Dangerous Science

For the summer I’m going back to the series of pieces mythologizing growing up in Cape Breton. Check the Village Stories page http://wp.me/P1RtxU-1fT here for previous pieces in this series posted in July/August 2014

Dangerous Science

one winter

scientists descended on our village

to study our brains

to see why we insisted on going to strip bars

when there as no light at night

why would normal men women boys girls

sit around a dark room

while strippers worked the sacred pole

with alarming spills of ritual water

with cascades of tumbling moose bones

what seemed like an aberration to them

we had come to accept as normal

they wanted to see which hemispheres

of the brain were stimulated

by erotic simulations in the dark of winter

they attached electrodes to our skulls

capacitor cuff measurers to penises

women were forced to wear

vaginal quake seismographs

that took hours to implant correctly

all of which had to done before night fall

in the brief time after washing clothes

gutting fresh moose

and applying fish scale to eyelids

they weren’t paying us anything either

or we might have allowed

the rectal probe sensors

and calf implant durameters

there are somethings so shameful

no person will do them for free

the scientists stayed almost two weeks

making endless charts

that they would force us to see

every day at lunch time in the cathedral

to prepare us for the work that night

and when they were done

they didn’t have any conclusion

they didn’t find out there was comfort

in sitting in the dark

not seeing the spectacle

of undressing going on around us

that we were happy the way we were

once they were gone

there was unrest

with the way things always had been

some became angry at the night

they struck out with fists and feet

at the pitchy dark

to teach it a lesson

they refused to go the strip bars

they felt it was now just any empty sham

the village had been stuck in for thousands of years

nothing could be done to assuage

their crushing loss of direction

their beliefs had been questioned

I was a mere boy

and didn’t have as much to believe in yet

so I continued to go to unlit strip bars

with my sisters

waiting for them to finish

and walking them home

ignoring the weeping of the men

in Whistling Woods

men who were now lost

thanks to dangerous science


under the skin

This is a variation on Consumption. I’m subjecting the villagers to the things that anthropologists do when studying native cultures. I was recently talking to a sociologist friend who had spent six months in Northern Ontario on a field-trip examining why natives were so prone to glue sniffing & suicide. The focus was more on to rescue these people than how to leave them the fuck alone. As far as I know there is no loss of identity & loss of reason for living before colonial wisdom came along to teach it to them by making their native faiths & beliefs out to be childish, immature & savage. But that’s another blog post.


the best defence is art

Though here my Villagers have lived with their traditions without questioning them until they get questioned about them. It remain unclear as to what these scientists were motivated by: the thrust for knowledge, or the opportunity to suck up grant money. It’s always struck me as paradoxical when the researchers into ‘social problems’ make money from the research than the ‘social problems’ earn. There’s always this subtext as well – that the investigators are superior, that they are helping those less skilled, intelligent, educated than them. There will always be poverty as long as someone can make money from trying to end poverty.


thank you for leaving us alone

Here in the Village the result is not improvement but a deeper loss of innocence. People who didn’t even know there was a problem until the scientists decided there was one. Perhaps being lost is better than being cured.

November 1 – 30 Participating NaNoWriMo



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w02hand me a capacitor cuff

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