Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Keep Calm and Carry On

End of the year.  What a lovely time to look back at all the things I'm grateful for.  Especially since Thanksgiving has been taken over by the Freemasons, who sow continental disorder by conspiring to have Canada and America celebrate it on totally different days.

I blame Obama.

And, as mentioned, the Freemasons.

So, right, a list of things I'm exceptionally grateful for from this past year...

My Friends
Could I possibly be any more lame?  No, don't.  Just don't.

My Friends With Couches
Okay, really I just mean my friend with couch.  Who'd have thought a six-foot person could spend a month sleeping so comfortably on a five-foot piece of furniture?

My Landlord
Ex-, unfortunately.  But I've had many, many landlords in my life, and he's one of the good ones. A genuinely excellent person with a mildly perverted sense of humor.

My Doctors
The less said the better, but proper care makes a bad time easier.

Mass Effect 2
Aside from being a quality entertainment product, it provided a lot of welcome diversion during difficult days.  (Always alliterate.)  Playing it at the start of the year on console was fun, but playing it again this summer and fall on pc was a gaming experience on par with my eternal touchstone, San Andreas.  Speaking of which...

Red Dead Redemption
No game has ever made me care more about my lead character, no game has ever exploited that caring more effectively and fearlessly, no game has ever killed me so many times with bears.  Those fucking bears.  Some people have been pushing for years now the idea that games are the future of storytelling, but RDR is the first time I actually saw it and believed it.

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright
It's hard to imagine a creative team whose love of what they're doing is so evident in the final results; the results being so uniformly brilliant is nearly beside the point.  Shaun of the Dead was one of those instances, common to me, of a hyped thing that I avoided at the time, which subsequently proved itself worthy of all the "you have to see this"s I received.  Spaced has reset the bar for me on how high a target a television program can set for itself, and how awesome it is to see it hit, from top to bottom and from beginning to end.  Also, the dvd extras from Hot Fuzz -- and I'm in the minority who liked this film even more than Shaun -- introduced me to one of my new favorite films:

I never got Steve McQueen, and now I get Steve McQueen.  What he does with his conversations in this film, especially with antagonists, was revelatory to me.  Also, brilliant opening sequence.  Also, brilliant writing, and uniformly top-notch acting that makes the best of the cinematic idea that what is happening on-screen is so much more than what the characters are saying (I'm thinking specifically now of the scene in Bullitt's boss's office with Norman Fell, but there are many examples).  Completely changed my view of Robert Vaughn, in ways I won't get into because I'm already overusing "brilliant".  The romance maybe didn't totally work, but I forgive it, because this film is really about Frank Bullitt's relationship with his job, and his ethics, and the world in which he has to work, and the romance is really just another generally well-played riff on that same theme.

Iggy Pop
Discovering The Idiot and Lust For Life shouldn't have taken so long, frankly, but I guess my faith in music had to first weaken enough to be ripe for renewal.  I think I'll pause here for a moment to put my headphones on, actually.

Stephen Fry and Jeremy Brett
For being awesome, reasonably fearless and inspiring dudes.  Which reminds me of...

The reboot.  Brilliant -- sorry -- updating of the characters, the settings, the stories, and with enough obvious love for the original text to keep a Holmes semi-wonk -- what a terrible word I've just invented -- like me satisfied and impatient for season two.  Provided what might be my favorite line of the year:  Sorry, gotta dash, I think I left my riding crop in the mortuary.

The Big Lebowski
Because it will always be on these lists, forever.

8 1/2 on Blu-Ray
I cried at the end again, I always do that.  But what an amazing treat to see the film in such a restored state -- it makes up for dubbing Barbara Steele back into Italian.

The Walking Dead
The graphic novel series, not the tv show I'm not going to watch anymore because who knew the guy who directed Shawshank would be such a dick and fire his entire writing staff after they helped him create the television buzz of the year?  Anyway, the comic is great.

Gravol Ginger
Changed my life, seriously.

The 420 Express
No, that's not a euphemism.

My Laptop
The computer, I mean.  (Not the body region, which frankly hasn't done anything for me lately.)  Almost everything I do now that matters, has no matter -- it's all in the form of data and has no inherent physical form.  Without the Lappy I'd be forced into an even-more-antisocial mode of operation than that which I currently inhabit.  I resisted laptop computers for a long time, so this freedom is new to me, and I like it a lot.

