Friday, January 31, 2014

"Mr. Spaceman" (1966)

The Byrd's Roger McGuinn was a devotee of science-fiction, a film and literary genre that flourished in postwar North America alongside the musical genre of rock 'n' roll, which, by 1967, was beginning to hyphenate with other musical genres. While the Beatles were looking to the east, United States bands were looking within, particularly at that country's earlier and parallel tradition of country & western music.

Like yesterday's post, the Byrd's "Mr. Spaceman" is a song informed by science fiction. Also like yesterday's post, one of the original bandmates is missing -- in the Byrd's case, David Crosby, who left the band shortly before its green-screen lip-synched performance of a song about a visitor who, like Crosby and the Pixie's Kim Deal, was there one day, gone the next.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Andro Queen" (2013)

It is hard to imagine The Pixies without Kim Deal. But then again, you don't have to, because here they are -- performing a new song, "Andro Queen" (2013), on the CBC.

Andro Queen

Now Andro Queen has lost her ring
I think it used to sit right here
Encrusted in blue and hard and true
For now I will kiss her finger

Have you ever seen Andro Queen
Wandering all for her ruby
One day she'll come in through my window
Yes, she gave me her own true pledge

For what's missing I'll sacrifice my flesh
Only kissing you is so hard in this wild thresh
That's how it's been with Andro

Loving on our bed of flowers
Breathing in the smell of her musk
In a moon of milk she is scared, yes she is
Yet she shows me under her silk

For what's missing I'll sacrifice my flesh
Only kissing you is so hard in this wild thresh
I wave goodbye to Andro

Mi aspekti al la ĉielo por via reveni
Mi aspekti ĉe via mano al vidi la ringo
Kaj ni will promeni kune al via cambro
Nia ami will esti nova
Nia ami will esti nova

She's off in a silver rocket
Off to the gas and rings of Saturn
Off her head she gave me a lock, yes she did
For my neck a rusted locket

For what's missing I'll sacrifice my flesh
Only kissing you is so hard in this wild thresh
For what's missing I'll sacrifice my flesh
Only kissing you is so hard in this wild thresh

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Price of Salt (1952)

Brad Phillips is a reader of Patricia Highsmith (above is a reproduction of his painting One Month of Reading in the Mirror, 2007). I am sure Brad is a big enough fan to know that Highsmith wrote The Price of Salt (1952) under the pseudonym Claire Morgan.

The Price of Salt is that rare breed: a lesbian novel with a happy ending.

Below is the first paragraph of the opening chapter:

Therese ate nervously, with the "Welcome to Frankenberg" booklet propped up in front of her against a sugar container. She had read the thick booklet through last week, in the first day of training class, but she had nothing else with her to read, and in the coworkers' cafeteria, she felt it necessary to concentrate on something. So she read again about vacation benefits, the three weeks' vacation given to people who had worked fifteen years at Frankenberg's, she ate the hot plate special of the day--a grayish slice of roast beef with a ball of mashed potatoes covered with brown gravy, a heap of peas, and a tiny paper cup of horseradish. She tried to imagine what it would be like to have worked fifteen years in Frankenberg's department store, and she found she was unable to. "Twenty-five Yearers" got four weeks' vacation, the booklet said. Frankenberg's also provided a camp for summer and winter vacationers. They should have a church, too, she thought, and a hospital for the birth of babies. The store was organized so much like a prison, it frightened her now and then to realize she was a part of it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Two Exhibitions

Two worthwhile exhibitions that opened last week are Aaron Carter: Neopolitan Elbow at CSA Space (see above) and Brad Phillips: The Rope At the End of the Rope at Macaulay & Co. Fine Art.

Neopolitan Elbow is curated by Steffanie Ling, who, in her selection and placement of Carter's smaller works of plaster, ink and gouache, has managed to make CSA's small space seem big, available, generous to the artworks, not burdened by them.

Attention to selection and placement is something that has been lacking in the display of Phillips's work, particularly when it comes to his autobiographical drawings and paintings, which nobody, even the artist himself, seems to get right. This time, however, the tone is spot on, and Phillips's complex tendencies (diffidence, self-loathing, Symbolist retreat and violence) succeed in forming a government.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

The sun is out, and because it is January, it is low in the sky, streaming through the window and lighting up the wall opposite.

