A Radical Cut In The Texture Of Reality

July 6, 2018

Lettre de PME-ART: appel à plus d'inclusion dans la culture québécoise

 
PME-ART
3680, RUE JEANNE-MANCE
BUREAU 410, MONTRÉAL, QC
CANADA H2X 2K5
T : 514.284.3113 - INFO@PME-ART.CA - WWW.PME-ART.CA


Montréal, le 3 juillet 2018

Objet : Appel à toute la communauté artistique 

Chèr.e.s collègues,

En tant que travailleurs culturels ayant œuvré à Montréal, à Québec et en régions, nous avons souvent lutté pour mettre de l’avant des créations originales et percutantes, reflet d’une société ouverte et inclusive. Aussi, nous avons suivi avec beaucoup d’intérêt les protestations entourant la diffusion de Slāv de Ex Machina, au TNM, dans le cadre du Festival international de Jazz de Montréal.

Les manifestations qui ont eu lieu en juin-juillet 2018 ont cherché, selon nous, à amener un changement réel et nécessaire dans la culture québécoise. Les manifestants ont offert des outils d’analyse efficaces pour se faire une tête sur ce projet artistique, de déceler le racisme en art (quand il en est) et les moyens d’y remédier, de corriger le tir. Nous ne pourrions mieux dire que ceux et celles qui ont soulevé ces questions; voici d’excellents textes qui devraient nous éclairer encore longtemps :

Urbania, Marilou Craft
https://urbania.ca/article/quest-ce-qui-cloche-avec-le-prochain-spectacle-de-betty-bonifassi/
https://urbania.ca/article/slav-bilan-de-marilou-craft/

Médium, Trois descendantes d’esclaves au show de Slāv
https://medium.com/tabloid/trois-descendantes-desclave-au-show-de-slav-983169ce426d

Quelle ne fut pas notre stupeur de voir que les premiers articles publiés dans des médias francophones, rapportant la manifestation devant le TNM, tenaient parfois du règlement de compte et criaient haro sur les messagers plutôt que mettre en valeur les contenus proposés par ceux-ci (alors que The Gazette donnait un autre son de cloche, très juste et posé). Heureusement, des articles subséquents dans La Presse et Le Devoir ont démontré notre capacité d’ouverture dans un débat sur un sujet jugé «difficile».

Le Devoir, Chronique de Fabrice Vil, «SLĀV»
https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/chroniques/531358/slav

Le Devoir, Idée: opinion de Webster, Le problème avec SLĀV
https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/idees/531393/le-probleme-avec-slav

Le Devoir, La chronique d'Odile Tremblay : «Le grincement des chaînes»
https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/chroniques/531412/le-grincement-des-chaines

Le Devoir, Comment parler de l'esclavage
https://www.ledevoir.com/culture/531473/comment-parler-ici-de-l-esclavage

Etc.

Aussi, nous joignons notre voix sans réserve aux demandes de la pétition qui suit :

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd7L0DB4ymb6vJ1Uz9DA_Utd0vf5NX9H64eb0jYj2E34KGTog/viewform

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdK2rgBhNjQSQy8LWtu7y9ClVGl_XFsv57A8FNIqZzuPjvHeg/viewform

Nous demandons aux organismes culturels et artistiques, impliqués ou non dans ce débat, et surtout au Conseils des arts du Canada, au Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, au CAM (Montréal) et au Service de la culture (Québec), à Patrimoine canadien et au Ministère du Tourisme, etc. de soutenir l’équité des différentes voix artistiques du Québec, tout en s’assurant du dynamisme des institutions qui devraient inclure des dirigeants et des artistes de diverses cultures, notamment des peuples autochtones, et en offrant un réel appui aux démarches émergentes talentueuses. Une démarche d’appropriation culturelle ne devrait être bénéfique en aucun cas à ceux et celles qui exercent un abus de pouvoir. La démographie du Québec change et la population de Montréal née à l’extérieur du pays ou de parents nés à l’extérieur est en progression constante. Cela commande une ouverture et une représentativité immédiate et profonde.

