Wednesday, December 31, 2008

looking into the abyss

Once, when walking Junhong back from school, we encountered a particularly brazen, desperate couple on the sidewalk, shooting up in broad daylight. Junhong said, I wish we didn't live here. (Here, being close to the downtown eastside, where people come to get washed up)
I said, somewhat righteously, just because we don't see it doesn't mean it won't happen. Living here forces us to see and be conscious.

Presently, I force myself to look up from my bliss. To read the news and be conscious of people killing other people in the Gaza strip.

I see, but I am not sure what to do about it.

Monday, December 29, 2008


savage beauty

The Coquihalla highway connects the rainforests of coastal British Columbia to the drier desert-like climate of the interior. It is a road where there should be no road. You look to the left and right of you and you see the magnificent Coast mountains threatening to squish you. Even in the summer, lit by the bright sun, it is terrifying to me because every few minutes you are reminded of the viciousness of nature, the hubris of humanity, by signs that say, "Do not stop, avalanche area", "Winter tires and chains beyond this point" or, even in the rest areas, "Danger, falling ice". They might as well say, "Turn back now, if you value your life".

Today, as the red truck we were in hit a patch of ice and as Jason said, "Oh fuck, I have lost control" (or something like that), the car behind us REALLY lost control and careened helplessly around the highway (I waited, somewhat calmly, oddly, for it to crash into us) before spinning off the road and into the ditch. As it turned out, they were OK, we were OK.

At Hope (oddly or aptly named, depending on the circumstances) the blizzard and icy roads turned into torrential rains and savage winds that threatened to blow the red truck off the roads.

Finally, as we approached Vancouver, the last few rays of the sun peaking out from behind the clouds, I marvelled at the unlikeliness of this city. That it exists at all is a wonder.

Friday, December 26, 2008

a bird, a mouse, a frog and five arrows

David is reading Herodotus. He told me about a story in it of Darius and the Scythians. I asked him to show me the chapter so that I could tell it on this blog. But he has stolen my idea and put it on his blog. Go read it.

the body of longing

Recently, in a conversation with Tim Wheeler, of Mind The Gap, a UK-based company that works with the "aesthetic of disability", I mentioned that I did not find the body of longing very interesting to watch, whether it was with or without disabilities.
I do not find interesting, either the disabled body longing to be whole or the abled body longing to be loved.

To perform from this body of longing is to ask for the void in it to be filled by the sympathy of the audience. This is an unsatisfying proposition for me, as performer and as an audience member. It locks me into a binary codependent relationship that trades on victimhood and false charity.

But the aesthetic of disability supposes that the void - and there is a void, a stillness, an emptiness that one strives for rather than fears - can be filled with offerings for the audience.

The first suggests the artist as mendicant. The other proposes the artist as gift-giver.

Monday, December 15, 2008

excursion into unknown regions

Yesterday I went for a walk in the forest with Jason. I watched, riveted, the dance of two salmon, horny and dying. I walked down a trail made by bears. I was quietly terrified of slippery rocks and logs.

On the drive back, (was it before or after Jason pointed out the red-tailed hawk flying over the suburban highway?), I felt overcome by joy, wordless and unadulterated.

desire and time

ML met the old man again, the old man whose eyelids were so ancient they were translucent and veined and dusty, but in whom she had seen the young man flitting in and out. A few months ago, she had wanted to go home with him to his apartment overlooking the Butte Chaumont.
This time, when she met him and said how are you? , he said, “Very good when I look at you, such beauty”
They flirt, my friend and this old man who is almost half a century older than her.
She asks if his wife is beautiful. He says yes, but she left me 12 years ago.
Do you miss her?
No, it is better this way. But he misses having a woman lying next to him, misses caressing a woman.
They talk about French policier books.
She says she reads like an ass in French.
He suggests that perhaps they can read together in cafés and he could help her.
And he wistfully mumbles that perhaps one day she would allow him to caress her?
She gets embarrassed, hesitates.
He then adds sadly, it’s because I am much, much older than you, isn’t it?
No, no, she explains, if I were not with another person right now, I would go with you.
But it is too late. The young man disappears from the old man. His breath withdraws into the wisp of his 87 years lived.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I LOVE saying the words white people and brown people and watching the people in the room cringe and become nervous.

But later, I sit on the bus, shaking slightly, exhausted.

in art and sex

You have to be dirty to get to the sacred.

Monday, December 1, 2008

adventures of a talisman

I commissioned a talisman for Jason from ML. To protect him from bears and weird people while out in the wilderness. Recently he came back with these pictures. Belleville meets la belle natur via a couple of dislocated Malaysians.