W.E.B. Du Bois

In his book The Souls of Black Folk (1903), W.E.B. Du Bois elaborates on his notion of second sight. It is in this theory that we can understand the positional-perceptive difference of Black people in America. The point Du Bois is arguing, and importantly in the context of 1903, is how the Black American must live as if he has a double-consciousness; that, unlike other races in America, being black means to perceive oneself and operate in a pseudo second edition. This second-sight is one through the lens of the white world as if it condescends over the Black human experience. The source of having second-sight, Du Bois states, is the “negro’s ambition" to be both black and American simultaneously while compelled by the notion that white America is superior.

Imagine an omnipresent pressure of supremacy that disembodies the reality of Black existence into a complex of oppression, dysphoria, and consequent confusion. This will be explained further below. Du Bois goes on to say how Black America was historically been built upon a constant battle to merge double-consciousness (p. 1). This is important, as it explains double-consciousness as a framework in which we can understand the psychology of a doubled effort to survive. Such two efforts, Du Bois believes, are the desire to gain equality, and the desire to survive – in which both, the black man can only half pursue.

Du Bois uses metaphorical prose to navigate his concept of second-sight: He paints the picture of the black man fighting a battle for his own survival - to build a house, save money, and prosper; while realizing another battle- the unfair grueling competition of his white neighbour, who is far superior. This picture illustrates not only the struggle in society but an example of a materialized second-sight battle happening at the perceptive level. This is the very essence of Du Bois’ concept. That, while scholars and sociologists may try to explain the battling phenomena of the stride to freedom (that I will soon discuss), there is another battle occurring within just the mind of black Americans. Then, Du Bois poeticizes the daunting future foreshadowed by the demonic implications of second-sight. That, despite an ascribed liberty perhaps granted by foresought ballots and consequent constitutional freedoms, the futures of blacks could still be tainted by the foresought “liberty” as prescribed by second-sight. That is, a future partly written by a doctrine of white supremacy (p. 5-6). So, when even granted rights and equality, dysphoria would in-theory still linger. Thus, Du Bois’ prophecy for black America, assuming still under the shackle of second-sight, is one that is not truly free. Du Bois, in this book, explains how agents of oppression such as the KKK, governmental dishonestly and contradictory leadership, all superimposed second-sight. Second-sight crept into Du Bois' forecast of black dysphoria, forced-upon by societal agents of oppression. A prophetic example is the Canaan of freedom. A book that would guide blacks to a self-realization that transcends second-sight. This is allegorical to the attainment of a higher education. Setting Black America not free but almost. At least, Du Bois would argue, free from the enslaved framework of thought as brought on by second-sight. That, with the tool of self-consciousness as achieved through education, the fight for freedom can be possible through various means such as voting (p. 7-8). There is a counter-argument here, against the notion that education would be the essential means of freedom. (p. 8). That education provided by the system of oppression itself would be biased. Du Bois persists, however, and goes on to say that education at the very least teaches the meaning of progress. And in this vehicle of progress, education is no exception, and progresses to counteract second-sight by refining a more realistic, life-school education. W.E.B. Du Bois ends the first chapter in his book The Souls of Black Folk (1903) which almost solely intensely discerns second-sight, by stating the role and importance of this shackle. He argues, finally, that it was fundamental for black America to transcend second-sight, unhook the detriments of double-consciousness and use the foundation of learning, to then unlearn; all in order to progress.

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Book Review: The Dog Stars

The Dog StarsThe Dog Stars by Peter Heller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read some of the reviews on here to try and understand what some of the drawbacks were in this book. None of them apply, for me at least.

Hig is a pilot, fisherman, widower and poetry fanatic. He talks to himself. He is in his own head a lot. He has a dog named Jasper and holds down an airport in post-ap Colorado with a top-level brute named Bangley. They secure the perimeter and shoot most things that enter it.

Instead of responding to negative reviews which is so very tempting, I will just review what I loved about this book and why I gave it 5 stars:

The writing style is unique and I find this style connects you to the soul and thought of Hig - a confused, smart, emotional, existential mess. He's snarky to himself and projects often the opposite of how he thinks. You start to feel this effect early on. A real charmer.

Its hilarious. I'll burst into laughter on the bus constantly. It really puts a smile on my face and perhaps those around me.

Hig does a great job of exploring some of those existential thoughts one would obviously feel in a world as such - but moreover, in anyone's world right now that is seeing or experiencing depression derived from loneliness.

Colorado sounds gorgeous in this book.

I learned a lot about planes.