Coke Zero

Unlike this list, I expect my resolutions for next year to be fewer in number.  Last year's was straightforward: start smoking.  Mission accomplished.  I have a cigarette in a jaunty holder sticking out of the corner of my mouth while I type in a crude approximation of Hunter S Thompson in plaid pyjama bottoms at this very moment.

I was considering gambling or perhaps heroin for 2011, but I think I'll be going with something like "reduce frequency of comically bad judgements in regard to significant life decisions".  I'm including "significant" in there to allow myself the wiggle room to keep cutting my own hair.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

That must be exhausting.

I haven't gone back to check, but I'm going to assume that a common thread I keep harping on is the inherent and necessary subjectivity of meaning.  I figured out a couple of days ago, as I navigate my current existential obstacle course, that the philosophy of absurdism is a pretty acceptable way to answer the question of nihilism.

Nihilism itself seems to me to have some pretty heavy built-in problems.  It's kind of like cannibalism -- anyone interested in talking about it probably hasn't done it, because it would come from such a primal and unshaped part of a human being that to discuss it in any terms is academic pretty much automatically.  Nobody but a shallow troublemaker would ever subscribe to it as a way of life if they had a choice not to.

And if they did, there's the problem that it would be a choice.  And active acceptance of the idea that there is no scale, and indeed no weight, to existence is self-oppositional enough to even the most abstrusely philosophical mind that a serious act of will would be required to pierce the veil and cross from the former world into the latter.

Absurdism, on the other hand, matches up so closely with the territory I've been marking out for myself, mirrors with such accuracy the Discordianism I've followed for years, aligns so comfortably with the foundational ideas that have propelled what artistic output I've been able to manage, that it's kind of embarrassing that I don't think I've ever directly encountered the official version before.

So perhaps now I can legitimately connect my worldview to a tradition pre-dating hippies.  Unless the brute force of the Faux-Moralist Revolution drags me to Room 101 and convinces me that Camus was just blowing smoke.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"...as for freedom, we do not feel it..."


This evening I sorted through a long-ignored box of cassettes.  I figure I have maybe fifteen or twenty tapes that definitely have miscellaneous old band/project material from Winnipeg -- Man Does Not Become Wolf, Suture, headsortales, Random Summer, the Funky Chancellors of Direct Power, Wedge, material for Moment:Device shows...

Added to the ten or fifteen unlabeled cassettes that may contain something, that's probably twenty-five to forty hours of music that mostly hasn't been heard for well over a decade.

Quite a bit of that will be repeated songs and pieces.  Some of it is so poorly recorded that even today it would be hard to release.  But from memory, I'm pretty confident there's got to be at least ten to fifteen hours of interesting stuff.

It looks like I'm going to need a decent tape player.  If I can review all of this, digitize the salvageable pieces, clean up the sound a bit, and get it archived on the internet...

Well, if I do that it'll be archived on the internet.  But at least it will be accessible.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Philosophy differs from alcoholism,
in that it is more costly,
and lacks the same charm.

Colin Wilson writes:
This is the Outsider's extremity.  He [sic] does not prefer not to believe; he doesn't like feeling that futility gets the last word in the universe; his human nature would like to find something it can answer to with complete assent.  But his honesty prevents his accepting a solution that he cannot reason about.  His next question is naturally: Supposing a solution does exist somewhere, undreamed of by me, inconceivable to me, can I yet hope that it might one day force itself upon me without committing myself to a preliminary gesture of faith which (in point of fact) I cannot make?  [emphasis his]
He is discussing the trial by fire -- maybe not fire -- the trial by starvation of eliminating one's superfluous and unexamined beliefs, stripping them down to their most fundamental formulations, and attempting to destroy each one, with the goal of satisfying the intellect on matters of justification.  The thinkers he offers in The Outsider are more often than not confronted with an abyss, a total absence of reliable truths.  He suggests this as a significant component of Nietzsche's makeup and breakdown.  He also connects this idea to the works and lives of William James, T S Eliot, John Stuart Mill, T E Lawrence, others...

