Myths of Stillness

Is this the best atmosphere to write in? I don’t know. It’s so lively. My drink was taking long. I had to go to the bathroom. When I came back the brunette behind the counter exclaimed, “Oh! That’s where you went!”


It is alien here. At these tables I realize home is pleasing: waiting until the dog is calm, Lisa asleep, staying up ’til two, inhabiting the empty cluttered basement, the page. How did I find this routine when I worried no routine would come? I thought this house so haunted I’d be chased into the night. That I would dream ghosts I’d burp up in my sleep.


The corner of this chain café is extremely moody. I am there, and this kid I’ve seen before. Pensive. Thoughtful. Too thoughtful, maybe. Insinuating. He doesn’t even have a book. He’s always asking the girls questions. I think he goes here to get away, and because he likes one of the girls.


As exciting as new bodies are and as curious as the mind always is I must resist or perhaps save my indulgences for the page. Yes, but satisfaction (even illusory) does not necessarily lead to good writing.


I am thinking of the brunette I see always working here. There is no connection between us, I just enjoy watching her operate. It feels creepy but it is the privilege of the still to watch the active. I have always been this way. I wonder if she lives in Orangeville, what life in this place is like (as if I’m elsewhere).


The teen sports queen continues to glance at me. I see her out of the corner of my eye. She has a funny busy life. On top of her school sports she plays some sport whose name I cannot pronounce. There is no team in Orangeville, in Caledon, in Inglewood.

She’s done it now: she laughs and turns to share the joke.

But I’m not watching her.


I wish I was asleep.


Is that J— L—? Maybe I know somebody here. These bodies are so familiar but I did not think I knew any one. Maybe I know one. It is maybe her. I have not seen her in some time. I do not know if her family still lives here, if they are even still alive. I do not know what she is like. I do not know if she will recognize me. I do not know if it is her. It is not her. It is not her.

No. It is really not her.


The other girl behind the counter is slim and slightly angular. There is a masculinity in her features, not unattractive: she looks like a pioneer or a Twenties flapper. I can see myself with all women: that is imagination. But I can see myself with this one sincerely. The other I do not think I could stand. But I do not know either of these women.


I hate to overhear petty differences relayed in great detail. With spouses, parents, siblings. Talk to them. And if that doesn’t work talk to yourself. This is perhaps not a charitable or even realistic notion.


It is my nervousness that causes me to act hard towards others. I wish I could excise that from my soul. If I want to change it perhaps I can.

All morning it would not leave. And in the evening it would leave neither. At the grocery store I would not turn to look at the woman checking out in front of me. I thought I knew her. I did not know her. Two checkouts stood manned but empty. I had turned into the first one without looking. A team of women came to help. One flashed a shy smile. I am eating the peaches I got there. In the mirror I think of my fat cousin. It is luck. Most is luck. Our cars parked next to each other. In the front seat texting. Someone’s blonde, I thought, but that’s unfair, she could have been a student. It smelled of cow manure. Trucks rolled down the highway. Imagined, briefly, the cashier shyly smiling: what it would be like to date a teenager. Band posters. Always explaining yourself, like a cut under your eye, wincing as you tell it. Only flesh but what is flesh. It is luck. Now this woman. I rolled down my windows. I looked into the other car. She put her phone down. She drove away.

Summer Blockbuster

I am tired of living in the divisions of a Summer Blockbuster. I am tired of good and I am tired of evil. I am tired of war used to separate the two. I am tired of the kindly enemy turning traitor on his country because of Western values. I am tired of the traitor turning double-traitor because his son or daughter is held hostage. I am tired of men who are vacuums or hardasses. I am tired of women who are caring or bitchy. There must be a more appropriate dividing line than bitchy/not-bitchy. I am tired of all bitches being evil. I am tired of all caregivers being good. I am tired of bitches becoming caregivers if they are good. I am tired of explosions. I am tired of the elastic motion of the human body when processed by a computer’s video card. I am tired of the inability to adequately render the human eye. I am tired of cops who retired. I am tired of cops who come back. I am tired of the ideology of nation-states substituted for morality. For instance: Red Skull wants to live in a world without borders, but Captain America is worried that in this world he will cease to be useful. The destruction of all national borders is not “evil”. Their maintenance is not “good”. I am tired of the cocky jock who shows his nerdy friend the ropes. I am tired of women thrust into the laps of nerdy friends. I am tired of nerdy friends. I am tired of imagining acres of the DVD and Blu-Ray encased in plastic. I am tired of movie executives explaining that a movie does not need a story to gross millions. I am tired of visual spectacle.

