surgical shoe covers on over my combat boots so I stumble a little when my hand shoots up at the call for two volunteers. The RN fixes her steely eyes first on Private First Class Kamena, then on me.

"Are you ready?" she asks? We both answer in the affirmative. "Good. Prepare yourselves for what you're going to see." She ushers us around the corner to the OR anteroom and all thoughts of caffeine are driven from my mind. Through the observation window, I see a naked man lying on the table. My eyes are drawn away from his blistered face, away from the charred, yellow-white patches indicating 3rd degree burns covering his body, and to the fasciotomy cuts running from his ankles to his groin and to his hips.

One of the many complications caused by a major burn is twofold: swelling and a loss of elasticity in the skin. In the limbs, this can cause a tourniquet-like effect that cuts off blood flow and eventually life in the extremities. The only way to relieve the pressure is to incise the skin the entire length of the burn.

The patient has similar cuts along his arms and torso. His insides are laid bare through the incisions; muscle, bone, blood vessels, and fatty subcutaneous tissue exposed to the air. A necrotic mass of tissue hangs out of his lower leg where dead muscle was already removed because of the danger of infection.

"We need your help in there, quickly," the RN's voice pulls my attention back to her already masked face. "I assume you know how to put on a pair of surgical gloves?" I wonder what I could possibly do to help this patient. I've trained to be a combat medic--tourniquets and CPR is about the extent of my knowledge. Following her closely, I glance at the ID placard on the door. PFC_______, 23. Burns over 80% of his body. He's my rank but a few years younger. I briefly wonder about his family.

The OR is hot, over 92 degrees. Hypothermia is another major danger to burn patients--they have lost their protective layer of insulation. I'm anxious to do anything to help--start an I.V., draw blood, monitor vitals--anything within my limited scope of knowledge.

"Stand at the feet and raise his legs when I tell you to. He has to be scrubbed for surgery." I gingerly take hold of the patient's ankles, taking care to avoid aggravating the fasciotomies. Ruefully, I consider the futility of my gesture since his legs are scheduled for amputation at the knee. As I lift the patient's legs above my head, a piece of equipment attached to his toe snags and pulls free. I feel like kicking myself but I inform the doctor that I just removed the pulse oxymeter.

"Don't worry. We'll deal with it," he responds.

The patient is a large one and his legs are heavy. I start to sweat from the effort and the heat in the room. I notice that other than his genitals and a narrow swathe of his chest, his feet are the only part of his body left unburned, probably protected by his own boots. Finally the nurse is done washing him off, and I lower his legs.

I stand to one side, out of the way as the room begins to fill with personnel. The RN tells us we can leave at any time, but my eyes are glued to the events unfolding in front of me.

"Blair blade," one doctor seated by the patient's left arm says with his hand extended behind him. This part, I think to myself, is just like TV. The assistant hands him the tool. It's basically a straight razor affixed to an adjustable guard so it can be employed like a cheese slicer, and this is exactly what the doctor proceeds to do. Off comes after layer after layer, not unlike peeling a potato. The doctor carefully slices a tattoo off of the patient's upper arm and then answers my question with a terse, "This is called an escharotomy. The dead skin must be stripped away--we shave until it bleeds." And bleed it does. Towel after towel gets soaked through, and soon the doctor gives up reaching for the hamper and drops them on the floor as they need to be replaced. Despite the presence of the red biohazard trash can, wasted scraps of skin begin to pile up on the floor and table.

Another pair of doctors is at work on the patient's legs. Apparently the burns are too severe to save the skin, so one is using an electric scalpel to remove patches of flesh the size and thickness of steaks from his thighs. The smell of burning flesh permeates my own mask and a thin haze of smoke hangs in the light of the overhead lamps. I glance at the monitor and marvel to myself how his pulse and blood pressure can hold steady even as they strip him of his skin.

I move to the other side of the room in order to gain a different perspective. On a side table, an OR technician is hard at work over something that looks like a miniature printing press. "What are those?" I ask, pointing to the rubbery grayish sheets he's feeding through it.

"Allografts--cadaver skin," he answers. His eyes grinning over his surgical mask, he holds a slightly darker one up and says, "See? It comes in all different colors." Thump-thump-thump and another sheet comes out, four times its original area and perforated to allow for fluids to flow. Yet another doctor hands the tech a similar-looking sheet of skin. I turn to see where this one came from, and I see him running a palm-sized stainless steel instrument across one of the few unburned patches of the patient's chest. This is how autografts are made--they are removing the last remaining virgin skin from the patient to graft it to where it's desperately needed.

The pace in the OR picks up. A sense of urgency prevails in the room as the team of six doctors moves in closer around the patient. It is time to staple the grafts in place and they must not be allowed to dry. "Allo! I need more allografts!" the call is repeated again and again. Hundreds of surgical staples need to be punched into the patient's flesh in order to secure this many skin grafts, and the disposable staplers contribute to the refuse on the floor, organic and otherwise. One doctor slips on the blood and other fluids puddling underneath the OR table as he hurriedly wraps a bandage around one leg.

And a nurse walks through the door. "Doctor, Mr.______'s mother is here. Is there someone who can talk with her?"

It all comes crashing home to me. This patient, this clinical exhibit, is the joy in someone's heart. He is someone's beautiful son, barely a man, and a cherished gift in her life as his own hangs by a thread and a prayer. Please God, don't let her come in here! Don't let her come in here and see this grisly display, this charnel house that claws at the mind and makes it beg to be released from reason. Don't let her see the light of her life sliced apart and flayed in the name of medicine!

