stop it everyone just stop it

I am an avant-garde

I woke up in the morning and told my friend Robert that I am an avant-garde

He asked what an “avant-garde” is

So I pushed him down a well

I am the dictator of a red planet

The red planet is avant-garde

Everyone on the red planet rides a white bicycle

They do that because it makes me laugh

When I see someone riding a white bicycle

On a red planet that is avant-garde

It feels like I am eating cherries

I ask Sue, my assistant, to fetch me some in a bowl

She replies that it is impossible to do so

I ask her “why”

In addition to that I am angry

Perhaps my fist clenches and I smash it on the table

She says that because the whole planet is avant-garde

It has no momentum or reality beyond my plain narration

And the concept “a bowl of cherries” does not exist

Because it was not already explicitly described

I lean back in my chair and cry

My tears taste like grapefruit

[All] those who value reason, liberty, and justice… are captivated by Russell’s vision of “the world that we must seek,”

a world in which the creative spirit is alive, in which life is an adventure full of joy and hope, based rather upon the impulse to construct rather than the desire to retain what we possess or to seize what is possessed by others. It must be a world in which affection has free play, in which love is purged of the instinct for domination, in which cruelty and envy have been dispelled by happiness and the unfettered development of all the instincts that build up life and fill it with mental delights.
-Noam Chomsky quoting Bertrand Russell’s Proposed Roads to Freedom

As if to illustrate the tentative, half-sketched nature of my last post, as I left the hospital I informed a woman that she’d dropped her spreading knife on the way to the elevator, and the woman, who seemed to be thirty-some years old, frowned at me as if I was deliberately interrupting or declaring her uncool in front of her friends. Being non-judgmental is probably the easiest part, and you have to maintain that under attack from differing philosophies and withering scorn. Who knows what Byzantine social relationships and backwards personalities flower amidst the tandem bureaucratic and professional classes of the hospital? I’ve seen my fair share of bizarre.

A week or two ago I came into the hospital under the dying power of an electronic door. I did not push the button, though I have many times in the past. Likewise I’ve had many opportunities to hold the door open myself, physically, for those who might have had to use the electronic door otherwise. So I probably should have felt more secure when I was attacked on my way in, slipping through the receding crack, panting and clothed in my bicycle gear. The attack came from a middle-aged, angry man: tall, taut, and bundled up into premature wrinkles, carrying a lunchbox in his left hand. I do not know if he was a parent to a patient, or a doctor.

“Handicap use only,” he scowled, as if I had pushed someone out of the way, as if I was gloating about it. As if I smiled and high-fived an intern on the way in. He was moving fast, escaping retaliation, possibly escaping his own vehemence, and the only answer I had time to give him was a perturbed and sarcastic “Thanks”.

Though very quickly I was told by several sources not to worry about it, that the man was probably just having a terrible day that had nothing to do with me, I still felt disturbed. It knawed and chewed at my neurosis. Briefly, and several times throughout the day, I re-enacted the episode in my head and chased the man down, confronting him as if that was any kind of solution. As if it would do anything but add another mean or lonely chapter to the tale. Realistically, what more could I have done? I let the man know that what he’d said was insulting, was there really room for anything else?

The reality of the situation is that I was feeling a little under-the-weather myself, dragged down by various things: a bland, repetitive job; unpromising responses from the writing program; an apartment in desperate need of at least a weekend of cleaning. Those situations have all since improved, and it’s probably no surprise that I feel markedly better.

I don’t know exactly what I’m proposing. It might be an attempt at a kind of insurance for frustration. Maybe it’s just a tool for climbing out of a pit or a rut and deciding: this is how I feel, this is why I feel, this is what I have to do. I am not in pits often, or as often, as I have in the past. I am extremely fortunate to have found Lisa, and one of the things I am most grateful for is our open communication… and maybe this alone is more important than some of the things I am “proposing”. I am not really proposing anything. I’m exploring methods of reacting more causally to life.