On a parfois mis en opposition la représentativité de l’ensemble des régions du Québec et le besoin de promouvoir la diversité culturelle, qui par ailleurs devrait être présente dans nos médias, nos programmations, partout. Nous connaissons suffisamment les régions du Québec pour savoir que ces populations et ces artistes (notamment autochtones) souffrent tout autant de la centralisation des institutions à Montréal et à Québec. Certaines de ces institutions sont financées généreusement malgré des années de productions artistiques parfois mièvres, peu enlevantes, pour un public qui se renouvelle peu, alors que des organismes et des artistes dynamiques peinent à survivre. Quand on pense entre autres au talent prodigieux de la communauté afroquébécoise qui ne cesse de se manifester dans toutes les disciplines artistiques mais qui manque cruellement de ressources, on ne peut que se décourager du développement artistique du Québec et pleurer de voir de si nombreuses énergies créatives gaspillées en pure perte. Remercions mille fois la communauté noire montréalaise d’avoir sonné l’alarme avant que la situation ne s’envenime d’avantage.

Ainsi, en plus d’appeler nos collègues à plus d’ouverture et de dialogue interculturels, nous exigeons un changement immédiat dans le financement des arts et de la culture au Québec et au Canada avec l’ajout de critères efficaces favorisant la diversité culturelle et le dynamisme artistique.

Sylvie Lachance
Codirectrice artistique
Exdirectrice du MAI (2001-2006)
Exdirectrice artistique de Les 20 jours du théâtre à risque (1990-1998)

Jacob Wren
Auteur, artiste et codirecteur artistique

Richard Ducharme
Codirecteur administratif
Exdirecteur administratif de Les 20 jours du théâtre à risque (1990-1998)

Et des membres du C.A. de PME-ART : Yves Sheriff, Robin Simpson et Fabien Marcil.



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July 3, 2018

Authentic Sludge/or/Utopia is a Feeling

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So excited to be launching Authenticity is a Feeling again alongside Catherine Fatima's amazing book Sludge Utopia. And Emily Coyle will be interviewing us. It's happening in Montreal at Librairie Drawn & Quarterly on Friday July 6th at 7pm. 

Facebook event.


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Two passages from Sludge Utopia:


You think that if you separate yourself from a feeling of conjointedness and mutual surveillance, you pry back from the world a life that is more authentically yours, but what truly happens is you’re just miserable again. One articulates so well when miserable. There’s such sharp thought in loneliness. Trouble is, it’s so sharp it’s scary, and it’s pathetic when there’s not even the promise of an audience. So people become artists. For the comfort of solitude with an audience.


and:


I just want to desire - and be gratified by my desire for - something both politically progressive and pragmatic. And I would like the desire of others near me to fall in line with my own. I want it to cooperate with school and work. I want to live cultivating an interpersonal ethic that works to change larger public ethics. I want a psyche that has sucked in so much garbage from outside to project itself back out, cleansed, onto the heart of the world, eliminating capitalism. Is that too much to ask?


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Plus:
Making the Self: In Conversation with Catherine Fatima
Stranger than Fiction: In Conversation with Jacob Wren
PME-ART et Jacob Wren / Performants depuis 20 ans



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June 22, 2018

A normal person who writes weird shit.

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There is something I wrote about myself on this blog back in 2015 that I later realized was probably not true. Or at least that I later regretted. I wrote:

A few minutes ago I posted this quote from an interview with Jackie Wang:
"Perversion is probably more important to me than “orientation.” I’m certainly not a purist when it comes to identity but I do want “queer” to retain its freakish and non-normative edge, and for people to back their aesthetic commitments by embodying that commitment in how they lives their lives. Normal people who write weird shit disappoint me hahahaha."

I posted it because I suddenly felt it was about me. I am a ‘normal’ person who writes weird shit. But I’m not sure anyone who knows me would really say I’m normal. I’ve spent most of my life trying to be anything but normal. I certainly feel extremely queer positive and feel a deep love for queer art and politics. Maybe already I’ve gotten a bit lost.

I have come back to this in my mind so many times over the past few years. A moment when I thought I was normal followed by a moment in which I thought that I definitely was not.

