Monday, November 20, 2006

a new kind of war

looking down at a city i feel like i am ancient history looking at the future, shining steel, a million burning lights, cold electricity, perfect elegant silent machines gliding as smoothly as curves of water. i get a feeling of power beyond the control of humans, a force moving in time that expands without our intention. i wonder if the ones who look out of windows from the top floors of the glass pinnacles feel they understand it, that they have planned this.

because i am an animal with an immortal soul that is as old as soil. looking to the faultless euclidean skyline i feel archaic, a small being under these things, these crazy luminous patterns of concrete and steel growing across the landscape came from the imaginations and energy of my species.

here in the twenty-first century our species (yours and mine) has mastered the machine. for all of our history we have done everything with simple labor of our hands. then suddenly came the thing called industrialization, roughly 250 years ago. with the advance of science came new tools and machines that could produce powers beyond the wildest speculation of the smartest people.

before this, most people were farmers, or hunters. then they began to drift to the cities. The cities grew with factories and great buildings to stack the people in. Cities are the brains of civilization, and they began to grow very big. roads are like neural networks, buildings are organs of resources and information. people are carriers, like red blood cells, moving resources and information in an increasingly complex system.

cities are now far beyond even that. sometime around, now

the world population has tipped from living mainly in the country to mainly in the city. now we have surrounded ourselves with cities. they have burst and flooded the land around them with the hum of wires, the glare of streetlights, and the sprawling ghettos of mammoth third world metropolises; dense unofficial cities growing on the peripheries, housing made from the debris of civilization, without gleaming lights nor planned sanitation; names like Sao Paulo, Delhi, Bombay, Shanghai, Kinshasa, Mexico City.

We are entering a new phase of human history, when the power of civilization exceeds human wisdom. It could be beautiful, it could be terrible. It will be both. And already we are coming to see ourselves as beings of a planet, a pale blue marble hanging in a great dark ocean.

Yet somehow in this great teeming future we have not even mastered that blackest part of our civilization. wars still bleed across the planet in many places and many forms. death and pain, a living nightmare, and we all wake up with it. Here in the sheltered west we even we in our warm cities still feel it, the dark world over there, over there, words now with an air like the names of demons; Iraq, Sudan, Gaza, Congo, Uganda, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Haiti.

Over here too. Under the cities Kids on reservations drinking gasoline and screaming I WANT TO DIE, American ghettos, the US has the second highest number of child prostitutes in the world (250-340,000). And the granddaddy of them all, the exploitation of third world populations by the consumption demands of the first world. The lights of the shining world draining the energy of the darkened world. It may be these things will just become less and less interesting to the people living in the high cities. We are on the verge of even more immense power as we move into this age of genetic manipulation and atomic circuitry and the life of the city is becoming more and more distant from the country. We are transforming ourselves or being transformed, but into what is not known.

I saw a rave the other night. In a dark hall thousands of people raised their hands up to music that sounded like a very elegant machine playing a very primitive beat. Laserlights moved gracefully through the air making patterns in space. Its the future, I thought, the age of the machine.

Friday, October 27, 2006

the bible

My first experience of Christianity was in my grandmother’s curtained, moody living room when I was very little, just learning to talk. I remember noticing a figure on her wall of a sad looking man. It began to dawn on me that the man was cut and bleeding. I was confused that my grandmother (being the essence of decency and normality) would have such a thing hanging on her wall. I looked up at my mother and asked,

“Who is that?”

My grandmother was mortified. “Oh my god, your son doesn’t know who Jesus Christ is,” she said to my mother.

I grew up without any kind of religious belief. I couldn’t have been more than six or seven when I realized that when I died I might cease to exist. The notion came upon me as a feeling of cold clean darkness. I used to lie in bed at night, thinking about nuclear bombs. I thought about thousands of nuclear bombs being detonated all over the world. I remember the image in my mind of mushroom clouds going up into a pitch black night alighting the land in deep red shadows. A great horror came over me, that everyone in the world would die and cease to exist. Just an eternal night that I wouldnt even know.

Being six or seven years old, it was at this stage in my conjectures that I began to cry. I would creep into my parents’ bedroom around one in the morning, sniffling and frightened, and crawl into the bed between them. Sometimes I would beg them for assurance. One night (and I may have dreamed this) at some weary hour my exasperated father shouted at me that when you die you die and there’s nothing.

I don’t know exactly how this era in my life ended. It went on for a few months, until one summer day I said that if this is all there is, then at least it should be happy, and I should love all these tragic souls as best I could. I accepted the end.

That doesn’t mean I stopped being afraid of ending. I think I was more afraid of the end and of pointless suffering, considering the implications.

Here, now as a grownup (at least biologically) I’ve come to see that there is something alive about me and everyone else that is a lot more profound than I understand. It is impossible for me to believe that the miracle of being alive at all is an accessory to biology. Rather, it is obviously the essence of biology.

That means I believe in god. I believe in a living spirit that transcends mere mechanics and creates all things. Yahweh, Allah, Atma, Tao, Great Spirit; praise be to all your funny names.

I’ve had many teachers, but my first and best church has been the woods. A tree is, in essence, the purest form of life. All it does is live and grow. It takes light and water and makes food for all life. It accepts all destruction and grows as long as it is able, without thought. It is basic innocence. Many trees together are a chorus of purity.

another kind of new testament

I looked for god everywhere, in my friends, in religions, in books, in my mind, under stones. I would find bits and pieces. I did not bother with Christianity because that was crazyshit, and I wasn't interested in crazyshit.

Truth is not contained in a book. Truth is as natural and indigenous to life as sun and moon. So is god. But humans are mortal and confused and imperfect and so their religions are all clumsy attempts at describing god. There are no false religions and no true religions. Like children learning how to draw pictures, human religions are gradual attempts at understanding and all religions are valuable as expressions of how god is understood in their own age. Our notions of god change just as our notions of earth, of art, of anything, change.

There are of course better religions and worse ones. Possibly one of the most irritating debates of modern times is between Objective and Relative truth. The answer is so bloody obvious it ought to be stamped on the front of every bible and the front of every postmodernism reader:

Truth is objective, the perception of truth is relative. As all humans are mortal and finite, everyone sees objective truth but they perceive it in their own way.

My hope for the future is that one day children will be given religious buffets in school. You will walk into class and several different religions will be taught. Now the Bible says this, and the Buddha says that. Questions like,

"If Coyote met Jesus at a barbecue, what icebreaker would they start the conversation with?"

But after many years of disregarding Christianity, I've decided to no longer draw my conclusions from the solid foundation of wilful ignorance. I actually read the Bible and the truth is it is a very spiritual book.