This is what I find myself looking at as I lay in bed late on this cool blue morning: the shadows of my hands on the golden wall opposite.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Amy Fung

Vancouver has a few freelance art critics who contribute reviews to local, national and international journals and magazines. Mitch Speed, who comes from studio practice, is one; Aaron Peck, who has a graduate degree in art history, is another.

Most prolific, however, is Amy Fung, who holds an MA in English Literature and Film Studies from the University of Alberta and is currently the Programs Manager/Curator at Cineworks.

In addition to writing for magazines and journals, Fung maintains a blog entitled POST Pacific POST, where she does not so much "confuse attitude for ideas," as Cotter lamented in Wednesday's post, but combines them, like one would a snowball and a rock.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Robin Laurence

Vancouver has four English-language daily newspapers: two of which cost money (The Vancouver Sun and The Province), two of which are commuter free sheets (Metro and 24 Hours). In addition to that, a twice-weekly home delivered paper (Vancouver Courier) and a weekly (The Georgia Straight).

Of these hard copy newspapers, only the weekly has a dedicated visual art critic. Her name is Robin Laurence, and her bio lists her as a contributing editor at English-Canada's two largest visual art magazines: Canadian Art and Border Crossings.

Yesterday I went looking for a some writing by Laurence that, like Holland Cotter's article in the New York Times, provides a view beyond that of the artist profile or the exhibition review. What I found was a June 2009 article in "The New Aesthetic" issue of Adbusters, entitled "An Aesthetic Crisis", which asks: "Visual art moves from modernism to postmodernism…to what?"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Holland Cotter Collection

Art critic Holland Cotter has once again weighed in on what ails him about the art world. Of course his is the New York version, written for a New York audience -- at the same time aware of a wider readership that takes its cues from what sits atop that city's plinth.

What differs this time is that Cotter is more prescriptive. Though admittedly "long on questions and short on answers," these answers take the form of directives and are worth mulling over, particularly on the topic of art criticism and a need for "new commentators who don't mistake attitude for ideas."

The entirety of his text, which appeared in the New York Times five days ago, can be found below:

A new year. A new New York mayor. Old problems with art in New York. I have a collection of complaints and a few (very few) ideas for change.
Money — the grotesque amounts spent, the inequitable distribution — has dominated talk about art in the 21st century so far. It’s a basic fact of art history. Emperors, popes and robber barons set the model for the billionaire buyers of today. Of course, it is today that matters to the thousands of artists who live and work in this punitively expensive city, where the art industry is often confused with the art world.
The distinction between the two, though porous, is real. The art industry is the nexus of high-price galleries, auction houses and collectors who control an art market renowned for its funny-money practices. In numbers of personnel, the industry is a mere subset of the circle of artists, teachers, students, writers, curators and middle-range dealers spread out over five boroughs. But in terms of power, the proportions are reversed, to the degree that the art world basically functions as a labor source, supplying the industry with product, services and exotic color but, with the age of apprenticeships long gone, only uncertainly sharing in its wealth.
Do I exaggerate? A bit. The argument can be made that labor is benefiting from its ties to management, in a high-tide-floats-all-boats way. Visit art schools or galleries, and you get the impression that a substantial portion of the art world is content to serve as support staff to a global ruling class.
The reality is that, directly or indirectly, in large ways and small, the current market system is shaping every aspect of art in the city: not just how artists live, but also what kind of art is made, and how art is presented in the media and in museums.
I got tired of money talk a while back. Rather than just sputter with indignation, I figured it would be more useful to turn in another direction, toward art that the industry wasn’t looking at, which is a whole lot of art. But reminders keep pulling you back to the bottom line. With every visit to the gallery-packed Lower East Side, I see fewer of the working-class Latinos who once called the neighborhood home. In what feels like overnight, I’ve watched Dumbo in Brooklyn go from an artist’s refuge to an economically gated community.
Recently, my attention was drawn to a controversy surrounding a large and much praised group exhibition installed at a complex of converted warehouses called Industry City in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The show, “Come Together: Surviving Sandy,” was conceived as a benefit for artists who had suffered losses in the 2012 hurricane and was promoted as evidence of art-world solidarity. Yet a widely read blog, Art F City, reported that the owners of the complex, which had for some years provided low-rent studios for artists, were now raising rents dramatically, forcing many artists to vacate. (Landlords say 25 percent of Industry City tenants are artists). The new residents seem to be an upscale clientele drawn by the artsy atmosphere.
Whatever the full facts, money is the winner, and with that comes caution and conservatism. This is almost absurdly obvious on the high-end of the market. Sales of retrograde “masterworks” can be relied on to jack up the auction charts at regular intervals; the most recent record was set last fall by a $142.4 million Francis Bacon painting of Lucian Freud, a monument to two overpraised painters for the price of one. Meanwhile, big, hugely pricey tchotchkes — new whatevers by Jeff Koons, say — roll out of fabrication shops and into personal museums being assembled by members of the international power elite.
Outside auctions, the marketing mechanics buzz on. Roughly since the end of the multicultural, postmodern 1990s, we’ve watched new art being re-Modernized and domesticated, with painting the medium of choice, abstraction the mode of preference. Together they offer significant advantages. Paintings can be assembly-line produced but still carry the aura of being hand-touched. They can be tailored to small spaces, such as fair booths. Abstraction, especially if color is involved, can establish instant eye contact from afar. If, in addition, the work’s graphic impact translates well online, where stock can be moved eBay style, so much the better.
Other traditional forms — drawing, photography, some sculpture — similarly work well in this marketing context. But an enormous range of art does not, beginning with film, performance and installation, and extending into rich realms of creative activity that defy classification as art at all. To note this dynamic is not to dismiss painting or object making, but to point to the restrictive range of art that the market supports, that dealers are encouraged to sell, and that artists are encouraged to make.
The narrowing of the market has been successful in attracting a wave of neophyte buyers who have made art shopping chic. It has also produced an epidemic of copycat collecting. To judge by the amounts of money piled up on a tiny handful of reputations, few of these collectors have the guts, or the eye or the interest, to venture far from blue-chip boilerplate. They let galleries, art advisers and the media do the choosing, and the media doesn’t particularly include art critics. What, after all, does thumbs up, thumbs down matter when winners are preselected before the critical votes are in? In this economy, it can appear that the critic’s job is to broadcast names and contribute to fame.
Conservative art can encourage conservative criticism. We’re seeing a revival — some would say a disinterment — of a describe-the-strokes style of writing popular in the formalist 1950s and again in the 1970s: basically, glorified advertising copy. Evaluative approaches that developed in the 1980s and 1990s, based on the assumption that art inevitably comments on the social and political realities that produce it, tend to be met with disparagement now, in part because they’re often couched in academic jargon, which has become yet another form of sales-speak.
There’s no question that we need — art needs — an influx of new commentators who don’t mistake attitude for ideas, who move easily between cultures and geographies. Regular gigs in mainstream print journalism have all but dried up, but the Internet offers ambitious options in a growing number of blogazines including Art F City (edited by Paddy Johnson) and Hyperallergic (edited by Hrag Vartanian), which combine criticism, reporting, political activism and gossip on an almost-24-hour news cycle.
And although both are based in New York, they include national coverage and in a feisty mix of voices, a welcome alternative to the one-personality blog of yore. That mix would probably be even more varied, and transcultural, if a few forward-thinking, art-minded investors would infuse some serious capital into such enterprises so they could pay writers a living wage and make online freelance writing a viable way of life.
I don’t know what it would take to get a global mix of voices into some of New York’s big, rich art museums. If archaeologists of the future unearthed the Museum of Modern Art as it exists today, they would have to assume that Modernism was a purely European and North American invention. They would be wrong. Modernism was, and is, an international phenomenon, happening in different ways, on different timetables, for different reasons in Africa, Asia, Australia and South America.
Why aren’t museums telling that story? Because it doesn’t sell. Why doesn’t it sell? Because it’s unfamiliar. Why is it unfamiliar? Because museums, with their eyes glued to box office, aren’t telling the story.
Yes, MoMA and the Guggenheim have recently organized a few “non-Western” shows. MoMA’s 2012 “Tokyo 1955-1970: A New Avant-Garde,” packed to the ceiling with art we’ve rarely if ever seen, was a revelation. But they need to take actions far more fundamental and committed. International Modernism should be fully integrated into the permanent collection, regularly, consistently.
Their job as public institutions is to change our habits of thinking and seeing. One way to do this is by bringing disparate cultures together in the same room, on the same wall, side by side. This sends two vital, accurate messages: that all these cultures are different but equally valuable; and all these cultures are also alike in essential ways, as becomes clear with exposure.
With its recently announced plans for an expansion, MoMA has an ideal chance to expand its horizons organically. The new spaces, which should certainly be devoted to the permanent collection, won’t be ready for several years, but the museum has no excuse for waiting for its long-overdue integration process to begin.
And on the subject of integration, why, in one of the most ethnically diverse cities, does the art world continue to be a bastion of whiteness? Why are African-American curators and administrators, and especially directors, all but absent from our big museums? Why are there still so few black — and Latino, and Asian-American — critics and editors?
Not long ago, these questions — of policy but also political and ethical questions — seemed to be out there on institutional tables, demanding discussion. Technically, they may be there still, but museums seem to be most interested in talking about real estate, assiduously courting oligarchs for collections, and anxiously scouting for the next “Rain Room.” Political questions, about which cultures get represented in museums and who gets to make the decisions, and how, are buried.
Political art brings me back to where I started, with artists, and one final, baffled complaint, this one about art schools, which seem, in their present form, designed to accommodate the general art economy and its competitive, caste-system values. Programs are increasingly specialized, jamming students into ever narrower and flakier disciplinary tracks. Tuitions are prodigious, leaving artists indentured to creditors for years.
How experimental can artists be under such circumstances? How confidently can they take risks in an environment that acknowledges only dollar-value success? How can they contemplate sustaining — to me this is crucial to New York’s future as an art center — long and evolving creative careers? The temptation for many artists, after a postgraduate spurt of confidence, is to look around, see what’s selling, and consider riffing on that. We’re seeing a depressing number of such riffs these days.
Again, do I exaggerate? And, again, sure, to some degree. By no means is all the news bad. Start-up galleries are opening; middle-tier galleries are holding their own, or doing better than that. Artist-intensive neighborhoods like Bushwick and Ridgewood are still affordable, companionable and fun.
But when the rents get too high, or the economy fails, or art buying falls out of fashion, and the art industry decides to liquidate its overvalued assets and leave? Artists, the first and last stakeholders, will have themselves to fall back on. They’ll learn to organize and agitate for what they need, to let City Hall know, in no uncertain terms, that they’re there. They’ll learn to share, not just on special occasions, but all the time. They’ll learn that art and politics are inseparable, and both can be anything and everything. They’ll learn to bring art back from the brink of inconsequence.
As someone long on questions and short on answers, let me ask: Why not start now?

