November 30, 2011

Nothing that exists is going away any time soon


Nothing that exists is going away any time soon
not nuclear power nor sympathy
not the desire for a better world nor warlords nor
the unmanageable complexity of the industrial world
we are stuck with these things
there will be famine and plague but
nothing will go away
we still have the church and we still have cigarettes
there are still a few people who think the world is flat
and some day I might join them
what difference does it make to my life
if I think the world is flat or round
(and there is always a strange pleasure
to be part of some small, self-chosen group)

Nothing that exists is going away any time soon
not sexism nor emancipation, not art
nor the end of art nor television or drugs
or the war against drugs
and none of these things will be spread evenly
across the planet either
always some will have more, some less
(some will have more warlords while
others will have more diamonds)
not even going way will go away
there is only here
sickening and joyous
and everything in between
we can fight and we can lose or
we can make a little progress
we can lose hope or keep it
cherish small progress or let it go
there are good arguments on all sides
bad arguments too
not apocalypse nor utopia nor
happiness nor doom
let each of these things shake our
imagination and our actions
each in its turn




I am looking at young people and wondering if they always seemed so young

these particular young people are particularly inarticulate

also not speaking their first language

one says: this unambitious attitude is really important, that is why we took this opportunity to do what we want

normally one translates from another language into one's own

later I find out that the main one is famous, her father also famous, her unambitious attitude too

the cliches keep on giving


November 28, 2011

Coment on a coment on teaching


I think if they had been talking about 'family, babies or a recipe they enjoyed' I would have been equally disgusted.

But if they had been talking about a new record I might have been interested.

This is all, of course, extremely unreasonable and arbitrary. I can be flexible but I'm also searching for the pleasure of writing things that are unreasonable.

It seems insane to me that I still have a romantic view of artists, since I see no evidence to support such a view, but it remains a desire. A desire for art to be something more (or violently less) than everything I see around me.

And, reading the comments again, I realize again that my humour is often too black, slight or dry, and people miss that the words I write are both meant and not, that I feel my views as painful but can also see them (and myself) as ridiculous. (I mean, I've never punched anyone in my life.)

I am flexible. Which means I know just how boring being flexible can sometimes be.




I don’t think this is the kind of place I would go if I lived here, but since I don’t live here it is the best coffee I have found so far. If there’s money involved you admit to behaving differently, but maybe you don’t behave as differently as you think (or secretly hope.) Everything here reminds me of money, but this is only a shallow first impression, one it is unlikely I will get past. (In the end I did a little.) Today the coffee comes with a single pink rose petal on the saucer (or maybe a petal from some other flower, I’m not sure.) They meant it to be a ‘nice touch’ but it also reminds me of money. Strange it reminds me of money since a single petal doesn’t cost much, but of course the cost is somewhere else. (Perhaps in the privileged confidence of the flourish.) And the coffee is strong, rough, with some bite to it. I am here for one week and don’t imagine I’ll ever be back, but the people I meet here I might meet other places, since we all seem to travel (another privileged flourish.) I want to have some thoughts that are worth writing, that are worth putting down, but my thoughts only remind me of other, more consequent, thoughts I had, and wrote down, in the past. Today’s versions feel watered down but perhaps something might happen tomorrow that would spark them in some new direction. There is a strange pleasure to writing when it feels like there’s no point. For as long as I can remember I’ve sat in cafes to write. Sometimes, as one dull sentence ends, the next one starts in some way you never thought possible, a little surprise that comes from you but at the same time doesn’t. The radical potential of the unconscious is that it is impossible to completely know or predict. This is also what is frightening about it. Sometimes the next sentence surprises you but, so far, not today. Yesterday, as we were walking towards the metro through the too cold night, I made the joke that I would prefer to be in Brazil. I said something like ‘thanks so much for inviting me to your festival, but there’s one thing about your festival that feels really wrong to me and that’s the fact that it’s not in Brazil.” And we laughed for a moment but today it is pure gray sky and just as cold and I really would prefer to be in Brazil, even though I’ve never been there, my constant tendency to obsess over warm places I’ve never been as some sort of utopian escape from winter. And later this week, for the first time in fifteen years, I will publish poetry, a small booklet entitled Someone who doesn’t experience or understand pleasure. Fifteen years ago I promised myself I would stop publishing poetry, that I no longer wanted to be in that ghetto, but then this moment came when I sent in a manuscript on a whim, I saw an open call on Facebook, and suddenly here it is, twenty-four pages written over the past ten years. That is back in Montreal and I am here in Munich. I must really be lost if I’m publishing poetry again. I mean, I do think we need more poetry in our lives (for example: pretending, if only for a moment, that Munich is Brazil), but we also need less poetry in poetry. To be so marginal feels almost violent to me and yet I realize I will always be marginal. Real success is not for me, while at the same time people are constantly telling me how successful I am. I can only write on my blog when I imagine no one is reading it. The moment I imagine someone might be reading this, the writing immediately stops.


