Monday, May 31, 2021

I, etcetera (1978)

When Susan Sontag passed away in 2004 after a thirty year argument with acute myelogenus leukaemia, the U.S. lost one of its greatest writers. I want to say public intellectuals, but would prefer to emphasize a writing that, despite influential texts like Against Interpretation (1966), On Photography (1977) and Illness as a Metaphor (1978), is most resonant in fiction -- or let us say an argument with fiction, where the author's discomfort with everything except cigarettes and black turtleneck sweaters achieved its greatest expression. 

A couple years ago, when Jacqueline Zhong-Li Ross submitted to me her list of books to read in advance of our meetings, Sontag's short fiction collection I, etcetera (1978) was among them. I never got around to reading it at the time, but I am now, and sheesh -- does it feel fresh! Certainly the first story, "Project for a Trip to China", with its literary curlicue and dialectical why and wherefore em-dashed notes; a work that carries with it the sound of its own making, but a complete work all the same. "Fresh" not because of its style, which would pass for experimental in the 1970s, but its variegation of fiction and non-.

Here's a passage that reminds me of my own father's beginnings in China (Shanghai):

"A trip into the history of my family. I've been told that the Chinese are pleased when they learn that a visitor from Europe or America has some link with prewar China. Objection: My parents were on the wrong side. Amiable, sophisticated Chinese reply: But all foreigners who lived in China at the time were on the wrong side." (12)

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Jobs for the 21st Century





precurator; plural noun: precurators

works with visual artists in the development of a thought, object, gesture or display, usually in advance of a curated exhibition

Similar:    psychoanalyst    gardener    bottlewasher

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Recent Findings Prove

This provincial government plaque is dated 2019, when words like "isolation" and "segregation" were no longer sufficient descriptions to account for the mental and physical abuse Indigenous children suffered at the hands of their "teachers", to say nothing of the effects that abuse had on the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of these children.

The plaque notes that children as young as four resided at this school, yet bodies as young as three were found among the 215 unmarked graves hidden on its grounds.

Stories of missing/disappeared children led to the use of ground-detecting radar in response to the question of "Where?". Forensic lab work will provide evidence of "Who?", "When?" and "How?". As for the "Why?", we have been learning "Why?", and as a settler I am ashamed. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Leader Passes

Sarah Robinson passed away from colon cancer this week. She was 36. 

Five years ago, Robinson, a citizen of the Fort Nelson First Nation and the Salteau First Nation in Treaty 8 territory, gave a short Walrus talk on "Indigenous Women and the Story of Canada". It is worth listening to. 

I never had a chance to meet Robinson, but by all accounts she was a remarkable person who possessed a wealth of Indigenous and Eurowestern knowledge which she shared as advice and as stories through her work with governments and communities large and small. 

"Too young to burn. Too young, too young."

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Housing Start

Another vertical pic. Yesterday's was vertical because the subject was a door. Today it is a pillar.

I showed the pic to R. and he said it brought to mind something that stuck with him from art school: how when a technology becomes obsolete, it returns as decoration.

The house on which this material was applied is nearly complete. Soon we will have new neighbours: how when a new house is purchased, everything about it reflects its owners' aesthetic.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021


I noticed this sign on the 900 block of Commercial Drive last week. The sign is oriented for those on the inside in need of leaving, yet is visible to those on the outside, in reverse. A hangover from the early days of COVID, when entrances and exits were kept apart? Part of me was tempted to "try" this door, but then I would have to touch it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Seating Devices

The chair is positioned to receive maximum sunlight, while the lounge is slightly shaded, placed under the bough of a buddleia. The chair is where I sit when taking a gardening break; the lounge is something I look forward to, an ideal place to relax with a book.

This picture was taken at dusk on Sunday night, same as yesterday's picture. At first glance the buddleia looks like an arbutus, but that is the light spilling out from the shade garden. These furnishings have personalities. When I look at them long enough, I feel them conversing.

Is this what dusk does? gets inanimate objects talking? Inhabited objects?

My mother's father Howe, who I never met but am said to look and act like -- he is the chair. The lounge is my mother's mother Hildegard, who passed away at Easter 1969 when I was in my seventh year. I have some memories of Nana, enough to know that, until a stroke took her voice, she held forth like nobody's business -- a cigar in one hand, a "presbyterian" (one-third rye, one-third-ginger, one-third water) in the other.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Rock and Role

The first rock (foreground) was removed from the rock garden (right) after the heather had fully consumed it. I saw no point in keeping the rock hidden (the earth was now hard enough to retain itself), so I moved it to the rock pile near the rear garden where I could consider its fate.