The Bible is the story of a little people called the Jews. It is about their beliefs in the origins of the world and the history of their people. The Jews are underdogs. Its a book about people struggling between the good and evil in themselves, always falling short of what they know they should be: honourable, loving and spiritual in the best sense of the word. In this history is a beautiful intermingling of humour and madness, generosity and fanaticism, wisdom and delusion. It is possibly the most profound book ever written, and now it seems no surprise that it has been responsible for the two most dominant religions in the world today (Christianity and Islam) neither of which is believed by the Jews, ironically.

But the enduring story in the Bible, the common theme is the relationship of god and humanity. The Jews are a people who are passionately obsessed with their god and regarded god as their rightful king. Perhaps quite understandably, the Jews believed that god was as obsessed with them as they were with him.

Then one day a little man who came from some hick Jewish village, told the Jews he was their god and he had some things to add. He told them that all was forgiven, that god loved them as a father loves his children and that they had a responsibility to realize their natures as children of god and make the world a paradise (the Kingdom of Heaven). So they killed him.

The Jews didn't kill him, incidentally. The Romans actually tortured and killed him. But the Romans were bigger and stronger than the Jews, so it was easier for a lot of people to blame them.

The early Christians added their accounts of this little guy to this great, passionate story of god and humanity and for two thousand years now the book of a small, insignificant tribe has endured and spread to every corner of the globe. It has been the foundation of countries, influenced millions and millions of people, it has inspired massacres, profound acts of kindness, scientific discoveries (Newton and Kepler spent their lives trying to understand god and inadvertently discovered gravity and the laws of planetary motion, respectively), oppressions, peacemaking and vicious ignorance. The Antislavery movement in Britain was championed by the Christian Quakers while many of the enslaved tribes were annihilated by Christians who saw them as demonic for their pagan religions. The vast history of this book is as complex and powerful as the story itself.

The attraction to Christianity for me is this powerful idea of a loving god who has a very personal relationship with you. And god is god, not nature, not a human, but supernatural, literally, greater than the world as it is perceived.

My repulsion to Christianity is its exclusivity. The only truth comes from the Bible. Everything else is at best useful or at worst demonic. When you read the Bible, from Genesis to the preaching of Jesus, you understand that you believe this or you're screwed. The trouble is I know that isn't true. I've found real spiritual education in sweat lodges, buddhist meditation, in the lectures of Atheists and of course walking the forests of the earth. According to Christianity there is but one path to god and it is through the Bible and Jesus Christ, but I think what many Christians fail to see is why Jesus taught in parables.

Why did Jesus teach in parables? Because he understood that the spiritual world does not function the same as the natural world, though I believe they are intrinsic to each other. You can't teach spiritual lessons the same way you teach people to count or build a retaining wall. You have to reach a part of someone's being that spends a lot of its time sleeping or half-awake (the spirit). So he tells stories about mustard seeds or a farmer and his sons. Everyone knows Jesus isn't talking about a real guy or how to plant a crop, he's talking about how life works spiritually and morally.

Jesus isn't unique among religious teachers in this respect. There are hundreds of oral and written traditions around the world that use this same method and for the same reason. But Jesus was one of the wisest and greatest of these teachers, and I think he understood his role of waker-upper better than anyone. He was ruthless in teaching people to wake up to their greater natures, constantly urging people towards purity and god. His teaching is so powerfully direct it can single-handedly transform a life or destroy one.

I do not believe that the Bible is the source of all truth about god, or that Jesus was a manifestation of god, whose martyrdom took all transgressions away from humans who accepted him as their king. The troubling aspect of Christian teachings is that it is so unequivocal it easily divides the world into Christian (towards god) and Non-Christian (away from god). I think Christians suffer from a jingoism (e.g. words like covenant, revival or the Word) which is indicative of cultish tendencies rather than spiritual teaching. There are moral and historic assertions in the Bible that are clearly cultural and have no spiritual validity unless it is rationalized by modern thinkers. I think the idea that Christianity is the only true religion harms its spiritual purity rather than preserves it, for this seeks to capture god in a book and if the Bible has taught me anything it is that god is vaster than the horizon, more profound that the wisest teacher, and god loves and embraces all things that live, Christian or not.

So in honor of that great teacher, I’ll leave you with a little parable:

There was a farmer who had two sons. The farmer told his sons, you are both restless and irritating me, go out into the woods and play.

So the two boys left the house and went into the forest to play. After many hours of running through the trees, they looked up and saw the sky darkening. The boys realized they were lost. When they were nearly in tears from fear and worry, they heard their father’s voice calling them from far away. His voice was strong but it echoed strangely off the trees and the hills of the forest and sometimes seemed to be coming from one path or another. Each boy heard the sounds coming from these different paths and in a panic ran blindly along, each taking a different way. Finally they both emerged at far ends of the forest from each other and saw their father standing at the edge of a field, his hands cupped around his mouth and calling them.
Both boys were covered in cuts and bruises from their urgency. The one brother called to the other and said,

“You took the wrong path! You cannot get to father that way!”

The other brother said, “Of course I can, I can see him as well as you!”

But the first brother argued, “Look at you, covered in cuts and bruises! And see, there are ditches and thorns in this field between you and father! Go back into the forest and come the way I have come and I will tell father you are coming!”

And the second brother said, “That doesn’t make any sense! The same ditches and thorns stand in your way as well, and you too are covered in cuts and bruises”

The two boys stood there arguing until the father yelled,

“What are you arguing about? Get over here!”

Friday, September 22, 2006

hugo chavez and the devil

Chavez speaking with a voter in 2005

As I sat down to watch Fox News last night, I was delighted to catch Neil Cavuto’s coverage of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s address to the UN General Assembly. Fox never fails to disappoint the political viewer, right or left, by managing to deliberately outrage, incite or offend somebody somewhere. Indeed, I sometimes suspect that Fox’s burgeoning audience half consists of right-wingers looking for reasons to be outraged, and the other half of left-wingers looking for reasons to be offended.

So one can imagine the slow smile that crept across my face when a Fox correspondent told of how he caught up with Chavez after his speech and asked him the obvious question, “Why do you hate America?”

To Fox’s credit, they did air Chavez’ reply to this most important question. The Venezuelan president placidly explained that he did not hate America, in fact he loved America and its people, only hated its imperialism and its current administration. While there were raised, disapproving eyebrows all round at Fox News, no one outright called him a liar.

Like Fox News, Chavez likes to gain attention for his political cause by making outrageous statements. His address to the UN General Assembly was not just a tirade against the U.S.-directed geopolitical model (especially against President Bush himself) and a promotion of the Venezuelan Republic as a global defender of justice and truth, it was deliberately insulting. Not only did Chavez refer numerous times to Bush as, “the Devil,” he at one point called the “American Empire” every bad name he could summon, such as racists, assassins, and genocidal. Chavez went so far as to declare that the world was rising up against its real oppressor, the United States. Promoting Noam Chomsky’s “Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance” was, I thought, a charming touch.