"Not for at least another hour," the doctor responds.

Soon, it is done. I help move the man onto a clean gurney, the last time I will ever touch him. Later on, Kamena and I practice drawing blood on each other, but all I can manage is a couple of halfhearted sticks. What was novel a month ago now seems like child's play. I laid my hands on my first patient, a man who desperately needed help, and I could do nothing for him.

What Are We Good For?

Posted 26 November 2004, 8.00 am by Villager

Well well. I suppose after my little outburst you're all expecting me to come up with something ambitious, something grand, something of a higher standard than I normally spout. Something interesting, at least. Which raises the question of what exactly I am hoping to achieve when I share my thoughts with others. I'm not going to attempt originality, epic, brilliance, because I'm bound to fail and there's not much benefit to be had from achieving those things, save as a salve to my skulking ego. All I'm going to attempt is the communcation of my thoughts, feelings and understandings, whatever form these may take. What follows is a general statement of my mind, though it can be read in relation to my previous post. Without further ado:

One of the things that really irks me about the modern world is low nature of virtually all popular culture. This weekend I attended a series of lectures on Shakespeare and Spirituality (I'm no obsessive, but I had little else planned). My earliest memories of English literature are of MacBeth, and in my youth I was intrigued by how well thought out, how insightful, how well crafted, how effective it all was. It occurs to me that in the years that followed I've studied nothing that really threatened to raise the standard set centuries ago. Artistic movements come, they go, and fall into history. Fast forward to 2004 and though our cultural heritage is great and vast, it's all we've got. We have nothing of our own. A great variety of dull has descended upon popular culture. Contemporary intellectualism is elitist, self-serving and pretentious. If the onslaught of modernity was accompanied by something even vaguely resembling an intellectual progression then I could bring myself to forgive the rest of the sordid mess.

What of recent fame has resounded as thoroughly as Shakespeare? What we have of our own creation is voyeuristic "reality" shows, superficial talent contests, art which exists largely for it's own self-pity, films which seldom bother to even try reaching above the commercialism of sheer entertainment, literature which is obsessed with the unashamedly physical, idolisation of sports stars, singers and the rest of the dubious celebrity for their distinctly narrow prowess, and so on. Even that shining light of modernity, music, lies stricken. Perhaps the greatest evidence for our overawing frivolity is the absolute irrelevance of culture when the world makes big decisions. Culture, if such a thing can be approximated, exists only for purposes of entertainment and distraction. That it has largely always been so is true, but never has such a glut of useless and pathetic activity fouled upon our senses.

This is not, of course, for want of great thinkers. It is to my mind nigh impossible to succeed with ambitious and meaningful thought and expression not because nobody's trying, but because nobody's listening. They're all getting drunk, fucking, consuming, dribbling their lives away with superficiality and not a moment's thought. And they're quite happy to do so. I scour the papers, the museums, the net, yet with the odd, lonely exception I am left with no choice but to return to
the ancient heritage for engaging thought. Is this because there's nothing left to say? Has human intellectual progress peaked and slipped into an irreversible decline? Or has society closed its collective ears because we've heard it all before, so we might as well get on with partying before the lights go out?

I don't believe we've exhausted our creative and intellectual juices. That the canon of artistic history remains unchallenged is indeed partly because the canon carries enduring truths, and because what replaces the old is different only in degree. Even if it could be imagined that we've reached saturation, it would then be time to act upon our collective nous and create some kind of utopia. Or, at least, create something. Yet we just bumble through, no guiding hand of thought shaping the development of our world, no thought in our actions, no soul in our thought. The problem lies in communication as much as it does product. Great thought is for nought if it can't leave the thinker.

Why is this of concern to me? In short, because I see a tragic waste of potential. Potential that has existed for millennia but comes to a point now when we all have the greatest opportunity to use it, free of the constraints of illiteracy, poverty and servitude. We are the masters of our own destinies, yet we are content to drift on by as though fate were something that happens to you. Perhaps it is the victory of the gibbering masses, stimulating themselves from the cradle to the grave, slaves to the ungodly dollar. I like to think it doesn't have to be this way; that those with understanding can awaken from torpor those who live in ignorance and denial. Perhaps that is no more than futile optimism. Certainly the idealism of one or even a thousand will not transform the world. But if we can suitably affect those around us then a ripple effect will be had, and many ripples make waves. Even if I and those of you who sympathise with my babbling fail, at least in our collective failure we'll have each other for company. In this, AKpCEP can be a microcosm, however tiny, of the best of humanity; that which endeavours to explore and maximise our potential as the best of God's creation (or otherwise, as you see fit).

In short - and this is my third paragraph begun with the intent to close - it saddens me to think that we should resign ourselves to living our lives according to the pitiful example given by those around and before us. It is inherent in my nature to try and shape a little bit of the world according to my idealism. That the attempt may well be doomed to at least some measure of failure is obvious, but that it is a worthy use of time regardless is undeniable. For those who desire the material and physical pleasures of life, I'll not impede you.

For those who aspire to something more, I hope our paths entwine.

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I took this photograph in North Vancouver, by the water. These birds are everywhere, all the time. If you are standing in the middle of a crowd of these birds, you realize just how horrid they are. The photo I took actually makes the birds look respectable and that's why I like it.

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Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

Yo ! Does this work ?

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