The second rock (middle) was removed from the same rock garden a couple years earlier, for similar reasons, and it too lay waiting until we cut down the fir I was trying to turn into a palm. The second rock's hard edge met perfectly with the fir's stump, but because the rock looked lonely, uneasy with its "staged" presentation, I added the first rock as a companion.

The third and smallest rock (background) has no former duty nor origin (that I know of) but came of use after our neighbour extracted a mature false cypress and, as we all knew, where it stands now is where it was meant to be. What was there before the arrival of the false cypress was an unhappy little juniper that for too long lived in the fir's shadow. After replanting the juniper in the spot where I removed the first rock, we put the false cypress in the juniper's old hole and a small rock before it to balance the hose that waters it.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

"the zero or the circle"

A few years ago, when I was dipping into the writings of Cixous, Irigaray and Kristeva, I often came across the name Monique Wittig, but never her books in stores. I could have gone online and ordered some, I suppose, or had them ordered, but I am accustomed to finding books this way (in stores). Yesterday I found one, a translation by David Le Vay of Wittig's 1969 fiction Les Guérillères.

Les Guérillères is the story of a tribe of warrior women who overthrow the patriarchy and establish a new order. It is told through a succession of paragraphic blocks that build like a gathering army. Presumably, these blocks (as literal structures) allow for the construction of something more permanent -- a castle or a sub-division in a land where there are no longer divisions. The book is hailed by its 1985 publisher (Beacon) as "widely read," and I think even Anne Ernaux mentions it in her memoir The Years (2008/2017), but I don't see any younger writers and thinkers citing Les Guérillères today. Maybe I need to read more (widely)?

Here is a passage that occurs early in Les Guérillères:

"Somewhere there is a siren. Her green body is covered in scales. Her face is bare. The undersides of her arms are a rosy colour. Sometimes she begins to sign. The women say that of her song nothing is to be heard but a continuous O. That is why this song evokes for them, like everything that recalls the O, the zero or the circle, the vulval ring." (14)

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Joe Fortes

Joe Fortes (1863-1922) was a Caribbean native of Black and Latin ancestry who was a seaman until he stopped in Vancouver and never left. For years he lived in a tent, then a cottage, near English Bay, where he guarded lives and taught half of Vancouver's white population how to swim.

Fortes appears in Ethel Wilson's The Innocent Traveller (1949), and indeed we hear as much about him as the Bay itself. At various points attention is given to his teaching methods. Much is made of how contact begins and ends with his fingertips.

"Mrs. Coffin advanced into the sea, and unhesitatingly dipped herself. "How brave! How brave! Bravo!" cried Topaz from the brink, clapping. Joe Fortes discussed the motions of swimming with Mrs. Coffin, doing so with his arms, and then so with his big legs like flexible pillars, and Mrs. Coffin took the first position. Joe Fortes respectfully supported her chin with the tips of his strong brown fingers. He dextrously and modestly raised her rear, and held it by a bit of her bathing suit. "How politely he does it!" thought Topaz, admiring Joe Fortes and Mrs. Coffin as they proceeded up and down the ocean. When Mrs. Coffin had proceeded up and down supported and exhorted by Joe Fortes for twenty minutes or so, with Topaz addressing them from the brink, she tried swimming alone. She went under several times dragged down by her bathing suit but emerged full of hope." (132)

The picture atop this post was taken in 1910, around the time Wilson came to live in Vancouver after her South African missionary parents passed away. Like The Innocent Traveller's Rose, whose deceased parents were also South African missionaries, Wilson took lessons from Fortes.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Innocent Traveller (1949) 2

For those interested in stories of how Victorian attitudes shaped Vancouver in the early 20th century, one need look no further than Ethel Wilson's The Innocent Traveller (1949), a series of remarkably-rendered linked portraits centred on Topaz Edgeworth, a middle-aged Aspergerian spinster who, along with her widowed older sister and her sister's spinster daughter, travel from the south of England after the death of their father and grandfather to live with the families of the older sister's sons.

There is much to object to in this largely ahistorical account (a book that tells us nothing of the world outside the Edgeworth family home), though sometimes it does us good to understand what ails us, and not simply hate it. 