Monday, January 20, 2014

The New Sentence

The New Sentence is in fact the second sentence. Unlike this one, it does not transition. The sentence that follows is not supposed to, and is made so based on perceptions of what is acceptable, based on rhetoric, and that too is a weapon of bourgeois capitalism. Thus, it can only be defined by the sentence that follows and can only injure itself if, as an independent clause (a "simple sentence"), it is joined to another by a semi-colon, which Donald Bartheleme (not G.K. Chesterton, as I thought once) thought "ugly" and likened to a "tick on a dog's belly," and even then I am not sure. According to My Life, Lyn Hejinian is a practitioner of the New Sentence. It is tickless.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Yesterday's mention of Lyn Hejinian's lyrical memoir My Life was intended to set up some observations I had upon seeing Althea Thauberger's Marat Sade Bohnice (2013) at the Audain Gallery last week, particularly the line about physiology, philosophy, patience and madness. But upon waking this morning I began to think about what Kenneth Tynan said in an earlier post, about the rise of biography in American Theatre, which brought to mind the increased presence of younger and younger memoir writers in 1990s literature, how that trend has, in some ways, displaced the novel as the dominant literary form. This is something I will likely take up later this month in my reading of the latest issue of The Capilano Review, as its editor, Jenny Penberthy, has invited me to act as a respondent on the magazine's online blog.

As for Thauberger's Marat Sade Bohnice, although I have yet to see the whole thing (looping video installations being what they are, I have seen only its last half and its first quarter), I intend to return to it before speaking on it further.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

"Where I woke and was awake, in the room fitting the wall, withdrawn. I had my desk and thus my corner. While waiting, waltz," writes Lyn Hejinian on Page 81 of Green Integer's 2002 re-print of her memoir, My Life, first published by Sun & Moon Press in 1987.