These are the sort of statements that cast international politics in a whole new light. Chavez is not a rebel in the same sense as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose dissent is exclusively concerned with problems facing the Islamic world. Chavez is taking on the capitalist system in the name of the world community, many years after history was supposed to have ended and communism tossed onto the same scrap heap as totalitarianism. The Venezuelan president is claiming the privilege of defining global democracy, something that traditionally only the West is supposed to do.

The truth is had Chavez refrained from calling Bush names, no one would have paid any attention to his address, nor to any of the reforms and criticisms that he put forth. The Brazilian president Lula DaSilva’s UN address went comparatively unnoticed, despite the fact that Brazil is a far bigger player on the world stage and is really the greater power in the South American sphere. Brazil is part of the “second-world”, along with countries like India or Turkey, the “second world” being defined as a country of first-world relevance possessing third-world influence. For an eternity, it seems, these sorts of nations have been struggling for a share in the debate and determination of global policy, and have largely gone ignored.

Venezuela could also be considered a “second-world” nation, but thanks to Chavez newspapers will be printing articles, editorials and commentaries all over the world today discussing Venezuela’s elected leader. In a rare moment, the first world lost the spotlight to a politician speaking for the rest of the world.

Tragically, however, whatever media attention Chavez has gained through his admittedly hilarious statements regarding Bush’s metaphysical origin, none of his more grounded criticisms will be understood, much less discussed in the public arena. In his address, the Venezuelan president asked why the alleged terrorist Luis Posada Carriles was allowed to remain free in the US, (he is held responsible for blowing up a Cubana plane in the 1970’s killing 73 people, as well as several terror bombings in Havana), if the US is so dedicated to its War on Terror? He raised the uncomfortable memory of the procrastination of the Security Council during the Israeli devastation of Lebanon only a few weeks ago. Chavez went on to challenge the Bush doctrine’s notion of global democracy, calling it “the false democracy of elites.”

Additionally, he made some bold and necessary statements concerning the mission and function of the United Nations. He told the General Assembly that it remained a “purely deliberative organ” of little consequence. He reminded them of four proposals made the previous year for UN reform, all of which deserve repeating here: an expanded Security Council, an effective and transparent method to address regional conflicts, the suppression of the veto currently held by the five permanent members of the Security Council, and increasing the powers of the office of Secretary General.

Chavez was proposing nothing less than the removal of power in the UN from the hands of the big five and turning it over to the rest of the world. It’s a brave statement, not least because its generally understood that countries like the United States would sooner leave the UN than give up its veto. Perhaps that is what Chavez is hoping for.

Whatever effect he intended to have on his audience and on the public discourse, his more substantial arguments were not discussed in the news today. Not one mainstream news organization made any mention of the four proposed UN reforms (with the exception of mentioning in all seriousness Chavez’s joke about moving the UN out of America and relocating it in Venezuela). In the world presented by the major media, UN reform is the domain of American critics like UN Ambassador John Bolton, not third world proponents of its democratization. Nor did any of them mention the name of Carriles, or for that matter the names of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and US citizen Ronni Moffit (the day of his speech, September 20, Chavez observed, just happened to be the 30th anniversary of their assassination as part of a US-backed campaign against Chilean activists). On the other hand, Chavez’s indictments of American foreign policy were well documented, but only in the context of his devilish slurs against Bush, and so lost much of their political potency.

So to a certain extent President Chavez bears the blame for the reception of his remarks, and I’m sure he would happily accept responsibility for them. For anyone following the career of Hugo Chavez, it is well-known that he detests George W. Bush, and this type of rhetoric is nothing new. From his speech a few years ago calling Bush “an asshole” for believing Iraq had WMD’s, to his assertion that Bush is the world’s number one terrorist (Chavez was clutching an AK-47 at the time, don‘t ask me why), the Venezuelan president dislikes his American counterpart not just in matters of policy, but seemingly on a very personal level. Perhaps this is understandable when Chavez himself was nearly deposed from power in 2002 in a coup attempt, with credible evidence to suggest it was backed by the Bush administration.

None of this will be understood in the mainstream media. He will be seen only as either an amusing or dangerous lunatic, but as Neil Cavuto put it, “he may be a nut, but he’s not stupid.”

Monday, September 18, 2006

lady, i'm drunk

In this gentle year of 2000 and 6 I lie at my ease here under the English sun - with clouds, kind air… clouds that move and don’t ask why. Away across the land and oceans is blood on the walls of Lebanese towns, weeping mothers in darkened Israel’s livingrooms, the thousand forgotten anonymous murders, farther down the land, soft dying Sudanese mothers holding growling-stomached little boys, too young but still so curious with the curves of cirrus clouds like me and my eyes, across all this earth and its talking wind (and there are songs in the wind, hear the songs of Ancient Afternoon, a drifting song carrying bird songs, lapping of waves songs, winds through forests of a million million million evergreens, a flood of triumphant leaves, and above us Sunlight flowing from our most almighty star, Miss Sun, who bulges pregnantly and always is just light, pure light that drips onto leaves, leaves that… listen – these leaves contain so much miracles of that which is holy or rare or impossible – in their stomata and cells and chlorophylls, that they gather light in green bowls and send them tripping, stumbling into new leaves, new grass: light dancing in a ballroom of crystal sugar, waiting to send more laughing, crazed light streaming into the wet cacophony of all life, then this light makes little teeth, ladybugs, horses, aneurysms, wildfires, carrion birds, then, then always and then, always light making everything madly and why o why oh no, no why, you child: no why, only something more than why, always and

Who would publish this the seditious truth: that nation-states, corporations, depressions, words of honor, heartbreak, curves of history, great wars, dead heroes, are just light trapped by sugar? Light of this right here on the ground, the column of Wellington in Trafalgar square “ruling” the world, is made of light? I am light, and what else?

And what more than light? not only an impossible miracle, not only a breathing walking talking laughing death delusioned miracle, but more, impossibly more, and you dearest you, a casual miracle,

ah look down now at my hands, these hands that are casually countries of rivers of blood by veins and rolling hills of skin, healthy good blood, giving and now giving dancing breath and crystal palaces of living, look at all they’ve done- they touched you and sent waves, these same ones who bandaged holes in the bodies of dying children, and dug into soil (soil growing all life), cut and smashed through the black wet soil of living beings, digging into the ground of worms and dead flowers and the shit of animals, these hands that make words with scratches that say this, words for what? What could we possibly add?

Maybe I should have been born a river, that I could send water now into the hearts of fields, that I could have moved across the land, but maybe a river that could run into the stars of night, and past little houses warm and feeling eternal, made a million sunflowers

As a human back here I recline, I remember dimly feeling anguish, I remember that I betrayed myself and you and everyone else, though I knew or think I knew that life forgave me, laughed and said I love you and forgive you everything. I forgive you for everything, and maybe we cry when we know this and because we are not innocent enough to understand we can redeem ourselves without rebirth,

as a human again, alien, not starving, not a slave, not trapped in dead slums, not cut into, not loping along, but free, and almost perfect, I am almost a perfect human, no diseases, white as a cloud, insanity in me perfectly willing to sit as a dark subterranean lake, living among the shining cold metal of the conquerors of Paradise, people fight wars and I only have to listen to them, I had a dream once where the sky was an ocean.