There is a nice passage near the middle of the book that shows how Topaz's sister and niece came to find -- and admit to -- an aesthetic that was not prescribed to them by a rigid world they were leaving behind. After travelling by ship from Liverpool to Montreal, the women board a train and, as it makes a brief stop in the Quebec countryside, they see a deep green meadow surrounded by a white fence, with a Roman Catholic church at its far end (they are devout Methodists) and brightly coloured houses to its sides.

"The scene upon which the mother and daughter looked had great beauty. They did not recognize it as great beauty because they had always acquiesced in what they saw, not distinguishing beauty unless it presented itself in familiar, obvious, and inescapable form; but there was something strange and odd and new in this scene which pleased them." (96)

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Sweet Cherubim

I have always admired Sweet Cherubim's outdoor patio at Commercial and Napier. I love its scale in relation to its building; the cut, construction and colour of its wood; its height; and the integration of its flower boxes. Only once have I sat on it, and that was in the summertime, early 1980s, when I stopped to have a bowl of Mulligatawny soup (as food writer Felicity Cloake says of this Indian restaurant staple, it is "always there, never ordered").

In an effort to make life easier for Vancouver restaurants, the City has relaxed restrictions on outdoor patios (see the CoV's Temporary Expedited Patio Program, or TEPP). As a result, we have now some rather awkward looking dining pens, the worst of them beyond the curb where cars park. Though I am sure many servers are happy to be back on the job, it must be hard having to dodge pedestrians who stop to gawk at how unattractive these outdoor patios can be.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Another film I missed/refused the first time around and finally relented to seeing (last night) is the oft-referenced, culturally iconic Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986).

For those who haven't seen the film, a high school senior (Ferris) fakes sick and, in place of a school day, convinces his two pals -- Cameron and Sloane -- to join him on a romp through their home town of Chicago.

At times the trio's interactions remind me of Truffaut's Jules and Jim (1962), or at least I want them to. At other times -- most of the time -- it is TV's Seinfeld (1989-1998), with Ferris as Jerry, Sloane as Elaine and Cameron a cross between George and Kramer.

The picture above is from my favourite part of the movie, when the three visit the Art Institute of Chicago. Rather than art bashing (common to goofball comedies), they say nothing of what they are looking at (Hopper, Picasso, Giacometti, Pollack, Motherwell, etc.). The highlight for me is Cameron's somewhat religious response to Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-1886), of which the picture above is the last of a series of ZOOM-INs.

Director John Hughes has said that this scene was "an indulgence" for him, as the AIC was "a refuge" when he was Ferris's age. I am glad the studio allowed Hughes to keep it in the picture. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Desire Path (2020)

I just now submitted my review of Taryn Hubbard's debut poetry collection Desire Path (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2020) to The Ormsby Review. Watch for it in the days to come [now here, ed.]. In the meantime, a short untitled piece that appears at the end the book, but does not appear on the "Contents" pages. A hidden track, as it were.

I’ll call to tell the rust I’m growing you is beautiful

and blooming on the busted spokes

of the shopping cart I untangled

from the blackberry bush overtaking the ditch.

Monday, May 17, 2021

The Innocent Traveller (1949)

Years ago, in an effort to broaden the conversation on Canadian fiction (and sell a few books in the process), McClelland & Stewart created the New Canadian Library. Among the titles in this library of reprints is Ethel Wilson's The Innocent Traveller (1949), first published by Macmillan. 

As with all NCL titles, The Innocent Traveller carries a short afterword by a writer and/or scholar who has an interest in, or relationship with, the text. The writer tasked with the "Afterword" for Traveller is the late P.K. Page. Here she is near the end of her afterword:

"But what of the book itself, what of its shape? For it has a shape, this collection of stories (or is it a novel, after all?). So delighted are we by its style, by its characters who have become our friends, that we have altogether forgotten shape. We have been carried along -- like Topaz herself -- absorbed, unthinking, until towards the end, the book gathers itself together, and we see its circularity and lift that is, in fact, a spiral."

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Unit 17

The rear of Unit 17 (looking north) at Bayswater and West 4th Avenue, not far from Vancouver's historic Sound Gallery (1965-66). This could have been what the back of Unit 17 looked like when the Sound Gallery was across the street from it, if not for the red plastic chairs and the science fiction device that took its picture.

