July 22nd, 2005

[LINK] Those Icelanders

From the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Iceland.

The standard of morality is not high, and illegitimate births are numerous. No doubt this is partly due to the fact that the two sexes live in close proximity, occupying together undivided rooms, and that the women greatly outnumber men, many of whom succumb to hunting or fishing accidents. lt is a very characteristic fact, that of all the works of foreign poets, those of Heine are the most widely read.

I'm easily amused, I admit it.

[NON BLOG] Photography

I was at University College yesterday evening with bitterlawngnome, posing for some pictures. I've always envied bitterlawngnome for his skills with photography, and interested in posing for him. Anyone who has seen my Prince Edward Island ID photo will be surprised to learn that I enjoyed the phototaking session.

In my final year at UPEI, I did some research for a professor, looking for critical works which explored the intersection of photography and fiction. At first, the technology and the products of photography seems to have been used in fiction as a way of accurate reproduction and preservation, of creating inarguably correct and truthful documents in a world populated by beings capable of lying. Only later did photography's role as a neutral come under question, with concerns about how the scenes captured by the photographer could be prearranged, how images taken in isolation could be misleading, how, in short, there was no guarantee that the photograph was in fact a neutral technology.

One thing that I noticed towards the end of the shoot was how, as bitterlawngnome prepared for each shoot, my heart began to pound more quickly and my breathing became heavier. I wasn't expecting that.

[NON BLOG] New Glasses

I picked up my two new pairs of glasses from City Optical, at Yonge and Bloor, on my lunch hour today. The clarity with which I see the world feels almost preternatural.
  • Current Mood
    impressed by modern optics


Since I moved to Toronto, but especially since the Queen Street West streetcar line has been diverted from my neighbourhood by construction, I've been eating a lot of Korean food. It's spicy; it's best with chopsticks; it has kimchi; it's something I'm not used to. What's not to like? It was only this evening, while eating some squid rice, that I began to feel queasy. It was the sight of the rubbery purple tentacles of the squid that did it. It wasn't only my understandable fear of my Dread Lord fluffcthulhu and my desire for a marginally less painful death when Ry'leh that caused me to leave my meal unfinished, but what I knew about the remarkable intelligence of cephalopods in general. The idea of eating an animal with which I might share certain basic principles of thought, with which I might feel some empathy, makes me queasy.

Who knows? I may yet become a vegetarian.
  • Current Mood
    not hungry

[BRIEF NOTE] Some Notes on the Acadian Diaspora

In those timelines where there was no grand dérangement--perhaps Governor Lawrence decided not to precipitate a breakdown, perhaps the French swept south from Louisbourg, perhaps Acadie remained French or became French--Acadie would be a territory home to perhaps two or three million people. Even if the British end up conquering Acadie, without ethnic cleansing the region's population would be overwhelmingly Francophone, and concentrated on the fertile lands around the Bay of Fundy, with an outer perimeter--the modern-day Acadian heartland in northeastern New Brunswick, Ile St.-Jean, Ile Royale, the Nova Scotian peninsula--settled by intrepid pioneers. The Acadians were beginning to do just that in our history, after all. With relatively little trauma, French-colonial Acadie would have evolved into a fairly modern and conventional polity of Acadia.

We don't live in such a timeline, of course. There are still three million people of Acadian descent in the world, but all but a small minority live outside of Acadie. The past couple of generations have seen a concerted effort to try to build an institutional structure for the diaspora, beginning recently with the spectacular Congrès mondial acadien of 1994 held in the New Brunswick Acadian cultural centre of Moncton. It's open to question whether an Acadian diaspora of three million people actually exists. These organizers might be conflating acnestry with identity--on Prince Edward Island, the Acadian family names of Arsenault and Gallant are perhaps the most common family names on the Island, but assimilation has certainly wrought its toll. Likewise, how many of the million-odd people of Acadian descent claimed to be living in Québec actually identify themselves as Acadian?

Nonetheless, the three million people claimed by the diaspora do exist. They live in the old Acadian homeland of Nova Scotia and the new Acadian centre of New Brunswick, in insular Prince Edward Island and the island of Newfoundland, in the solidly Acadian colony of the Magdalen Islands and in various immigrant and settler communities scattered across Quebec, in the French Gulf of St. Lawrence archipelago of St-Pierre and Miquelon and even in parts of western France, in New England as a consequence of the vast wave of immigration to New England from Atlantic Canada starting in the 1880s and continuing until the Great Depression. The most famous Acadian community resides in Louisiana, known as the Cajuns.

It's open to question how Acadian the Cajuns are. As the Encyclopedia of Cajun Culture notes, "about 2,600-3,000 (or 15-25% of Acadia’s pre-expulsion population) settled in Louisiana." These Acadians not only developed entirely separately from the main Acadian population centres in British North America, but they mixed with other settlers--Germans and Louisiana Creoles, to name two--to develop a vibrant culture of their own. Arguably, they constitute a distinct ethnic group, with their claimed Acadian identity being mainly nostalgic. The ongoing death of the French language certainly is removing one of the key markers of Acadian identity from the Cajuns.