Maybe instead I should have been a cloud, maybe I should have been rain, I could have made something of my body worthy of the noble weeds, curled myself into a storm and rained across the mountains and poured roars onto the pines until they sang back, bled new rivers down hillsides and carried a thousand children of flowers, daisies, asters, black-eyed susans, down into valleys where I would have called them to grow into anonymous fields of real beauty,

You don’t understand. I could have been a general, I could have killed a thousand birds and made a thousand widows, I could have opened the mouths of a thousand tigers and their maws would have made storms of fire. Power singing through my veins, my every word a contained fire, my eyes painted steel: a small child who shouted statues are men,

To say there is no god is to laugh at one’s eyes, for me here is a miracle, that I am alive at all.
And if I am alive then everyone is alive, and then everything is alive.

Think of that – everything is alive. And they all try.

To try,
This moment is only now, here, the restless eternal part of me pushes against my ribs, asks what civilizations are to come? What do other stars look like? What other galaxies? What new wildernesses of centuries?
But look, here are little… the smallest, of leaves dangling in the summersun, humbly breathing.
if I am honest,
then I am a glow, born from the womb,
wishing I was more,

Sunday, September 03, 2006

the second wave of socialism

Damien Walker came back from China and we got coffee and sat on the steps of the old church on the corner. Little kids, crying or laughing or screaming or meditating, would pass on the street every once in a while and make us both pause unintentionally.

His face is harder after two years over there, or maybe just after two years of living. He turns up his forearm to show me a little tattoo of a hammer and sickle nested inside the red star of socialism. There is a seriousness in his eyes when he looks down at it.

“The communists are fucked,” he says and takes a drag off his cigarette.

He’s become more political since the last time we talked. He tells me in fierce words the necessity for armed revolution in order to create real socialism in the world. He is clearly inspired by Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, who while clutching an AK-47 told a group of reporters that the United States was the world’s number one terrorist.

We’ve been friends for around fifteen years now, and I remember when I met him, he still wore an intense militant frown, but then he had a safety pin through his ear.

He came from a small mining town in Northern Ontario; only the mining industry was contracting when he grew up. The culture in his world was hostile, unforgiving and proudly ignorant. The boys liked cars and drinking and fighting. Damien loved to read and think. He would go out into the bush with the one or two kindred fellows that there were, and invent fictitious worlds in which they were heroes, explorers or magicians.

They invented whole mythologies of magic they attributed to the land and themselves. They would take rifles and bread and camp out winter and summer in the enduring wilderness that seemed to embrace them. Out there, the world was alive. It was possible to believe among the thriving forests that the world was not really dead and heartless.

In the towns his little clan were bonded mainly because they were scorned as freaks in their schools and in their families. Damien was chased by bigger kids and beaten regularly by them through his childhood. As the mines cut back and laid people off, his already bleak industrial town grew in alcoholics and brooding, angry fathers.

He escaped that place when he was sixteen and went to live in the city with his father. He escaped the place where thought and imagination was despised and punished by a brutal cult of the hard-working, unsoft, factory-worshipper. Damien was conscious of his own life, and was curious about what it meant. He loved that the world was a potential ocean of beautiful and strange things. And growing up he had to arm himself against his own world, which tried to kill these things in him until he too would only like cars and beer and violence. Many of the friends he left behind, the other magicians, crumbled and suffered mental illnesses and depression and suicide.

So Damien had been prepared for warfare at an early age, but a war no one in his town could even grasp. In the city he was free and left to move in whatever direction he wanted. His father was schizophrenic and a serious alcoholic who could only relate to his son as some sort of intellectual colleague of his conspiracy theories and grand schemes. When his father moved in to tell him drunkenly about the telephone company’s secret plan to control the world, Damien’s hands would curl into fists and through his jaws would say,

“Yes, yes. Right, dad.”

At sixteen Damien became the adult in his father’s house.
Already he saw himself only somewhat consciously as being engaged in a psychic war with the world around him. Being free he now started to grow unchallenged, becoming enamoured with poets like Rimbaud and Baudelaire, with intense mystical philosophies, with Nihilism, with fantasy worlds. He was trying to transform himself into something that was not normal and dead, and he adorned himself with dark spirits, black thorns, but also shining lights, and ancient words.

I remember him, a skinny, intense teenager, telling me that Nihilism offered the path to truth; to destroy everything, he said fiercely, to eradicate oneself because you are composed of lies, good is a lie, evil is a lie. Around this time Damien’s arms gradually became a mass of burn marks and huge slashes.

I’d almost forgotten them, but they were actually beautiful. Even in self-destruction he believed in grace and care. I actually helped burn one of those marks into his arm. The slashes were deep and ugly, and remained there for years. The cigarette burns were huge, but they formed together an abstract pattern. He turned his arms into Jackson Pollocks. For him, they symbolized sorrow and change.

We parted ways around this time for awhile, because Damien had become as dark and hostile as the city, his new home. The city could have easily swallowed him up and made him one of its own, but in the end Damien’s soul is gentle and thoughtful, not violent.

He emerged from this darkness to find himself alone, in a small university town. He says that for a couple of years he had no contact with any friends. He thought a lot about god, and himself. He began to see himself as a humble soul, and no longer as an aspiring demigod. His natural mind began to assert itself, and he looked deeper into the world around him.

I have a great affection of Damien, although this would still embarrass him I think. He was born into a world that was grooming him for nightmares, instructing him self-hatred and perversion of life. He is driven to rigorously hold himself to an inner standard. He was being trained to use his mind to transform his character into a thing of power and contempt, and instead chose to turn and face his own character. There he found a real being, a thing of light and curiosity.

He still contains a sense of being at war, and he is not necessarily wrong. Yet, like most of my friends, he has begun to drift through life. When we were young, transformation seemed to be what made life meaningful. We were obsessed with changing into things greater than what we were, better, not ugly like how we felt. Then slowly, that frantic urge to chrysalis ebbs away, and you begin to feel that changing was something you did because you’d been a victim of the world. Once you survive, you begin to reach out for other meanings. In the end, transformation meant to prepare you for the real work of life. But neither of us had found it.

Damien drifted on to China to teach, and has come back with politics in his heart. Chinese communism to Damien is a vicious fascism, no more a socialist country than Cuba is a capitalist country. He sits there on the steps of the church, the big maples that line the street waving their leaves and making the sunlight around us jump and blink, staring out onto the street, telling me about how Mao’s ideas were betrayed, (he shows me the Little Red Book he carries around with him). He tells me about ugly disparities in wealth; a top of the line Audi or shining Hummer roaring down the street past a shrivelled old man in sandals pulling a cart and donkey. Few understand or care about the revolution in China, he remarks, they are like kids all over the world, concerned with pop stars, their personal success, or seemingly nothing at all. China is the worst of communism and capitalism, without free speech, and with massive exploitation of the working poor.

