Thursday, September 29, 2005

Asia is on!

We just got notification from the Canada Council today. So Roy Miki, Fred Wah, Marilyn Dumont, Wayde Compton, Hiromi Goto, Ashok Mathur, Glen Lowry and yours truly are on our way to a big CanLit blowout in Taiwan. A few of us will go on to Japan afterwards.

Going to Asia feels like going to the future. All the architecture and technology is sleeker, faster, better-designed. It'll be interesting to bring Canadian critical thinking/politics there, and our open-ended ways writing/performing. The last time I went to Taiwan, I had a chance to talk to people about some pretty interesting stuff-- what it's like to be the citizen of a small country lying in the shadow of a major world power, the effects successive waves of colonization on language and culture, what it's like to live intimately with new technologies. Yes, I'm wired, but in Taiwan people are really jacked in. Especially young people. I had a long conversation with a young woman there about how she met her boyfriend. The whole conversation revolved around cel phones-- the etiquette, the nuances, what kinds of connections they do and don't make possible, and also the object-ness of the thing. Style, line, size, all that. Hers was pink and sleek, and a third the size of the smallest phone I've seen in North America.

It's not a nightmare, Loch. The Boogerman is real.  Posted by Picasa


late september blue. i work on my grant. i read a good chunk of ruth ozecki's All Over Creation and envy yummy fuller's nerve. i plot the future-- next month's travels to france, spain, taiwan and japan. i'm excited, but also tired and overwhelmed. when the road comes for me i do embrace it.

carmen's brother's band Light City Fiction is awesome. i go to barfly after supper to hear them. singapore sam's for spring rolls and a plate of noodles afterwards. our gifts are many, our curses are many. the balance teeters cheerfully up and down.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

my buttons are your buttons

Applying for grants pushes at least eleven of my twenty-nine buttons. Getting rear-ended by some ditzy guy on my way to yoga did not help. Fortunately the damage was minor-- just a couple of scratches. But I'm cranky about it. My new car! (Motor vehicles = massive guilty pleasure.)I did my sun salutes. I breathed. It helped. I am almost human. Then I went to the pink house to drop off a sacro wedgy for Aruna. (Ask me if you're interested. These things are amazing.) Thought I'd feed the dog and cat, since it was supper time. Animals happily munching away. I went to the community notepad to document the feedings only to find Sharron with 2 rrrrs' had been there before me. Oops. Oh well, the fat cat will get fatter. The skinny dog-- well, it can't hurt her can it? Speaking of ditzy.... Uh. Hi!
I drink wine. I nibble salami and tuscany ham, walnuts and raisins while I cook. It's going to be a good supper I think-- a stew of buffalo sausage, lentils, squash, carrots, green and yellow beans, a bit of tomato, garlic, thyme from my porch, some bay leaves, lovely salt from my real true visit to Guerande, and the secret ingredient-- a pinch or two of Madras curry. My dear South Asian friends: look away. I know Madras curry is a cheat. I know you're not supposed to put it in stew. Especially meat-eating Western hippie type stew. But it perks things up so nicely. My hybridities are getting away on me. Mea culpa, mea culpa. The brown rice is nearly done. See you tomorrow!

Monday, September 26, 2005

mission: transition

There is something East Coast about dinner at the Derkson/Gamble house. Champagne on the deck, then inside to candles, bread, cheese, summer sausage, pumpkin soup, roast pork, potatoes. Cozy catchup, my hairless godson stares wide wide wide-eyed. When the world is new, everything is delightful, so laugh little boy, laugh. The pupils of his eyes look like the eyes of my dancing Toronto friends on E.

We plot to disturb Alberta. We gossip and puzzle, external internal, who does what and why. Why we choose what we choose, and where it lands us. Our own guilts, culpabilities, desires and foibles. This is a transitional time of life, and a transitional time of year.

