Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The late modern achievement-subject is poor in negation. It is a subject of affirmation." (24)



I am finding this helpful.

Auto-aggression develops out of the gap between the real ego and the ideal ego. The ego struggles with itself, is at war wth itself. The society of positivity, which believes it has freed itself from all external compulsions, entraps itself in destructive self-compulsions. Psychic ailments such as burnout or depression, the exemplary ailments of the twenty-first century, all exhibit auto-aggressive tendencies. One does violence to oneself and exploits oneself. External violence is replaced by self-generating violence, which is more devastating because its victims imagine themselves to be free. (36-37)

Thank you Byung-Chul Han.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Black Twitter



Some great tables at the Vancouver Art Book Fair this year. One of them belonged to L.A./Berlin-based artist Kandis Williams.

Kandis was giving patrons a rapid-fire tour of her Cassandra magazines when I noticed her Black Twitter anthology. "Wallace Berman," I said to myself. "Of course," said Kandis, without missing a beat.


Yesterday I attended Kandis's talk, which began with a Charles Sanders Peirce abductive reasoning inspired schemata ("Lover", "Artist", "Fetishist"), followed by some video clips of Hortense Spillers ("Shades of Intimacy") and Rachel Dolezal, then some light on writers and artists Michael E. Jones, Adrian Piper and Kazimir Malevich, whose Black Square (1915) was an important moment for an artist who, like Malevich, identifies as a Suprematist.


Black Twitter was priced at $25. After Kandis's talk I gave her $40 and she gave me $4 back. "Twenty-five dollars, right?" I said. "Twenty-five American," she said, moving on. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Return to Gender



Last Tuesday Catriona Jeffries took me on a tour of her nicely apportioned new gallery at 950 East Cordova. Thought it best not to take pictures of the interior until the February 2018 opening. In the meantime, two Pit Stops in the parking lot. Gallery design: Patkau Architects.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Boss Twigg (updated)



A quote often attributed to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965) has it that "If a man is not a socialist by the time he is 20, he has no heart. If he is not a conservative by the time he is 40, he has no brain."

A variant came to mind in the 1990s when I began to notice how certain post-war Baby Boomers who self-idenitifed as anarchists in their youth were suddenly behaving like libertarians. And yes, BC Bookworld's Alan Twigg appeared to be among them.

During a Writers' Union of Canada event at the Vancouver Writers Festival last Wednesday, TWUC equity, membership and engagement co-ordinator Rebecca Benson, who is Tuscarora from Six Nations, was interrupted by Alan while presenting an outline of the TWUC's "equity policy and programming and subsidies for writers." Apparently Alan felt it okay to shout out his two-bits. But to what end? An instance of free speech -- for free speech's sake? Failing to hear ceremony where he only felt exclusion? Apparently, according to a statement he posted on his B.C. Booklook site.

I have pasted Alan's disturbing I-wrote-about-you-so-I-own-you statement below (followed by his revised version that appeared later this morning):

A public message from Alan Twigg

In an age when tweets can easily be misconstrued as truths, I wish to make a public statement beyond 140 characters.

