Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Underground Mirrors IV

There’s this guy I’d see every Monday morning, between the metro and my apartment.
The first time I noticed him, I decided we were twins. Monday mornings, we each wore a blazer and a shirt. He looked classy, his first button undone. I look raggedy, my first button undone. A blazer is a blazer, they were both likely the same color, only mine was a polyester blend, and you could see that the night had seeped into it. His was as fresh as the morning; I could almost smell him pass by.
Our hair was the same color, it caught the wind in the same way; it was the same length, curled in the same places. I was sure we looked odd, that moment we passed each other, like a mockery of each other, me the shorter end. I’d see him from a bit of a distance, and imagine that this might be the day he’d smile at how strange we were. We were each other’s dream-selves, each other’s shadows. We transitioned from wakefulness to sleep at the same moment, trading places, I’d be climbing back above ground, he’d be rushing bellow ground.
One morning, a few months ago, he saw my destination, my little fence, and the door to my apartment building: I saw him look, and he saw me notice. He jolted back to pretend he wasn't looking; he’d found the end of our shared path.
That’s the last time I saw him. I’ve often looked for him. I’ve wondered if his sudden disappearance had anything to do with his seeing my apartment, my looking back towards him.

Underground Mirrors III

I had a dream the other night where I was driving, holding two roadmaps. Both referenced human internal organs. I was trying to drive to the Heart. Instead, I got lost—drove to the US border.

Map #2: A diagram, skin peeled open in two flaps, right under the ribcage.
Map #1: A stubby word tree:
Foot, Other Foot

I woke up thinking of the surfaces of maps, the surfaces of skin, and the underground—where the internal organs were supposed to be.

Underground Mirrors II

I’ve been thinking about the ways trees branch out.
I had coffee with a geographer the other day; we talked a little about how trees draw similar paths to rivers (he talked about water flow). I asked him about underground water sources, because I was thinking of root systems, in trees—and how they mirror above ground branching systems.

And this brings me to think about something a little different; if trees or water branch out both above and bellow ground, what’s the difference between the two?
Above ground: breathing, expansive, flourishing (even in this end-of-winter leaflessness).
Underground: murky, pushing through rock and worms, fighting and groping for water.
I’m thinking with my senses. I realize the underground has oppressive connotations for me. It’s interesting to imagine another part of me, a mirror-me, that understands tree roots and underground thirsts.

Underground Mirrors I

There’s a passage I was working on yesterday; in it M. is lying on her camping mat, the dog—Oscar—is sleeping by her feet. Now imagine, if M. was dreaming of a ground underneath her feet, and Oscar too was dreaming of a ground underneath his feet, both their grounds would be at the same place, only one of them would be underground, like on the other side of a looking glass.
Okay... so I drew Asphalt, while he was sleeping, and spun him around so he looks like a dancer, and then--inadvertently--made the whole thing look like a photocopy. Pretty much illustrates my idea.

Hollow, Empty, Thud

Three words from a 1973 psychology study by David Rosenhan.
Twelve participants (many of them psychologists) walked into clinics, complaining of one strange occurrence: they’ve heard a voice (or voices), other than their own, in their head, saying: hollow, empty or thud.
All were admitted into psychiatric wards. None complained of relapses. Some took notes about the experience… all waited to see how long it would take to be discharged, to be seen as sane.
And so the discussion was about being sane in insane places.

At this moment, I’m thinking of the study a little differently. Imagine flying out to a Northern community—somewhere in Alaska. Imagine walking out to where there’s no one, possibly for miles. Imagine the sounds things make. Sometimes all you can do is hear. You’ve walked so far that your traces have vanished. Its just you and the North.
Now, imagine deciding that this isn’t right, this isn’t really what you wanted… you wanted something else. Who do you turn to, to say that you never heard that voice, that you just made it up, that you want to go home now.
And so the discussion seems to be about those places in the world where the only voices are those in your head, imagined, invented, or otherwise; being social in unsocial places.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

wall cut-outs

I remember my mother would cut up little images from magazines and art-books. She put them in shoeboxes and kept them for school projects with her high school students.
Today, I decided to gather a few images—from two second-hand books I bought on Mont Royal. I got my exacto-knife out, and felt like my mom. All the colors were her: the way I held my knife, the way long rectangles of yellowed paper curved under the blade and landed in a small pile at the edge of the book.
Klee’s colors look like dye seeped into silk: batik, the kind of images my mother made when I was young… the same colors, similar lines. Art school was all about contemporary art for me, when I was an art student. But today, I’m cutting out the text, the titles and dates and I’m finding a more childlike appreciation.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I’ve been wanting to make dinners lately… where I invite philosophers and artists, colleagues, close friends… people scattered across the world. I want everyone to meet each other. So, this is my invitation, to share cigarettes and smoked salmon—on rooftops, in cold winters, I'll get a little barbecue, make green papaya salad, with that feeling that came with the Autumn, when we were kids and classes were starting, and all our binders and pencils were shiny.
So here I am, building a small virtual studio, inviting new friends, old friends, people I miss deeply, people I wish I could get to know to better. I'll share little snippets of the different things that populate my studio/mind, so that when you do come over for dinner, it'll feel like we saw each other yesterday.
I have a few projects on the go… I made a joke yesterday that the characters from one novel might just end up invading the other novel, a coup! I guess, if it’s going to happen anywhere, it’s going to happen in this blog.