Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sugar high

Today at the Jean-Talon market, I had tire d'érable for the first time. It's basically boiling maple syrup poured on snow with a stick stuck in it. It tasted like, well, maple syrup, and it made me want to bounce off the walls.

I got excited when I saw several merchants selling asparagus, but upon closer inspection, I noticed that it was all from California or Mexico. I had something of a rant to Mary about how farmers' markets should be just that: a place where local farmers come and sell food. Food from thousands of miles away belongs at the grocery store. Or, even better, thousands of miles away where it can be enjoyed as fresh, local produce.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I can walk!

I took a walk today and brought the camera along with me. I didn't know where I was going when I started out and ended up inside St. Joseph's Oratory, which houses the tomb of Brother André. Danica and I had gone to mass at St. Joseph's when we first got to Montreal in August, but I had never snooped around the place until today. Really amazing experience. This first picture is from the walk up to the oratory.


I somehow got lost while I was inside, as the place is gigantic, and ended up in the room in which Brother André's tomb is found. This statue is directly on top of the tomb, which can be seen by going around the back.


In this same room there are about eight or so of these racks which hold the canes and crutches of those healed by Brother André.


And here is a view of Montreal from the top of the oratory.


All in all a nice walk.

Buck the Fruins

As pissed off as I am at KU's dismal second half performance last night, it's much easier to forget about it and move on when you live in a country where no one gives a shit about NCAA basketball. I really hope UNC loses.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

We've got magic to do

Way back in the day when I only listened to cassette tapes and the radio in my now gone but still loved first ever Honda, one tape that I listened to frequently was one with Ben Folds Five's self-titled album on one side and the Pippin soundtrack on the other. The first side of the tape ended about a minute into Boxing, the last song on BF5 album, and I knew exactly when to hit the 1 radio pre-set button to make the tape play in the other direction so that there was hardly any pause in the song. Now when I listen to that BF5 CD, as Boxing ends, I still expect to hear the opening notes of Magic To Do... "Ooo-ooh! Join us, leave your fields to flower..."

Clown

Whenever I am in class and a discussion of some random subject is taking place, say Canadian politics, textile production, string theory or spelunking (it helps if I have little to no knowledge of the subject), I always get a nearly unrestrainable urge to stand up on top of my desk and tell everyone how [insert random topic] really is, using the most grandiose and absurd language and argument I can come up with. I have done this before and I really surprise myself with the shit that comes out of my mouth. Even if I have some knowledge of the subject of discussion I will completely ignore that knowledge and start spouting the most ridiculous bile imaginable. I'm the reason why class discussions are always painful and worthless. But if I can't have a bit of fun in class, then the terrorists have already won. "I am a sick man, a spiteful man. I think my liver hurts."

Danica and I bought a dining room table not too long ago. My main prerequisite in finding a table was that it would easily hold my weight should I ever feel the need to stand on it. I haven't stood on it yet, but then again we have yet to host a dinner party. I'm a moron.

Philosophical arguments should be settled with bare-knuckle boxing matches, much like Bukowski's pitting Hemingway against other writers in heavyweight matches.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Feminism

I wish feminists were better at feminism, because feminism could be so very good, but most of the time it is shit. 'Christian feminism' especially could be really very good, but it is shit even more than the regular kind. Often this leads me to the thought that "I hate feminism," but that's not true. I have more hope for feminism than for any other branch of philosophy or theology. But few feminists seem to be doing anything revolutionary, in my view anyway. I hope you, dear reader, can prove me wrong. Show me the light...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

My first sock ever!


One down, one to go. For all you yarn junkies out there, the yarn is Opal Flamingo.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dispositions for joining the Catholic Church