Aleister Crowley had a few things to say about this process as well, and frequently in his writings he stresses the necessity of the undertaking.  But what interests me more is how he addresses the resultant void.  At the core of Crowley's system -- and this core was certainly transferred into the chaos magick movements -- he presents a mechanism for slipping past the guard.

For all his elaborate and detailed descriptions of rites, elemental correspondences, etc., he occasionally acknowledges that all this is window dressing in service of the essential devotional act, and that this act can be performed regardless of personal faith.
By doing certain things certain results will follow; students are most earnestly warned against attributing objective reality or philosophic validity to any of them.
He argues that if a sincere "aspirant" will perform these core devotional acts with reasonable care and sincerity of purpose, they will become empowered by the acts regardless of intellectual faith or belief in their legitimacy.

(It's not purely that simple, as he also argues that an emotional charge in a spirit of worshipfulness is a necessary component to higher workings.  But the initial workings are designed to train the practitioner in the basics, and also to supply them with enough confidence in the process to emotionally invest themselves as needed, without experiencing any ambient intellectual conflicts.)

So then... what is true?

To address that, we struggle into the thicket of truth, belief, and knowledge.

Belief is easy enough.  I just have to sincerely accept that a notion is true (that it has objective validity).  But to get to belief, if I am to anchor truth to intellect, I need to address what counts as truth.  And this gets messy.  Though not quite as messy as knowledge, which is frequently shorthanded as the Venn overlap between truth and belief, but which gets more slippery the closer one examines it.

(There's a cheat available at this point, solipsism.  In absolute terms solipsism is the only logically justifiable belief -- that awareness is occurring.  To contemplate is to demonstrate the inevitability of this, although I think, therefore I am is much better stated as awareness is.  From there, everything is up for grabs, because the world may simply be a persistent and rule-adherent delusion, or my apprehension of persistence may be based upon a false sense of memory, brain in a vat, etc.  Accepting this as logic is one thing, but sincerely believing it and acting upon that belief to the exclusion of all others is pretty much a one-way trip to Crazytown; population: you.)

Now, while it's easy to believe something false if one thinks of it as true, I'm not sure that it's really possible to believe something that one accepts as not being true.  Crowley suggests that the playacting involved in advanced ritual can smooth over the bumps by building up an emotional charge, one that the replaced belief itself is essentially a mechanism for producing anyway, but Crowley was also notoriously allergic to belief.  It's true (heh) that in later years he sometimes claimed objective truth when discussing his Cairo experience, but his evidence is directly apprehensible only to those with such detailed and invested knowledge of cabalistic and numerological systems that it's fair to say that the layperson can only choose whether or not to take his word for it.  (And he himself would likely advise No).

It just occurred to me that I should have saved the 'Sure Know Something' video for this post. That would have been funny.

Anyway, truth is a tough nut to crack.  There are the so-called primary truths that ground everything else (awareness is, black can't be white, and those two things are "knowable" via the awareness mechanism; those scare quotes are scary for a reason).  Assuming we don't use the solipsism cheat and we do grant the existence of things outside of our perception -- a real world, so to speak -- it's still hard to say anything reliable about those "things".  Everyone's heard that the sky isn't really blue, that's it's a trick of the eye conspiring with the characteristics of nature, but that argument can arguably (and annoyingly) be advanced to everything within the fields of what can be perceived or imagined.

So, I reach for my guitar.  I can feel it, I can hear it, and it does the things I expect it to do.  So, I believe it to be real.  But if pressed, I can't logically justify the statement that the guitar contains some essential existingness that I am interacting with; I could be imagining it.  I have belief, and I personally, subjectively, for all those words mean now, accept it as casual-true, that the guitar exists.  I don't seriously doubt it.

However, in my failure to connect the unconnectable logical dots, I lose the right to call my belief "knowledge".

Regarding knowledge, Wikipedia offers this low-hanging fruit:
[...] a person believes that a particular bridge is safe enough to support him, and attempts to cross it; unfortunately, the bridge collapses under his weight. It could be said that he believed that the bridge was safe, but that this belief was mistaken. It would not be accurate to say that he knew that the bridge was safe, because plainly it was not. By contrast, if the bridge actually supported his weight then he might be justified in subsequently holding that he knew the bridge had been safe enough for his passage, at least at that particular time. For something to count as knowledge, it must actually be true.
The trap there is pretty easy to see -- how do we know there was a bridge at all?  How can we say with certainty we are walking?  This sounds like a juvenile word-game to a lot of people, but a lot of people aren't trying to incinerate all superfluous belief from their intellect.  And good for them, it's a colossal pain in the ass (assuming I have an ass to metaphorically be pained).

