Monday, November 22, 2004


There's a greatness, a certain prodigiousness, that radiates from all genius. It's in their eyes - a liveliness, a type of burning, which, once witnessed, is never forgotten.

It's been said that women could not resist Picasso's stare, that his gaze bored into others with thunderous intensity.

Before the syphilis made him crazy, there was a volcanic glow which burned behind Nietzsche's eyes.

Dr. Henry Abrams, Einstein's opthamologist, has been quoted as saying of the physicist: "When you look into his eyes, you're looking into the beauties and mysteries of the world." In fact, he liked them so much that he removed Einstein's eyes during the autopsy in 1955.

I feel like I could expand on this idea further, but, after a weekend of excesses, my brain is not functioning to capacity.

Went to our going away party on Saturday - had way too much fun. My sleep that night/day was riddled with dreams of this wasteland, of sorts. I was looking at my brain as this large windswept prairie: sand dunes with tufts of brown grass sprouting from the top, telephone lines are broken and billowing from decaying wooden poles, tumbleweeds blow by. But for the wind, it's all silent. Occasionally, I get the sense that a giant plug is being pulled somewhere, power is lost, synapses being widened.

There are areas of deadness. Somewhere, something has been destroyed.

I'm in a dilapidated mansion now, and I'm terribly afraid that the whole world will soon be powerless. As I run from room to room, the lights are being shut down all around me. I'm frantic. I'm chasing the last bit of electricity. I see myself lying in bed now, and I can both feel and see the muscles twitching in my body.

I wake up at this point and my mouth is so dry I can not swallow. I reach for the real glass of water beside my bed and lift it, trembling, to my lips.

I'm weak. I have been running all night.

Friday, November 19, 2004


So today you're officially old - in your eyes anyway, the only eyes that really matter. 29. Jesus, you can't even lie and say you're in your mid-twenties anymore. No, 29 is for sure late-twenties.

And when I say late-twenties I mean old.

You're uncomfortable with being this age. When did adulthood start, anyway? Did you miss it? Was it 18? 21? Now, at 29, you still don't consider yourself an adult. And it's not one of those lame things where you intentionally avoid labeling yourself an adult for the sake of hanging onto your long-spent youth. No, you honestly still think yourself to be a kid.

Your banker, the guy who tells you what to buy and when, he's an adult. He's got a few nice suits, he leaves his home in the suburbs each morning, and drives to work in his new Lexus. He's got a plan for your life because you clearly don't. He's 24.

A friend of yours is dating a new guy. He's really great, she says, he's a graphic designer, owns a condo downtown. He's divorced, he's got a kid - he's 29. Almost thirty, you say, unable to hide your disbelief, you're dating a guy who's almost thirty!? You mock, but you've forgotten that you, too, are almost 30. One year away.

But you can't possibly be an adult, right? Sure, you're married and that's all fine and good, but adults have adult trappings - things like careers, kids, and property. A spacious house with a nice lawn, cutlery that's all from the same set, drinking glasses that you didn't steal from a bar. Important things. Real things?

So, 29 - not even a milestone year. A nothing year. A year that only brings you closer to the Final Mystery.

But not at all closer to being an adult.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


What do 500 books look like? Well, when you're moving they look like fourteen cardboard boxes. Fourteen heavy cardboard boxes that you have to walk down three flights of stairs. Fourteen heavy cardboard boxes that you have to load into a cube van (properly, to prevent shifting). Fourteen heavy cardboard boxes that you have to drive across the country (destroying any hope of getting even decent mileage). Fourteen heavy cardboard boxes that you then have to unload, carry into your new place, unpack, and put on the shelves (in a very particular order because you're such a giant freak).

Why do you keep them? Jerry asked this exact question in an episode of Seinfeld titled "The Ex-Girlfriend" back in 1991:

"What is this obsession people have with books? They put them in their houses like they're trophies. What do you need it for after you read it?"

So why can't you part with them? You've read them all, were inspired by them or not, made your notes when you felt the need, and put them on shelves (in a very particular order because you're such a giant freak). Approximately 80% of the books are never looked at again, so why not get rid of them? Give them to someone who will read them, who will put them on his shelf (in a very particular order because he's such a giant freak), who will never look at them again.

Perhaps you keep that set of Piers Anthony's Xanth novels to remind you of your awkward early teens. Maybe that motley assortment of occult books reminds you of your late teens, of a time when life still held mysteries. It was Fitzgerald who inspired you in your early twenties, and maybe that's why you keep a dozen of his books around. Your mid-twenties were filled with the works of Canadian authors, authors like Mordecai Richler, Timothy Findley, and Margaret Atwood - this might explain the large collection of Canadiana. And now, now into your late twenties? You're amassing a new assortment of books. Books written by authors with one name: Borges, Kafka, Beckett, Calvino, Yourgrau, Ballard.