He wants to practice shooting rifles, and make enough money to get to a place like Cuba or Venezuela, and contribute to a real communist revolution. He does not see himself as a brilliant thinker or political leader. He is very practical about it,

“Well, I would go and teach. I would teach English or art or the principles of the revolution.

Maybe I would teach people how to think for themselves.”

I think he is serious. I can very easily see him teaching in some tropical country, living simply, trying to be as good a human being as possible, trying to protect the poor and the weak in the way that seems best to him.

We argue most of the day about politics. But we are very happy to do so, delighted with going deeper into questions of what is good and what is true. After fifteen years of friendship we have easy conversations ranging over every subject; history, politics, god, philosophy, science, art. Usually they are all tied together, flow naturally from one thing to the next. I do not agree with a lot of what he is telling me, which only makes our talk more interesting.

I like socialism but I’m not really interested in revolution. The problems go deeper and I’ve never heard a really good solution to them. I see communism as a pointless alternative to the injustices of capitalism. For me, real socialism means building wherever possible, not destroying, defending the innocent more than attacking the guilty. But I don’t really mind if Damien runs off and joins the communists. I don’t see any reason to question the purity of those hearts or intentions any more than anyone else’s. He traded cigarette burns on his arms for the Red Star, and if he represents a new socialism, it is of people armed not with an ideology but a spirit.

Friday, August 11, 2006

good morning

and inside of thinking about god is wondering what it means to be alive at all, and why is everything so goddamned mysterious.

People have all kinds of whys they are absolutely certain are the real whys, but I don’t believe them. The answer to why is not something that I will know is true from logic or explanation, but something I will feel. I’ll experience truth rather than think it, or I think so.

I am 31 years old. I was born on a small island in the Atlantic. Since then things have been confusing, but I’d like to give a report of what I’ve found out about god and about being alive.

The first thing is my awe at being here. What I mean by that is I woke up this morning and looked around. Morning light was flooding in through the window, (or whatever light does, no one’s really sure). I am alive this morning. I have this body. It is breathing. Air is being brought into it and absorbed through lungs. Air is then pushed out, stuff my body doesn’t want. The first thing I do in the morning is see. I have these two exquisite, tiny browny-green jewels in my head that draw in light and make a very good picture for my soul. They can move around and the picture that my soul sees is incredibly good, better than the best photographs in the world ever.

I’m also hearing things and feeling things; Ears and nerve endings, respectively. I can’t smell very well because I smoke tobacco, but I can smell things sometimes, which is when little particles go up my nose and turn into… smells. It’s weird to find I can’t describe a smell as a sensation. It’s like trying to describe the colour red.

I can sense something more too. Before I woke up, I was in a dream. A dream is a thing that is a lot like being alive, in fact I would say that it is a kind of life that you lead in addition to the awake life that you have. In a dream you find a world happening and you respond to it, and it responds to you. The world is almost always stranger than this world and very much more inconsistent. In a dream, I’ve gotten off a subway at a huge boat in the middle of the ocean. The dream world did not think it was necessary to explain how the subway got to the middle of the ocean, or why a boat needed a subway stop.

In a way, I could claim to have done all kinds of shit in my life. Once I was on Venus. Venus has a lot of Russians on it, I can tell you. I’ve seen ghosts. I was shot by a man outside a convenience store. I once met William S. Burroughs. I was once hugged by a blue heron.

I can fly, too.

When you are dreaming, you believe that what is happening is really happening. You don’t think that you are hallucinating or making it up. When I was on Venus, I thought I was really on Venus. What’s interesting is that when you dream, you don’t ask obvious questions like, “How the fuck did I get to Venus? Why am I not asphyxiating? Why didn’t the Russians tell anyone they are on Venus?” It doesn’t occur to you to question reality. There is a variety of dreaming called lucid dreaming when you realize you are awake. These moments feel very powerful, because you sense that you are actually in control of the reality around you. It seems like you can find secrets then.

Lucidity is defined by this little computer as being, among other things, “rational, and mentally clear, especially only for a period between episodes of delirium or psychosis.” I sort of mean that, but I would prefer to articulate “lucidity” as clarity, or an awareness of the context in which one finds oneself. So you are being exceptionally lucid when you say, “I am alive.” You are being exceptionally unlucid when you say, “may I take your order?”

Lucidity means to be aware of a more fundamental reality than is presented, and to be conscious of oneself and recognize the other selves around you. But this is a matter of degrees as well, as it is discovered that knowing the underlying truth is something that goes deeper and deeper as you look.

Anyhow, I’m starting to wander off, it’s been interesting, but let’s return to being alive.

I woke up out of a dream and into this morning, a morning that is holy because it is the only time this morning will ever be, this morning has never been and will never come again. This morning that is the mother of tomorrow morning and the grandmother of the day after that. And I realize very quickly that I wasn’t dreaming, that I was actually alive, and the world was not shifting and changing wildly. Unlike my dreams, it’s as though I can hear the world breathing too. Somehow, I sense life.

Being alive is such a simple fact that it’s significance is mostly taken for granted. The rare time that you hear someone make reference to it is when it looked like they were going to stop being alive but came out in one piece. “I’m alive, I’m alive!” People shout after a car accident or a bomb, and everyone understands they’re amazement and happiness. But if you wake up in the morning and say, “I’m alive!” people will look at you very curiously and say, “yes, you are.”

For me, being alive is a profound thing to be. It seems to me to be an actual miracle. If we define a miracle as an exceptional event that defies what is commonly accepted as ordinary, or an event that is divine in nature, then I think waking up in the morning, being alive and being conscious of being alive, is miraculous.

So I wake up and look outside, and light from the sun floods the world. There’s a big green tree, and wind is waving the big green branches of the tree and it makes a sound between a roar and a hiss. My eyes and ears tell me this, and something in my soul knows that this is not a dream. And I ask, “What’s that tree doing there? What’s a tree doing being a tree?”

Here’s the other significant part of waking up in the morning alive and not dead: for some reason I’m aware of it. For some reason someone inside my eyes and ears, someone inside the neural networks that take in and process the signals sent by these symphonic nerves, is getting all this information, all this incredibly complex technology, and is going, “that’s a tree.” That someone is the awake part, the living part. That is the soul. I imagine the soul to be a giant peeking through a keyhole.

