Down the Rabbit Hole (with books)

Well. There are rabbit holes, & there are rabbit holes…hmmm?

I always say attending a Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing is like going down a rabbit hole.(1) (I’ve told the CNSC tribunal about this sensation of mine on at least 2 fairly recent occasions – most recent one here).

To a degree, I feel as though I’ve been down a RH ever since the second week of March, when I went to Ottawa to watch the RNNR Committee (Canadian federal parliamentary committee on Natural Resources) talk about the 16 radioactive steam generators Bruce Power proposes to ship through the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Seaway & Atlantic Ocean, over to Studsvik, Sweden for what they are calling “recycling.” (It’s really not recycling, it’s reprocessing of dangerous nuclear wastes & ensuring they will wind up in the global scrap metal supply; can we all just say “No thanks!!”??) Those hearings were on March 8th & 10th, & then, in the morning of March 11th, I & all of us, I guess, woke to the news of the earthquake & tsunami in Japan. Straight from one nuclear craziness (monstrosity??) to another.

& then the Darlington hearings, starting March 21st, about which I’ve blogged plenty.

When the Darlington hearings finally came to an end, I’d begun to feel utterly depleted. Almost zero energy, & very low spirits.

Then I went down another kind of RH, with NO energy at all, & apparently some kind of stomach “bug.” So I went into a little hidey-hole for a couple days there & read books, books, books! Hooey, how I do love books!

I read Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom – which I found slow going for the first 200 or so pages. Asked myself “Why am I reading this??” – but I was reading it because a) I’d so loved his novel The Corrections & b) I was in that hidey-hole & wanted to read, man! & then finally c) about 200 pages in, he finally grabbed me by the throat & never let go. OMG can this man write! And nail all the various & sundry nastinesses of our sick “culture” (using that term very loosely). Venal politicians. Rapacious corporations. Greedy & deluded & endlessly-consuming citizens. Mixed-up, busted-up, confused families. You name it, he nailed it. This book was not exactly a relaxing read, but if you want to get a really accurate diagnosis of just how sick everything is in our so-called civilization, you could sure do a whole lot worse!

Then I read the novel Thirteen Moons, by Charles Frazier (author of Cold Mountain, which I read half a lifetime ago, or I guess it only feels like that, & liked very much indeed). If I was looking for “light” reading, this wasn’t it either. This tale of one man’s lifetime, in the 18 & 1900s, encompasses some of the horrors of the Americans’ treatment of Indians (or First Nations people, as we now say in Canada) in the U.S. – the long history of corrupt American politics – & right up to early 20thcentury rape of the wilderness he’d so loved. If I’d harboured any illusions about politics ever having been “clean,” (& I did, I did; my naivete or perhaps ignorance has been boundless & maybe inexcusable, even), this book dashed them. So well, though – so skilfully.

For a little lighter reading, I turned to Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman – because as it happens, I have neck issues of my own. Figured I might as well laugh about it! (It’s that or cry, & I seem to be crying a little bit often lately as it is, thanks). A delight! Clever, witty, very informative about living life in the Big Apple, about which I know very little indeed…& more than enough, as it turned out, to make me feel very, very grateful to be an impoverished backwoods hoser Canadian who feels not the slightest compunction about not waxing, or dyeing, or having regular manicures or pedicures (or heck, any manicures or pedicures) & yet being often enough a pretty contented woman all the same. I knew there had to be a pay-off for not being Rich & Famous & Living in New York! I do thank Ms. Ephron for the many good chuckles, & especially for the helpful commiseration about necks!!!! (Anyone under the age of 50 reading this will probably not know what the heck I’m talking about, & hey…lucky you! Enjoy it while it lasts!!)

Finally, then, to the John Grisham novel The Confession. Another light topic. Not. A fabulous page-turner by a master of the page-turner. Well rendered story of an innocent man on death row, falsely convicted & sentenced to death, & the utterly sick & corrupt legal system in a pukey Texas town that was responsible for his wrongful conviction, sentence & imprisonment. I won’t spoil the plot, but I sure do recommend this book for its terrifying glimpse into very deeply sick goings-on in the American “justice” system, Southern style…

If anything, all this reading brought me back full circle to the inevitability of continuing to be an activist.

What are we left with in this weird & utterly unprecedented time, but our voices…our convictions…our ability to put our asses into the breach & DO SOMETHING????

There is strength in numbers. I’m not sure there is really any other kind of strength.(2)

Okay, so, now, back to Reality: Right now we’re well into a federal election campaign in Canada. We’re being given the opportunity to trounce our right-wing, corporate agenda-driven & -promoting government & bring in politicians with some dignity & class & actual concern for “regular” people. (I will vote Green Party, & for sure, until election day on May 2nd, I will be exhorting everyone to for Goddess’s sake VOTE!! Remember the people of Egypt & Libya, many of whom would very likely give a treasured limb to have a political system with all the freedoms & choices & privileges ours does! Including the right to CHOOSE our leaders, yes?? Provided we are not so godawfully lazy & apathetic as to not exercise our privilege & responsibility to VOTE. Sheesh, already.)(3)

And also, DONATE. To help the people of Japan who are dealing with such unspeakable, unimaginable, horrendous & long-lived-for-all-the-rest-of-their-lives tragedy. Here is a helpful site to help you choose an organization to donate through (scroll down to find the list).


P.S. Lately I keep thinking that it seems almost as though an awful lot of us human beings are really not human beings at all. More like some kind of sick robot, infected with a variety of nasty viruses that make us selfish & greedy & grasping & corrupt & quite unable to see that these are unprecedented times, & that these unprecedented times call for unprecedented … bravery, flexibility, unselfishness, effort, energy, generosity, compassion, activism, actions, and…oh, responsibility, caring…you get my drift, hmm? (Another way of putting it might be that it’s a time to yank our heads out of our own backsides & DO something. Don'tcha think??)

P.P.S. I recall someone once saying in a letter to the editor (which paper & when? No idea!!) “Let us collect our wisdom rather than pooling our ignorance.” Amen to that, I say.

(1) This is a reference to the story Alice in Wonderland, which perhaps not all readers know. Main character Alice follows a rabbit, falls down a rabbit hole & has a series of crazy adventures involving growing smaller & larger (a couple of times), a grinning Cheshire Cat, a Mad Hatter & his mad tea-party, Tweedledum & Tweedledee, a homicidal Queen of Hearts who goes around shouting “Off with their heads!” & no doubt sundry other characters I am forgetting to mention.

(2) The image that comes to me often lately is that of a beehive. Lots of worker bees, all of whose efforts are valuable & necessary.

(3) In the last federal election, fully 41% of eligible voters did not vote. Shameful! One of my favourite quotations: “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” – George Jean Nathan, 1882-1958