Inside the gallery, an exhibition by Tristan Unrau. Below, a small oil of his called Thank You David Park (2021):

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Honey Locust

This from a couple weeks ago. A visit to Catriona Jeffries Gallery, to commune with the Honey Locusts, which appear to be thriving.

Later that day someone asked, "What's a Honey Locust?" and I showed them this picture. Without even knowing it was taken at CJG, they said, "It looks like a Geoffrey Farmer." 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Sylvia Hotel

Among the least remarkable aspects of Vancouver's Sylvia Hotel is a narrow strip of lawn that runs between the hotel's elevated south patio and the Beach Avenue sidewalk. On this strip the hotel has placed eight picnic tables with umbrellas, and you can dine there, as we did yesterday evening, and watch people moving over the mound of grass that leads down to the seawall and beyond, to the sands of English Bay, its waters, and eventually its sunset, which by now is west enough to enter our north facing windows.

The picture atop this post was taken around 8pm yesterday in the Sylvia's "Men's" room. The window is west-facing and allowed a framed picture of the hotel's exterior trees and vines. I thought of Carolee Schneemann's Fuses (1967) when I saw this window, how at any minute it might cut to her or James Tenney or Kitsch the Cat. Fuses, too, was filmed in a room not far from a beach. This was almost 55 years ago. Tenney passed away in 2006, Schneeman in 2019. If Kitsch were still alive he would be the oldest cat, ever.     

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Wig-Maker (2021)

My pic looks dark. But the original is dark, taken with one of those pocket-sized autofocus cameras that were common in the 1970s. I could have lightened the image with my smart phone, but it's important to know that the original camera, like the transistor radio that was also common to that era, is cheap, practical, barely sufficient. Nothing says the 1970s like the Kodak Pocket Instamatic

We don't have to read too far into this book of remembrances told by co-author Janet Gallant to co-author Sharon Thesen (who transcribed them as poems) to know that the housing Gallant is pictured in front of is part of a Canadian Forces Base, and that the pop-up trailer behind her is symbolic of the army family's nomadic life. Gallant's family moved around a lot, only it wasn't to escape something but to better serve the country her father swore allegiance to.

I admire New Star for selecting a cover image as dark and as blurry as this one. For me, the light is a dusk light, a June night somewhere north of what I am used to. The long day before it could have seen Gallant involved in something where trophies are given out, after which she showered and changed into clothes she thought about wearing on the drive back to the base.

But if this day was such a big deal -- big enough to photograph -- why is Gallant not centred in its picture? Could it be that the photo was cropped to allow space for Eve Joseph's blurb, the book's cursive title and its co-authors? Or that whoever took this picture was more interested in the trailer? After reading The Wig-Maker you might have an idea as to which of these two options was in play. But you have to read it first. And you should read it if you are at all interested in the time, the place and the circumstances in which Janet Gallant came of age.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Door of the Rising Sun

My door to the rear garden is mostly glass. Running the length of it is a venetian blind. At night, after I turn out the lights, I open these blinds in anticipation of the morning light, which I wake up to and love as much as dusk light.

The rear garden is at the north end of the house. A yearly highlight for me is when the rising sun shines through my door.

A wondrous feeling, one that takes me back to my childhood self, when I had a similar sense of wonder after I was told emphatically that the sun rises in the east (and sets in the west). As soon as I knew what north was I noticed how the rising sun entered the northern part of our house first, and how no one could tell me why.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

My Garden an Earthly Delight

Over the years I have endeavoured to make my garden a pleasant place, nothing fancy. After returning from the Okanagan in 2018, I did what I could to make it resonate from multiple perspectives. COVID accelerated this effort, to the point where my garden begins not from my door or the gates but from all four corners, each with a view to and from itself. Now I want my garden to be my heaven, the place I go to when I die. The more time I spend there, the more I will know where to put my bed when the time comes. 

Monday, May 10, 2021

Lillygay: an Anthology of Anonymous Poems (1920)

Yesterday I took a break from writing my bi-monthly previews to research Lillygay: an Anthology of Anonymous Poems (1920) towards a similarly subtitled project I might one day abandon. Apart from the usual online retailers, not much is out there on this book. There is, however, a short Wikipedia page on the book's editor, Victor Neuberg, along with a description of Neuberg by his friend, Aleister Crowley. 

