This is not a COVID article. Computer algorithms may spot a key word, like teachers who spot head lice on children, but this article isn’t about words. And it’s not about parasites, per se. Remember when a phrase like gut fauna might have turned tummies? Well, truth is, it is the representative weeds, er, wee beasties, that we are all known to and composed of. Words are as much about what words represent as about what they claim to mean.
Representation, to present again, is like how the word analysis means to cut again. Others at AU who took the BIOL204 course as one of their mandatory science sign-ups, will recall that lysosomes are aptly named: they cut and slice and dice genetic reality like so many dollar bills peeled off a wad in some old gangster movie, or so many cards flung out of a Rolodex in another old business film. Remember the 80’s movie Ghostbusters? The librarian character became really spooked when card catalogue cards came flying out of their shelves; no Dewey decimal system can bring order to cultural disorder that lurks in society just below the surface.
Maybe it’s the desire for a well-ordered order that leads us all to accept reality as it is, represented by the powers that be. But there’s always more, just beneath the surface, and you don’t have to believe in conspiracies to note that history is replete with just-so stories past off and a short while later cast-off. Weapons of mass destruction in 2003 Iraq, anyone? Or how about: work hard in school and you will have more job choices than your dropout neighbour who became a handsomely paid “rig pig?” So many dead dinosaurs and plant materials, lying just beneath the earth’s surface and magically transubstantiated into dollar signs.
What lies beneath, indeed. And just as there’s no cure for the common cold or for the sense of loss at wasted study opportunities, there’s also no solution to the inveterate human desire for meaning-making via representation. Consider what Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, either two paragons of weaselly opacity or, if you ask another audience, those geniuses of schizo-analysis and creative aplomb, had to say about representation. Or perhaps what their academic fan base progenitor, named John Marks, had to say in 2005:
“’Representation’, for Deleuze, entails an essentially moral view of the world, explicitly or implicitly drawing on what ‘everybody knows…representation cannot help us to encounter the world as it appears in the flow of time and becoming” (Marks, 227). Indeed, as per the real influenzas and fake news in our time, there’s no correct representation of the fear and trembling we relatively youthful AU students feel as we worry about our elders. And there’s no telling how history will judge these askew times.
Perhaps Deleuze correctly ascertained, in Marks’ words, that the nature of representation occurs as either politicized or poeticized. “The poet speaks in the name of a creative power, and seeks to affirm difference as a state of permanent revolution: he is willing to be destructive in the search for the new.”
Just as lysosomes cut up the building blocks of life—the better to erect new towers of biological magnitude—so too might we at AU become the ana-lysts who equally challenge any paragon of virtue who claims hegemony over our hearts and our minds. Having a mind of our own, even if we are wrong, is part of being able to think at all. As kids learn from loving adults: there are no stupid questions, just dumb silence. After all, if creative thinking dissolves into the mindless abyss of conformity then we all might as well just, you know, get rat race jobs and spend our tuition bucks at the local Canadian Tire or Wal Mart or Starbucks or Baby and Me (Sarah Ingham, online).