uo goes three-and-out, punts #occupy

uo 'cannot accommodate' #occupy
the occupy eugene protests moved to the uo quad thursday morning, and wer met with considerable resistance from the administration.

by 2:30 pm, every student on campus had an email in their inbox denouncing the relocation as incompatible with general mission of the university, and noting that camping is not allowed on the uo campus. "it would be very disruptive to the university’s core mission of teaching and research," offered acting provost lorraine davis.

unless they bring in sports money too
evidence that camping has not been disruptive to the "university's core mission" surfaced just two weeks ago when the university invited espn's college gameday to set up an enormous structure in the center of the quad from which to host their show.

though the administration insisted that "the uo cannot accommodate a campground," it hosted an event that encouraged hundreds of students to stay out all night for a chance to get on the show; many camped in tents in the exact same spot where the occupy protestors were threatened with arrest this thursday:

photos: oregon daily emerald

 occupy in the quad:

protestors speaking out against
government corruption.
department of public safety and the eugene police department threatened arrests by 11 p.m.

p.s. this is my letter to acting provost davis, thanking her for her kind and informative manner. enjoy! 
dear acting provost davis,  
thank you for addressing the issue we all faced of having occupy eugene congregated in the quad. it was indeed troublesome to have all those dirty hippies standing around innocuously while we all walked to class and the library.  

i also want to thank you also for notifying prominent occupiers that "camping is not permitted at the university of oregon." i think it's critically important to make it excessively clear that such a mass of tent-toting loiterers would be "very disruptive to the university's core mission of teaching and research." that is, of course, unless those camping are waving foam fingertips and "go ducks" signs in hopes of appearing on espn.   

erecting structures in the quad is very obviously contrary to university policy, unless you happen to be a giant multimedia corporation that brings in a significant amount of publicity and cash.  

 thank you most of all for making it crystal clear that the only thing that matters to this university's "mission" is it's actual and potential cash flow. if football is enough reason to suspend all university policies, and student-driven social action is not, then we are headed down a dark road and into and even darker alley.   


joel devyldere (senior studying english and philosophy)

 feel confused? misrepresented?
you can email acting provost lorraine davis at
lgd@uoregon.edu (202 johnson hall), and uo president richard lariviere at pres@uoregon.edu (110 johnson hall).



what is the essence of our pursuit?

as human beings, is there something that we're all oriented toward? i have heard it was God.

other examples of proposed objects of the universal pursuit include 'truth,' 'wisdom,' and the ever-popular 'love...'

and then there's acceptance - respect, love and belonging from other people. i've been starting to see that maybe this is want i want the most...

hey! what  if there isn't a universal desire among us homo-sapiens, among us two leg-walkers and pizza-eaters... wouldn't that be revolutionary?

i actually don't know. but in myself i seem to notice deep longings for truth, wisdom, love and acceptance. and sometimes when my wants for each of these begin to trip on each other i start to feel morally conflicted. but which desire to choose? is there one that's more important than the others?

does anyone have any insight?



smallish steps 
(tiny little miniscule footfalls toward living in a way that actually makes sense)

#5 protest government corruption

on saturday, i hopped on the downtown-bound emx with some friends to participate in an occupy eugene march. but first, nick and i made cookies:
free cookies for the revolution.

we caught up with a very vocal crowd of oppositionists while they mingled at wayne morse plaza, right across from the eugene farmer's market. hundreds were there; more than one was dressed as guy fawkes.

from saturday market, hundreds (the register guard estimates 1500-2000) walked a highly visible route downtown, marching, chanting and waving signs in opposition to wayward policies in the states. i was very curious to see what other people would have to say. here are a few pervasive characteristics that i noticed at the occupy eugene march:

armed with a box of no-bake cookies, a friend and i set out to informally interview various marchers as we walked. what we discovered was an impressively diverse collection of eugenians - from old-guard activists to fiery students to young-and-possibly-homeless drug addicts. some people marched carrying young children. all of them had something to say.

among those marching, the diversity of opinions was significant: some were protesting corporate personhood in the states, while others were disputing the wage gap between workers and corporate officers... one guy was promoting the awareness of psychoactive mushrooms.

for the large majority, however, there was continuous thread - a central government had dispensed their taxes to banks and squandered them on militaristic endeavors elsewhere in the world. that same government, any occupier will tell you, is defiantly neglecting to dispense those taxes to those in need in the states and largely refuses to impose reasonable taxes on its largest corporations.

estimates cited on a new york times blog report that the eugene protests on saturday involved more than eighteen hundred people. yet the scene was curiously benign - no destruction of property, virtually no hate speech and no violence. protestors walked respectfully, careful to avoid even jay-walking, while dozens of police officers looked on ominously.

while excited, ecstatic, and sometimes downright annoyingly persistent in self-celebratory chants, these protestors also showed resolve. three days later, somewhere around a hundred are still camping in the plaza downtown.

while wandering through the camp with a friend at 4 a.m., i was stopped by a student who talked optimistically and frankly about the movement: "we are prepared to be here for at least a few months; and if not here, then somewhere else."


revenge, revenge

"the body gaped at the stroke dealt to it after death: beowulf cut the corpse's head off." and the blood bubbled to the surface of the sea, coming in full view of those who had watched the hero descend.

