Posts By: Jason Sullivan

Jason Sullivan

Even erudite flies get smashed now and then for sounding too ‘school smart’. As one of many AU students not immersed in an academic social sphere, Jason’s ‘Fly on the Wall’ column seeks to aid and abet the success of others in his cohort. We won’t always be understood when we speak of what we are learning in school but we can rest assured that our education still has value.

His lighthearted approach to sociological philosophy stems from conducting field research at bush parties and working his day job reforesting the mountains of BC. Born in the city of Vancouver and raised on a farm in the Fraser Valley and an orchard in the Okanagan, he attained a diploma in Horticulture in the Creston Valley and then returned to school as a Sociology major. Today’s he’s an AU Master’s of Integrated Studies student who spends his spare time enjoying nature walks, snorkeling and reading whatever philosophical and sociological tracts capture his fancy.

Jason is fascinated with the micro-sociological thoughts and interactions that frame and demarcate our experience of daily life as well as the philosophical realm considering essential questions about what it is to be a human. It’s dense brush but Jason seeks answers where murkiness holds sway.

A Few Theoretical Influences: Louis Althusser, Isaac Asimov, Jean Baudrillard, Simone de Beauvoir, Aime Cesaire, Carol Clover, John Cummings, Kurt Cobain, Jacques Derrida, Emile Durkheim, Michel Foucault, Erving Goffman, Antonio Gramsci, Martin Heidegger, Thomas Hobbes, Agnes Martin, Karl Marx, Georg Simmel, Max Weber

Fly on the Wall—Finding the Canadian That We Are

Jacques Derrida’s book, The Politics of Friendship, spends a swathe of papyrus exploring and questioning the work of Carl Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political.  Schmitt claimed that, going all the way back to ancient Athens, there were two types of social conflict: the first, stasis, involved rigorous debate and argument between members of one… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—Canada Day: A Celebration of Us

We’re a pretty fantastic country.  Other nations have linguini or lederhosen, croissants or crumpets, Guinness harps or apple pie and on and on.  But Canada has beavers and brews, hockey and maple syrup.  And at a deeper (if more ambiguous) level, we like to think of ourselves as a nation with a big heart that… Read more »

The Fly on the Wall—Happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day!

265 000 students have graced the proverbial halls of Athabasca University since it opened in 1970.  Despite differences of age or geography, we all share an intellectual bond as members of the academic diaspora that is AU.  Turns out, we are not alone in sharing a unique bond with those who are surrounded by a… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—Turning the Tables of Interpretive Dogmas

The mere mention of Charles Darwin brings to mind fishy bumper stickers (imploring us all to evolve), bespectacled chimpanzees on t-shirts (proclaiming our 98% DNA match with monkeys) and flustered debates about human nature (where everyone goes home a little bit hurt and disgruntled).  Happily, there’s more to the man’s work than a series of… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—Every Picture Tells a Story

Elementary school class photos are as ubiquitous as report cards and leave a lot to be desired when answering that timeless question: how is school going? From kindergarten on through graduation, these wallet-sized mementos tell only a fragment of the story of our schooling.  For instance, many hijinks are left out of the picture.  Nowhere… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—The Vast Mountains, the Hike of our Lives

In his award-winning book, Big Lonely Doug, Rustad gives eloquent descriptions of the nature of untrammelled forests, never staying far from his central message that the majestic giants of the Pacific coast deserve preserving. Likewise, to explain our studies to others is usually about justifying them in the big picture of our life narrative and… Read more »

The Fly on the Wall—Kant We All Meaningfully Agree?

The meaning of life: what can that mean? Possible answers run the gamut of human thought and experience.  Meaning is both personal and general; each of us has our own private mission statement whether we think of it that way or not and invariably there will be affinities between ours and others.  As AU students,… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—The Truth is in the Tools

What’s the meaning of life? It’s a timeless question apt to induce eye rolls.  Ever since cave people digested a dinner of mastodon under moonlight, humans have pondered purpose and mulled meaning.  As denizens of the universal cave of AU, the question of life’s meaning is eminently answerable for us at some level simply because… Read more »