Thank you to the author, and to the Redditor that suggested this to me!

View all my reviews

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Capitalist Culture is Calling

My own curiosity falls into, what one may call, a peculiar dichotomy. I know that one world can only exist at one time, yet I try to live, or at least imagine, both. And as I wander about, fulfilling my agenda, doing the things which need doing for that day, I find myself devising a world without the one I am in. A planet wherein the people, for whichever reason, never invented the cell phone. Ah, the cell phone. Perhaps I'll be at work, or maybe on a Skytrain heading to class; retracing human history, trying to find the origin of the problem. And quite often, as I get close to the part when I realize the fundamental issue, my own cell phone will buzz. "Ah," I'll think, "it's my mom." Texting me that is. The fundamental problem though, is capitalism, not my mom. This bothers me in ways that I struggle to describe. This frustration boils longer with the sheer contradiction found in my own participation. I use my phone. Often. Yet I hate it. Click clack, snip snap. Chit chat, flick tap. Eyes glued, necks hung-its the modern zombie apocalypse.

We need them. We truly do. They unlock so much more than what we need but at the very least we need unlimited Canada-wide calling and texting, right?

We need to buy the latest ones:

"I need the Samsung 1200 or the iPhone 2-Paycheques. Why? Because I just need it."

And as we continue to need them, we continue to become one with them. They are a part of us, a part of our identities. Cell phones find ways to replace our humanly-filled desires. Connection, attention, affection, and forget them. Cell phones give us genuine forms of all of that, and more.

Should I not be sad that my phone scans my eyes more than my lover does? Because I am sad about that. You should be too. These phones demand our attention so often that we forget they are just toys. They become our vision in front of us. It is now normal for us to flip-tap and click-snap instead of creating bonds with the folks beside us.

Cell phones are a window into a world of brand-new needs with more price tags. Our eyes get lost in a "tailored experience" maze of advertisements. Flick. Next page. More ads. Phones: Top-ranking spies puppeteered by the invisible hand. Collecting anything they can from us to move our capital. Phones themselves have become a need, yes. They also create new needs with their intended ability to make large companies more money. They impose a culture of product obsession in all forms by peering into our choices to present us options that we pre-emptively desire.

The meticulous type of effort put forth into the production of an online self-image could very well be spent on adding true value to one's own physical life. Yet, the world in front of us is losing to the one in our hands. Social networks devised with our fingertips replace the inherent need for community. Dysphoric aftermath between what is real and not. Are you my friend or my friend? Since when was there a difference. Furthermore, these fingertip-social networks are now intertwined with markets as if they were always meant to be synonymous. Ads on Facebook? Well of course. Zuck has our faces, information, and choices on sale.

Cell phones are bullet trains to the dystopian world of fulfilled desires. They see a decline of patience as a standard virtue to make room for needing things now. Which is fine, some might argue. If we can get things faster, then why not? It is troubling, however, regardless of how easy things are. The simplicity of it all promotes a culture of demand which translates into a particular way of thinking. This way of thinking, one where that which we "need" can be accessed within moments, reinforces production-consumption relationships on all scales. The temporal aspect of this demand is a specialty of the cell phone. Just how quick can one get what they are looking for? What are the dangers around that? These are important questions in a world where large corporations want faster and faster cash flow.

Last but not least is the shelf-life of these things. Two to three years. Just in time for the over inflated next version that we suddenly need to buy. Planned obsolescence made possible by the "dire necessity" of the device itself.

I have been fairly harsh on cell phones, and also generally assumptive in terms of how people are using them. Yet, as a user and witness of how these devices can manipulate our thoughts, feelings, and responses to ongoing phenomena, they are worth being heavily critical of.

Capitalist culture is pillared by advertising, restructuring, transforming spaces, and promulgating capital-forward values. Cell phones, then, would seem to be the most remarkable embodiment and actor of these pillars. Cell phones are all of promoters, reinforcers, and products of capitalist culture. They pave the way for both capital and capitalist ideas to flow freely from and between our minds, social networks, and corporations.

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The Mayor Lied to Surrey and Nobody is Saying Anything

Doug McCallum is the new Mayor of Surrey and arguably one of the most disruptive in the first 8 months of office. His cynical demagoguery led his party to a landslide victory, striking gold with opposers to the previously reigning Surrey First party who were already struggling with their reputation. Unfortunately, this Mayor has been on a path of unruly destruction against all virtue of democracy. One decision in particular is costing Surrey billions of dollars, completely ignores what the city needs, and is utterly dishonest. You could have guessed it. The Surrey Skytrain is a true disaster of an idea; a decision that is saturated in the mayor’s lies as he covers up his malevolence. This article will expose the nasty insides of the project, and raise a serious question: How is he getting away with this?