Discussions like this, and especially discussions that come after, are often fraught with that word, "assuming".  We have to assume a lot every day, in order to order our lives.  So on a practical level it's not a huge sacrifice to not have epistemological certainty that the store on the corner has any objective existential component, when we're just popping over to get cigarettes. 

Within the context of Robert Nozick's reasonably popular Magic Truth-Tracking Formula, we see that truth can be assigned as epistmologically justifiable if:
  • a "thing" exists
  • I believe that thing exists
  • if that thing didn't exist, I wouldn't believe that thing exists (my belief is at least partially dependent on my acceptance of its objective reality)
  • if that thing does exist, I would believe it exists (similar to the point above; I'm not just happening by accident or for weak reasons to believe this thing, which is true only incidentally)
But there are exploits, to use the videogame parlance of our time, and the idea of knowledge as justified true belief is a little out of fashion in our rough-and-tumble post-postmodern jalopy ride into the future.

It's easy to see how this becomes an exhausting exercise in patience, and tolerance of circularity.  It's admittedly poor sport to call the questions unresolvable just because nobody has really managed to adequately resolve them -- and forgive me, I've been stuck on the same point of Wittgenstein's Tractatus for about five years now, so I can't vouch for whether or not it helps -- but ultimately it's fair to allow more practical questions back to center stage.

And that's okay, since the goal starting out was to burn away the fat, and see what we have left.  Ultimately, life's a subjective thing, and one will set one's rules even if it's only by passively accepting them as presented.

It's been years since I last read The Outsider, so I don't remember where Wilson goes from here.  I know he has knowledge of Crowley based on his other writings, but I think the most esoteric he's going to get in this particular book is a smattering of Gurdjieff later on.

But separately from that, I think that this notion of willed acceptance for practical purposes might offer a ladder out of Wilson's philosophical abyss, and that the foundational agnosticism of such an approach should protect against accidentally driving intellect into the ditch, or off a cliff.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Technical difficulties:
Blogger has a mind of its own.

It posted a post while it was a half-post, before I was ready to post it.  Post post.

Shut up. It was not my fault.

Here's a song by a band. Leave me alone.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Saturday, June 26, 2010

For Sale: Greatest Hits of the 80s

I hear them in restaurants, in stores, from passing cars... The songs are too familiar, too reminiscent of a time that doesn’t exist anymore.  Retro is evil.

I once heard Sweet Dreams, West End Girls, Whip It, etc., in a way that made me feel like a door was opening onto a new potential future of exciting and unexpected sounds, like Doe Deer has done recently.

But now it’s the equivalent of buying a lava lamp at Urban Outfitters.  It got old, its teeth got dull, its legs got tired and slow, it’s no longer a threat to anything.

If music can’t be new anymore, at least it can be dangerous for a little while before it’s absorbed by the Borg.  Or not; I’m sure Crystal Castles are probably already being used to sell RRSPs somewhere or other.

But seriously, why a journal?

A human is stripped of the agglomeration of petty daily concerns, short-term grievances, social expectations, biological survival concerns -- down to the clearest possible mental level -- what is the first logical question to ask?

What are the rules of operation for this world?

Not an obvious question at all, given that most of us spend our growth to adulthood following well-worn paths of one sort or another, and largely absorb our conception of what reality comprises without conscious intent. To (re)visit the question from a position of life experience and matured logic is to sacrifice the impressionability of our formative tabula rasa years, but though the lanes of subconscious influence we build as adults are more shallow, they at least have the advantage that they can be self-directed to a preferred aim.

What can we see?

The majority of the world's population lives at or below the minimum regionally acceptable conditions, as measured according to a scale that allows sufficient headroom for those with slightly above-average ambition to raise their own standard of living enough to satisfy them personally, but not to threaten any part of the infrastructures of authority.