Whoever you are that is reading this, there is an awake part of you that is experiencing these words and their meaning. If for a moment the belief systems, emotional dynamics and other personality structures, (you too, instinct) could be quiet for a second. I would like to say hi to the soul reading this:


This awake, experiencing part is miraculous. It means that life is not mechanical. It means that life is alive. There has always been a movement to prove that life is not awake, that it is a machine, that we are machines. Science, unfortunately, has been guilty of this, as we all know, giving people a disturbing feeling that since all their actions and impressions are controlled and possibly created by complex biological systems, that in the end they are just very strange robots.

Before science, religions around the world pulled the same shit on people. They informed people that their being alive was completely irrelevant unless very specific rules were obeyed, and even then being alive was only interesting insofar as it helped one god or another.

Life has mechanics, but life is not dead like a machine or a statue. That you read this and wonder is all the evidence you will ever need.

So here I am, I’ve proven that I can wake up in the morning and stare out a window. At this point I say,


Then I say,

“Good morning, everything.”

Everything about being alive is amazing. I have a body. Outside there is sky. There are all kinds of beings that are alive like me but are different and not me. And where is the creator? What gave birth to all this alive? And why?

When I was born, when I was a little baby, I was still me. I had the same soul. My personality was totally different. Back then, I was a terrible writer, and I didn’t understand hockey, and I wasn’t a socialist. My interests back then were pooping and staring. Apparently I smiled a lot.

My soul though, was still awake. I probably wasn’t as lucid; apparently it takes a couple of years for a child to distinguish between dreams and reality, which is interesting. I guess over time I got used to the idea of being human, so I went along with it and I got a lot classier once I’d accepted it. I learned that having hands could be amusing, and I didn’t have to pee if I didn’t want to, all kinds of shit.

It’s amazing but at one time my soul was inside something about the size of my finger, and I was probably about as conscious as an acorn. And maybe if my soul had ended up in an acorn, I would have grown to accept being an acorn, and not bothered so much about being conscious of stuff. Which definitely makes me appreciate the notion that a human birth is very precious and not to be pissed around with.

I guess I wonder if at one point in the past I met god, and just forgot with being so busy growing into a human.

I’ve come around to the notion that since I am alive, and that the very existence of existence is essentially a miracle far more profound than dead people waking up or statues bleeding, there must be something even more awake than me that unifies and gives birth to the world. The notion of god, the creator.

I don’t know what god is, or where. I’m pretty sure that somehow god is composed of everything. Things get confusing for me because it’s strange that everything is somehow unified and also somehow separate. There is a me, and there is a world. There is you, and that make you an “other”. For you, I am an “other.”

I don’t really need to answer this question, however. What I think is that god is alive, far more alive, if that’s possible, and awake than I am. Somehow I am part of god, I think. So my next question is, where do I meet god, or how do I meet god? I’ve tried talking to him in my head, but I just end up answering myself and pretending I’m god. The closest I’ve gotten so far is sensing that I’m no longer playing games but am starting to push out into a sense of life that is not based on nerve endings or ideas, but on my sensation of living

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

a sculptor has a block of marble

a sculptor has a block of marble and wants to carve the shape of a woman and he wants to show her in a posture of grace and fertility, bestower of fertility and he remembers a woman he once saw with a child in one arm and a basket in another and how she carried herself

so he starts scraping away at the block of marble which has sat very composed as a block of marble for years and years and years, solidly and unwaveringly a block of marble. This marble has its own currents and eddies of stones, unvisible flows of other minerals, where the glowing hot rock cooled and stopped, waves, pools, veins.

so the sculptor with the feeling in his chest and long years of carving in his mind and eyes and hands cuts into the rock. and the stone yields here and refuses there and there is the little push pull of living as they sit together in a quiet room.

over long hours the sculptor's hand (which is perfectly imperfect) slips and he makes a mistake. He cuts too far into the stone. This happens every time, in fact several times every time. He knows it will happen, slightly adjusts his sense of the the stone, the space it is, depth and isness. and the statue to be is changed slightly.

and each motion of the sculptor's hand is an individual, and each piece of marble, each current and vein running through it, each chip that flies off the block is an individual. and thousands of individuals accumulate until they form shape and gesture. the arm, the elbow, the wrinkles, the pores of the woman.

the sculptor and the marble and the individuals carve a sculpture, which could never quite be the image in his head, and it changes with every motion, and becomes something all its own. Every intention changed by motion by the world, every motion falling back behind and new motion coming into being, every perfection compromising with beating heart of raw mortality. every statue an isness.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


For a long time people did not know what was in the sky. They looked up and saw blue or night or clouds. There was the land. And water, oceans, the ground. For them, the ground went on forever. This was the universe, land and sky.

Then very recently, some people fashioned glass and metal together into a simple tube and squinted through them and were amazed by what they saw. A simple thing called a telescope shattered this reality of land and sky and flung wide a vast horizon. There were huge planets, swirls of galaxies, glowing curling clouds that could swallow the land like one might swallow a fly, great clusters of stars, all kinds of shit; even the sun in turned out was strange, and complicated.

The people got excited and built bigger and bigger tubes, and up in the sky the night just kept going on and on and on. They kept looking for the end, the wall, and it just kept getting bigger.

Gradually, it dawned on us that the universe was in fact actually unimaginably more beautiful and grander than the wisest and best of our tiny conceptions, our biggest dreams.

Some say that this realization - of the real amazingness of the universe, is fairly unimportant. Our souls are more important, our hearts. Its not essential to know how big Jupiter is, or to know of the existence of galaxies in order to discover Truth, or God, or Enlightenment. And its not. I admire the Australian Aborigines for never having made any innovations past stone age technology. They barely wore clothes and werent even interested in pottery. They sailed no seas and looked through no telescopes. They knew that the universe is just as big no matter where you go. This is pretty smart.

But all this realization really is is humbly beautiful. This universe is not worried whether we acknowledge its existence or not. Its significance is in the moment of pause, when you say,

"there's so much of everything"

This can be a hard thing to say and mean. It sounds childishly sentimental, and people are terrified of acting like the little kids they are pretending not to be. We need to look serious and pragmatic. We are caught up in wars all the time, you see. Little, private wars; big, raging wars; spiritual emotional wars. We don't know how to say it.

So humans found all this So Much, and of course our little species began to make fumbling efforts to explore this Much Bigger Than Supposed more and more; because we are curious beings, because we are restless, because we always want more than what we have. We look at our siblings, plant and animal, and say we humans discover the universe, we humans explore the universe. We are proud to be so enterprising among the earth.

Then again, the first earthling to fly above the earth, the first being to cross into space, was not a human, but a dog.

Her name was Laika and she was a mutt found in the streets of Moscow. The people took her and fed her. They put her into a rocket, strapped her into a special padded seat, to see how a living being close to human would respond to G-forces, and weightlessness and etcetera. They did not plan for any way for Laika to return to Earth safely. Laika trusted the people and let them put her in the chair, although she was very nervous about the smells, and the hums, and the rumbles.