He was an agnostic, a vegetarian, a mystic, a Tolstoyan, and several other things all at once. He endeavoured to express his spiritual state by wearing the green star of Esperanto, though he could not speak the language; by refusing to wear a hat, even in London, to wash, and to wear trousers. Whenever addressed, he wriggled convulsively, and his lips, which were three times too large for him, and had been put on hastily as an afterthought, emitted the most extraordinary laugh that had ever come my way; to these advantages he united those of being extraordinarily well-read, overflowing with exquisitely subtle humour, and being one of the best natured people that ever trod this planet. --- Aleister Crowley, The Spirit of Solitude (1920). Chapters 62-63

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Terra Nullius This Attitude a New A-hole

“We were both curious [about Haida Gwaii] for artistic and ecological reasons,” Coupland says. “Gordon wanted especially to see tidal pools unaffected by humans, and I wanted to see what a beach up north looked like in the absence of humans.” --
Vancouver Sun, May 8, 2021

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Sunshine Santa

The second-to-last free parking spot heading north on Main Street. I back-in, put the car in PARK, turn off the engine and here he comes, Summer Santa, motionless from the waist up, staring straight ahead as if he were a machine projecting his own image. A child stops to point and his mother yanks him way. Two teenagers bust a gut and he puffs his chest out further. When the time is right I take his picture.

I send the picture to a few friends, most of whom write back to say they see him all the time now, that he is a fixture -- a cross between Fashion Santa and his familiar bulbous self. One friend who lives off Main wrote back to say she saw him on her 6:30 a.m. jog, then again at 11:00 p.m. that night on her way home from drinks at a bubblemate's patio.

Day-in, day-out, up and down Main Street, Santa Claus is walking through town. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Preliminary Drawing

I am finally getting around to the boxes that made up the false wall in the room I once called my study. Today's boxes covered the mid-2000s, and inside one of them I found a drawing I couldn't remember drawing (not at first), but one I recognized from its referent: Christos Dikeakos's iconic photograph of Robert Smithson's Glue Pour (1970) at the edge of the UBC Endowment Lands. (A couple file folders later a note, and it all came back to me.)

The drawing, made with my eyes closed, is comprised of three successive attempts at picturing Lucy Lippard (far-right), Smithson (middle-right), Dennis Wheeler (middle-left) and Ilya Pegonis (far-left) from Dikeakos's photo. My intention was to embody the outline -- enough that I could apply it without hesitation to the front of a thick-soled black sandal, which I then filled-in with Wite-Out and Helga Pakasaar modelled at an Artspeak fundraiser, where it was purchased by the Penner Sisters, one of whom (Susan) was married to Wheeler.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

"Maybe they'll do an autopsy"

The father of a websit reader recently passed and, after going through his possessions, she asked me if I would like some of his DVDs. I selected six, including Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972).

I had seen Last Tango in Paris maybe three times in my life, each time after reading something about it. The last time I watched the film was almost fifteen years ago, after reading Pauline Kael's October 28, 1972 review in the New Yorker, which, coincidentally, I found while going through my own late-father's possessions. Last night I began watching the film for a fourth time, this time after reading about Twitter's plan to prompt users whose tweets were considered "mean" or "hateful."

Last Tango in Paris is a very different film today than it was in 1972, owing in part to Maria Schneider's comments about what happened during its production ("I felt raped by Brando"), and because films today are not so much hand-sewn, with breathing space between their stitches, but pasted together with zeroes and ones -- a difference that never fails to surprise me and one that I find refreshing.

There are so many things to see in Last Tango in Paris, so many details. Some of them offensive, in the way our world can be offensive, some of them benign, in the way a tumour can be non-malignant. If you despise Bertolucci and Brando, it is likely you will admire Agnès Varda -- and yet there she is in the opening credits, as a "Dialogue" contributor. If you are a pro-sex feminist to Bertolucci's pornographer, you will appreciate filmmaker Catherine Breillat, who appears as "Mouchette" five years after Robert Bresson's self-proclaimed "Christian and sadistic" film of the same name. 

Something I hadn't remembered during the opening credits is the appearance of two Francis Bacon paintings. Bertolucci made his own "Bacon" twenty minutes into the film with the shot that opens this post.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021


Royal LePage real estate agent Patrick O'Donnell has chosen a lone Japanese cherry tree in a green field against a blue sky to illustrate American entrepreneur Jim Rohn's directive to those who don't like where they are, and that is to "Move."

