Monday, 26 July 2010

Secret Waves

Waves beneath tables. Waves from the apartment windows across the street. Waves from the passing of trains. Waves from windy mountaintops. Waves from behind telescopes or cameras. Waves from planes as they leave the runway. Waves from inside the dark of the cinema when the film's already begun and you're looking to find a seat. Waves from riverboats. Waves you can see in the eyes alone. Waves made with the slightest of gestures, the faintest spreading of fingers, as from the sides of mugs being sipped. Waves from those tiny spaces in between library book shelves. Waves from the highest balconies. Waves from one telephone caller to another, right when they spot eachother, and distantly put voice to face. Waves from playground swingsets. Waves from the child who's about to perform a cartwheel and wants to be seen. And, finally, waves from those dearest friends you've never met...

Midnight Interval

Edward S. Curtis, Mojave Girl (circa the turn of the century)

I picked up an Octavio Paz collection in the used bookstore yesterday: Early Poems 1935-1955

The translations are by various people (including W.C. Williams), all of them very good as far as I can tell; the originals are all printed on the facing pages. I should say, I'm not all that familiar with Paz, but I was lulled by his rhythms, made drunken, leaning there beside the bookshelf and reading his words.

Live Interval

Lightning or fishes
in the night of the sea
and birds, lightning
in the forest night.

Our bones are lightning
in the night of the flesh.
O world, all is night,
life is the lightning.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

What that boy needs is a nice, tall glass of Coca-Cola.

I had quite an American experience today, as I got lost driving around the airport, looping my way around the various terminals. This, after receiving two parking tickets on the windshield in one day. The first for blocking a street cleaner at 8 a.m., the second for taking too long in the library this afternoon and letting the meter run out...

This is one of my all time favourite images. Taken by Win Wenders, it seems to locate for me that feeling one has when one is lost, and things somehow take on a reassuring warmth. Where others have made careers of documenting American emptiness, of American sterility, here with Wenders we find (again) the poignancy of things.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Hissing of the Summer Lawns

It’s a bit like when I was fourteen and my English teacher asked the class to imagine future obituaries for ourselves as some sort of morbid writing exercise. I think the idea was to begin justifying our existence, and start thinking about ways to make a difference. Anyway, I ended up producing six and a half pages about how I had been a little known aviator whose plane had been lost over the Bermuda Triangle. For this, I was sent to see the school counsellor who then informed my mother I was drinking too much caffeine, had an over-active imagination, and maybe should consider a round of anti-depressants. You see, I didn’t know how to explain myself very well then, either…

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Seeing the Moon on a Hot Summers Day

(that's the title of this painting)

The making of art starts with chaos and is resolved into order, which can make it beautiful. First, the artist has to manifest the message and then work on the painting until it is totally satisfying, work on the message until it finally emerges and becomes something else which no longer belongs solely to the artist. Great painting is that wonderful, non-verbal, material thing that expresses the reality of the spirit.--Helen Frankenthaler

Always at the commencement of work that first innocence must be reachieved, you must retum to that unsophisticated spot where the angel discovered you when he brought you the first binding message. If the angel deigns to come, it will be because you have convinced him, not with tears, but with your humble resolve to be always beginning: to be a beginner.--Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, 12 July 2010

Take me to your desk

All for the love of a good work space. Please, god, let me one day know such a place again.

I still go back there, sometimes. To that desk of his spread out before me, its sheet of green blotting paper worn smooth, softly crinkled. The tape recorder and the black keyboard gathering dust between the keys. The blank computer screen stationed at the edge of the desk is small, grey, out-dated. It sits there like a pupil awaiting instructions, looking at you with the stare of an ex-wife or an abandoned son. Imaginative spaces, blanks to be filled in forever and ever. Finally, I always find myself savouring the smallest details, things I doubt he ever noticed or took delight in. There is the cool green shade of the banker’s lamp, the dark smudges left around its base, its neck, and even on the brass ligatures of the light switch. Also the rough waxy grain you felt whenever you put your fingers deep enough into the carved out handles of the desk drawers.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

All For the Sake...

We carry with us, always, these images of ourselves when we were younger, snapshots of all our past selves. I write this having just skimmed--for the first time in five or six years--my first attempt at a novel. I started it when I was 20 and abandoned it sometime the following year.

The title was Foolish Loves and it was painfully and embarrasingly autobiographical. I was so innocent, overly romantic, freely using words like dawn and dew, even falling at times into full-fledged poetry. All of it was inspired by my first experiences in London and this infatuation I had there with a woman who kissed me once, maybe twice.

Back when I was 19, and living the London life that would inspire the novel, I cut out of picture of Jean Seberg from a magazine. I ended up keeping this with me in my wallet for years afterwards, tucked away in my pocket, until it made a girlfriend jealous...

The above, though similar, is not the Jane Seberg picture I carried in my wallet. In the one I had, she was standing beside a Picasso's Madame Z. (Strangely, at no point during Godard's Breathless does such a scene occur.)

Around the time that I cut that picture out of a magazine, I attended the above concert. I am there in the audience, on my own because nobody would come with me. Towards the end of the show there was a mini-riot because the management demanded the show end. Rufus Wainwright got delightfully bitchy (as you can hear), then he played a song called Foolish Loves. And it was stunning. I remember drifting into the street afterwards, feeling that I'd just heard the soundtrack to everything I was experiencing with the aforementioned unrequited passion. The echoes of this last song, resonating through me.

We look in vain for these images of our former lives or we simply hold them close, trusting that they're always there, as constant as shadows.

Oh Mercy

February at Blenheim, sneaking in through the back gate with two cups of tea. It's a place that I remember well. The warmth of that winter sun. An air of possibility, of mystery. Quiet footfalls on the path...

Shadows and Fog

Thursday, 1 July 2010


The first image he told me about was of three children on a road in Iceland, in 1965. He said that for him it was the image of happiness... (Chris Marker)

Seeing this image for the first time, he found he wanted to live a new life in homemade clothes, knitted fabrics meant for morning walks... (Me)

Some incidental music I made up, and recorded on the spot, about a month ago...

It was inspired by some beautiful light coming through the window, little angels on the sill.