It would have been too complicated and expensive to bring Laika back. She died in mid-orbit about five hours into the flight, probably frightened and wondering when the people would get her out of the scary thing. She must have yalped a lot.

So the Christopher Columbus of space, of the greatest ocean to cross in all human history, was not Neil Armstrong or Yuri Gagarin, but a dog named Laika. No human's life was going to be risked to be the first.

A dog is a dog.

One of the things I learned being in awe of the stars and the natural world as a whole - is that our (human) distinctions are pathetic. We say one person is better than another, we say we are better than others. We split hairs and say we are dividing worlds, but when I look into the eyes of a dog it is not much different than looking into the eyes of a human. I see life and emotion and questioning unconscious innocence in the eyes of dogs, I see the little world of its own, just as a person.

If humanity comes to understand one day far in the future that each thing is of us, and we of them, perhaps Laika will be a hero of ours, one of our protagonists, sad and great.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


graffiti on the side of railcars in Olds on a Friday afternoon in spring, clouds like herds of slow-moving, fat cow turtles. "Ash" "THC" "Velonto"; names crossing the country, haunted identities where are they now? Oil and whatever; industrial works (complex and difficult to fashion) forcing their way through nature to make the colossal machinery of civilization possible.

in the dairy queen bathroom, a little kid taking a pee next to me, I think, how big and mythical must i seem to him, what children have to teach me? i dont know, i'd like to go around interviewing them and ask. but i thought of mysteriousness and the importantness of individual meetings when i was a kid, how everything is neverbeforeencountered because of the holiness of new days. Maybe as we get older we must get used to things, and the days and the confusions, tensions, etc. just pile up until you're someone else, survival and time do not gently harbor stopping and going back over yourself and pausing at your ease. yet i see people have fun and wonder in spite of all that, they do it gracefully and nobly everyday. here i am near the rocky mountains.

nice to meet you Alberta.

Friday, March 10, 2006

robert capa

"if your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough."
- Robert Capa

On June 6th 1944 Allied forces attacked the beaches of Normandy and the 'Atlantic Wall': a mass of concrete bunkers, mines, tangles of razorwire and guns. that day soldiers, only anonymous human beings, volunteered their veins, bones, lungs, blood, legs, arms and skins when they jumped off hundreds of boats and ran directly into a firestorm and rains of iron.

Robert Capa carried no gun, only two Contax cameras when he jumped off with the soldiers, and shot 108 pictures over two hours. Later, the negatives were accidentally melted by a lab technician and only 11 survived. here is one of them:

Capa was a war photographer, and he witnessed many wars. He was there during the Spanish Civil War, the revolutionary war in China, in the aftermath of WWII in the Ukraine, and was there in Italy, in Germany during the war. He was there in Mexico too. The fact that Capa walked among bullets and fire to see these things and bring back their memories for others to know about is something. He died in 1954 in Vietnam, May 25th, 2:55pm, stepped on a land mine, in the afternoon.

one of the last soldiers to die in the Second World War, taken by Capa ten years earlier.

But Capa understood something that comes through all his pictures. In all these terrible things the adult world makes, violence, cruelty, fanaticism, that it continually makes, human beings themselves are as innocent and good as children, if you catch them at the right moment. And that is what Capa waits for. His work is valuable if only for having borne witness to moments of life that would have been erased under the wheels, the bombs, the lies and the arrogance, and that is something. One of his common subjects are children in war zones, and especially the expressions on their faces, or their attitudes in their savage environments-

And I understand now why he was drawn to this subject. Kids in war zones look strikingly noble and innocent, and from there its not a far stretch to realize that the adults in these wars still possess in far more abundance childlike qualities than we realize. At least, Capa sees it:

In these adults, among all the death and suffering, in their faces we see innocence, courage, fear, nobility present in such an unassuming and wide-eyed way. The mass of human beings live under the chaos and cruelty of the world without having any understanding or control over it, while a few well-placed people, with no more and often less capacity to decide the fates of millions, decide what to destroy and what to create. But Capa sees this innocence in us, maybe he sees it grow and stand out in times of violence and fear. That we are really children, affecting the world with the power of adults, still lost and new to the earth, still frightening ourselves with our capacity for violence.

And thats why I love that motherfucker.

Monday, March 06, 2006

valentine's day

in early february, among the snows retreating into puddles, the low winter sun drifting, waking slowly like a bear, blinking for a little while then going back to sleep for a little longer, in my wandering and stumbling through this unasked-for life, after haven come from across the country and back, seen the wars of the street, the geniuses and the devils of the backalley apartments, roamed the wooden hills and seen moose galloping across the northern highways like a hero in an old story, lain in the arms of brief lovers beside overflowing ashtrays with all the poetry of Juliet's poison, i have old scars that i no longer remember where they came from, seen my friend's meltdown and go mad in this million year old earth me and him only know this small day, the strangers who crashed on my floor in their private wars, the tranny who never revealed to her lovers she had boy parts and so risked death, looking out the windows of trajic hotel rooms, the brotherhood shared in industrial basements whilst chasing dragons,

one day in early February i got a heartbreak so bad it nearly tore me in two and watched love walk away so easily after all my clumsy romance and my torn jackets ten years old. And everywhere i noticed the blue of the early night sky, and i sat with the young drifters and they told me all the good and terrible things they had seen, i wandered down to the city where the big smoke rises and walked among the steel statues of a wild future, i found friends in unlikely places and kept sorrow out for a night here and there. They offered their booze and their cynicism, their faith and their uncertainty, because anyone with a heart, and i mean anyone, knows what alone is.

she was a beautiful girl, and i lost my chance before i knew i had one. i dont know where she'll end up, but wherever it is the sky will be the colour of bluebells and the storms will be crazy symphonies of rain and clouds graceful like the bellies of mares. She loved innocence, she loved the wounded, and to my sadness she fell in love with another before my very eyes. But in her defence none of us are allowed to choose who we would love, and we must get up in the morning and live the next day wherever we are.

On Valentine's Day i watched over the kids and woke them up the next morning and got them into that day, and i dragged myself home and caught the little birds singing in the bare branches and fell into a troubled sleep, while my love, i knew, kissed and had inaudible conversations. In this small town at the northern edge of the world, among the forests and farms, i wondered where i would wander off to next, and all the sad and beautiful things i was going to see and love whether i wanted to or not.

Friday, January 27, 2006

a long tirade about america

I grew up on television, of course. It was more of an influence on me than grandma's stories, school or summer camp. There were special programs that inspired greater anticipation than christmas. When GI Joe was first broadcast as a cartoon, I remember waiting two weeks for the grand day to arrive. And I was not disappointed. It blew my mind. Going to my grandmothers house on Sunday meant the Wonderful World of Disney. When Star Wars was shown on TV for the first time, I am certain there was not a soul to be seen on the streets of my neighborhood in that autumn night. I dont know for sure, of course, I was glued to the show.

