Canadian healthcare system is an abomination. My father has spent hours trying to get admitted (seen, diagnosed, something) with an acute condition to no avail. He has a relative there with him to advocate for him because he’s in no condition to speak. Now imagine patients who don’t happen to have a relative handy.
Please don’t ask what he has. The whole problem is precisely that we don’t know and can’t find out.
My mother, by the way, has been waiting forever to have an ophthalmological (meaning paid) procedure for God knows how long. Nothing is happening.
This is the “free” Canadian healthcare. You pay insane taxes, then pay cash on top of that, and you still can’t get care.
So I spilled boiling oil over the inside of my wrist. A lot of boiling oil. Of course, I immediately put a thick coat of toothpaste over the burn. Now it doesn’t hurt anymore but I’m making a mess everywhere. And posting about messiness which is very fitting.
I remember how in the very first days of the war in Ukraine there were people who immediately soured on Ukraine’s cause because of the messiness of the narrative surrounding the invasion. Is the Ghost of Kyiv one person or several? Or is he not real at all? Why was Zelensky photographed in a uniform months before the invasion? Why is a message timestamped in a weird way? Why have we heard for years that Russians controlled the Donbass and now they are trying to conquer it again?
The messiness of the narrative was proof that the story was real. It’s the tidy, neat one-liners that shouldn’t be trusted. Everything that’s real among humans is confusing and messy as hell. Have you ever had two people explain to you why they had a fight? Just two people, not two hundred million people like in the war between Russia in Ukraine. Was there a neat, clear-cut narrative in that fight? Of course, not.
This expectation of things being immediately understandable and immediately accessible is part of the consumerist mentality of the world of flows. But nothing works like that. Everything worthwhile needs a lot of effort to be put into it. Everything good in life is complicated, layered, and impossible to summarize. Think about marriage, for example. Every marriage is a long story of up and down, forward and backward, this and that, good and bad. It’s as complicated as life itself.
Consumerism extracts us from reality and plugs us into the fairy-tale world of complete self-referentiality. It’s a world that’s very easy to understand and manage. It’s also extremely lonely and sad.
Now let’s think about the message we send to children when we value the cleanliness of the transitional object (“it’s covered with bacteria!”) above all and banish the lived-in griminess of it.
Others are a source of danger! A disease vector! A source of microaggressions! I need a safe space! I need a lockdown!
Humans are relational beings. We experience personal growth through relationships.
A relationship is an interaction with another person where you perceive that person as being different from yourself. The growth happens when you find a way to attach to each other in spite of this irreducible difference. You can’t grow through relating to yourself because that’s narcissism. Narcissism is a deeply infantilizing condition because it is incapable of accepting that other people, their feelings and thoughts are as important as yours. A narcissist is stuck in early childhood where other people exist only as a function of the self.
A small child learns to accept that other people are just that, OTHER people, with their own needs and desires through an interaction with what’s called a transitional object. The transitional object is a favorite toy or a blankie that the child drags everywhere and imagines as being alive. As parents know, it’s very important that the favorite toy or blankie never gets washed. It’s the lived-in look of the object that makes it precious.
Klara’s transitional object is a formerly white Arctic fox toy named Snowie. Snowie is absolutely real to Klara. She’s no longer white and looks kind of ratty but that’s what makes her valuable. She changes together with Klara and has marks of shared experience on her fur.
Snowie is a transitional object because ages not actually real. Klara enacts with her the possibilities inherent in having real relationships. The kind that are deep and survive any change, adversity or disappointment.
Now let’s think about the contrast between a relationship that a child sustains with the transitional object, with its physicality, fragility, complexity, and the much shallower experience of “relating” through text message, Snapchat and social media. I’m not even comparing the Snapchat mode of relating to the mature adult relationships. Even the transitional stage that small kids are supposed to is richer and deeper than the completely flat, self-referential existence of selfies and texts.