And the books pile up. Perhaps next time you move you'll have twenty boxes. Thirty? Your wife tells you to quit buying books, that you're obsessed. You tell her you can't stop, and ask her why should you. You read them all, right? You pass a used-book shop and you can not resist the urge to stop in. Have a look around. They might have that book you've been looking everywhere for, that last Yourgrau book to complete your collection. It really has been elusive. You stop in, start in the Y section, and find that you're out of luck.

You do, however, find that Berkeley book you've been thinking about - for only three dollars! And you couldn't possibly pass up those two Robert Anton Wilson books - where would you ever find them again at that price?

You go home and, because you're moving, put them in a box.

The box serves a dual purpose:

1. It will carry these books to your new location.
2. It will temporarily hide your sickness from your wife.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Haiku for today.

The clatter of pigeons' feet
on a rusty roof.
So it is, your voice.


To: Conscious
From: Unconscious
Date: 16.11.04
Re: Organizational Changes

Dear _____,

You can never be an artist, but only attempt to become one. To live a life of arts is to live life in a state of perpetual becoming, akin to walking an endless road, but more like falling forever.

Take a look at the following three incidents:

1. At an opening last year, you met the famous artist, OH. While he shook your hand, OH leaned in close and said: I have seen your work - beautiful. You are very talented. The way you handle a knife - the way you can turn mountains into perfect geometrical shapes (and such clean lines!) with the blade - that is where your talent lies. It is your thing. He smiled, you smiled, and you released hands. The next day you obsessed over what he said. But what of my brushwork?, you asked yourself repeatedly, he didn't mention my brushwork! And from that point forward, you almost quit the knife, using it instead as a tool, and only when necessary. You can't be happy being great at something. No, you have to try to be great at everything. Your lines are not so clean anymore.

2. A colleague, a friend, once said of your writing: You have this way of writing the sick, the depressed, the lonely, that makes me really believe them. While reading your work I feel disconnected, detached, almost completely separated from my own emotions. I become a character in your story, lost and alone, too. You wouldn't speak to this friend for months. You couldn't. You blocked her on MSN, you couldn't return her calls, you left her email unanswered. You were working on a story filled with happiness. You'd show her - next time you spoke you'd have something really sunny for her to read. The characters wouldn't have addictions, wouldn't live alone - they would live contented lives filled with purpose and meaning. You wrote the story, but never showed it to the friend. And I just have to tell you - it stinks, don't show it to anyone.

3. While a passenger in a friend's car one day, one of your songs came on the stereo. You groaned and tried to change it, but he blocked all attempts. You were forced to listen. You turned your head, and watched through the window as the fields zipped by, and all the while your head was filled with anger and criticism. criticism for something you created. Something you were satisfied with enough to record. To make eternal. The mixing is all wrong, you thought, the vocals not loud enough, the drums sound like shit, the rhythm guitar is way too loud. Your little internal tantrum was interrupted by the end of the song, and your friend saying: I still find it hard to believe that's you. I mean, I heard it a few times before without even making the connexion. You're just usually so quiet, you know? It's really good! Catchy! At this, the little dictionary in your head started working. Good. Better than average. Well, that's just not good enough for you.

No, you will never be satisfied. You live in a world where compliments are something to be feared. You reject them. To create a work that everybody likes means that you are reaching an end. The pinnacle of your talent. And you fear that. It is far easier to hear criticism. It means you still have further to go. But you don't know that this road has no end.

You are falling, but there is nothing to break the fall.




Friday, November 12, 2004


Come on over. We'll pretend you never met those others, you never moved away, we never got older. We'll listen to Left and Leaving, put that first song on repeat - we'll hear it like we used to. I'll bring you a beer. Remember when we used to drink right out of the bottle?

You've become too metropolitan for that now.

I hear from others the sort of person you've become: hiding behind mod glasses and camouflaged in argyle, collecting obscure bands, wielding witty quotations like combat knives, ready to strike at the slightest provocation. What type of life is this? Good God, I hear you actually have a cardigan with elbow patches.

You're destined to live out the rest of life in the cluttered aisles of nearly-new record stores, between the towering shelves of used-book shops, and amid the disorganised racks of sweater-vests in second-hand clothing outlets.

More collecting than gathering. More amassing than collecting. More hoarding than amassing. Yes, hoarding, you're hoarding possessions. Other people's possessions, other people's belongings, other people's lives.

Accouterments signaling a distinct lack of self-knowledge.

You're wearing another's clothes. Listening to another's music. Speaking another's words. Thinking another's thoughts.

But it's not too late.

