Monday, August 10, 2020

Paying Attention

The square on the left is the one we reach for absently and tear at until the roll comes undone. The square on the right is the one the first one is attached to. The square on the right is not the second square on the roll.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

"Sunny day/ Everything's A-OK"

The homemade pull-tab poster. A common sight on utility poles, put there by those trying to sell something (a car), find something (a cat), but rarely, if at all until now, to solicit responses to a visual statement -- a picture of a face made of stuff.

A cheerful and bearded form, this work/project belongs to artist Vivienne Bessette.

Saturday, August 8, 2020


"I was short and thin and quite self-centred, lost in daydreams. Good reports and enormous boredom. My breasts were at times Mamma's gloves stuffed into a secret bra bought with saved-up allowance. Gym classes, which most girls missed once a month by saying "usual reason" in a matter-of-fact voice when their names were called out. And when it never happened to me, I pretended it had, but I could never keep track of the dates. For a whole year I was a fraud -- without realizing that all the others knew, only teacher had asked them to be tactful and pretend they didn't." -- Liv Ullmann, Changing, 1978 (p. 35)

Friday, August 7, 2020

Akenfield (1969)

Akenfield (1969) opens with "The Survivors," five portraits of village elders. In this instance, four men and one woman, Emily Leggett, 79, who, consistent with the patriarchy, is introduced in relation to her marriages ("I have been wed and widowed twice").

"We took our poorness naturally. We knew within a little what we were going to get and that there would never be any more. So that was that. My father was one of eight and I've often heard him say that he didn't know what it was like to have a new pair of shoes on his feet. He only had shoes that other folks passed on to him. We ought to be thankful to be as we are today. Whatever would our poor mothers and fathers have thought if they could see all the money we get now! We know that it doesn't go far but we touch it." (49-50)

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Virtual Screening + Launch

While some arts organizations have responded to COVID-19 with Gone Fishing signs, others have found new and inventive ways to serve its audiences. Is there a correlation between Gone Fishing signs and organizations with over 75% public funding? Put another way, after Capilano University decided it no longer needed The Capilano Review as part of its English Department, the journal was forced to find new funding sources, which it did, in large part by encouraging new audiences.

Yesterday, the current TCR team launched its Virtual Screening + Launch of Issue 3.41 at Strathcona Community Gardens. Editors Emily Dundas Oke and Matea Kulić provided extensive introductions that included a range of land acknowledgements -- from ancestral and unceded lands (Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh peoples) to more recent land displacements (the City of Vancouver's destruction of the largely Black neighbourhood of Hogan's Alley in the 1960s), as well as "the ongoing displacements occurring within Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside, as witnessed by the tent camp just across the way."

Also introduced was cinematographer Israel Seoane, who was commissioned by TCR to make three short videos adapted from current issue content. Although I applaud the inclusion of Garden Don't Care in the current issue, its contribution (and representation) failed to resonate with this viewer. However, when seen in relation to Israel's video -- it came alive! This, I think, is an example of how literary magazines could themselves overcome years of (self-)isolation within respect to the larger cultural ecology, particularly in this era of social media, which, for better or for worse, drives everything.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

"Sha la la la la la Liv[] for Today"

Liv Ullmann first appeared before North American film audiences in 1971 as Kristina Oskar in Jan Troell's The Emigrants, then its sequel, The New Land (1972). PBS showed the two films together, which is how I saw them -- as a ten-year-old watching in awe and horror as Kristina and her husband Karl (Max von Sydow) endured hardship as Swedish homesteaders in 19th century Minnesota.

Imagine my surprise when the next time I saw Ullmann she was starring in a 1973 musical adaptation of James Hilton's Lost Horizon (1933). Gone was the mud and the grey skies of Minnesota's Chisago Lakes, and in their place, the rustic perfection of Shangri-La, where her character works as a singing schoolteacher.

A couple days ago I found a good condition Book-of-the-Month Club hardcover of Ullmann's 1977 ficto-memoir Changing (Knopf) at AA Furniture & Appliances on Kingsway and added it to a pile that included a UK paperback of Robert Blythe's Akenfield (1969) and a wooden milking stool that I will use as a side table. The New York Times was not very kind to Changing and its "chatty, childlike writing," but times have changed. Today the culture is very chatty, very childlike, which could explain why the book is experiencing a revival.

What I appreciate most about Changing, in addition to its poetic insights, is its Nordic ingenuousness (like Karl Ove Knausgård, Ullmann is Norwegian). Imagine being the Knopf publicist waiting at the airport for the author after having read this from the book's opening pages:

"The same men and women will be standing by the same exits and will exclaim the same words of welcome when they see me. People with flowers and kindness, all in a hurry to pack me into a car and drive me to some luxury hotel, where they can abandon me and go home to their own lives."

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers (1984)

"The argument I wish to make in this book is somewhat less watertight, I hope: I wish to show that the circumstances of modernism were not modern, and only became so by being given the forms called 'spectacle.'" -- T.J. Clark (p.15)