A variety of systems, often with overlapping jurisdiction, are in place to help maintain a balance between docility and productivity in this population. Some systems establish and distribute the baseline level of comfort that is tolerable within the local culture. Some systems are designed to use the manipulation of fear as a motivator for their citizenry to adhere to certain restrictions or compulsions in behavior. Some exist purely to normalize obedient action through rote repetition, regardless of any value produced.

Individual people are, of course, too personally complex for us to attempt the reductionist task of systematizing their behavior, but populations do clearly communicate their commonly accepted concerns and boundaries through the observable cultural autodialog. These boundaries can be stretched and experimented with, but general adherence is expected and the spectacle of breaking the rules is frowned upon and often institutionally punished.

We don't need to relearn the physics of the world, within which we always exist and whose details are refreshingly fixed regardless of any social or personal upheaval, but the insufficiency of our initial learning may become evident and incline us to upgrade.

How do we learn about working within these systems, dealing with people (and with individual persons), and negotiating the essential maze of life?

Ideally, through targeted experimentation. But how does one determine the right target when the world is still an equation that one is trying to solve?

There may be those for whom the challenge of the puzzle is enough, but I suspect most of those who arrive at this point of all-encompassing reconsideration of the nature of their lives have arrived through the usual doors: overwhelming personal trauma, phenomenologically-oriented use of drugs (or other temporary derangement), or a crisis of faith -- the common thread being that the rug of consensus reality on which our culture stands is suddenly pulled out from underneath the feet of the individual, to reveal not floor, but emptiness.

The individual standing in that space has had a personal history, and if that history can be viewed in detail, and relatively objectively, during such a window of opportunity, a direction may present itself. This is the advantage of the "born again" position, the chance to exert our will -- but the position has tremendous personal danger for the subject who has not sufficiently detached from the superfluous concerns of their life. Some (necessarily incomplete) knowledge of our own core question/s can orient us on the map, and only when this orientation is achieved is it safe to step further.

A crisis point is a test, and our life to that point has been the study period. An unexamined life leaves us disoriented, with no sense of north, and the crisis point becomes wasted or destructive. At this moment, the right questions are what returns us to solid footing, and lights a path through otherwise empty space.

Without clarity on the relationship between the world and the self, there can be no meaningful action. Without a recognized aim, there can be no clarity. Without self-knowledge, there can be no aim. Without rigorous observation, there can be no reliable self-knowledge. Without discipline, there can be no effective observation.

The essential purpose of the journal is as an observational tool to practice and develop personal operational discipline. The intended product of the journal is self-knowledge.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Funny how secrets travel...

Rain is good, and after looking at html for two hours, that's about all I can think of to say.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Continuity and meaning.

When I was in my early teens, I began to develop a desire to track the daily aspects of my life.  This began with notes about trips and travel (such as they were), grades from my schooling, lists of the most popular radio songs of the week, the names of girls who entranced me, and so forth.

As the entries grew, and began to include more small drawings and typographical experiments, the agenda-style books I'd been using began to feel stifling, and I changed over to undated journals (usually with unlined pages).  Although I still enjoyed the format of the daily agenda, once I made the switch those books caught far less of my content, became scarcely used or referenced, and increasingly remained untouched from each February onward.

In these journals I developed much of my calligraphic flexibility, my computer-friendly date/time coding system, and my voice as a writer, all while compiling a fairly detailed record of my experiential, psychological, emotional, and intellectual histories.

The frequency and size of individual entries certainly varied (heh - that's what she said), and there are gaps from time to time, but I still have a remarkable record of my moves, relationships, big thoughts, drug experiences, moral intentions and material ambitions, lies, and general events, from my teenage years onward.

Over the past three or four years, my journal writing has dropped to effectively zero.  I don't even have a book to use at this moment.  This would mostly be due to computers and my job.

To imprison writing in physical form, rather than letting it float in a constant state of editability and as potential copypaste material, seems almost Luddite.  And now that every week is moreorless indistinguishable from the last, I certainly have less to say than I ever have.

I remember the gradual realization that I was losing my ability to write pen-in-hand.  It began to require far too much time and patience to record even the simplest ideas, and the keyboard beckoned.  Now, of course, I realize what is lost when one gives up contemplation and brevity in favor of an ease-of-use-enabled word-dump process.  There isn't too much that's better about how I write now, which is usually closer to shallow recreation than to creation.

