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?

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.

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.

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.

my virtual life

Kids these days… They hang out at Kinko’s after midnight for cheap photocopying. They write their own html code. Me, I had the hang of Dreamweaver for a second, until they changed something on the server, and then bang! No more website, and no patience to sit down and figure it out again.

Today my friend Sandy Lam (no relation to the HK pop diva, but way cooler) will come help me set my site again. No namby pamby web design software for her. She learned html as a bored teenager endlessly surfing the web. When I was a teenager we had a TV. I watched Gilligan’s Island on it, and Get Smart. Yeh. I need a tooth file.