Later: "Must the physiologist stand apart from the philosopher. We are not forgetting the patience of the mad."

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Toxic Ponds

Language, numbers, consequences.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fort McMurray, Alberta

Before joining the CBC, Newfoundland's Rick Mercer was as politically-engaged humourist who had a talent for pointing out contradictions in the capitalist mode of production. In the video above, he travels to Canada's oil sands capital of Fort McMurray under the auspices of a man in search of work.

In the past, a Rick Mercer visit would inevitably uncover local contradictions, hypocrisies and injustices. But in the video above, Mercer does not so much uncover truths as perpetuate myths and reinforce stereotypes.

At 2:15, Mercer says, "So this is one of these places where people are from everywhere else, isn't it?" to which the Quebec-raised mayor replies, "Very much so, yes." Up until then (and indeed until the end of this 4:34 instance of inverse ethnography) we see no indication of a First Nations presence. Nor, for that matter, anyone who is not of European descent.

At 3:14, Mercer asks, "Now what about the population make-up -- men versus women?" to which the mayor replies, "Um, you know, it all depends on where you are. The hard numbers say that we are 50, about 55% male and 44% female." But rather than enquire about this mysterious 1%, Mercer, who is an out gay man, plays to the heterosexual: "If you're a single male, um, you may have a hard time finding a date."

To be fair, Mercer has taken shots at oil sands exploitation in his "Rick Mercer Report". But for every shot he takes, it seems he follows up with a lengthier, neoliberal-friendly infomercial, like the one that kicks off this post.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Oil Sands

Neil Young's "Honour the Treaties" concert tour (Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina and Calgary) was designed as a fundraiser for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nations legal defence fund and their fight to block oil sands exploitation and the government policies that enable it.

Although Young's criticism of oil sands exploitation is not new (see the above video), his recent comparison of that exploitation to Hiroshima has achieved what he set out to do, and that is bring the issue to the forefront of the popular imaginary, get people thinking about it, talking about it, connecting themselves to the larger conversation.

While many of us laugh at artists who involve themselves in social issues (even artists themselves, if we consider what the creators of South Park's satirical Team America: World Police gave us in their treatment of actors Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon), it is worth noting that artists specialize in analogies, particularly those that appear to some as hyperbolic -- and that the best of them (including our satirists) do not mind erring on the side of what is best about our species.

American sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein reminds us again and again that World War Two was a battle over who would lead the world economy, with colonial Britain on the wane. To lead that economy, one would need to control not just the flow of oil but its extraction and refinement. The United States won that war with two unusual drilling platforms -- one of which was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

That the United States government and its corporate string-holders are slowly dropping an even bigger bomb over the oil sands is something we need to think about, talk about, connect ourselves to, if not for our sake than for the sake of those to come. On that note, consider what Young said on CBC radio yesterday, when he expressed concern over a hole so big his grandchildren won't be able to climb their way out of it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

"Vancouver, crawling, weeping, betting"

Vancouver's Battery Opera has announced its Bob's Lounge Salon Series, a "mobile improvisational performance vehicle" that gathers musicians, dancers, actors and audiences to share in an alcohol chosen by Battery's Opera's David McIntosh and, among other things, listen as a "guest" tells a story that "could be personal or anecdotal and have concrete or metaphorical relation to any one or all of the following: sex, death, animal, vomit, birth, a journey, siblings."

This Friday's storyteller is project co-founder Chris Bose; the following Friday (January 24th), yours truly will provide something of a short story anthology based on my understanding of Kingsway.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Two Glasses: one half-full, the other half-empty.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tynan on Theatre (1964)

Kenneth Tynan begins his essay "Culture in Trouble" with a television programme called "The Crisis in Our Culture, where W. H. Auden, Jacques Barzun and Lionel Trilling debate the coming decade (the 1960s).

From there, Tynan identifies two trends he expects to see more of in American Theatre: the first is "biography"; the second, what I suppose could be reduced to interiority ("the belief that what happens inside a human being is more important than what happens outside").