No one should enter the Church without a firm purpose of taking her word in all matters of doctrine and morals, and that on the ground of her coming directly from the God of Truth. If you do not come in this spirit, you may as well not come at all; high and low, learned and ignorant, must come to learn. If you are right as far as this, you cannot go very wrong; you have the foundation; but, if you come in any other temper, you had better wait till you have got rid of it. You must come, I say, to the Church to learn; you must come, not to bring your own notions to her, but with the intention of ever being a learner; you must come with the intention of taking her for your portion, and of never leaving her. Do not come as an experiment; do not come as you would take sittings in a chapel, or tickets for a lecture-room; come to her as to your home, to the school of your souls, to the Mother of Saints, and to the vestibule of heaven. On the other hand, do not distress yourselves with thoughts whether, when you have joined her, your faith will last; this is a suggestion of your Enemy to hold you back. He who has begun a good work in you, will perfect it; He who has chosen you, will be faithful to you; put your cause into His hand, wait upon Him, and you will surely persevere. What good work will you ever begin, if you bargain first to see the end of it? If you wish to do all at once, you will do nothing; he has done half the work, who has begun it well; you will not gain your Lord's praise at the final reckoning by hiding His talent. No; when He brings you from error to truth, He will have done the more {335} difficult work (if aught is difficult to Him), and surely He will preserve you from returning from truth to error. Take the experience of those who have gone before you in the same course; they had many fears that their faith would fail them, before taking the great step, but those fears vanished on their taking it; they had fears, before they received the grace of faith, lest, after receiving it, they should lose it again, but no fears (except on the ground of their general frailness) after it was actually given them.

- John Henry Newman, Characteristics

On knowledge

So long as we see the Word of God take flesh in the letter of holy writings in a variety of figures, we have not yet spiritually seen the incorporeal and simple and singular and only Father as in the incorporeal and simple and singular and only Son. As the Scripture says, 'The one who has seen Me has seen the Father' (Jn 14.9), and also, 'I am in the Father and the Father is in Me' (Jn 14.10). It is, therefore, very necessary for a deep knowledge that we first study the veils of the statements regarding the Word and so behold with the naked mind the pure Word as He exists in Himself, who clearly shows the Father in Himself, as far as it is possible for men to grasp. Thus it is necessary that the one who seeks after God in a religious way never holds fast to the letter lest he mistakenly understand things said about God for God Himself. In this case we unwisely are satisfied with the words of Scripture in the place of the Word, and the Word slips out of the mind while we thought by holding onto this garment we could possess the incorporeal Word. In a similar way did the Egyptian woman lay hold not of Joseph but of his clothing, and the men of old who remained permanently in the beauty of visible things and mistakenly worshipped the creature instead of the Creator.

- St. Maximus the Confessor, from Chapters on Knowledge

Monday, March 12, 2007

Shalom in the home



I have a theory about people and their houses: the home of a person who feels really comfortable and at peace when they are there sort of soaks in that peacefulness and it eminates from the very walls of the space. I used to think this peaceful house phenomenon only happened with aging hippies, but now I realize that it can be anyone; aging hippies just tend to have a sense of peace about them. Some peaceful homes I have encountered are the Gelbarts' house, my great-grandma's house, Matt's mom's back porch, and the peaceful home to end all peaceful homes: Kathy and Howard's house on Jefferson. My goodness, you walk in that house, and it's like all your troubles have melted away. Sometimes they would go out of town, and we would be in charge of feeding Caramel and Missy the cats. I didn't take near enough advantage of those times when I was allowed to go in that house all by myself and bask in the serenity. One time they were out of town during one of those pre-spring warm spells, when for a couple of days in late February or early March, it's in the mid-70s and sunny with a nice breeze and you're tricked into thinking it's time to start planting your garden. During that time, I went over to feed the cats and then sat on their back porch -- screened in, unlike ours -- and sat and played with Caramel and let the sun and wind calm me. It's one of the most peaceful moments I can think of. Since then, at this time of year when spring seems to be creeping in, daylight savings time has started, and march madness is on tv, I long to be in a peaceful house with a peaceful back porch on a peaceful day. This is my ultimate goal: to have that kind of pervading serenity and calm in my house.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Becoming-hybrid

I just ran across this passage today and I think it says everything I was trying to say in my last post, though much better than I could ever say it:
A plant, for example, is not a static thing, although we perceive it as such. The plant is the reception of light, heat, moisture, insect pollination and so on; it is a process of becoming in relation to other becomings. Even more pertinent would be the notion of an atom, which does not select or contract its perceptions but is nothing more than its response or reception of the forces it 'perceives'. We can think of art and philosophy as becoming-molecular or becoming-imperceptible. We do not actually want to be a molecule or an animal, for this would mean not writing at all. But by approaching or imaging the inhuman point of view of animals, machines and molecules we no longer take ourselves as unchanging perceivers set over and against life. We immerse ourselves in the flow of life's perceptions. The human becomes more than itself, or expands to its highest power, not by affirming its humanity, nor by returning to animal state, but by becoming-hybrid with what is not itself. This creates 'lines of flight'; from life itself we imagine all the becomings of life, using human power of imagination to overcome the human.

