Sunday, December 10, 2017

McAuley Park

Inside the triangle bordered by Kingsway (southwest), Fraser Street (east) and 15th Avenue (north) is McAuley Park.

Inside the park are two huge tulip magnolia trees, a dozen flag poles, three park benches and, as of October 8, 2017, the "Monument of Vietnamese Boat People -- Refugees from Communism", which includes figures (the heterosexual family), but also public and private sponsorship plaques.

Hard to make out the flag that one of the figures (the father) is holding forth. Here is that same flag with the sun behind it:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Spelling Msnformaton

Steel magnet Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) believed that English was destined to be the "world language of the future" and for that reason it should be simplified (?). To help this along he gave an organization called the Simplified Spelling Board $15, 000 a year for five years.

English readers are familiar with some of these simplifications; the best known include "nite" for "night" and "thru" for "through". Lesser known suggestions had "-ed" endings replaced with "t", as in the suitably ambiguous "mist" for "missed".

As one might expect, a conversation got in the way of the Board's recommendations and, as the "nays" outweighed the "ayes", the world moved on.

Now the Board is back, and the latest proposals are intriguing. For gerund forms that consist of the same vowel ("i") repeated twice and separated by paired consonants ("ss", "tt", "dd"), it is proposed that the first vowel be dropped. Thus, "pissing" would be spelled "pssing" and "shitting" would be spelled "shtting".

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tales of Wage Work

I am never sure if Tod Hackett moves to Los Angeles to paint The Burning of Los Angeles, or if it occurred to him after moving there. Either way, Hollywood set dec keeps him busy. And when not hating his job, he is, like Bartleby's employer, distracted by humanity.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


As much as I don't mind you, as much as I can absorb your expressive tendencies, I would much rather take you down than have you hanging over me like that.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Vancouver Art Gallery

Pictured above: people on the steps, waiting for the VAG to move.

Sources intimated last August that the final piece in the VAG's funding puzzle has been located and the gallery would break ground on its new building at Larwill Park in November.

Well, November has come and gone, and with it the certainty that once shot like laser beams from the eyes of VAG director Kathleen Bartels, who has worked herself to the bone in an effort to give this city, this province and this country the gallery it deserves, but does not necessarily want.

Or maybe not. Maybe that's not it. Maybe its politics. Political economics. Finance.

If Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau does not stop in Vancouver upon return from his current trade mission to China to stand beside Bartels at a press conference announcing that the (Mainland Chinese) money is in place, and that the VAG has a detailed timeline, then the Larwill Park building is not going to happen.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Vampire State-Building/Sympathy for the Vampire?

The latest research spiral includes notes on vampire metaphors, from Marx ("Capital is dead labour, that, vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labour") to Michel Serres (The Parasite, 1982) to Jean Fischer, who writes in her "Introduction" to Vampires in the Text: Narratives of Contemporary Art (2003):

Periodically, the vampire has been resurrected as a popular villain for, amongst other 'delinquencies', an unbridled (usually 'feminized') libidinal energy, invasive viruses and, since Marx, the seductive, all -consuming drift of capitalism itself. I have at times used the figure in this sense, but it nevertheless carries a certain ambivalence that suggests other readings. If, for instance, one posits that western capitalism has turned us all into depoliticized, consumerist vampires, then among the strategies available to us for regaining a sense of subjective agency might be to use equally vampiric maneouvres to infiltrate and recolonize its hegemonic discourses [my bold]. I must confess therefore to some sympathy for Dracula, especially in considering contemporary intertextual practices, both in art and writing. Reading somewhat against the grain of attributes usually seen as malignant, one might say that the vampire destabilizes the apparent coherence of any rationalist discourse; he (sometimes she) is the undead element that, forgotten, annulled, or excluded from the discursive field, is nevertheless its invisible organizing principle. The vampire haunts the circulatory system of discourse.

As a means-over-ends type -- as a sun-lover! -- I don't "buy" the proposition that has me participating in a system that seeks to destroy that which sustains me. As for Fischer's "regaining a sense of subjective agency" motive, I am reminded of what Kaja Silverman says of the shifting nature of the subject and its "particularity" in her 2006 essay "The World Wants Your Desire":

In my opinion, the “subject” and the “self” are two very different things. The self or the ego is what Jean Laplanche brilliantly calls ‘an object masquerading as a subject.’ It is an object because it is one of the things we can love, one of the things in which we can invest our libido. This object is able to masquerade as a subject because it is what provides us with our sense of identity, and for most of us identity equals subjectivity. But identity is foundationally fictive; it is predicated on our (mis)recognition of ourselves first within our mirror reflection, and then within countless other human and representational “imagoes”. This fiction is impossible to sustain in any continuous way, but the subject classically clings to it anyway. Through a murderous series of incorporations and projections she attempts to close the distance between it and herself [my bold].But we are subjects not at the level of our identity, but rather at that of our desire. Desire is based upon lack – not the lack of any identifiable thing, but rather the lack of what Lacan variously calls “being”, “presence”, the “here and now”. Since we are all equally bereft of this same impossible non-object of desire, singularity would seem to be foreclosed at the level of subjectivity. We would seem to be exactly what Lacan describes us as being: nothing and nowhere. For me, this account of subjectivity has come to seem intolerable in its erasure of particularity. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

But You're from Canada

Correction: I am from B.C.

Yes, and B.C. is in Canada!

Like Québec is in Canada?

What, are you claiming district society status?

As a second-generation settler on the largely unceded First Nations territory known by the Canadian federal government as the province of British Columbia, I don't have the right to make that claim.

I'm a settler too. A Canadian settler.

You mean a settler in Canada, part of the colonial occupation.

Yes, on the traditional territories of the Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation, Anishnawbe, Haudenosaunee, Wendat and Huron Indigenous Peoples, the original nations of that land, who continue to cry out for justice.

Since you put it that way, I am a second-generation settler of Anglo-Russian-Japanese origin living on the largely unceded First Nations territory known by the Canadian federal government as the province of British Columbia and an uninvited presence on the unceded land of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people.

You're forgetting the Sto:lo.

I stand corrected -- an uninvited presence on the unceded land of the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Stó:lō people.

That's better!

Yes, much!