Oddly enough, it is from this second trend that Tynan turns to fiction for his examples, describing Salinger's Glass family as "mainly composed of latter-day mystics and self-slaughtered saints whose offers of disinterested love are constantly being slapped-down by a society which their humility forbids them to criticize," and, on Norman Mailer's Advertisements for Myself (1959): "The Hipster, in brief, is a man who has divorced himself from history as well as from society; who lives exclusively in the present; who thinks of himself as a white Negro; and whose aim is self-discovery through sexual pleasure, enhanced if need be by the aid of marijuana."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Every now and then I am asked to write something that has me reaching for a collection of writings by theatre critic Kenneth Tynan, a Penguin paperback called Tynan on Theatre (1964), from which I read a couple of reviews before flipping to the back for his "Portraits".

One such portrait is an 8,000 word tour de force word-picture of a Toronto-born performance artist (though that title did not exist then) who was known throughout the Western world as Lady Peel (1894-1989), but who started life as Beatrice Gladys Lillie.

Here is how Christopher Stevens describes Beatrice Lillie in his book on Kenneth Williams:

Lillie's great talents were the arched eyebrow, the curled lip, the fluttering eyelid, the tilted chin, the ability to suggest, even in apparently innocent material, the possible double entendre.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Monday, January 6, 2014

437-441 Powell Street

During the last days of 2013 the City of Vancouver decided that the 123-year-old building at 437-441 Powell Street is not in danger of collapse and have given the now cash-strapped Ming Sun Benevolent Society until January 31st to shore it up.

For those interested in helping out, donations can be made electronically through the Friends of 439 Powell.

I assume the picture above (of photographer Fred Herzog) was taken by one of those friends.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

All That Was (2010)

Past and future tenses, a passive dependent clause, a split-infinitive and a negative conspire to form a text that, in our attempt to ground ourselves within its temporal calculus, slows us. Indeed, it is within this slowness that questions seep in: What is for sale here? Whose land am I on? Why do I move so quickly through the city? Unlike other galleries with texts on their buildings, Raymond Boisjoly's was left to the elements after its commissioning agent, the artist-run Access Gallery, was forced to move due to steepening rents, leaving All That Was (2010) to join the ranks of its prescient title. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Campus Life

Of course "Housing Diversity" on the SFU Burnaby campus includes market housing.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Line #77

Once upon a time Simon Fraser University had two literary magazines: West Coast Review, which specialized in the well-crafted monological poem, and Line, which did the same for progressive modern "language-based" writing. When they merged, they became West Coast Line.

Last year, under the editorship of professor/poet Jeff Derksen, West Coast Line dropped its locus for its gesture, and is now known as Line. As well, it trimmed off some height and width, while adding depth with respect to content and its relevance to what its editor cannot stop calling our "long neoliberal moment."

The current issue (#71) is devoted to a visit by Antoni Muntadas and is worth reading, particularly in light of what Foucault says in the video I posted yesterday on institutions and their critique. Yes, we hear from Muntadas, but we also hear from SFU scholars in a number of disciplines who speak candidly of their privilege while at the same time reminding us how the university is under threat from those neoliberal forces that Derksen and his kind are clocking.

One of the more notable pieces is not by a scholar but by a product of the university system: a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate who works as a carpenter at SFU -- Julie Sawatsky. How refreshing to read a text whose hilarious and insightful prose mirrors the interruption of the maintenance worker when announcing herself (Knock, knock -- "Maintenance.") as a repairer of a wall some drunk freshman drove his fist into. If Jeff Derksen is the editor of SFU's literary magazine, Sawatsky is an editor of its doors, walls, hinges and windows.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


On Page 317 of The Cambridge Companion to Foucault (2005) ("Foucault's Struggle With Psychoanalysis") we hear of an encounter the philosopher had at Hôpital Sainte Anne, where years before Jacques Lacan found not despair in his fieldwork but success in the form of his cure-ation of "Aimée".

Foucault refers to the "malaise" and the "great general discomfort" that resulted from his experience working at Sainte Anne. The situation appears to centre on "Roger", a patient of Foucault's, who was subjected to the ultimate act of therapeutic despair, namely, a prefrontal lobotomy, when he did not respond to other, less drastic means. Macey is no doubt correct when he says that "given Foucault's own depressive tendencies," the encounter with "Roger" "must have had a considerable impact." Not only does it seem to have derailed Foucault's plans to become a psychiatrist, but it also seems to have left him with an "indelible image of suffering."