My smokinggirlsinaction journal project -- named after my realization that most of my early musings centered around smoking, girls, and inaction -- was always designed to record and track my progression as a person.  Since I no longer have that continuity, in a sense I am that much less a person.  And I already know of several other aspects of my being that are less than they once were.

So a radical revision may be in order, something violent -- not to the world, or to myself, but to the order of things as they have currently settled in my controllable environment.

I can shore up my circumstances as they are, and charge ahead in the direction I'm already facing.  I can quit my job tomorrow, run out on my established habits and my spoken or unspoken commitments, and hit the road.  I can opt for a flight later in the year when I have had a chance to liquidate and plan.  But regardless of which choice I take, or if I avoid the challenge and continue to drift, I MUST re-establish my written journal, and the pattern of staying in daily touch with it regardless of how empty I might initially feel.

Mustn't I?  After all, this is a core life function I am neglecting...

However, questions remain.  This weblog was envisioned as a continuation of that thread of self and meaning, but this post says a lot about the state of the project in general.  Accepting Leary's proposition that a life lived openly and publicly is defensively and actively effective, do I decide to go with the future and the evolution -- as it legitimately can be seen -- to an increasingly digital mode of operations?  It will require bravery and dedication, and since I've broken my continuity I don't feel confidence in my position to judge how much I have of either... (Or perhaps today's loss of Sparklehorse simply has me in a contemplative mood.)

Someday soon I'll be able to speak and have instant text accurately transcribed.  Will this lead me to abandon typing -- I already feel that wear settling in -- and become lost in a cloud of Franklin Gothic anal fixation, like the dream addicts of Until the End of the World?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Everything good, within walking distance.

I was in the scuzzier part of the downtown core.  My cohort and I were checking out a venue of some sort.  The main floor consisted of indie gallery and performance nooks, and a lobby that was reminiscent of what it would be like if an old style hotel was repurposed by the art crowd – couches, lamps, ironic classiness side-by-side with kitsch and comfort furnishings.

We found the elevator, and made it up to what I think was the third floor.  The front windows looked over the street, with an inspiring view of a mixed-up neighborhood.  Little restaurants and shops, people on bike and on foot, cars, sidewalks and alleys, animals and garbage, a perfect city microcosm.  At the back, the balcony opened out onto the street, which was at a higher level, and the streets led to a gentle maze of residential lanes and quaint low-rise apartment blocks and houses.

If bohemian literary characters lived in a common neighborhood when they weren’t busy being in the stories they came from, this would be the neighborhood.

I cannot recall what it was I was there to investigate.  But I did find a good Holmesian loft, and a couple of interesting businesses that I felt would support my lifestyle if I were to move there.

And this leads me to the realization that my dreams have been exceptionally cooperative lately in supplying me with magical settings, as demonstrated by the images above, with the added benefit that all of it was taking place along the stretch of de Maisonneuve between Atwater and Guy metros – which in '99 was my first home turf in Montreal.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A true initiation never ends.

And here I am again.

Montreal is an international city. Not a huge one, but still. Cheap European New York in French. I have the best group of friends here I've ever had.

Victoria has a couple of good friends, the promise of tolerable employment on the fringe of an interesting industry (in other words, much like my current job). No winter. Army town.

Winnipeg has the worst winters, the least connection to the world. Dead center North America. Also a couple of good friends. Art calls to me from here, as well as interrupted emotional arcs. I might feel tall there.

I dreamed of being in New York last night. Am I ready to give up?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cows in the city.

I woke up unsure if I was still dreaming.

I looked around my loft, and considered rearranging to make best use of the available space.  Then I remembered I still had another little bachelor apartment downtown -- I could even remember the feeling of the neighborhood, from the other dream months ago in which that place existed.  Was I still renting that too?  Is that why I didn't have as much money as I thought?

I looked down and saw the store where we all worked.  Eric and Christelle were on the floor, and I dangled my legs over the edge of the loft floor.  I went down to look around at things.  I found some industrial breath mints for smokers, named after popular bands, in large format packages.  I took them to the counter to show Christelle, because I thought they were funny, but she mentioned that she thought they were detergents, which they were.