- Claire Colebrook, Gilles Deleuze, 2002: 128-9

Sounds like fun to me!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Houseplants and white whales


Extraction of St Ignatius' Heart
c. 1488
Tempera on panel, 21 x 40,5 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

I feel really terrible. Really ill. What does one do to cheer oneself up when one is feverish and snotty and diarrhea-y and sore throat-y and exhausted? I figured some Norwegian black metal might do the trick. So I borrowed some mp3s from some nice person on the world-wide WWW and have been smirking while giving them a listening-to. And, while they seem to complement my mood perfectly, Norwegian black metal is not making me feel any better.

I am obsessed with finding good music. Danica can attest to this. I have about 18 gigs of mp3s on this computer. Itunes says that's about 11 days worth of music. I bet Danica would be in hell for about ten and a half of those eleven days if she had to listen to it all. The thing I find interesting is that there seems to be a complete lack of method when it comes to my music listening. I'll put on some Guillaume de Machaut, then some Maher Shalal Hash Baz, then some Roscoe Holcomb, some Ghostface Killah, Jackson Browne, Blind Willie Johnson, Noah Howard, Juana Molina, Jesse Sykes, Panda Bear, Massimo Ferrante, Destroyer, The Beach Boys, Palace Brothers, Henrik Gorecki, Black Ox Orkestar, Rachel's, and on and on. I do the same thing with my reading of literature. Very unsystematic.

I do this because I am obsessed with cosmologies. I don't care much for art as representation. For me, if something is to be truly art (yes I am a pedant, but I'm also sick, so leave me alone), it has to create a new world. All those musicians and writers that I dig create new worlds for me to check out. I can step inside their world, take a look around, see if I like it better than the one in which I am currently living, stay a while or pick up my things and move on.

About a year or so ago I went to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City with the Black Hand and we were looking at the Medieval Christian art. As usual, we were discussing Christianity. The Black Hand has a hard time believing Christianity to be true, though he really seems to want to. I have a terrible time trying to seriously doubt Christianity. While looking at the paintings, we stopped in front of a certain painting, I can't remember the artist or the title, but it was of a woman being tortured and martyred. The description of the painting said that her tormenters tried everything they could think of to kill the woman but nothing would work: things like burning, pulling out organs, stabbing, hanging, etc. But she wouldn't die. I think the painting is of her being stretched on a rack that has a roller of spikes on it. That finally killed her.

Anyway, The Black Hand's initial reaction to a story like this is to doubt it straight away. It is much too ridiculous to be believed. When he said as much about this painting it kind of took me by surprise because I never would have even considered doubting it. As a corollary I never would have thought to claim that it is a true story. Such claims are completely besides the point for me. When I see a painting such as Boticelli's Extraction of St. Ignatius' Heart [While being martyred, the saint told his tormentors that they would find the name of Christ written on his heart. After his death two curious Christians attempted to find out if this was true. They miraculously discovered golden letters, invisible in this painting, on his heart.] I just let myself get taken away by the story and see how I feel about it - is it a good story or not, does it work? If it is a good story, I allow it to spread outside the canvas into my everyday life, so that in the world in which I live, miracles like golden letters on hearts take place.

I just got a houseplant. A couple years ago I studied some botany and learned quite a bit about plants that I didn't know before. Now plants really freak me out. They're so damned interesting to think about. Learning about them has opened up the idea of inhuman worlds for me. My houseplant has a world of its own. Its world is very different from my own. But I can at least try to think myself inside my plant's world. Every part of the plant, the flowers, roots, leaves, seeds, cells, expresses an openness, a changing. [A sunflower following the sun across the sky, leaves evolving into flowers, plants that taste bitter or coat themselves with wax so as to keep from being eaten or invaded, trees that need their seeds to be digested by a fish before they will sprout, orchids whose labellum has evolved to mimic a receptive female bumblebee...] Thinking about this makes me tremble with joy, with fear, with awe.
Am I just deluding myself? I don't know, maybe, but I don't care. As much as I love philosophy, I just can't bring myself to care much about something called Truth. I'm still just a little kid in an endless story-time. I want to make myself realize that I am just as open as my plant. I figure things are much stranger than I could ever imagine, so I should be open to that.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Family happiness