Here are some of the ways I've come to think I'm not especially normal: I don't have a car, I don't ride a bike, I didn't have an apartment for ten years (but now I do), now that I have an apartment I for some reason spend most of my time avoiding it, I often say I don't have friends (though, for a man of my age, that might be more normal than I want to admit), other people often say I know everyone, I don't have a television, don't watch television and don't watch movies, I'm an autodidact, I'm not in a relationship and suspect now that I most likely never will be (though never say never), to the best of my knowledge I've never been on a date, one of the few things I'm really certain about in life is that I don't want to have children (I also wrote a book trying to convince others not to have children), I've never been to a wedding or a funeral, I don't have any interests, or really do anything, outside of making and experiencing art in some larger sense (in fact, in terms of experiencing it, mainly just literature and music), I do have some interest in politics but the ways in which I understand it most often have to do with the relationship between politics and art, depression runs my life but I work very hard to not have depression be what I'm about publicly or, for that matter, what I'm about in general, I spend much of my time wandering aimlessly. I'm not sure what to say about perversion, if in this sense perversion mainly means sexual perversion, perhaps my only perversion is an over-enjoyment of cuddling. But none of these things really have anything to do with what I'm talking about when I feel I'm not so normal. It more has to do with a way of being in the world. I feel I have a different way of being in the world than most people I know. I wonder what it might mean to describe this way of being as perverse.

None of these things are particularly queer but neither would I say they're particularly normal. I suppose I might say I was an eccentric, but I also feel that I'm not that eccentric, and in general don't feel any need to put myself into any of these categories. (Maybe simply neurotic would be closer to the truth.) What I am amazed by is that for one moment in 2015 I wrote that I was normal. I suppose all I meant by it was that I was straight and cis, which is true as far as it goes, and yet I'm always happy when anyone thinks of me as queer, perhaps because I have also always thought straight art was far less interesting than queer art, if these categories still have any clear meaning. More and more, I now feel all such things might be taken on a case by case basis. Of course, also, I don't feel particularly qualified to write about queerness. There are so many others who have far more interesting things to say about the topic than I do.

Not sure if I'm going anywhere with all this but since I wrote that I was normal back in 2015 it has continued to bother me, and I've always wanted to write another post to at least partially refute it. But now that I've written this new post, it seems that the new post bothers me as well, that I protest too much. Maybe I'll delete it soon. Maybe I already said everything that needed to be said on the topic when I wrote in my original post: "I’ve spent most of my life trying to be anything but normal." And who actually cares whether I'm normal or not. With everything currently happening in the world it also feels wrong and, yes, perverse to write so much about myself. And all of this might only mean that, once again, I'm more normal that I'm willing to admit.



[P.S. As a tangential ending: I always thought my final Tangentially yours was by far my most interesting contribution to the series. In it, I wrote about Kristin Ross, May '68 and François Maspero’s bookstore La Joie de Lire. I some day hope to go a little bit further down the road of those reflections.]

[Also, even more importantly, everyone should read Jackie Wang's new book Carceral Capitalism.]



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June 15, 2018

"But we don’t get to decide which world we live in. We only get to decide whether or not we try to do anything about it."

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I don’t know how long I was awake when a key card unlocked the door and a man in a military uniform entered. Behind him two other men entered and quickly, efficiently handcuffed my wrists and ankles and then left, throwing me to the floor as they did so. The first man then said that I should be worried, I was really in trouble. I had ended up where I shouldn’t be. On the wrong side of the war. And I would tell them what they wanted to know, everything they wanted to know, or I would be tortured at great length. Then he left the room and I passed out again.