Then I retreated to a car-interior-like pod on the floor, where I watched Eric drive some cleaning machine back and forth.  I realized he was taking the place over out of necessity, and they were basically humoring me to be kind.

I left, facing a long semi-industrial street.  My door was one of the few on a long stretch of low, white buildings.  Across the street was a field with train tracks, beyond that, trees in the distance.  I realized that this part of Ontario was very much like the prairies with its wide open blue skies, and how I missed that (and would continue to miss it in tall cities or regions with mountains).

I turned right and walked east.  I was wearing my plaid pyjama pants, white bathrobe, some kind of shirt, with my backpack and headphones.  Every once in a while a car would pass and I laughed as I thought what they must think of the sight of me.  Occasionally I'd spy someone inside a building or car, always silhouetted.

I tired of walking quickly and turned to go back, but the street was different, and I couldn't find my place.  I realized this wasn't a dream-case of the territory changing, but was actually a sign of mental illness, and that I was basically lost and confused, stumbling around the streets in a bathrobe.

I changed streets in hopes of finding something familiar, but just ended up in more commercial areas, with no bearings on where I was.  Did I even know the city?  Would anyone know me?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"I am always interested in your... choice of titles."

There is no Holmes but Jeremy Brett, to my eye.  The later episodes are enjoyable to watch, though his performance is slightly, then increasingly, fogged by his illness, thus making them also difficult to watch, at least in comparison to the magic of the Adventures series portrayal.

In The Resident Patient, Brett is without misstep.  His investigation at the crime scene is remarkable in general, but most noteworthy is his examination of the room.  With Watson, Inspector Lanner, and his client watching along with the viewer, Holmes surveys the room for evidence of whatever events transpired in total silence, for a full two and one-half minutes (with angle changes and brief cutaways).  The scene is perfectly performed and paced, especially given that 150 seconds onscreen is an eternity by conventional television standards.  (The celebrated unbroken opening shot of Touch of Evil is only one minute longer.)

A beautiful touch, as the scene breaks, Watson asks if there is nothing Holmes can divulge about the mystery, and a brief moment of bashful bemusement flashes across his face as he remembers that the meanings of his actions are not automatically evident to all conscious beings.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

South of the border.

I love stories.  I am addicted to stories.  When I am high, I have an endless capacity for studying and analyzing stories and a burning drive to create my own.  When I am low, I re-immerse myself in my favorite stories as therapy and comfort.

So it follows that a career in stories makes sense, providing the most likely path toward work that will be self-sustaining and personally satisfying.  No guarantees, but good odds.

Stories have been hard to receive here, at least in the past few years.  Montreal is at best a setting; I have no ear for its voice, or for any particular voice that calls it home.

Stories were within much easier reach in Victoria, though that may have been an effect of being off the job and away from my familiar distractions.  Yet I do feel that there are voices there for me to hear.

Once again, I can't help but think of Victoria as a magical place.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I am walking the cow.

Basic actions are a challenge during this time.  For some time the office has been the only place I approach adequate functionality.  So as I consider my current condition, I think about -- as I so often do -- what kind of symbolic action I can take to shake things up.

Because apparently the start of a new decade isn't laden with sufficient promise on it's own.

Anyway, short of getting a new tattoo (which would be fun), I'm at a loss.  By missing last year's window of change (in other words, by not trusting my foresight of it two years ago), I have left myself in this place.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, because the new target in my sights, which for the first time doesn't feel unachievable, is something of a dream come true, so perhaps closing that window has opened a door.

Meanwhile, I need to focus on finding ways to manage my current daily demands, while preparing for the next stage.  I feel too weak to do this, and finding the strength to at least begin is why I long for a symbolic boost.  As Mark Pauline says, whatever works is legitimate.  But fear of unbalancing my comforting stability keeps me timid.  Meanwhile, not doing so keeps me in a discouraging malaise.

Some days, music helps.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hinterland Who's Who:
National Park Sex Zombies

I was stumbling east down Sherbrooke Street, out of my mind on drugs or alcohol or medication.  I was sort of aware I was acting like a crazy street person, with odd pauses and poses.  I passed by the record shop on the corner and decided to go in and finally buy a Feist album.