Son of a bitch! My mother was going to fly my little brother up here for my birthday, but can't now because as of January you need a passport to get into Canada. Since he doesn't have a passport and can't get one in time for my birthday that plan has to be scrapped. My brother, Thomas (yes, the four of us all have biblical names), has been having a stressful time lately. He's been spending all his time recently at various doctors' offices and physical therapy sessions and he really just needs to get away and have some fun. Which I could provide. But not anymore. Thanks, US government!

Son of a bitch! My little brother, Seth, having just gotten kicked out of the Navy, after having spent time in prison, is getting married to a girl he barely knows tomorrow. I swear he's fucking demented.

Son of a bitch! If I weren't sick I'd be getting drunk and pissed off.

Hungry hungry hippos

Last night I dreamt I was at a nature park in Colorado Springs that had an exhibit dedicated to the more exotic native animals of Kansas including several types of large spiders and about four different types of hippopotami. They just had baby hippos there, lots of them living in a muddy pool of water. I stepped across the stepping stones in the pool to the side where the spiders were, and as I did, the baby hippos snapped at me. Several managed to get up the sleeves of my shirt and bit my arms and refused to let go. It took some forceful pulling to get them off me.

In another dream last night, I dreamt I was with Elise and Ilana but in this dream they were triplets. I felt really bad that I'd forgotten the third one even existed.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I am not Pandora

This is not a box that I really want to open for fear of what will fly out, but sometimes, especially when I read this ever-increasingly Matt-filled blog, I wonder why Matt and I are together. Why do we we even like each other? Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I'm completely head over heels for the guy, and I'm pretty damn sure the feeling is requited. But it often seems that we don't have anything in common: music, movies, books, ideas. None of these things. We don't even really have anything we like to do together besides just sit around and be in each other's presence. This is one great mystery of my life upon which I must be content to turn my back and say, "Eh. Whatever."

Mondrian was a liar

I had a weird sick dream. I am sick, as in under the weather. I had a dream while taking a sick nap. In this dream I happened upon someone who was in a room with walls covered with Mondrian paintings. This person was painting over Mondrian's work. I expressed a bit of shock. The reply I got was this: "It's ok, he was a liar."

Mount Royal

The Mountain
A.M. Klein

From: A.M. Klein: Complete Poems (I & 2), ed. Zailig Pollock. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990. 2.689-90.

Who knows it only by the famous cross which bleeds
into the fifty miles of night its light
knows a night-scene;
and who upon a postcard knows its shape -
the buffalo straggled of the laurentian herd, -
holds in his hand a postcard.

In layers of mountains the history of mankind,
and in Mount Royal
which daily in a streetcar I surround
my youth, my childhood -
the pissabed dandelion, the coolie acorn,
green prickly husk of chestnut beneath mat of grass-
O all the amber afternoons
are still to be found.

There is a meadow, near the pebbly brook,
where buttercups, like once on the under of my chin
upon my heart still throw their rounds of yellow.

And Cartier's monument, based with nude figures
still stands where playing bookey
Lefty and I tested our gravel aim
(with occupation flinging away our guilt)
against the bronze tits of Justice.

And all my Aprils there are marked and spotted
upon the adder's tongue, darting in light,
upon the easy threes of trilliums, dark green, green, and white,
threaded with earth, and rooted
beside the bloodroots near the leaning fence-
corms and corollas of childhood,
a teacher's presents.

And chokecherry summer clowning black on my teeth!

The birchtree stripped by the golden zigzag still
stands at the mouth of the dry cave where I
one suppertime in August watched the sky
grow dark, the wood quiet, and then suddenly spill
from barrels of thunder and broken staves of lightning -
terror and holiday!

One of these days I shall go up to the second terrace
to see if it still is there-
the uncomfortable sentimental bench
where, - as we listened to the brass of the band concerts
made soft and to our mood by dark and distance-
I told the girl I loved
I loved her.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A spectacle

Baudrillard is dead.


