Climate Apocalypse + Tanya Tagaq // Soundtrack to Settler-Colonialism

This post on NiCHE is an introduction to Kateryna Barnes’ recently published Gothic Nature II article, “Soundtrack to Settler-Colonialism: Tanya Tagaq’s Music as Creative Nonfiction Horror.”

Our world isn’t ending. It already ended. It ended when the Zhaagnaash1 came into our original home down south on that bay and took it from us…Yes, apocalypse. We’ve had that over and over.

W. Rice, Moon of the Crusted Snow, p. 157

In the documentary SILENCE=DEATH(1990), poet and philosopher Allen Ginsberg declares AIDS to be an allegory for anthropogenic environmental destruction, saying that living with AIDS is dying with AIDS, be it planetary or personal. He says:

The planet has AIDs… ozone layer depletion, acid rain, greenhouse effect––they are lesions on the skin of the planet. Desertification, deforestation, and poison-dumping both in oceans and land… the key problem is the immune system of the planet doesn’t seem to be able to repair the damage done by the human virus (n.pg.).

Further to Ginsberg’s analogy, I posit that maybe the planet is undergoing radical radiation treatment – killing what is healthy along with the deadly in an effort to survive. It’s an impending apocalypse where death isn’t the end, but extinction is. It’s an existential end of all we know. As anthropologist Ernest Becker (1973) explains in his landmark book The Denial of Death, it is “an impossible paradox: the ever-present fear of death in the normal biological functioning of our instinct of self-preservation, as well as our utter obliviousness to this fear in our conscious life” (pg 15).  This impossible paradox is like philosopher Eugene Thacker’s (2010) framing of an unthinkable world, a speculative world.

Read more at NiCHE.

International Women’s Day 2015 Playlist

Buffy Sainte-Marie performing at the 2011 Calgary Folk Music Festival. photo by k.barnes
Buffy Sainte-Marie performing at the 2011 Calgary Folk Music Festival. photo by k.barnes

I like to have playlists on hand filled with fantastic women whose strength, determination, talent and creativity motivate me to be and do my best. In honour of International Women’s Day 2015, I thought I’d share a few of my favourites.

“Pirate Jenny” by Nina Simone

Nina’s cover of the classic Threepenny Opera song is easily the best version. Hearing Nina’s strength come through as the tough pirate captain Jenny masquerading as girl working at inn, then getting her revenge, is pretty empowering.  

“Transgender Dysphoria Blues” by Against Me!

Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace is such an incredible songwriter: so raw and honest. The band’s most recent album Transgender Dysphoria Blues is inspired by Laura’s experience coming out as transgender, and it’s one of the best things I’ve heard out of the punk scene in years.

“Yellow Flicker Beat” by Lorde

I love how Lorde’s songwriting seems so wise beyond her years. This song is from the most recent Hunger Games film; while I was less than impressed with the film, I love this song and how it capture’s Katniss’ determination and strength.

“Now That The Buffalo’s Gone” by Buffy Sainte-Marie

It was so hard to only pick one Buffy song, so I chose one of the songs from her first album It’s My Way!. Buffy’s protest of the mistreatment of First Nations still rings true today, and she hasn’t stopped speaking out against this injustice.

“***Flawless” by Beyoncé featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

There has been a lot of text dedicated to Queen Bey’s ascension as a leading feminist force in music and Western culture, so I’ll keep it simple: #BowDown.

“Can See Can Do” by M.I.A.
https://soundcloud.com/miauk/canseecando The boldness of M.I.A.’s personality rings through every song. I cannot wait until her new album drops hopefully sooner than later.

“Jeudi 17, mai” by Ariane Moffatt

Ariane reworked her song “Jeudi 17, mai” during the Bill 78 protests led by students in Québec. The original version of the song was written to reflect the headlines in 2008, but Ariane’s updated version gave the Printemps érable an anthem for their protest.

“Rebel Girl” by Bikini Kill

Women in the early 90s were blazing the trail for DIY feminism and the riot grrl movement, and Bikini Kill were there, adding to the soundtrack. I love how unapologetic they are about their abrasiveness and toughness paired with femininity.

“Uja” and “Umingmak” by Tanya Tagaq

Tanya’s album Animism is powerful, but this live performance is awesome (as in it evokes awe). She performs a ten minute set with the names of the over 1186 missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people running on the screen behind her. In interviews, Tanya is blunt and honest, speaking to the horrific discrimination indigenous women, children and the Inuit face on a daily basis. Much respect for this trailblazer and fighter.