In this house I am all full tummy and warm lights. We drink, we laugh. I fall asleep on the couch. Jay covers me with many blankets. But afterwards, when the tired family has gone to bed, my contacts get dry. I slip out the back door into the quiet city. The witches are asleep, and the business men haven't yet got out of bed. The road is mine, the moon is mine. The city is dark and empty. I accept the cool quiet. It isn't the gift I wanted, in spite of its perfect beauty. I get home. I crawl into my own bed and sleep.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

postcards from elsewhere

always the representation, never the thing. never the thing, always the desire. never the desire, always the gap. never the gap, always the motion. you can't hold the motion, you can't stop the water. the river doesn't progress, it descends. what doesn't move doesn't live. what doesn't fear doesn't feel. what doesn't feel doesn't risk. what doesn't risk doesn't know. what doesn't know cannot move. we plunge into tomorrow without armour. it could be soft, it could be sharp, it could be cold. it could drown us. the cliff's edge beckons, this way this way. we could sprout wings. we could turn to stone. the sun warms our backs. we love the heat but cannot stay.

the same river twice Posted by Picasa

snow moss water Posted by Picasa

Ribbon Falls Posted by Picasa

Friday, September 23, 2005

What if he were to turn his head, and look forward?

I love this stuff:

From Walter Benjamin's Theses on the Concept of History:

"My wing is ready for flight,
I would like to turn back. If I stayed timeless time,
I would have little luck.

Mein Flügel ist zum Schwung bereit,
ich kehrte gern zurück,
denn blieb ich auch lebendige Zeit,
ich hätte wenig Glück.

Gerherd Scholem,
‘Gruss vom Angelus’

A Klee painting named ‘Angelus Novus’ shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress."

corrosive roaches and other oddities

There is some really strange stuff out there-- robotic cockroaches, innocent mutants, Asian angels from the future. Thanks to Rita Wong and Randy Lee Cutler for these:

Actually I've been a Mariko Mori fan for quite some time. Wish I could get my hands on a copy of Miko No Inori(The Shaman Girl's Prayer).

While I'm here, Coco Fusco's website is pretty cool:

Thursday, September 22, 2005

focusing the crisis

Liberal humanism mourns its failure to emancipate, in the wake of rationalized war and torture. The particular applications of universality light up its endless failures.
The marginalized can't escape the master-slave dialectic, can't escape identity constructed through trauma, unless, to borrow from Deleuze, they/we draw our being at least partially from the future, the "city to come."
If the idea of the individual, with its drive to romantic love, free speech, and other idealistically democratic freedoms is not as useful an idea as it was, was possibility remains for the collective? How differentiated are we/do we need to be from one another? What of our hybridities-- racial, gendered, technological? Are we already borg, with all its orientalized implications?
Can you tell I'm trying to write a grant proposal?

Orange on the outside, ??? on the inside

There is talk as well of what one does to/with creamsicles, but Larissa is infinitely too reserved to discuss these things.

"no but really, he looks like a creamsicle" Sharanpal Ruprai to Sharron Proulx-Turner on Ashok Mathur's shirt. Lisha xxx looking on. Posted by Picasa

it also helps you breathe in the event of a mustard gas attack--Ashok Mathur, birthday boy Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

there was and there was not a party

There was a party for not Alana Wilcox, who was not visiting Calgary and was not hanging out at the Kensington Pub yesterday. Ryan Fitzpatrick was not there. Neither of them were imported from Nova Scotia, which, contrary to popular belief, is not another country. Neither of them have red eyes either, but my camera does. A lot of people, in fact, were not there, including yours truly, who did not go home early to be alone with her computer.

Ryan Fitzpatrick and not Alana Wilcox Posted by Picasa

intimate strangers

I leave the party to return to my machine. It remembers everything I've forgotten. It warns me of the future. It reminds me of the past. It brings me old friends from childhood. It schedules my day. It sings to me. It tells the time. It surprises me with unexpected visitors and fascinating projects. It presents me fresh options. It offers good bargains. It is a chance to travel the world. I tell it new ideas. I present it thoughts too uncertain to test on people. It listens intently. It reflects exactly what I said. The machine is safe. I love my machine.

Monday, September 19, 2005

material bodily principle

Reading Bakhtin on carnival. I can't decide if it is politically useful or not. What he calls "the material bodily principle" in the form of the grotesque seems so full of subversive possibility, but it is also about renewing and reviving. Holiday from the status quo, a moment to release all that one has repressed in order to return to the world of hierarchy and officialdom when carnival is over. But so appealing in its gooeyness...