To any opposing voice, Doug will say something along the lines of: ‘those who voted for me voted for Skytrain’. Now these words ring well in his head and they are definitely worth considering, but the argument actually works against him. If he brings election results into the picture, why is he discounting the two previous terms where the Surrey First party with LRT at the forefront of their ideas, had continued success for ten years.

Doug, we are well aware that you won the election. That doesn’t mean we’re automatically game for any of your multi-billion-dollar projects.

Despite his failure to understand the democratic process, he continues to push for Skytrain. Contrary to his behaviour, when the two previous mayors won, they understood the importance of the people’s voice thus consulted with the public for numerous years on LRT. Doug McCallum did not consult with Surrey on Skytrain. He instead threw out 10 years of democratic consultation and upped the price by billions.

Doug, you are not an expert planner

Doug makes choices with little to no expert knowledge on the subject. The central issue with this project, however, isn’t even the lack of consultation or expertise – although those points are still very important. The main issue is the hidden lie at the center of it all. That is, this isn’t a change of infrastructure which is what he campaigned on.

Skytrain for Surrey is NOT just a change of infrastructure – this is a lie.

Doug will continue to claim that people want trains in the sky, so that’s what he’s giving them – but this is sheer demagoguery. He is pandering to a big portion of Surrey – drivers who hate traffic - not transit users and this gives him relief from the press. If this project was actually just a change from street cars to Skytrain, there would be less of an issue.

The issue here is that he moved the route.

Despite Doug’s efforts to mislead us, his decision was not about infrastructure or ridership. This was a decision where he chose to neglect Surrey’s minority races along the L-line corridor and use our city’s own federal transit funding to give Langley a Skytrain.

Doug is neglecting Surrey’s minorities and serving Langley.

The LRT project’s L-line was already breaking ground. Diverse populations along the proposed line were about to receive an advanced rapid transit system and this was planned for way beyond 10 years. LRT sought to connect well over 100,000 Surrey residents to inner-city and outer-city destinations. Until Doug McCallum came along, looked Newton, Whalley, and Guildford straight in the eye and told them “No, you can take the bus” – then began a Skytrain line that will predominately serve the city Langley.

This graph shows us the make-up of people that Skytrain will be serving in Surrey alone, let alone Langley which is a predominantly white neighbourhood. Not only would Skytrain serve a completely different demographic, it would also serve 20,000 people less. The stars had to align for Doug to pull off such an insane overhaul, and lucky for him, they did. Trudeau gave him the go ahead, Vancouver’s mayor Kennedy Stewart teamed up with him to pass the decision in Mayor’s council, and the citizens have somehow remained silent. An important question has to be raised here:

Does the mayor of Surrey care more about Langley than Guildford and Newton?

His track record so far says yes - yes he does. Him and Mayor Stewart may share the same vision – that is to connect everyone in Metro Vancouver to UBC with rapid transit. And although this shared vision is one that we can all love, it should NOT be achieved by neglecting Surrey’s minorities.

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The Chater of Athens vs The Charter of New Urbanism: On Liberty


The loudest contention of human behaviour (between the two charters) is an urban dialect of the liberty debate; it underlies the philosophical differentiation between the Athens Charter and New Urbanism. The liberty debate in pure form is as follows: positive liberty, the maximization of opportunity for the individual to self-actualize, dichotomizes with negative liberty, the maximization of options/routes/choices for the individual. The urban dialect of this dichotomy is a matter of assuming what type of liberty the individual should get (in the city, but not limited to). The charter of Athens assumes that positive liberty should be sought after – such that urban dwellers can self-actualize or work towards self-actualization. The Charter of the New Urbanism assumes negative liberty should be sought after – such that urban dwellers have the most choices/routes/options.

In the charter of Athens, CIAM demonstrated how they favour positive liberty. That is, by refraining from adaptation in design, and creating monotonous answers, one-size-fits-all solutions, to impose upon society. CIAM did this because they believed they were liberating people of their suffering. They were imposing positive liberty because they believed their approach to urbanism was going to help citizens evolve. This is also evident in their transportation suggestions, as they favour only vehicles; their emphasis on strictly modern building design, as it tries to solve human issues; and their response to chaos, as a means to create peace. Unfortunately, imposing positive liberty upon a city is blatantly problematic as it promulgates the vision of the imposer.