Firstly, I wish to sincerely apologize to any person who was upset by the discord that ensued during a private function for Writers Union members in October.
I responded to an Indigenous speaker as an equal but organizers hastily intervened to eradicate any discussion or feedback—from anyone. I particularly wish to apologize to Rebecca Benson, from Six Nations, who was therefore placed in an awkward position.
I was only permitted to voice an initial criticism of the unusually doctrinaire nature of the address, but in absolutely no way did I object to the person who made it. There is a big difference.
One organizer threatened me with removal if I persisted in trying to speak my mind. There was to be no freedom of speech at this gathering. Ironically, I was prohibited from voicing a suggestion that I had hoped might be useful for enhancing Reconciliation. [View that proposal below.]
Now my frustration with the organizers–not with TWUC itself–has been misrepresented by one person who has maliciously branded me as a racist in a Tweet. If that person—or, for that matter, anyone—cares to read the thousands of pages I have written and/or published about and for First Nations cultures and Indigenous authors over the past 40 years, they could make a fairer assessment.
The wonderful growth of appreciation and understanding of Indigenous peoples that we are now witnessing in this country is the result of constructive actions and some difficult conversations.
Today, there are at least 266 Indigenous authors in B.C. and I know that because I’ve written about every one of them. I have provided extensive and respectful coverage of books pertaining to First Nations in every issue of B.C. BookWorldsince 1987 and I’ll continue to do so.
Along the way I wrote and produced a CBC documentary, Jeannette ArmstrongKnowledge Keeperof the Okanagan, in 1995, and published the first and only book entirely devoted to Indigenous authors of one province, AboriginalityThe Literary Origins of British Columbia, in 2005. I also had the honour of presenting Jeannette with the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award, making her the first Indigenous writer in BC to be so recognized, in 2016.
While I might not agree with absolutely every TWUC policy and action that has been taken during more than thirty years of membership, I understand that overall the work accomplished by TWUC has been vital and progressive. If someone says or does something that we find problematic in some way, well, historically we have always been welcome to voice our views within TWUC. That level of candour and honesty and engagement is important for the integrity of any union.
*
A VOLUNTARY REPARATIONS FEE
Here is what I was prevented from proposing at the TWUC event.
“A reminder to audiences that we have gathered on unceded territory has been effective in raising public consciousness. Possibly it could be rendered more effective. As it stands, many earnest people now get to feel repetitively guilty. It is human nature to resent admonitions. Therefore, we need to constructively recognize this phenomenon and find a way to enhance this announcement.
“I believe there are many homeowners and condo-owners — and possibly others — who would welcome an opportunity to annually remit, on a voluntary basis, a Reparations Fee. This amount could be decided voluntarily by the “settler” or it could be established by the jurisdictions of First Nations in particular areas.
“Funds accrued could go either to individual First Nations or be shared communally, provincially or federally, among First Nations. Obviously, it should be up to the First Nations to decide such administrative matters.
“Therefore, I would suggest some discussion of the feasibility of inviting theatregoers and concertgoers, or attendees at sporting events, etc., to provide some financial reparation, if they wished to do so, on an annual basis.”
*
Respectfully,
Alan Twigg


Here is Twigg's revision of the above:

How to be branded racist by a Tweet

In an age when false tweets can easily be misconstrued as truths, I wish to make a public statement beyond 140 characters. -- Alan Twigg

Firstly, I wish to sincerely apologize to any person who was upset by the discord that ensued during a private function for Writers Union members in October.
When I responded to an Indigenous speaker as a colleague, organizers hastily intervened to eradicate any discussion or feedback—from anyone–so I particularly wish to apologize to Rebecca Benson, from Six Nations, who was therefore placed in an awkward position.
While I did express some initial criticism of the doctrinaire nature of her address, in absolutely no way did I object to the person who was making it. Possibly the fact that I was responding to Rebecca as an equal colleague, regardless of ethnicity, stirred the ire of the event organizers.
What has not been made clear is that this was not a public event on a stage at the Writers Festival. We were in a private room in a hotel. This gathering was for Writers Union members only. One organizer threatened me with removal if I persisted in trying to speak my mind. I do admit that I expressed consternation when it became clear to me that no freedom of speech was to prevail at this gathering; but at no time was any of my behaviour the least bit racist.
I was therefore, ironically, prohibited from proceeding to voice a constructive suggestion that was to be the main reason for my speaking; an idea that was intended to benefit First Nations.
Soon thereafter one person, Dave Bidini, maliciously branded me as a racist in a Tweet. I believe Mr. Bidini has misguidingly and purposefully misinterpreted my criticism of the methodology that Ms. Benson was employing to communicate Writers Union guidelines. [It should be noted that criticism does not necessarily constitute dissent; although dissent should be tolerated, as well, within any union. I support completely the Reconciliation agenda, as evidenced by the suggestion I was not permitted to make, and by my track record as a writer and publisher.]
If anyone cares to read the thousands of pages I have written and/or published about and for First Nations cultures and Indigenous authors over the past 40 years, they can make a much fairer assessment of whether or not I am a racist, rather than entrusting Mr. Bidini incendiary tweet seemingly designed to generate more followers on his Twitter account.
When Dave Bidini was unable to substantiate exactly why my critique of the speaker’s didactic methodology constituted racism, he subsequently proceeded to fabricate an outrageous quote allegedly gleaned from a brief parking lot conversation. He alleged in a Tweet that I feared Indigenous people wanted to take control of my home. In a Trumpian age, apparently many people are more than willing to believe in an outrageous lie.
If Dave Bidini did some research, he would discover I have done more work to enhance and elevate the appreciation and understanding of First Nations culture than most non-Indigenous members of the Writers Union. I am not entirely sure why I was made a member of the Order of Canada, but that might be one of the reasons.
The wonderful growth of appreciation and understanding of Indigenous peoples that we are now witnessing in this country is the result of constructive actions and some difficult conversations. I am willing to undertake constructive actions and difficult conversations.
Today, there are at least 266 Indigenous authors in B.C. and I know that because I’ve written about every one of them.
I have also provided extensive and respectful coverage of books pertaining to First Nations in every issue of B.C. BookWorld since 1987 and I’ll continue to do so.
Along the way I wrote and produced a CBC documentary, Jeannette ArmstrongKnowledge Keeperof the Okanagan, in 1995.
In 2005, I published the first and only book entirely devoted to Indigenous authors of one province, AboriginalityThe Literary Origins of British Columbia.
In 2016, I had the honour of organizing the presentation of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award to Jeannette Armstrong, making her the first Indigenous writer in BC to be so recognized.
While I might not agree with absolutely every TWUC policy and action that has been taken during more than thirty years of membership, I understand that overall the work accomplished by TWUC has been vital and progressive. If someone says or does something that we find problematic in some way, well, historically we have always been welcome to voice our views within TWUC. That level of candour and honesty and engagement is important for the integrity of any union.
When criticism is disallowed, we move more towards autocracy.
Respectfully,
Alan Twigg