Come on over. We'll watch terrible movies, not films, but movies like Animal House and Spaceballs. We'll wear our shoes in the house, just like we used to, and put them right up on the coffee table. We'll eat chips out of the bag - remember when we used to eat chips right out the bag? - and we'll read Archie Comics because we don't care about impressing anyone with our intellect. No one.

And you'll leave that stupid sweater at the door.

The one with those pretentious elbow patches.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004


It's Ali vs. Clay
Both pummeling away
A champ always fights themself


More aloof than remote. More detached than aloof. More steely than detached. Yes, steely, he's steely. The man has a steely manner about him. New gunmetal-grey suit of a rather severe cut, no hint of pin-striping which might imply some sense of originality; cold steel-framed glasses hover in front of an expressionless face: emotionless.

He's rigid in his chair, an office chair of a startlingly austere style, sitting directly across from me, waiting, waiting, waiting for me to answer the first question. The atmosphere in the office is static - my silence is barely being tolerated.

The windowless office, incommodious space as it is, seems to exist for the sole purpose of exaggerating my opponent's sterile nature. Nothing adorns its white, white walls, but a single solitary clock, directly behind me, or, depending on how you choose to look at things, directly in front of him. Nothing sits upon the plain stainless steel desk but an ancient black rotary telephone. Nothing is in the wastepaper basket.

Soon Suspension, Anticipation, Expectation, and Impatience all crowd into the room with us, jostling, bumping, nudging, shouldering. It's cramped. A bead of sweat breaks out on my forehead - makes a run for my chin via the side of my face.

The man waits, silently he waits. I have forgotten the question.

We sit like this, arrested, until I wake up.

Monday, November 8, 2004


He's leaving his silhouette behind - from this point forward it is all you will have to know. He's retreating deeper into that echoing cavern - his intellect, his self - and he's shrinking back from the infected touch of his fellow man.

The subway is death.
Too many people-
Advertising overdose.

Something in him, however, prevents him from disappearing completely - he chooses to leave a window open. The window is open so that you may look in, but you are only to see what he chooses. He busies himself with erecting elaborate sets, staging plays, getting the lighting just right. You're seeing a fiction of sorts. A show. And you are the audience.

How much do you know?
He hides best when in full view,
Wearing someone else.

Does it matter if you never know what is real? Who he really is? Some words come to mind: impostor, deceiver, liar, cheat. Actor. What if he no longer knows? What if something, someone, is so carefully counterfeited, forged - no, simulated - that it, he, is indistinguishable from the original? The integrity of the archetype is totally undermined. He's fooled himself. What, then?

He's slipping away
To the other side of here,
Never to be found.

Climb through that window. Slap him around a bit. Tell him that he's full of shit, that he's not fooling anybody but himself. Knock down the set, rip up the stage, and smash out those lights. In the darkness all is revealed.

No silhouette.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

Haiku for today.

A schoolgirl sits,
Leaves falling at her feet-
The park bench will outlast her.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

a day

3 hours, 15 minutes ago:

I pull myself out of bed, wash my face, and feel sorry for myself as I realise that upon waking I'm still bothered by cat allergies. Toothbrush in mouth, I reach down to pet said cat and he punches my hand away; he's not being incredibly nice to me lately, and I'm thinking: is this worth it?

3 hours, 5 minutes ago:

I'm making breakfast - a Monterey Jack omelet, side of bacon, and coffee. I have never eaten an omelet as good as mine. When it comes to omelets there is no room for modesty. Mine rule. All others pale in comparison.

2 hours, 45 minutes ago:

I'm lounging in the brown leather armchair within reach of my bookshelves. I have Dostoevsky's The Idiot open in my lap. I've read it before, so I'm not truly into it - more daydreaming instead. It's raining outside, and there's a TV on somewhere in my flat. Regis and Kelly. I can make out Regis' voice from here.

1 hour, 55 minutes ago:

I'm sitting in the sun room drinking a coffee and watching the rain through the window. The odd car drives by, but nobody is on the street. I'm thinking about getting older. I turn 29 this month. Things change as you age. Your coffee gets blacker, your steak get rarer, and you sit in the back of taxis rather than in the front.

40 minutes ago:

I'm sitting at the computer looking at the news. There is talk that Arafat might be dead. From another room, the TV tells me that George Bush is holding a press conference about something else. I can make out Bush's voice from here.


I'm still sitting at my computer; I'm procrastinating. I have a lot to do, but am finding other things to do instead. Things like thinking about old commercials. Where's the beef! a wise woman once exclaimed. And, indeed, where is the beef? Baudrillard says that it no longer exists. Berkeley says that it never did. And Derrida - well Derrida says that it exists only in that sentence and nowhere else.

Where are the Weapons of Mass Destruction, George?