When I come to it’s because something wakes me. Five young men are being shoved into my room. My wrists and ankles feel like they’re on fire. The cuffs cut into them like dull knives. I wonder if I’ve ever been in so much pain in my life, then think perhaps I’ll soon be in considerably more when I’m tortured. That’s the first thing I remember, they said they were going to torture me. The five men, who I somehow understand to be my five new cellmates, have their arms and legs free. They sit around me, their backs pressed against the wall, like a family sitting around a Christmas turkey, if the turkey lay on the bare floor in front of them. They talk to each other, not much but a little, and do their best to ignore me. There is barely room for all six of us in the cell, they’re almost on top of me, and yet it seems strangely normal that they don’t acknowledge my existence. I feel that if I were in their place I might do the same. I understand that they are young soldiers being court martialed. Their crime is refusing to get in the planes and fly their assigned missions. Hundreds and hundreds of soldiers are refusing to fly their missions not because they’ve become pacifists, or because they’re against these wars, but because they’re afraid their planes will explode. Being shot down by enemy fire means being a brave soldier, and what’s more it almost never happens, but being in a plane that explodes for no discernible reason seems stupid and makes them feel almost supernaturally afraid. That’s why they’ve been crammed into this cell with me. All the other cells are completely full. Overfull. Over-packed. Because so many soldiers are now refusing to explode in the sky for no reason.

In general, I don’t read books that feature torture. My nervous system simply isn’t strong enough. The fact that torture is happening, that it is likely that someone, somewhere is being tortured right now, as we speak, often feels to me like one of the main reasons I don’t want to live in this world. I don’t want to read about torture and I certainly don’t want to write about it, but what happened ridiculously, sadistically, happened, and if I’m going to tell my story there is really no way I can avoid the topic completely.

If humanity is ever put on trial – and I have no concept who or what might make such a thing possible – the fact that we commit genocide should be enough to condemn us. But the fact that we torture would condemn us in some condemnation of infinite overload. I can think of no more convincing evidence that we represent a universe gone wrong. A species that tortures is a kind of evil, a kind of animal, I will never understand. There are plenty of other books that give the details, I will not give any of them here. The fact that we torture would be enough to condemn us. But, as most of us know, condemnation and judicial punishment depend not on the crime committed but on the values and worldview of the authority that sits in judgment. When I think of why I want to die, so many of my reasons are weak and self-pitying, but one reason I always find convincing is that I don’t want to live in a world where some people imprison and torture others. I don’t want to live in a world that contains torture. But we don’t get to decide which world we live in. We only get to decide whether or not we try to do anything about it.

I remember, a long time ago, reading a definition of sanity. Sanity is knowing that to be a full person one must behave differently in different situations. That one behaves one way in bed with a lover and a completely different way when being interrogated by the Gestapo. That with a lover one was honest, truthful, one opened ones heart. But with the Gestapo one said nothing or skillfully lied. Lying there on the floor of the cell I thought I had devised a strategy to get through the torture and interrogation. I do not think this strategy would work in reality. This book is not reality. I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay silent so I would talk and talk and lie and lie. For everything I said that was perhaps factually true, I would make sure I said at least ten things that were factually untrue, and do my best to make the untrue things sound considerably more plausible then the true ones. (Once again, I don’t think this strategy would work in reality but as literature, I thought, I told myself, we can see what it does.) And that is what I planned to do. How I had planned to write about it here. But when the time came I did no such thing.

- Jacob Wren, from the work-in-progress Dry Your Tears to Perfect Your Aim



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June 11, 2018

Demita Frazier Quote

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In any event, I got involved with the Black Panther Breakfast program through a friend. And I did that for a month, and as it stands, it was right before Thanksgiving until right when Fred Hampton was murdered.

And the ironic thing, and I should mention this to you – another one of these Zelig effects of my life – I had been involved with the program since I think end of September, but it really started going at the end of October. And I was getting constantly macked by the men. I’m a sexual abuse survivor, and I really just was not having it. Really. I mean, I look back on myself, and I think, god, I was really on fire. Because I didn’t even – I was just so upset that I couldn’t be taken seriously as a committed activist – it seemed like no matter what I did, the first thing these men were dealing with was like trying to mack me. I’m here for a political reason and you’re trying to – oh!

It brings up a lot of anger all over again. Because it was another indicator that I was on the right track with regard to inquiring, why does sexism always impede my ability to manifest my own personal power? Why? Why, why, why? So Fred Hampton, in fact, happened to come by the building that day when we were packing food. You know, packing the lunch bags. And he was so chill and so kind and so non-macking. I never forgot that.

And then he was killed the next day.

