Archive for April, 2006

BREAD GIRL

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

I went to a situationist art performance yesterday. The description of the event was: She puts on a suit made of bread and lies in a field and hopefully the birds eat her suit and not her. Fun!

Riding my bike to the park at the designated time, I saw other hipsters mingling in small groups. There were some video cameras set up. Clearly I was in the right place. Ten minutes later she was spotted ambling slowly down Main St., dressed in this enormous breadsuit that made her look like the Stay-Puff’d marshmallow man, or some kind of chunky, B-movie Martian. The alien angle was accentuated by a guy using some sort of theremin-esque knob-twiddly gizmo to make spooky outer-space noises.

A man dressed in a tuxedo was pulling a wagon filled with bread, handing it out to the spectators and telling us “It’s for the birds.” There were a few seagulls circling. The breadgirl made her way to the center of a ring of benches, and we began tearing off pieces of our loaves and throwing them at her, “feeding the birds.” She stood in the centre of the circle with an absurd grin on her face, a rictus of ecstatic satiation.

The breadsuit was amazing.

The tuxedoed gentleman occasionally shouted “They’re coming! They’re coming!” In reference to the birds, presumably, which had still shown no interest in the bounty.

PLEASE RISE FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM

Friday, April 28th, 2006

Dance, Monkeys, Dance.

THIS MADE ME CRY

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

President George Bush today ordered a temporary suspension of environmental rules for fuel, making it easier for refiners to meet demand and possibly dampen prices at the petrol pumps.

Bush also announced steps to ease environmental standards governing fuel grades.

Easing the environment rules will allow refiners greater flexibility in providing oil supplies since they will not have to use certain additives such as ethanol to meet clean air standards.

Great! I’m starting to think that crazed eco-fascist Pentti Linkola is maybe on to something.

I recall how ten years ago on the first noon of springtime heat wave, at the finest Häme, at Kalvola’s Heinuinlahti, on the open waters of Vanaja I spent my summertime rowing, observing and admiring nature. Cuckoos were cuckooing and divers howling, and that was the kind of life which brought contentment for a friend of nature. And then a top class outboard motor, which started out from a beach, of maybe fifty, maybe hundred horsepower started roaring, and drove in circles at that bay making tight turns, roaring for hours. Then I understood that there can’t be any possibility of brotherhood between men, and that I will hate and detest and loathe this kind of person and similar people till the end of my life.

THIS MADE ME LAUGH

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

From metameat:

Myself, Pica, my sister and a friend go to see Donald Davidson give a talk at Stanford. In the dream he looks like Donald Sutherland and is giving a rock concert instead of a philosophy lecture. That makes sense; at this point my dream-knowledge has him confused with Nick Lowe and Brian Eno. He plays a few songs and soon they don’t seem familiar any more. I realize that he is neither Nick Lowe nor Brian Eno, and that his songs are really bad. Pica and I look at each other with displeasure; at least we didn’t pay for this. Davidson now seems like a goofy old man, a brilliant philosopher who has no call to be pursuing this vanity rock career. He is giving the audience hopeful smiles; the whole thing has become sanitized adult-contemporary rock. The band starts up with “Sing, Sing, Sing” and a bunch of old people come onto stage and start swing dancing. “What about the qualia problem?” I call to Pica. “I bet he has interesting things to say about the qualia problem.” I look down at a printed program and see that the concert isn’t even a third over; still to come is a kitschy “Musical Trip ‘Round the World,” a multi-part concept piece called “Aria,” and lengthy tributes to all of Davidson’s family and friends. We decide to bail.

I DIDN’T WANT TO JOIN YOUR STUPID CLUB ANYWAY

Monday, April 24th, 2006

So I was thinking about joining this tennis club at Trout Lake Community Centre. I called the contact guy, Murray, a few weeks ago. They still had openings, but he needed to appraise my skill level, to make sure I knew how to play, because most of the players in the club were pretty experienced. After a few days of trying to schedule a time we could meet up for a try-out I gave up. And the weather was mostly crappy anyway.

But it’s been nice out for the past few days, and Murray called me after work today to see if I wanted to hit some balls around and maybe still come out for the club. I had some time before the show tonight, so I figured what the hell and biked over to Trout Lake after dinner. Murray talks with an affectless deadpan of facts and figures. He was wearing a faded white trade-show T-shirt advertising some sort of accounting software, tucked into pleated white shorts. Although Murray would drastically out-play me on the court, I was just as clearly dominating in the style department. He explained in great detail the club policies surrounding ball usage and resuage, (two cans are opened per meet (one per court). At the end of the meet they the sell the used balls for one dollar per can, or sometimes people just take them), and other rules and regulations.

Anyways, we rallied for a while. There was a bit of friction when he asked me to “volley from the net” and I didn’t really know what he was asking me to do. He was unable to explain himself in more detail, and simply repeated VOLLEY FROM THE NET several times, in an increasingly irritated tone. I figured it out.

Afterwards he reported to me that there were aspects of my game he thought were good (forehand, serve) but that my backhand and net game were weak. He hedged around for a while how everyone in the club has a lot of experience playing doubles and strategy and so on. So I didn’t make the cut.