For those who do not have the means to Move, that is another story, one that presumably doesn't interest Patrick.

But there is more to Patrick's card, namely his decision to place his website address in the shade cast by this tree. I take this as the tree's response to Patrick telling non-trees what to do, not the contrast shade provides.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Annuals (Again)

Return of the pissed off pansy. Clearly genetic. A "bad seed"!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Nemesis (1971)


In my ongoing quest to read books I didn't think I needed to read: Agatha Christie's Nemesis (1971). Partly because of the author's reputation as a literary writer; also because the word is in high-rotation these days and I wanted to know how Christie uses it.

Turns out "nemesis" is the code word for an assignment Christie's Miss Marpole chose to accept, despite receiving neither instruction nor context. Making matters even more complicated: the person who commissioned the assignment is no longer among the living.

Some things I've learned from reading Nemesis: the word "gaga" (used to describe those who have lost their marbles) is at least as old as this book. Also, the term "old pussy", which I had never heard before, and which Miss Marpole uses to describe gals her age. And an occupation: "companion-gardener", which I might as well be to the cat who shows up when I am on my hands and knees pulling dandelions (something about the popping sound broken roots make).

Knitting and food consumption recur throughout Nemesis. On the topic of food -- and the rather large assignment fee she is offered -- Miss Marpole dismisses the solicitor's suggestion that she could spend some of her earnings on a luxury cruise and imagines instead something "more moderate":

"'Partridges,' she said thoughtfully, 'it is very difficult to get partridges nowadays, and they are very expensive. I should enjoy a partridge -- a whole partridge -- to myself, very much.'"

Sunday, May 2, 2021


At some point in the day I walk along the path that winds its way through Sunnyside Park, a 1x2 block stretch of land that shares itself with Charles Dickens Elementary. I try not to walk through the park during lunch and recess, especially in my rumpled gardening clothes, because the monitors have enough on their hands without having to keep an eye on strange men like me. But sometimes I am distracted by thought and, well, while doing so the other day I noticed school children huddled like feeding birds at the base of trees. When the return-to-class buzzer sounded, arrangements like the one above.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

State of Exception

This A6-sized poster series suddenly appeared on City of Vancouver utility poles around Kingsway and Knight last week. The proposition -- that fear is a method of social control -- is as old as time immemorial and can be found in pre-contact societies where the population is stratified by rank, where the distribution of wealth is unequal, where slaves are sought and kept, where a chief presides.

The Kwakwaka'wakw were at one time such a people, but we don't like to say or hear that because it is not in the interest of a progressive society to do so. Knowledge is no longer a broad nor broadening thing but a length of sharpened steel with a handle at one end. We cling to what (little) we need to know and wield its broadsword accordingly. Get us mad enough and off with your head

Hermann Göring was one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi Party that held power in Germany between 1933-1945. By some accounts he was an intelligent man, someone who was traumatized by the war that earned him both his reputation and his morphine addiction; but also a war that, once settled, had Germans in a state of financial servitude plagued by a hyper-inflation that gave us photos of people taking wheelbarrows full of Deutschmarks to the baker to buy bread.

It is fair to say that the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany promoted and exploited national (Aryan) pride, and that once in power (enabled by Hindenburg and a cadre of German industrialists) transitioned that pride into fear. The appearance of Hermann Göring at the Nuremberg Trials (above) was for many a portrait of evil personified. The appearance of another powerful figure in the Nazi Party, Adolf Eichmann, at an Israeli courtroom in 1961 was reported on by the philosopher Hannah Arendt, who challenged the notion of inherent evil by highlighting what Eichmann said in response to his role in the extermination of six million Jews, gypsies, socialists and those with disabilities -- that he was only following orders.

The posters around Kingsway and Knight are not giving orders, yet they are designed to order our minds in a way that honours someone who drank copiously from Fear's cup. To my mind, this message has less to do with a warning -- that we are living in what Giorgio Agamben calls a "state of exception" -- than a legitimization of those who took this "state" to horrific extremes. It is publications like this poster series that has lead many of us to refuse the publications of those who have done harm to our world -- from police officers to politicians -- often to degrees that some of us find trivial, if not unsubstantiated, in an effort to make way for something pure and perfect, which in itself is also tyrannical.

At some point today I will walk to the intersection of Kingsway and Knight to see what state these posters are in. It is my hope to find them no longer there.