Sustainability / Facts

Sustainability is a myth. Prehistoric agriculture turned an ice age into a warm one. The products of the earth burn faster than they can be replenished. Hunter-gatherers killed all the mega-fauna. Bastards. I would have liked to see them. Then, equilibrium. But sometimes mass becomes useless. Stillness is death. Movement is violence.


I’m done with facts. Facts are often emotion, or the posturing absence of them. “Prove it.” Richard Feynman believed the only subject that could be discussed was physics. It was only later in life that he took up drawing. Hiroshima was a success until he learned of human consequence.

I’m trying to offload the elderly couple that lives on my forehead. An hour or two of heavy lifting is enough to make me forget about them for an hour or two. “Who’s going to help me unpack all these boxes?” That doesn’t interest me.

PC Users vs. Mac Users

Aaron is a Mac User. I am a Mac User. Most PC Users are losers. I’m not the only one who thinks this. The owner of the company Aaron works for, who is an educated, obviously successful PC User, advised the regional second-in-charge not to hire PC Users. The owner, as mentioned, is a PC User (from Seattle), is married to a PC User (also from Seattle), who is studying in a challenging post-graduate field at a renowned university, and whose kids, needless to say, are also PC Users. He thinks PC Users in Canada are “losers.” Thank you, Jesus!

One of the things I believe accounts for the chasm of success and intelligence between PC Users from Seattle and PC Users who reside in Canada can be chalked up to the effects of liberal culture. Liberal culture perpetuates a culture of self-perceived victimhood, helplessness, and a blame the establishment/patriarchy/economy, etc. attitude. This victimhood of course is the typical stance of the Canadian PC User. Aaron’s boss is different because in Seattle PC Users don’t have the same culture of victimhood—Microsoft’s headquarters are located near there.

That aside, the kind of people who are going to be immigrating in the first place, at least to Canada, are usually educated and motivated individuals. This alone could account for the difference between immigrant PC Users and native PC Users.


Two Items


I think of my dog and how she will be the first one to die—in all likelihood. I imagine it will be sudden—by a car, maybe, or by ingesting something poisonous to her biology (not that we encourage such accidents). No one in my family has ever gone quite like that. The cats, even if she lives to old age, will probably have some years on her, even though they are older than her now. My family, who used to live in this house, now live in Saskatoon. They went suddenly and it is almost like we are inhabiting their ghostly corpse, like they died. But I can still talk to them on the phone so it is not quite like that.


I imagined explaining this to my future Latin American Studies professor, or perhaps to a sympathetic graduate student running a tutorial. Reading Borges, I feel like he is simultaneously outside and within all traditions of literature. He is the aleph and also the person describing the aleph. As he aged he seemed to become tired of crafting fictions: his books become shorter, more weary (as opposed to tired). The Derridean scholar will note with pleasure that this weariness comes to its head in two stories which demonstrate the replacement of all literature and experience with a single word (the Ur signifier). Borges’s growing weariness may have been influenced to some extent by his growing blindness, which overtook him in the middle of his life.

Admittedly, I have not read much of Aira. Of his six books translated into English, only The Literary Conference, and now, Ghosts. But if Borges is the aleph and outside the aleph, somehow Aira is outside the aleph and looking in the other direction. I imagine him walking on a current of air, each step he takes somehow in accordance with the rhythm of life. Don’t misunderstand me: his writing is not ecstatic, nor is it earthy. He is clearly a man who spends a lot of time within himself. But it is his unaffected presence, or maybe it is a lack of presence, that causes me to think that his writing is at the root of things. In The Literary Conference he writes that he never makes literary allusions—and that’s not quite true—but it’s easy to believe that his fiction is from a time before such allusion was possible, because there was nothing to allude to, only the history or cycle and its references to itself.