What of Stampede? Community building, yes, but also full of racial violence and exclusion. Who said the contents of the repressed were nice?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Maddie at Dairy Lane Posted by Picasa

Fellow contortionists: Christine, Jeff and Aaron Posted by Picasa

the city to come

It is a city after all. When I first came, I thought it wouldn't be, that I would just park myself for a few years and accomplish. Lay groundwork for a future elsewhere. But the future is now, and elsewhere is here, and I am surprised to find myself alive and amazed. Not because I've arrived anywhere, but only because the future's edging is here in the present, and the city, for all that it replicates other cities, is still Calgary, and is okay.

Saturday, I drink a glass or two with all the yoga folk at Jeff Mah's farewell party. Everyone looks a bit odd and unfamiliar in civilian clothes. Visit with Travis in his studio while he posts ads for robot purchases on his wall. We talk about larynxes and antimemory.

Sunday, I do full primary series, including headstand, roll to the little pink house on 12th St. NW to feed greedy Pim the cat, breakfast with the kids at Dairy Lane. Derek's daughter Maddie hams for the camera. Hot September sun, perfect soft poach, honey in my tea instead of sugar. Michael has a nasty bruise on his arm from a punch some drunken asshole delivered, and forgot.

Currie Barracks Market. Brussel sprouts, red peppers and apples are in season. I buy peacock kale, and some of summer's last blackberries. We sit in the sun eating the city's best gelato, contemplating our luck.

In this part of September we can smell both summer and winter. We are perfect and hopelessly flawed. We long for all we can't have, and we have everything we could possibly desire. Somewhere else there is a war. We are still responsible. Somewhere else someone is happier. We don't know about it. The moment passes. The present keeps arriving.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Natalee Caple, Melanie Little, and Larissa Lai at the Auburn after the recent Markin-Flanagan Arrival and Departure reading Posted by Picasa

time warp

Recently received an email from an old Newfoundland friend of mine. When I left I was running away. I was sixteen, and sad. I kept in touch with a few people for awhile, but they all drifted off after a few years. The internet is a strange thing. It changes our geographies. It also changes our relationship to time, the landscape of our histories.

Would you ever want to get back inside your childhood? There are so many novels out there written by adults from a child's point of view. But none of them get inside it. How could they? Childhood is about a completely different way of seeing, may be one that has little to do with language, and articulation.

I'm re-reading Hiromi Goto's Chorus of Mushrooms. It isn't about childhood, but it is about getting inside an unoccupiable subjectivity. She writes in English, attempting to create the interior Japanese-language chatter of an old grandmother. And it works, because she doesn't strive for realist accuracy but shoots straight for a kind of poetic fantastic.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

ceci n'est pas une pipe

Went to see Chad Van Gaalen at Truck last night.

Liked in particular a series of drawings he did with school children, having them draw for a certain period of time, and then pass on incomplete drawings to the next child to add to for a few rounds, kind of like the Surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, except that each kid can see what the kid before did, and can add on anywhere. The results were extraordinary, all these creatures and bits of creatures-- really outlandish and strange. I think kids, collectively, are an open pipe to the unconscious.

Speaking of pipes, afterwards we stumbled into the tear down of an event put on by Performances in Peculiar Environments at level P1of the parkade at the Epcor Centre. We'd missed the show entirely. Felt like the end of a mysterious party in a nuclear fallout shelter.

you can't fix it, but it still matters what you see

Just finished Dionne Brand's What We All Long For. Devastating and amazing. It begins in the 1970s with a Vietnamese family losing their youngest son as they board a boat for a refugee camp. But it is mostly about a group of brown, twenty-something friends negotiating relationships-- to family, to one another, to art, to politics, to love and most of all to the city of Toronto. The voice of the lost boy, Quy, is wrenching. Reminds me of Toni Morrison's Beloved. He is brutalized and brutal, cynical and lacking in trust, completely innocent and completely lacking innocence at the same time. It is the voice of the Other coming at us direct, everything we are guilty of, everthing we want to forget, everything we long for.

I want to think about this as an Asian Canadian novel. Himani Bannerji's question "Who speaks?" has become interesting in a whole new way.