Movie recommendations


Les Vampires (1915)


Late Spring (1949)

287

A Clock stopped—
Not the Mantel's—
Geneva's farthest skill
Can't put the puppet bowing—
That just now dangled still—

An awe came on the Trinket!
The Figures hunched, with pain—
Then quivered out of Decimals—
Into Degreeless Noon—

It will not stir for Doctors—
This Pendulum of snow—
This Shopman importunes it—
While cool—concernless No—

Nods from the Gilded pointers—
Nods from the Seconds slim—
Decades of Arrogance between
The Dial life—
And Him—

- Emily Dickinson

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Weathermen

For some reason, whenever it starts to snow I always check the weather forecast, as if I didn't trust my own eyes when they look out the windows. I don't know why I do this. But I just did it a second ago and the forecast for Montreal says "Heavy flurries." Doesn't that just mean "snow"? It sure looks like it is snowing to me. It is quite pretty. I'm going to sit back, put on the new Blonde Redhead album, and watch the heavy flurries.

Will Oldham: Peel Session

I thought I'd share some music from my favorite musician, Will Oldham.

  • Will Oldham - 01 Jolly Five (64) (Peel session)
  • Will Oldham - 02 Arise Therefore (Peel session)
  • Will Oldham - 03 Death To Everyone (Peel session)
  • Will Oldham - 04 (I Was Drunk At The) Pulpit (Peel session)

  • (I was drunk at) the pulpit
    by Will Oldham

    I was drunk at the pulpit, I knew it was wrong
    and I left in mid-sermon tempted by a bar-house song
    the pews creaked and shifted as they turned to watch me leave
    and I pulled a little bottle from the pocket in my sleeve

    the sunlight was stronger to my church-dark widened eyes
    than the light which had blinded me with Christ's own half-lies
    yes mid-sunday morning, my old playmates sat
    round a stumble stained table, Christopher spat
    and he kicked out a chair and showed me to sit
    then they started back singing in that shit-smelling pit
    they were grinning and dribbling with comforted heads
    their wives were in church or at home and in beds
    well I sucked down a cupful and God shone within
    in a red earthen mask, and I saw where I'd been was a palace of sin.

    let them abstain on unbucking high horses
    poor wooden structures which merely eye courses
    that these log heads run just to find some respite
    in the whiskey-induced holy unending night
    yes I thought I saw new light, the black one which dimmed
    the bleach garments with which mingled pee on stained rims
    oh the church songs they paled next to this fiery chorus
    composed from a living depth especially for us

    there were arms linked in sympathy, gilded the glaring
    of these bloated companions, who hid 'neath their swearing
    some need for another, kin to brother lust,
    which coarse words and music, was faith and less trust
    yes I saw a dependence, an inherent weakness
    within walls which hid sunlight and hindered all frankness
    that floor there supported what souls couldn't stand
    on their own in their own eyes, to hint they are men
    who are slave to their vision but to that alone
    yes each of them cloistered fear of being alone
    wherever folks gather, to imply a rule,
    they are each one a sinner, each one a fool
    for if I drink my whiskey, and if I sing a song
    I have no breast companion, a-trailing along
    to imagine a sharing of burdens I earned
    to steal from the embers i strove so to burn
    God is one's corpus, and Jesus one's blood
    the world is within you, without is of mud...

    Saturday, March 03, 2007

    The Devils

    Anyone else get the feeling that Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky were atheists? Or, if not atheists, then we at least have to admit that their version of Christianity is completely unrecognizable and unorthodox. Kierkegaard less so than Dostoevsky, however, though not by much. It seems clear to me that Dostoevsky has psychologized nearly all aspects of Christianity, such as baptism as a childhood memory that gives shape to your life (Dmitry Karamazov). He demythologizes all of the sacraments in this way. He finds a sinless Jesus to be unthinkable, as a sinless human would tear the world to shreds, as the main character in The Idiot does. So many people read The Grand Inquisitor as a vindication of Jesus, but I don't see that at all, and I'm pretty damn sure Dostoevsky didn't either. He rejects both the Grand Inquisitor and Jesus, just as he rejects both Ivan Karamazov and Father Zosima.

    Needless to say, I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov again. Most amazing novel ever, by far. But as far as theology goes, the thing's a disaster.

    I'll have more and clearer thoughts on this soon, I'm sure.