– Demita Frazier, from the book How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective



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May 10, 2018

20 Years of collaborative creation

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PME-ART is celebrating our twentieth anniversary with three events in Montreal:

 
Tuesday May 29th, 5pm-7pm:   
Lancement et lecture / Featuring readings from Authenticity is a Feeling: My Life in PME-ART (in French translation) by Martin Bélanger, Caroline Dubois, Marie Claire Forté, Benoît Lachambre, Gaétan Nadeau & Jacob Wren
FTA Quartier général / 175, ave. Président-Kennedy 
Facebook event


Saturday June 2nd, 3pm-???
The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information / Durational Version
With Caroline Dubois, Claudia Fancello, Marie Claire Forté, Adam Kinner & Jacob Wren 
La Vitrola / 4602 St. Laurent
For the first time ever we'll be playing every single record and telling every single story. We believe it will take between ten and twelve hours. You can of course come and go as you please. I don't think we'll ever do this again!
Facebook event


Sunday June 3rd, 2pm-4pm 
Bring Your Own Record / Listening Party 
With Caroline Dubois, Claudia Fancello, Marie Claire Forté, Adam Kinner & Jacob Wren 
La Vitrola / 4602 St. Laurent 
The day after The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information the audience is invited to bring a song, in any format, and tell a story about it.
Facebook event 




Plus:
Stranger than Fiction: In Conversation with Jacob Wren
PME-ART et Jacob Wren / Performants depuis 20 ans



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April 12, 2018

PME-ART Links

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Authenticity is a Feeling: My Life in PME-ART
Every Song I've Ever Written
PME-ART


PME-ART videos:

The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information (Hospitality 5)
Every Song I've Ever Written / Helsinki Band Night
Every Song I've Ever Written / Montréal Karaoke
Hospitality 3: Individualism Was A Mistake
Adventures can be found anywhere, même dans la mélancolie
Unrehearsed Beauty-Le Génie des autres at the 2004 5th 7a*11d Festival

         
PME-ART articles in French

La famille se crée en copulant:
Christian St-Pierre in Voir

Le Génie des autres – Unrehearsed Beauty:
Solange Lévesque in Le Devoir
Catherine Hébert in Voir

Hospitalité 3 : l’individualisme est une erreur:
Marie-Chantal Scholl in DFDANSE
Aurélie Olivier in Voir

Le DJ qui donnait trop d'information (Hospitalité 5):
Nayla Naoufal in Dances from the Mat
Sylvie St-Jacques in La Presse

Toutes les chansons que j’ai composées:
Éric Clément in La Presse
Mario Cloutier in La Presse
Jérôme Delgado in Le Devoir

Adventures can be found anywhere, même dans la mélancolie:
Yan St-Onge in Artichaut magazine
Nayla Naoufal in Le Devoir
Sophie Lapalu in la Revue Marges

L’Authenticité, un sentiment
Mario Cloutier in La Presse

Others:
Jérôme Delgado in Le Devoir
Céline Escouteloup in Nightlife 
Sylvie Lachance Interview in Artichaut magazine


PME-ART articles in English

En français comme en anglais, it's easy to criticize:
Brian Parks in The Village Voice

The DJ Who Gave Too Much Information:
Phoebe Patey-Ferguson in This is Tomorrow

Every Song I've Ever Written:
Jordan Darville in The Fader
Heather Jones in Contemporary Art Stavanger

Adventures can be found anywhere, même dans la mélancolie:
Saelan Twerdy at Canadian Art

Authenticity is a Feeling: My Life in PME-ART
Stranger than Fiction: In Conversation with Jacob Wren



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March 12, 2018

Jordy Rosenberg Quote

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Its analysis shows us that the fetish is impenetrable to analysis. (This, incidentally, is also why in our current moment, we cannot simply explain electoral politics with a flat economic rationality that in fact does not align with Marx.) The commodity is and has a supernatural force. This supernatural force has real material effects in the social world, and there’s no rational way around it.