Friday, October 19, 2018

derek beaulieu



Earlier this month Calgary's derek beaulieu was announced Director of Literary Arts at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. The following day I received a package from derek, inside which were some recent publications from his No. Press, including a piece of mine, entitled "PutFord [Mad".

PutFord [Mad
after Ezra Pound

oxFord] inane
mp tyro omna
ked foran hou
randbe holdt
otalcha os


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Page 10



The Vancouver Art Book Fair is this weekend. This is the seventh year of the Fair, and ECUAD is hosting a number of its events.

On Friday evening the Contemporary Art Gallery is launching Robert Kleyn's Page 10 (Brussels: Gevaert Editions, 2018), an artist's book comprised of scanned page 10s from a number of academic and literary sources, including a page from my 1999 novel The Pornographer's Poem.

The pages are organized alphabetically based on the first word that appears on the page. For example, Susan Sontag's page 10 (from On Photography, 1978) is in the "B"s because it begins: "be exacerbated by travel." I am in the "B"s too: "But a funny thing happened." And it's true -- it did!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Indian Dolls



When I was in elementary school (late-60s/early-70s), some of us came to school in our Brownie uniforms (Brownies met after school, while Cubs met after dinner). Of those I know with kids, none attend or attended Brownies.

Yesterday, while walking on Main Street, I noticed The Brownie Handbook in a book bin. I almost bought it, but I am trying to cut down on my book intake, so I took its pictures instead.

Here is the page (74) I was looking for:



Indian dolls

find long and short weeds and grasses

fold them

tie at neck, wrists, waist and legs

to make an Indian grass doll



Indian rattles

cut heavy paper in this design

fold at the dotted lines and paste the sides together

drop in a few grains of rice

tape it to a stick holder

and you have an Indian rattle

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Spotlights



A picture of Neil Wedman early in September at his Wednesday Ouisi salon on South Granville.

Neil has an opening at Equinox this Saturday. Entitled Spotlights, the works consist of a dozen or so large acrylic on canvas paintings of a spotlight on a curtain above a stage.

Later that day the spotlight will be on Vancouver's Mayor elect, as British Columbians will be voting in municipal elections.

