Tuesday, November 29, 2005

State of Psychic Disturbance

"Popular" art is a collection of rigid patterns; "sophisticated" art varies the patterns. But popular art is material for serious art in the way that dreams are...You could say that popular art is the dream of society; it does not examine itself...They are stories that people want to hear...

Literature can be a mirror, and people can recognize themselves in it, and this may lead to change. But in order to write satire in the traditional sense, you must have certain axioms in common with your audience...That's the problem with the century we live in...People see so many horrible and grotesque things that they become deadened. They have to deaden themselves; otherwise they'd be in a constant state of psychic disturbance...

America is a tragic country because it has great democratic ideals and rigid social machinery. But Canada is not tragic, in the classical sense, because it doesn't have a utopian vision.

--from the Spring 1976 interview of Margaret Atwood by Linda Sandler, published in the Malahat Review 41 (1977), included in the 1990 collection titled Margaret Atwood Conversations, edited by Earl G. Ingersoll.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Message of Wellness

If you bookmark one site this Thanksgiving, make it http://www.wisdomoftheelders.org where, among all the beautiful stories and songs available from Indian country, you can browse http://www.turtleislandstorytellers.net and stumble upon such wonderful people as Robert Greygrass http://www.turtleislandstorytellers.net/tis_oregon/transcript_r_greygrass.htm or Kricket Connywerdy http://www.turtleislandstorytellers.net/tis_oklahoma/transcript_k_connywerdy.htm and many others spreading the message of wellness:

"Live in sobriety. Live on the Red Road, Cankuluta, and put aside all poisons; physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual and take up the beautiful values, practices, customs and culture."

Saturday, November 19, 2005


"The first psychiatrist of this land, our medicine men, used the simplest things. They realized how important acknowledgment was. If a person was to rise to the highest goal that their families expected them to practice and if their deeds and accomplishments went unnoticed, why should they try? Why should they do anything? Nobody paid any attention to that anyway. Our medicine men knew that this was very important. If you could see somebody doing a great piece of work at great hardship to him or her, then you pointed that out. You paid attention in public for the great thing you had just seen accomplished by this person. What a wonderful job this person was able to do because somebody had taught them how to use their hands and their mind and their eyes in a good way. They would give credit to the teacher and to the student. Everyone was acknowledged in having a part in this great work that was being done because this person had been able to learn about what was important. So this is acknowledgment. It's medicine used by the greatest of our medicine men, because if you sit in a roomful of people and you go unnoticed forever, why should you come to be with any of the people who are there. Nobody knows that you're there. Nobody cares that you're there. Why should you be there to learn anything? So that person might have a medicine man sense the sadness in your heart that nobody ever paid any attention to. Nobody ever notices that you even exist. The moment a medicine man points out to the houseful of people that you are there and you have been seen to do this. You have been acknowledged for the gifts that you yourself have given and then you are known then you feel good about who you are because somebody has paid attention to what you do and who you are. Acknowledgment is the best medicine that could ever, ever be practiced."

--Vi Hilbert