Friday, June 24, 2005

On the rag; or, didn't I just have an existential crisis?

My day began with a hangover, menstrual cramps, and less than five hours sleep; it will end, imminently I hope, with a long spell of unconsciousness. Some hormonally inflected ramblings in the meantime:

Several weeks ago, my comrades and I found ourselves at the centre of a turf battle between two of Quebec’s most powerful unions. Thus began our crash course in backroom politics, shuttle diplomacy, and crisis management, skills I hope never to have need of again.

To make a long story short, our small band of neurotic and terminally flaky graduate students managed to head off a union war and the potentially disastrous consequences it would have had for our local. I’m terribly proud of us, and I believe we deserved every pitcher of beer we consumed last night. Happily, the union paid for a not insignificant number of them.

Veering slightly, it has been suggested to me on more than one occasion that I should consider politics as a vocation. This troubles me for more reasons than I can count, not the least of which being that I think politicians are assholes by definition. I strongly suspect that they have to be—the political system we are presently governed by wouldn’t function otherwise.

Further, despite my early experiments with anarchism, radical feminism, and animal rights activism, I have proven to be a miserable failure as an ideologue. I hate slogans; I cringe at the sound of protest music; I am almost obsessively concerned with shades of gray. I’m a left-wing smoker, for god’s sake—how fucked up is that?

What I struggle with the most, and near-constantly lately, is the dissonance I feel between the things that I do. I am being “trained” to be a scholar. I pay my rent with politics. And now, for better or for worse, I derive genuine pleasure from writing. So, which one is it? Or, to look at it from a slightly different angle, which one will I regret not doing for the rest of my life?

Perhaps it is my destiny to be a dilettante, that most maligned of occupations: “one who follows an art or a branch of knowledge, desultorily, or for amusement only.” Strangely enough, the term comes from the Italian dillettare: “to take delight in.” I suppose I could learn to live with that.

But first, I have a date with Jon Stewart and a large bag of potato chips. One must prioritize, after all.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on another political victory. I wonder whether there is such a thing as a political dilittante.

Vila H. said...

Arnold Schwarzenegger?