November 20, 2011



Everyone is so reasonable and the results are so tepid.

Then everyone is so unreasonable and the results are equally tepid.

And occasionally, for no reason at all, the results are exhilarating.

Who wouldn’t love to be painfully bursting with life.

When you write the first line you don’t know the next and certainly don’t know the last.

If it lasts for a while, it might as well last forever.


November 19, 2011



How, when you speak, to mean not only what you say, but also to mean the opposite, at the same time. Because life, and each of us, are so full of contradictions.

Then again, why do I think the anti-spectacular always equals the humane. No shock and no awe.

The institution knows only one trick: to absorb things from outside itself, present them, in order to make them more safe. To save them from obscurity and bind them to history. But there are so many different ways to do this: good, bad and every shade between.

One trick is not so much, and yet, sometimes, years, decades, pass in which the institution cannot do even that. It still knows the trick but simply chooses not to. Is a little bit of spice better than nothing? And for who?

For me. I don’t know how to live.

[This text is a kind of addendum to the previous post: Strange Gratitude]


November 6, 2011

Strange gratitude


You said to me that I saved the institutions anniversary. (Of course only a joke.) But I don’t want to save the institution. I don’t want to save anything.

I think the institution is a factory for producing mediocrity and for maintaining the status quo (sometimes a little bit more adventurous, sometimes a little less, but never a compelling shift, never a hopeful curiosity, openness or break.)

I want to burn it to the ground but I’m too polite. And there would be no point since new institutions would quickly arise, the same or worse. And my burning to the ground skills aren’t up to the task.

I want things to change but the changes I desire are too much for reality. And the small shifts that do occur feel in not exactly the wrong (or right) direction.

Why must everything be pumped up with false energy and enthusiasm? Where is the vulnerability? If we are insecure, why must we front? Why can’t we walk on stage and perform in ways that show our insecurity? That are fragile? That show we are damaged, curious, unsure and therefore human? Why can’t our politicians do the same? (Because they would never win.)

Is it only because we are always auditioning, for everything: for love, work, friendship, value, meaning, time, hope? I no longer know how to sort the fantasies that matter from the ones that don’t.

What others find entertaining does not entertain me, but, then again, what does? If I feel that someone is trying to sell me something, especially themselves, I completely shut down.

And yet here they were trying to sell myself back to me at a reduced, yet more expensive, price. A commercialized, scrambled, overproduced version of myself I could barely recognize.

How to be if the world does not understand my aims, even when they try, and if equally I do not understand theirs? (And is their anything accurate in this sensation I had while watching, and later thinking about, what had occurred. Rarely am I accused of excessive gratitude.)

M. writes: “More problematic to me was to see them bursting from a kind of overconfidence that seemed to hide their own lack of self-assurance. While it gave an interesting look to the more political bits of your work, it also seemed to hinder the parts that are more revealing, full of self-doubt and honesty.”

But it’s easy to criticize. This, what I write here, is barely rational, not critique, an emotional language, a sad insanity, intensity.

Such insanity compels me to send this out into the world, fires me up to confess that watching that show, even once, made me feel completely suicidal, completely bereft. (But I’m always suicidal, so what is this sudden surge in intensity? Might there be something positive in it?)

I don’t even know how to live in the days following the premier, a night that feels like the complete betrayal of everything I have been trying to do for the past twenty-two years, of everything I desire, of everything I believe in. And I really don’t say this against the people who made it, since, in many ways, I believe they genuinely did the best they could. I say this only against myself, for agreeing to it, for saying yes in the first place. For saying yes to a scenario I knew from the start would have this precise result.

I fear my ‘yes’ came mainly for cheap reasons: to promote my name, expand my brand. I have no high horse to get up on. And yet I’m on this galloping horse nonetheless. Henri Michaux writes: “It is when you gallop that your parasites are most alive.”

And if, actually, against my better judgment, I do eventually post this, it will be little more than another passive-aggressive act in a lifetime of the same. I apologize and, as always, feel sad. Sadness, confusion and conflicted feelings.

From this position what constructive politics could possibly emerge?


November 2, 2011

Teachers generally like teaching


What I've learned through the comments on the post below, both here and on Facebook, is that, it seems, teachers generally like teaching. Strangely this was news to me.