Inside, after wandering and browsing a bit, I was distracted by a video screen.  Someone had taken some animation of a character running through red hallways, and set it to a dub mashup of Evil Nine's Crooked and something by Slick Rick.  The animation eventually gave way to something else, but I was distracted by my realization that I was only wearing a towel wrapped around my waist.

Only a few blocks from home, I decided to walk.  But I was accosted by a beautiful girl with long, dark hair, who I apparently knew.  She took me on a different route that led us to a strange set of streets, with quaint European baroque buildings, but constructed in Lego colors, like some kind of theme park.  She had already rented us a room, at the narrow end of a Flatiron-shaped hotel, and sent me there.  The entire room was bed -- narrower at the foot than at the head -- but with windows on three sides the view was amazing.  She arrived, immediately stripped, and we had a lot of sex.

We received a notice from friends and went to meet them -- a tall, thin guy who looked a bit like George Orwell, and a blonde with short hair and a squeaky voice.  We got in our car and headed south, into the national park.  Orwell was driving, and the blonde jumped on the other girl and I -- more sex.  Then sleep.

We were woken up by the blonde, who was now driving.  She had turned the car around in a panic, because something had gone wrong where we were heading, though she didn't say exactly what.  Orwell took over driving again, and the blonde's panic didn't stop her from pushing the other girl and I into sex again.  We got to the unmanned park gate, and headed back to the hotel.

The lobby was run down as though it had been abandoned for years.  It was also full of zombies.  They would see us, lunge at us, then determine we were not fit for eating, which led to the conclusion that we were also undead now.  This suspicion was confirmed by Zombie Barry Corbin, sitting in the corner.

We were making peace with our new status, when suddenly something occurred to me.  I knew Barry Corbin had a variety show in New York.  He also didn't look like a zombie; in fact, a few of the zombies looked and acted pretty much like normal people.

I went up and challenged him directly: your show staff would know if you were a zombie.  So either this is all a hoax, or we're some special type of zombie who is resistant to decay and retains their consciousness, which implies eternal life.  So which is it?

From the look on his face, it was evident I had uncovered what he was trying to hide from us.  He stammered and hesitated.  Then, before he was able to confirm which option was the case, I awoke.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I'll never be the same.

I had some strange job, in a place that was half a laboratory of some sort, and half some old lady's apartment.  Not physically half-and-half, they were just both in the same place.  I think it was in Winnipeg.

I was working there doing some sort of testing of something, because I had quit my other job and needed something to keep me going.  I was making $12 an hour, but the work was boring, and the vibe was weird.  The place was like the rebel ship at the beginning of Star Wars -- modular white molded plastic, which sounds cool, but wasn't in this case.

So I'm gathering up my stuff to leave, and two things happen.  I have trouble getting a book of mine because all the rooms have been taken over by old ladies having baths.  And Hall and Oates are on television playing Scrabble on Oprah (which probably isn't her idea for her new show in real life), but once I mention that Daryl Hall is my favorite singer, the main old woman changes the channel immediately.

At that point I decide I'm never coming back.  When I leave, I'm at the corner of Roslyn and Osborne.  It's a nice summery day, and I decide that I'm not going to subject myself to that sort of thing anymore.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


"Guitar done worthy".  "Girls don't wallgaze". I was told these things in dreams, but I don't know what they are intended to mean.

I don't really know what any of it means.  My dreams have been screaming at me lately, trying to get me to hear something.  But it's like being yelled at frantically by someone in Japanese while they point to an approaching car; are you supposed to get in there immediately, or run away from it as fast as you can?

Last night...

It was winter.  I was somewhere in Manitoba, I think.  I had a truck that carried a lot of stuff I needed, but no driver's license.  I was driving anyway, from village to village, town to town.

I had parked nose-first in someone's driveway, at a trailer park, and was at the front of the vehicle when I slipped in the snow and slid down toward the backyard.  But there was no backyard -- it just sloped down about twenty feet to a cliff, and below that was a long, long drop into barren forest.  A tree just before the edge was all that stopped me.

My left arm was holding something I didn't want to let go, so I had to grab some roots with my right, and pull myself up.  Eventually I was able to reach some fence that offered a better grip, and I climbed back up into the neighbor's yard.

I packed up and prepared to leave, though my truck was now a pushcart, and I headed off into the snow again.

God damned winter.