In case you doubted the supernatural force of the commodity, at the very end of Capital, Marx returns to it by way of a speculation about the origins of capitalist production as a whole. “The economic structure of capitalist society,” he announces, “has grown out of the economic structure of feudal society. The dissolution of the latter set free the elements of the former.” Suddenly we are back in the moment of the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Eight-hundred-odd pages brings you back to the beginning of the entire system and a set of questions about how capitalism arose in the first place. It’s almost nonsensical. Rather than point forward to some post-capitalist utopia, Marx takes us back to that “prehistoric stage of capital,” when “commodity-owners” (one possessing the means of production, the other possessing nothing to sell but his [sic] own labor) face each other in the marketplace, and the fetishism of the commodity takes hold.

Readers encountering this quirk of Capital for the first time may feel despair or at least bewilderment. After our long slog, we’re returned to the beginning in a sickening loop. Worse: The pre-beginning. But I tell you what, anyone who has ever been traumatized by the obituary for a fatherly hawk in the local paper knows what’s up. Knows that thinking about something, stewing about something, won’t change anything. The fetish represents the absolute limit point of thought, and of analysis. It’s what Marx begins with and at the end nothing has gotten any better. And this is the point, really perhaps the most profound point of all of Capital. We go back to the beginning at the end to make two things clear: nothing has changed and once something did change.

Nothing has changed over the course of reading the book. The fetish is there, and the power of the mind to transcend it is, as my mother would have said, bupkus. But: The fetish was not always there. And this is why Marx gets to the pre-history of capitalism only at the end. Because history does not matter as the fiction of a forward-moving telos. History matters only as a backward-facing reflection so that you can see one simple thing. Things were once different. Not better, but different. And so they might be again, and this time we have to have the wild belief that they could be better-different, not just differently-awful-different. There is simply no getting rid of the phantasmagoric power of the commodity — not in the world and not in thought — unless the conditions that make it so are changed, and collectively. And we know this because the entire text of Capital is arranged around the point at which thought falters: desire, the fetish. There is a promise lying in the shoals of despair — a thought that gets swallowed in the phantasmagoria of the world as it is. A thought that is not yet thinkable.

- Jordy Rosenberg, The Daddy Dialectic



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February 27, 2018

Authenticity is a Feeling launches and related events

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Over the next three months I will be launching Authenticity is a Feeling: My Life in PME-ART during these fine events:


Vancouver:
March 20th, 7pm
READ Books 
Emily Carr University 
520 East 1st Avenue 
Facebook Event 


Toronto:
April 25th, 7pm: 
Featuring readings from the book by Alexandra Rockingham Gill, Simone Moir & Jacob Wren
Type Books / 883 Queen St West
Facebook Event
 
May 3rd, 7pm
Bookhug Spring 2018 Launch Party
with readings by Chelene Knight, Jacob Wren, JC Sutcliffe, Aaron Giovannone, Steven Zultanski & Catherine Fatima
The Garrison / 1197 Dundas St W 
Facebook Event


Montreal
May 29th, 5pm-7pm
Lancement et lecture / Featuring readings from the book (in French translation) by Martin Bélanger, Marie Claire Forté, Benoît Lachambre, Gaétan Nadeau & Jacob Wren
FTA Quartier général / Agora Hydro-Québec du Cœur des sciences de l’UQAM / 175, ave. Président-Kennedy 





Order it here
On Goodreads
On Facebook



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February 23, 2018

"The book described the water as text; the drops were signs."

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Hausen wrote a book that everyone was reading. It went that way with men, and yet this was a book that meant a lot to me and led to a book of my own. Hausen wrote a book in the time before the crisis and people carried it around; it was mass produced. In the book, a man walked over a bridge and entered a building, where he jumped into a pool with a mineral-green bottom. He swam back and forth. He did a breast stroke, he worked from his back, he banged his body against the water, he sang, he shouted. He climbed out and exited the building, leaving a trail of water. The book described the water as text; the drops were signs. They doubled the story of Hausen’s character. He was a man who swam at night in empty buildings. The man went home to someone who did not seem quite like a woman, but who also was not identified as a “man.” The man coming home lay on top of this person and swam and told a story, which was a confession, and the body gasped, but we did not know if the man’s story was causing his gasping or whether the cause was his writhing. The reader couldn’t hear the story, but Hausen had the language around the story crack and drop heat on us. And the body writhed on top of the other body and whispered to it about something done and undone in the city, something sitting under water, something terrible.

- Renee Gladman, Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge



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