But in my early twenties my revulsion with the TV was total. It radiated a glare and a vicious noise. There was something of the Roman mob in TV, a savage roar for blood and victory. It stole time and expression from me. So I did not often own TVs, and when I did I never got cable or any of that shit, that would have been like paying to get stabbed.

So when I turned on my folks' TV today and watched the music station for about 15 minutes, I ended up goddamn near shell-shocked. Everything had to make a noise, colours and images flipped and raced, none of the images made any sense or held any meaning. They weren't even funny or original, it was like in a fifteen second span: skateboarder, tits, middle finger, dance club, red carpet, guy playing guitar, ass, legs, eyes, choreographed dance move, gold chain with diamond cross, this guy, that guy, some broad.

And the only thing I got out of it was that this wasnt about music or even musicians, it was about being fascinated with famous people. Thats all, the rest was just decoration. The music was background music for someone to look hot. What was really intriguing was that the hot chicks and so on, they werent any hotter than half the people I've hung out with in fucking Canada. Its like some school of fish mentality, where these people are essentially interesting because everyone around you is paying attention to them. Take Eminem, for instance. He's supposed to be at least somewhat cerebral or at least original, or at least rebellious, or something. Here are the lyrics to one of his recent songs:

"Predominantly, predominantly, everythings always predominantly

Predominantly white, predominantly black

But what about me, where does that leave me

Well I guess that I'm between predominantly both of 'em

I think if I hear that fuckin' word again I'mma scream

While I'm projectile vomiting, what do I look like, a comedian to you?

Do you think that I'm kidding?

What do I look like some kind of idi-wait a minute, shit, don't answer that

Why am I so misunderstood?

Why do I go through so much bullshit, it sucks bullshit, Woe is me, there goes poor Marshall again

Whining about his millions and his mansion and his sorrow he's always drownin' in

From the dad he never had, and how his childhood was so bad

And how his mom was a dope addict, and his ex-wife how they go at it

Man I'd hate to have it, as bad as that Mr. Mathers claims he had it

I can't imagine it, that little rich poor white bastard

Needs to take some of that cash out the bank and take a bath in it"

Yeah, so if I found that in a sixteen-year old's backpack I'd be like "well, at least he's trying. Maybe he'll grow up and start writing eventually." Its shit, and it made him tens of millions of dollars and influenced tens of millions of kids.

We're all so used to it now. It doesnt even really disgust anybody that there's a chick that is adored by millions of people initially because she is the heiress to a massive fortune and someone broadcast a video of fucking her on the internet. If I say Paris Hilton, your mind makes about a thousand connections. If I say Wangari Muta Maathai, or Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo or José Ramos-Horta or Jody Williams, you have no fucking idea who I'm talking about, do you? Hell, I've never heard of any of them. They all won the goddamn Nobel Peace Prize within the last ten years.

And I can hear the objections already: rich people is just rich people. Easy targets, totally ineffectual, why pick on them? But that's sort of the problem. We've accepted this as the nature of our culture, and our culture spends its resources and attention on the most terrifyingly vapid crap it can think up. That its normal for people to spend their curiosity and energy following the lives of people who are only interesting from a glamour factor. Its pretty serious. If I think of all the women who's personalities have been molded and stunted because they spent all their ego-energy on TV and gossip rags... go look at them in the supermarket, they run the checkout counters, they buy their families' food there. Their lousy clothes, their bad haircuts, the fifty year old women who start cutting their hair short and dying it burgundy, short hair signifying theyve given up all hope of being treated sexually like a woman but burgundy denoting their desire to still be young, and their hatred of age. Look at the magazines screaming at them with pictures of celebrities, the minutae of their useless lives, and no one objects. We're not supposed to object to mass appeals to vanity and self-loathing, or to the notion that maybe its unhealthy to adore anyone, including useless idiots, to the point that we need weekly updates on their lives.

So I'd like to tell you a story. Long ago, in 1945, some people got together in San Francisco. They came from all over the world. There were short ones, tall ones, black ones and white ones. And all over the world people hung with rapt attention and what was going to come of it. Now at this time most of the world lay in actual smouldering ruins, (this hasn't anything to do with celebrities, but come to think of it, my point here is that very little does). People and towns, animals and art lay in great black piles. But people who ultimately believed in kindness, and peace and beauty, justice and freedom were in charge now, and there was a sense of great promise. The world had to be rebuilt, demanded to be rebuilt, and after centuries of hierarchy and oppression and tragedies, suddenly in the air, there was the sense that the possibility existed of rebuilding the world the way it should have been built in the first place. It would be hard, there would be setbacks, but for once the road lay open. And the crown, the symbol of this, was the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco. So the work began, and continues to this day. We are the heirs to this great thing.

I'm not sure how this is relevant to me bitching about celebrities, except maybe to ask, are these the things the world was rebuilt for? Our prime symbols, the ones burned into our hearts, are not doves or laurels wrapped around the planet, or the hammer and sickle, but the cleavage, the screen and the car. Of all the things we could emphasize about humanity, of all the things we could look up to and value each and every day, these are the values we raise our children with. Dumb rich women and men with diamond crosses.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

covert micmac pometry

So me and Tom were sitting around with Maggie and her boyfriend drinking beer when Tom started looking through a Micmac dictionary. He said hey man check this out. On page 32 there was one line per word as the definition, two columns in total on each page. Tom pointed out that each page accidentally turned into a poem of surpassing beauty and heaviness, if you read the column of english definitions alone. Here are a couple of them (verbatim)...

It was written by a Rev. S.T. Rand in 1875.

Page 32

I read it so.

How do you read it?

How do I read it?

I read it so.

Do I read it well?

yes, you read it well.

He sees him.

A bear.

A boy.

He holds it in his hand.

He has teeth: he is

armed with teeth.

He has claws: he is

armed with claws.

He says to him.

I see thee.

I shoot thee.

He growls.

I fear thee.

I don't fear thee.

I seize thee.

I am big.

I am little.

you are little.

He is little.

It is little.

I am strong.

I am stronger.

than; not like.

Now then.


he walks.

he is conquered.

Page 39

Eight dollars.

Nine dollars.

Ten dollars.

It is dear.

He is dear.

Oh that! it would be


If there were many.

could I have.

I would be rich.

I am rich.

you are rich.

He is rich.

They are scarce.


All of them.

They will be all gone.

It is all gone.

I could'nt say.



A Frenchman.


An Englishman.

Englishmen: the white



He, She ; Him, Her

Our Creator.

my soul.

our souls.

Page 76

To yawn : to stretch.

To encamp in the open


To fall and pitch the

head into the water.

To load one's self up:to

put one's load.

To be exhausted with

labour and hardship.

To get down on one's

hands and knees to


To come upon moose

or caribou in their


A good rousing fire.

To have a good rousing


To drink from a bucket.