the first hero of the english language, "the warrior determined to takes revenge for every gross act grendel had committed... beowulf in his fury now settled that score." his revenge was gory and unremorseful; but of course it was! he's thousands of leagues below the sea, in the lair of a pre-historic and satanically motivated monster.

even so, beowulf defends revenge between people. he assures the casual listener that "it is always better to avenge dear ones than to engage in mourning." not that they needed much convincing - beowulf's entire culture is anchored by an honor code of cyclical revenge. if someone is killeed, even accidentally, they must be avenged. it is highly shameful to refuse to kill in kind.

on another level, these speeches become very important. the poet, not a member of the germanic bloodbath era in which beowulf is set, is himself an anglo-saxon christian, who anachronistically frames this ancient germanic saga with vehemently christian characters. the speeches of these characters teach reader and hearer alike of the wonders of the vengeance of the christian God.

God gives beowulf his strength, the narrator tells us, and it is He who upholds this cycle of revenge.

so you might blame God for the fact the original readers of this epic poem (and arguably the modern readers) continue to stab and slash each other in torturous repetitions of a morbid assertion of justice. but we can't go judging a hebraic God for events that occur at least three thousand years after He's first recorded. how hokey is that?!

it seems as though we shouldn't, and though i won't attempt to gloss the theological aims of the beowulf poet here, maybe we can trace his eerie fascination with vengeance back to a legitimate source. who is the first revenge killer?

"the Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil... and the Lord said, 'I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth.'"

the first revenge killer is the hebrew God. 

it is God who at first decides to take his holy justice out on someone by killing them violently (in this case primarily drowning them). and he is the start of a never-ending tradition of violent attacks and violent reprisals.

at the foundation of western literature stands the tradition of vengeance killing; and vengeance continues in that literary line to this day - the two have never stood apart. and we, as westerners, have always been fascinated with retaliatory violence, as the literature has led and reflected us; as our students have read and our writers have expressed - we want revenge!

now this may sound as if i'm trying to misrepresent a mythological character, but the hebrew God here is proud of what he's done. he encourages the few humans who survive the flood to follow suit, saying: "if anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. for God made human beings in his own image."

and so legend conceives of the origins of revenge. indeed, as long as we can blame God(s), then there will be no need to live in anti-homicidal community.

"'vengeance is mine,' says the Lord." and now, it's everybody else's.

beowulf, trans. seamus heaney
bible, new living translation


the week of vegan

smallish steps 
(tiny little miniscule footfalls toward living in a way that actually makes sense)

#4 try going vegan.
veganchallenge week: seven days of the not-eating of animal products: no milk, no cheese, no eggs, no meat and (sadly) no honey. this turned out to be a bit a bit of a legitimate challenge for everyone involved.

this summer i started to realize that i had made it my habit to eat meat at almost every meal; food felt incomplete without it. i felt that this was unhealthy in a few ways. but was it feasible to up and quit my carnivorous ways at 21?

my first couple of attempts were largely unsuccessful. at first i was traveling on the east coast, and tried to be vegan for a bit. i remember the look i got from the girl at the sandwich shop when i ordered a veggie sub with no cheese. it was a lot at once. i was trying...

but i would start to feel weak with the absence of meat from my diet. i halfheartedly attempted this same endeavor again on the west coast, with similar results. one thing that eventually helped was a for-fun attempt with friends. about a dozen people expressed interest when i told them about it; and three of us who committed to it lived together. so we started planning. we made lists of possibilities, schemed out some necessary ingredients and reorganized our food. we even had a facebook page:

we were impressed with the need to eat meals together, to combine ingredients, blowing steadily on sparks of imagination in each other until we were ablaze with new culinary creations. many of the meals were suuuper good.

all in all we had a great experience. we grew together as friends and we learned that maybe we can survive and thrive without animal proteins. this might sound intuitive to some of y'all, but for me it was kind of surprising. i feel empowered to embark on a few more adventures. onward! : )

the quiche that (basically) ended it all.



jacques-louis david's the death of socrates.
barefoot in the back of allejandro vallega's lecture, i was re-introduced to some fairly fundamental questions. among them was a big ol' western philosophical gem that has got me doing mental double takes:

how can we become human beings?

simultaneously curious and defensive, i reacted against this question, even as its premise was still being glossed: 

'what do you mean we're not inherently human?' i fumed silently.

"we are potential human beings. we're not human beings until we are ethical." vallega's serendipitous explanation resounding in my mind, i wove my way through the crowd of freshmen and strode away to meet a friend. 

'are we inherently human?' i assumed so. why didn't the greeks?

walking past the library, i shudder through aching memories of a text message i sent in frustration so long ago. "you have to tell me when we're done. it's called being a human being." 

i've been saying that i regard everyone as valuable because they exist. all this time, maybe i haven't acted like it's true. i can point now to times in the past when i've decided when people were worthy of respect as human beings and when they weren't.

can i break out of my insecurity, and learn to love each person for who they are, and choose to respect them for what they are? can i retreat from self-focus and engage wholeheartedly in the pursuit of understanding the perspectives of my neighbors?

maybe so, and maybe this sort of thing is vitally important...

and this is how a mind forms, of molten cosmologies and into universal claims. but i don't want to be right. i pretty much only want to be alive.

if you haven't already, check out occupy wall street. what a fascinating twist in the largely unprecedented drama of our times!