Who am I voting for? Looking through the CoV's list of candidates, I still think Hector Bremner makes a better cartoon character than Sophia Cherryes Kaur Kaiser. Katy Le Rougetel impresses (a Walmart cashier and Communist League member), while Kennedy Stewart fills me with inertia.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Downtown Eastside



Yesterday I visited Mina at her studio. Because I am always early, I walked around the neighbourhood and took in its changes.

A notable change was the demolition and replacement of what was once the Exercise (and later Model) Gallery and artist studios at the 100-block of Main Street. But a bigger change was to the overall volume and density of the area.

Lots that sat empty for years suddenly had buildings on them. And unlike past buildings, these new ones were built to the street, with guarded porticos. Same for the spaces between these buildings -- nooks and crannies where people once took refuge.

The picture above is from a location that was once the Helen Pitt Gallery. The Sardine Can refers to itself as Spanish tapas, but when I caught its sign from the corner of my eye, I saw not its can but its ovoids.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

"5 a.m. in Amsterdam" (1986)



There's a church beside a park
And it fills the dying dark

With five strokes

Saturday, October 13, 2018

7-11



Two blocks west of the Commercial Hotel was the opening of a 7-11.

I have never seen an opening for a 7-11 before. They just appear, as if they were always there.

Not sure who these figures are, how they figure into the store and its story.

Friday, October 12, 2018

While Waiting for a Ride Outside the Commercial Hotel



During my studio visit with Brenda Draney we talked about eye-balling. I was tempted to share with her this picture I took from my hotel, my attempt to get things to line up. I am happy with my work on the vertical axis, the cinder block wall to the right.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Edmonton



It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, you notice. I am speaking of when a Canadian government enterprise that works in both official languages provides its public with a text that has been translated into French, and later, from French back into English. How else do you end up with Air Canada in-flight movie descriptions like the above?

A 105 minute movie on a 90 minute flight.


My hotel.


For my protection.



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Spill? Graffiti?



I took this picture a couple of weeks ago on 20th after turning east off Main Street. I thought it was spilled paint. Then I noticed the "K", then the "O"s. Then I thought of Raymond and what he might make of it, what he's up to.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Highway Driving



A sunny drive to Little Kingdomville last Thursday, via the Coquihalla, to winterize the trailer, returning four days later, via the Canyon.

I like the Canyon on the way back, its modulating scenery. Under six hours door-to-door, with a gas stop halfway in Lytton. The Coquihalla route has fewer miles and more driving lanes, but is more harrowing, with longer stops, though I never intend to stop longer.

The picture above was taken in Merritt, on the way up.

Monday, October 8, 2018


A small room behind 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.

A crowd has formed, people are clapping. Or is it the rain once more beating down on the tin roof of the neighbour's "bike shed"?

Why are there no bikes in this shed? He has a mower in there, and a couple of metal rakes, one of which stands in the doh! position.

Open your eyes, I think. But no, not until it stops.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Used in a Sentence



While I realize that capital "D" Diaspora has a particular association, I am not accustomed to seeing its uncapitalized form used in this fashion. Hegemony maybe, but not diaspora.

This feels weird too:


(Adorno, where art thou?)


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Leaving Be



Another rural house, this one from Alice Munro's 1994 story collection Open Secrets, the final paragraphs from"A Real Life":

"She doesn't often notice the house. It is just there. But once in a while she does see its cracked face and the blank, slanted windows. The walnut trees behind, losing again, again, their delicate canopy of leaves.

I ought to knock that down and sell the bricks, she says, and seems puzzled that she has not already done so."

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Making Way



Lots of truth and magic in Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987). Here's a line from Page 36:

"If a house burns down, it's gone, but the place -- the picture of it -- stays, and not just in my rememory, but out there, in the world."

The District of North Vancouver burned and bulldozed a number of houses on the Maplewood Mudflats in 1970 to make way for a shopping mall that was never built. One of those houses was Tom's.


Monday, October 1, 2018

American Writer



Adverbs
after Gertrude Stein

imagine her pained
expression we have little
footage of her feelings

happy in Garches
at her brother Michael’s
bemused to read

the libretto
“From Four Saints
in Three Acts”

though where exactly
no one knows I talk

exactly as I write
she says putting on
her glasses 

but exactly -- an adverb
after all she wrote
without them!