Archive for November, 2007


November 27, 2007

Darkness and light. Dionysian depths and Apollonian apexes. Manichean. Eternal. First there was the word? Maybe.

Looking for the sunny side of the hill right now. Just over the next rise…

Dream Deconstruction

November 18, 2007

I’m calling on all the cranks, weirdos, lapsed Gnostics and associated crypto-Jungians who come upon this to try and make some larger sense of the whole thing. Last night I had a dream…

I was entered into a photography contest, where each photographer was given a list of “things” to take pictures of. My words were almost exclusively luxury items — jewelery, perfume, etc…I found myself wandering around in a heated haze, enraged at the task I had been given. Everywhere I looked I was immersed in a fun house Benjamin-esque world — an arcades. Effectively a marketplace of endless baubles — multi-colored perfume bottles and exquisite earings — Objet d’art surrounding me like a cocoon. So many images and colors and shapes — all somehow representative of lifeless bounty. For some time it seemed nothing I looked at had any aesthetic meaning. It was all just a bunch of pretty stuff.

Then, finally, light started to play with the objects around me. The sun hung low in the sky. Angles and meaning formed — the beautiful things became truly beautiful. In their imperfection. I felt as if I was making images beyond the human limit — light catching every speck of dust and little nick and ding in these suddenly real and humble things. No longer was it just bejeweled and flawless — rather these multi-faceted objects became encrusted universes of complexity, each shaped in unique and timeless fashion.

When I awoke a sense of sadness came over me and I was very confused about the meaning of what I remembered. I felt out of time. And I still asked myself, moreover; “Why is it this among all possible worlds that I experienced at this point?”

So I turn it over to more objective sources outside myself…And ask, again, why?

Late Ride

November 11, 2007

Braved the deceptively sunny afternoon for a ride. Was chilly. More like winter than fall. But it was great fun to crunch through leaves and rattle over cobblestones for a while and feel vital. When I stopped I found a sheltered spot facing the sun by the water, the whole city laid out in fine panorama. A simple pleasure even if my toes were fucking freezing. May be more than a late ride — possibly the last one of the season. Unless it unexpectedly warms up…

If it’s the last, it will be the end of one of the most unbelievable cycling seasons of my life, highlighted by a developing love affair with Dallas Road in Victoria. Alas, she’s a long way from me now. The late summer featured a new ride and old haunts, and some real mind-saving moments.


November 10, 2007

I had a revelation about nature today. Walking back from the Lachine Canal I saw a group of European Starlings fighting over a chicken carcass. The thing about starlings is, that, like most of us, they’re not supposed to be here. Every European Starling in North America is a descendant of somewhere between 60 and 100 (reports vary) birds released into Central Park in the early 1890s. They are, in ecologist’s parlance, an “invasive species“. In this respect, we’re kissing cousins.

So, anyway, the starling now numbers some 200,000,000 or thereabouts, and is widespread. It’s one of the commonest birds in North America. I’ve seen them everywhere, from the mean streets of Pointe St. Charles to the highest mountaintops of the Rockies, to the beautiful shores of Vancouver Island. They’re the bird from central casting. Ubiquitous, chirpy and altogether plain.

The starlings hovering around the carcass were, I reflected, descendants of the few dozen foolishly released by a certain bozo (operating on the bizarre notion that all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare should be introduced to the New World…). Thriving because of their versatility. Traveling in noisy little gangs, European Starlings are perversely pesky — whistling at and cajoling local cats, intimidating squirrels, and overwhelming sparrows. When a group is around, you know it. Strangely, in this respect, they’re kind of like New Yorkers…Or really all Americans…

In perfect Social Darwinian fashion the starlings I watched today seemed far too busy bullying, thrusting, squawking, posturing, positioning and generally acting greedy, selfish and individualistic. None of them was eating much of anything.

If Aesop had written this fable a dog would have come by to snatch away the carcass, leaving the starlings hungry and outfoxed, so to speak. But, alas, they’re the master scavengers of the urban landscape, and manage to make a meal out of the littlest specks and crumbs. Like locusts with beaks.

Sad, really, as they have been one of the main sources of songbird decline, pushing more particular (and too-brightly colored) birds to the edge of scarcity. A monolithic monochrome army with wings.

Metaphor for the decline of diversity in general. But also a stern warning about ill-conceived attempts to guide the processes of nature. Frightening to think how some of the species adapted, changed, introduced or cloned today will impact the world 100 years from now.

The lesson of the humble starling is sure to seem quaint in comparison.

Next, Please

November 3, 2007

So, given how things were lost last Friday, cette semaine I decided to lay low and try my hand at some culture. In our era of technological determinism, that means watching a DVD: Next with Nicholas Cage. I like his permanently confused approach, and it was mildly effective in this film whose script was loosely based on a Philip K. Dick story, “The Golden Man”. Appreciated the ambiguous ending — unusual for a contemporary American blockbuster (funny that word, been thinking about its etymology a bit lately…). In the end, however, it was really just so-so.

Best film I’ve seen of late was the re-make of 3:10 to Yuma, which carries the tradition of westerns in fine form. Genre, but good genre. Originally from the pen of Elmore Leonard. A gritty pleasure to watch in an age of blue screens and CGI. Nice to see something that has a little texture. To boot, Russell Crowe is a bloody force of nature.

Maybe we just prefer more escapism when our real lives have plenty of texture.


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