Life Beside Itself: Imagining Care in the Canadian Arctic by Lisa Stevenson

By Lisa Stevenson

In lifestyles Beside Itself, Lisa Stevenson takes us on a haunting ethnographic trip via old moments while existence for the Canadian Inuit has hung within the stability: the tuberculosis epidemic (1940s to the early Nineteen Sixties) and the following suicide epidemic (1980s to the present). alongside the way in which, Stevenson problems our common sense figuring out of what existence is and what it skill to take care of the lifetime of one other. via shut cognizance to the photographs within which we predict and dream and during which we comprehend the realm, Stevenson describes an international during which existence is beside itself: the name-soul of who dies in a crash lives back in his friend’s infant child, a tender lady stocks a final smoke with a lifeless buddy in a dream, and the possessed arms of a clock spin uncontrollably over its face. In those contexts, humanitarian regulations make little feel simply because they try to shop lives through basically conserving a physique alive. For the Inuit, and maybe for we all, existence is “somewhere else,” and the duty is to articulate kinds of take care of others which are sufficient to that fact.

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The destruction of the aura is a signature of a new mode of perception, one “whose ‘sense for all that is the same in the world’ has so increased that, by means of reproduction, it extracts sameness even from what is unique. Thus is manifested in the field of perception what in the theoretical sphere is noticeable in the increasing significance of statistics” (2008: 23–24). Borrowing Benjamin’s words, the disc numbers given to the Inuit, like the withering of the aura of the artwork, are the signature of a perception whose sense for all that is the same in the world makes it irrelevant who actually dies.

She was reassuringly round and smiling, with permed hair. Peutagok looked apprehensive, his compact frame leaning forward as he sat down at the table. I played him the recording from my computer, giving him headphones to listen. Listening to his father’s voice does something strange to time: “I go back to when I was a kid,” he tells me. When I ask him what he remembers, he tells me about the time, a year before his mother went away, when he and his parents rowed the fifteen miles from their outpost camp to meet the patrol ship the C.

There was no administration. So in 1945, when Parliament opened the Family Allowance and Old Age Pension, they started the numbers. 9 But he also remembers Lester B. Pearson, who would later become prime minister of Canada, saying that something had to be done because the people of the North were dying like muskrats. I haven’t been able to find any reference to Lester B. Pearson using those words, although I have little doubt he or someone else did say something to that effect. But what did Pearson mean?

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