In the Charter of the New Urbanism, negative liberty is assumed. This is clear in CNU’s commitment to: adaptability, diversity, acceptance, and options, as found in their recommendations for transportation, design, housing, and heritage. The essence of their message in promoting mixed-used buildings and communities is an application of negative liberty. The charter imposes answers that leave room for choices, adaptation, and change – and every point in the charter reflect this. They believe, freedom in the city is having options.

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Pedestrian Pockets in Radburn

The Radburn, NJ experiment is famously known to be the first fruition of the garden city literature. During an era where planners idealized the utopian-esque ideologies that were in a matrix responding to modernism - Radburn was the city of implementation. Radburn demonstrated the logic of this matrix to a distinguishable degree. In essence, Radburn was a response to that which the matrix was responding to. Along with Radburn, Peter Calthorpe in his work on Pedestrian Pockets, was also responding to modernism whilst being influenced by garden city literature. Because of similar premises, the two, Radburn, NJ and Pedestrian Pockets, have akin properties. In some areas of analysis, the similarity is so remarkable- one would think Radburn planners were reading Calthorpe at the drawing table. That isn’t to say they have no differences.

Calthorpe’s Pedestrian Pocket suggestions involve the management of pedestrian propinquity of their commutes. This would be done by supervising the distance in which the nodes, links, and destinations of commute are from residential areas. Hence, a Pedestrian Pocket is an area that is mixed-use, balanced, and within a 5-minute walk to a transit centre. These primary recommendations are exemplified in Radburn. As planned in Radburn, foot pedestrians have likeable access to core amenities, work, and retail space. The fundamental goals of Radburn by doing this, were to help cars and pedestrians coexist, likely in response to the contrary car-favouring ideas in modernist planning. This is exactly what Calthorpe sought to do. A key difference midst many similarities, is the coexistence of pedestrian paths and vehicular roads. Calthorpe in his Pedestrian Pockets literature did not reject the symbiotic notion of the two, nor did he accept it. There is no direct method noted to keep them apart – whereas in Radburn there is such an effort. Besides this difference, the two approaches to city planning – Radburn, NJ, and Pedestrian Pockets are responding to alike notions, bear many similarities, and aim for the same effect.

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On Jane Jacobs

“This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding.” – Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities responded to Modernity, City Beautiful, and Garden City movements. Her quest was to interrupt the trend of city planning that was causing major developmental issues in cities and towns which she lived in, and across all of North America. The commonality of these trends was their “dream city” utopian epistemologies. The art of understanding cities, Jacobs argues, should be done in a trial-and-error fashion. Prior to this book, Jacob argues, planning methods were not trial-and-error but fueled by monotonous aesthetic deliverance and over-sought imaginative goals. This discussion will discern the issues spawned by the Garden City and Radiant City/Modern thinktanks in particular, as noted by Jacobs in her book.

The Garden City idea was to have agglomerations of utopian townships, surrounded by greenbelts, that replaced the countryside. The idea was to bring people closer to nature and keep them living in close proximity to their means of livelihood. What seemed like a great idea actually destroyed an important part of urbanity – the metropolitan, liberal, individual city life. A conversation of city life should be had when dealing with Garden City literature. Jane Jacobs criticized Howard with this perspective. The means of survival are met with such pleasance in Howard’s model, but then what? This is where Jacob begins her argument – that garden cities leave not ample room for diverse ideas of an individual’s life path. Organic conventional cities that are not satellites, however, do allow for diverse ideas to spawn. That isn’t to say organicism is the only requirement. Howard also rejects the self-policing methods of culture and diversity offered by the central city. Overall, garden cities lack freedom, and ignore important aspects of individuality and diversity. What Jacob marks as important in this dialogue is that Garden City narratives were still underlying in the actions of planner’s during the time of her writing (60s), though not directly echoed. Even perhaps now this narrative still underlies planning theory.

Jacob views Modernity and the Radiant City as a toxic initiative that as well added to the destruction of place and individuality in cities. Again, city life should be discussed here. Le Corbusier, the modernist behind The Radiant City, had ideas that were not calculated with trial and error. Instead, his ideas were illusive and sought to solve humanistic challenges through the means of infrastructure and renewal. His methods involved destruction of the old, and an implementation of his ideas. To make the city a giant park, with skyscrapers and public housing. Jacob believes that Le Corbusier and his movement were detrimental to the organic, laissez-faire development of city life. This is because they lacked place, diversity, and uniqueness. Jacobs goes on to say, in her book, that modernity added to the current issue in North American cities - of social and cultural disparity.

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