Don’t ask Lisa to corroborate this: I’ve been making the effort to be calm and nonjudgmental in most things. I don’t mean to lose all sense of standards and decency. Only to try and “accept” the world in unselfish ways. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish things might change. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be willing to do some changing. I just mean that there should be nothing angry about “being”, and nothing necessarily “angry” in reactions to being.

Anger is a vent sometimes. In that way it’s probably healthy, if it doesn’t cross certain lines… and it can also be used to fuel creative activity. But maybe you can train yourself to the point where anger becomes less and less of an emotional need. Even in the face of irrational behaviour and thinking. I guess that’s kind of my experiment. I’m sure it’s been done before many, many times.

That’s nonsense in reaction to some words by Noam Chomsky, quoting Bertrand Russell. I have to go to the source and come up with a complete post. But that’s where it comes from, anyway. It is (their words) something that should be believed, and when the effort is made it is calming.

Something unrelated I would also like to quote but lack: Borges and his terse, tangential, reaction to the statement “a poet must be a poem”. I provide you with an original paraphrase. A poet must be a poem in the same way that an architect must be a building, a politician a law, a pilot a flight?

I’m concerned about art and its presentation, and its association with people or ideas that can be marketed successfully. A poem does not need a poet to be a poem, but does a poet need to be a poem?

Maybe only when the level of fame and competency of the poet are both “low”, maybe not. This is something I’ve been considering. I’ll get back to you, maybe.

My Next Novel

“The Da Vinci Code meets The Tale of Croesus’ Ancestor Gyges and the Naked Queen, meets Scrambling Desperation, meets One Thousand Nights and a Night, meets My Desire to Tell Lies About the World.”

I imagine that the Da Vinci Code leads, in any successful pitch.

Technological Solution

This entry has been written well after the fact, without the aid of a transcript.

On CBC radio this morning, a man who was the former CEO of Shell Canada talks about the Alberta tar sands. He is an important man in one of the major companies mining the sands for oil (SUNCOR or SYNCRUDE). I can’t find his name or a more specific description of who he is.

The interviewer asks a variety of questions. One of the questions is “Your industry is criticised for its dependence on Natural Gas for the extraction of oil, how do you respond to that?” They’re looking for energy alternatives. Another thing she wants to know about is the fact that five barrels of water are used to extract one barrel of oil. He says that is not as bad as it sounds, and that they only use one to five percent of the constant flow of the mighty Athabasca river, which I believe is a misleading statistic.

The woman asks the man about the environmental damage of oil sands production, something that it is known for specifically, even within the larger oil-extraction community. She talks about toxic bitumen pools that kill birds as they land, as well as deformed river fish and frogs, and the potential for contaminating groundwater. These are all legitimate problems. She asks what (SUNCOR or SYNCRUDE) is doing to address these concerns.

They are putting a lot of money into technological solutions, says the man. They are putting a lot of money into technological solutions, and they hope to have some positive results within a few years.

That is the same as saying that I am terrible man, but I am not currently working on fixing my behaviour, because I have been funding research for a technological fix. I hope I will be solved by throwing money on scientific applications, but am doing nothing really to curb my poor behaviour, which includes the shooting of ducks in public locations, as well as doing donuts with my ATV in the middle of school playgrounds.

Money does not necessitate a solution. Throwing money at a problem does not necessitate a solution.

Somehow, after Pierrot Le Fou

It smells like the comforting mold of a cottage planked in golden wood.

An unforced, brief moment of subtle transcendance.

A sun-room filled with old pillows and furniture, a weathered paperback novel.

An unforced, brief moment of subtle transcendance.

The trees. A presence in the air, melting it into the sun.

An unforced, brief moment of subtle transcendance.

The half-lit kitchen. The real and surreal… Having eyes, and ears, and a mouth.

An unforced, brief moment of subtle transcendance.

Bathed in a warm newspaper. Curling up into sober tales of calm men flapping their arms in front of thirty million people, while bombs go off in the background, and somewhere a man says “Shit,” and fumbles for the fuse.

An unforced, brief moment of subtle transcendance.