I wasn’t really expecting to want to pay $50 to join the club, but I still felt a little dejected on the bike ride home.

GIVE UP YOUR BOOKS, PUT AN END TO YOUR WORRIES

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

I’ve been following this week’s discussion on Leiter Reports and Crooked Timber about the value of analytic, professionalized philosophy. I like the CT thread a lot better, though it’s interesting to see how divergent those conversations have been.

Marcel Duchamp would create readymades upon request from buyers. Often the buyer would already own the object being purchased from Duchamp. He made a dozen reproductions of his famous R. Mutt urinal. Collectors would call him on the telephone and ask him to baptize their urinals, and he would oblige, if the price was right. To create a readymade, he would simply designate it so, an act of creation very much like the act of naming. He didn’t even need to leave his studio, he could create art from hundreds of miles away, over the telephone. Duchamp was a magician, a priest.

A sufficiently sophisticated art is indistinguishable from philosophy.

Kite surfing is the hot thing this summer. Down at Spanish Bank there were dozens of people out on the water, twisting and skating along under their sails. I forgot my camera, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Abandon the ship, we only need the sails.

Predictably, the Crooked Timber thread became yet another tribunal on Derrida. I’ve never read Derrida, but I have read Rorty on Derrida, and since I adore Rorty I always fall on the side of the Derrideans. Or at least on the opposite side from people who think we need theories to tell us whether reality is really real, or whether Derrida is sufficiently enthusiastic about believing in the actual existence of the world. To each their own, I guess.

I have no culture, myself. Or rather: my culture is a contradictory mash of pop fragments and scavenged bloody giblets of the Western canon and shit I read on the Internet. Not that I’m complaining, I’m just saying.

Basically, I lack seriousness.

That’s what I was thinking about during Waiting for Godot the other night. It was my first experience with that play, although obviously I knew what it was about since I’m not a philistine and I’d just read two excellent biographical essays about Beckett this week, so I knew what to expect.

The idea that you can’t appreciate a sophisticated work of 20th century literature unless you’ve studied it in a classroom and internalized a set of interpretations fills me with horror and existential despair: the perfect emotional stance from which to appreciate Waiting for Godot.

Here is a short play inspired by Waiting for Godot:

Le Troisième Homme

SCENE: an empty street. Dim, gauzy lighting suggests early morning. SAMUEL enters stage-left. He wanders about erratically for several minutes, as if lost. Producing scraps of paper from his coat pocket, he looks, examines his surroundings, then puts them away again.

Samuel: (muttering) Terrible, terrible… Just awful…

JOSEPH enters stage right, carrying a briefcase and walking determinedly.

Joseph: The library is two blocks that way (points).

Samuel: What is that to me?

Joseph exit stage-left.

Samuel exit stage-right.

CURTAIN.

LEONARD COHEN FOR GOVERNOR-GENERAL

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Leonard Cohen is my favorite Canadian poet. Not that that’s really saying a whole lot — I’d be hard-pressed to name five Canadian poets.

Beautiful Losers is brilliant, and I have a Sunday morning ritual of putting on the first CD of Essential Leonard Cohen, when he was more about the folk guitar and less about the smooth jazz stylings of the second collection. A girl I worked with at the bookstore was completely obsessed with him; she even wrote a one-woman play about it called Not a Shiksa, which she performed at last year’s Fringe Festival. Very awesome.

Leonard Cohen performed in concert on CBC Television. I only caught a part of it, but it struck me as unusual that, instead of singing in that inimitable golden rumble, he was fucking his backup singers, live, on television. The three singers were each crouched on all fours, lined up in a row facing the audience with that familiar bored/stupid look of porn actresses on their extremely made-up faces. Cohen would mount each in turn and recite a short free-verse poem, on the subject of love. The stage design was quite minimal with black curtains, tastefully lit. Massey Hall, perhaps? The television cameras cut to different perspectives, but the audience was never shown.

I remember thinking: That’s weird, how can CBC possibly get away with showing this?

I really wish I could remember the poems.

BLOGGY STYLE

Saturday, April 15th, 2006

Time for a fresh coat here at the Palace. Let me know if anything looks effed-up to you.

BALLISTICS

Monday, April 10th, 2006

I am amazed by people who can update their blogs with relevant facts and insight multiple times a day. It must get really tiresome, and not-blogging is so very very easy. The nonist is off “redesigning,” which I guess is some kind of counterculture lingo meaning ‘bong hits.’ Now dadahead is gone too, maybe forever? Without them I am reduced to reading actual books about actual dada.

Specifically, Anabelle Melzer’s Dada and Surrealist Performance. She mentions a piece by Tristan Tzara, the originator of Dada at the famous Cabaret Voltaire in 1916 Zurich, which struck me as a remarkably prescient commentary on the state of the blogosphere in the year 2006. Tzara recalls the performance thusly:

Announced as “Dada,” I read aloud a newspaper article while an electric bell kept ringing so that no one would hear what I said. That was very badly received by the public who had become exasperated and shouted: “Enough! Enough!”