November 28, 2014



I was walking towards the "Black Lives Matter - TORONTO PEACEFUL PROTEST ACTION" earlier tonight. I was a bit late. Up ahead I heard chanting. From several blocks away I could already tell it was a good turn out. So many voices in the distance, chanting in unison so loudly, so much pure energy. But I couldn't quite make out what they were saying until I got closer, then suddenly heard it clearly: Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter... And I just started crying, tears started streaming down my face uncontrollably. I don't know when was the last time I cried that hard. Such a simple, basic, necessary demand and yet so far from the reality of the world that surrounds us. I cried the entire rally. The chant kept coming back. Hoping to god (and I'm not in any way a believer) that this is only the very beginning of a long and successful fight. I didn't know about Justice For Jermaine Carby. But now I do.


November 14, 2014

Roger Fry Quote


And here we touch on a curious economic accident, the importance of which as a determining condition of art production has never been properly emphasized. In modern life, great works of art generally have been, and I suspect, almost must be, produced in defiance of the tastes and predilections of society at large. The artist, therefore, except in those cases where he possesses inherited means, must be able to live and function on an extremely small sum. He must exist almost as sparrows do, by picking up the crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table. What wonder, then, that periods of artistic creation and impotence are as hard to predict or account for at the weather itself! And yet there is a certain irony in the fact that every civilization is ultimately judged by what of spiritual value it has contributed to the human patrimony. It is only at each present moment that this appears to be of so little consequence as to be negligible.

– Roger Fry


November 13, 2014

Some Short Quotes


I dedicate every pore to what’s here.
– Ikkyū

Skepticism is the elegance of anxiety.
– E.M. Cioran

Do it or don’t do it – you will regret both.
– Søren Kierkegaard

I make art in order to give other people my problems.
– Mike Kelley

Why else keep a journal, if not to examine your own filth?
– Anne Sexton

Theory is good, but it does not prevent things from existing.
– Jean-Martin Charcot

How long can a person recover before it becomes another form of not being?
– Claudia La Rocco

I don’t do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision.
– Allen Ginsberg

There are not millions of deaths. It happens millions of times that someone dies.
– Etel Adnan

The artists I work with turn to emotion because this is where ideology does its most devastating work.
– Jennifer Doyle

It is not that I have no past. Rather, it continually fragments on the terrible and vivid ephemera of now.
– Samuel R. Delany

He loved the moment when a bouncing ping-pong ball stops bouncing, but one doesn't know if it has finally come to rest.
– Eliot Weinberger on Hans Faverey

To be making something as yet unformed, unknown – to be living in a deferred moment – is the most seductive way to exist.
– Moyra Davey

The more a ruling class is able to assimilate the most prominent men of a ruled class, the more solid and dangerous its rule.
– Karl Marx

But a creative life cannot be sustained by approval, any more than it can be destroyed by criticism – you learn this as you go on.
– Will Self

If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it – keep going, keep going come what may.
– Vincent van Gogh


November 12, 2014

Three passages from Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson


etienne gets out the lines and in two minutes we know we’re on the school because we’re pulling in mackerel easy. he watches as i hold the hook and snap the fish into the garbage pail, which is my reveal. it’s sunny and it’s windy and it’s perfect and the arms of the day are wide open and no one has to be anywhere. i see a northern gannet and i love gannets because they can disconnect their wings before they plummet into the sea after a fish. imagine disconnecting a body part! the gannet swims over to the boat smelling the fish blood and etienne hands the gannet a fish and says “the bird is my family, all of this, the fish, the seals, the water – this is my family,” which is his reveal.

our eyes meet because now he has my attention. i walk over and hug him and he is the kind of person that can give and receive a real hug and i’m not one of those people because my alarm system goes off when people touch me and I freeze up and shut down. this time that doesn’t happen. i decide to kiss him and it’s perfect and easy and we make out void of awkwardness but with a clearly defined beginning and a clearly defined ending, then he drives back to shore while i gut the fish in the back of the boat using his terrifyingly sharp knife, feeding the guts to the gulls and the gannets. he drops me off on the dock. we thank each other. we say goodbye and i pay attention to each step, instead of looking back.


old lady levi then asked ira to speak and tell them about the project. he lit a cigarette and he told them three things. first, that the band council had asked us to help the elders document all the ways they related to the land in the past and in contemporary times. second, that throughout the project, the elders would be in charge. they would make all of the decisions because as far as he was concerned, they were the experts. and third that the final document could be whatever they wanted.

then he sat down.

old lady levi stood up, thanked us and asked us to leave. she opened the living room door, watched us as we passed through it, and then told us to wait outside until she reappeared.

we did. for probably two hours.

we heard a lot of talking. some praying. some singing. some more talking.

ira smoked. i drank watery maxwell house out of a styrofoam cup, and then bit teeth marks all around the top edge, wondering what was going to happen to me when i hit the end of the prozac prescription no one was monitoring.

then we heard old lady levi’s footsteps. she paused on the other side of the door. i imagined her hand on the handle, hesitating and then opening it.

we stood up.

she looked through us and said, “come back next month, maybe a monday next time. monday is better.” she went back into the room and shut the door.

ira lit another cigarette, did up his coat, and walked outside, remotely starting the car on the way. it was nearly four, and the sun was sinking below the stand of black spruce out my window. we retraced our morning’s steps back to thunder bay. a month later, this time on a monday, we went back, and we kept going back for two years, sometimes moving the meeting twice a month.

i redrew the maps those old ones kept tucked away in their bones. i took these notes:

how to pluck the feathers off a goose
how to roast a duck on an open fire
how to block the cnr lines
how to live as if it mattered


bringing up trauma from my life made therapy-lady cry, especially if it was “aboriginal” themed. she said “aboriginal” a lot, and i knew she was trying to be respectful so i planned on letting it slide until the breaking point and then i was going to let her have it in one spiralling long manifesto. therapy-lady liked to compare my life to refuges from war-torn countries who hid their kids in closets when airplanes flew over their houses. this was her limit of understanding on colonized intimacy. she wasn’t completely wrong, and while she tried to convince me none of us had to hide our kids anymore, we both knew that wasn’t exactly true. i knew what every ndn knows: that vulnerability, forgiveness and acceptance were privileges. she made the assumption of a white person: they were readily available to all like the fresh produce at the grocery store.

lucy says that I made a critical mistake on my first day of therapy. “you have to lay all of you indian shit out on the first day, drug abuse, suicide attempts, all the times you got beat up, all of that shit. then you sit back and watch how they react. then you’ll know if they can deal or not.” lucy had a social work degree but she didn’t buy it, which is always useful.

[I wrote about Islands of Decolonial Love here and you can order it here. Highly recommended.]


November 9, 2014

The counter-literature prize


The wrong books win the prizes: safe books, conventional books, books that strive for the known excellence of today rather than for the unknown excellence of a not yet known future. Books that are too much of their time, as opposed to books that leap into the pure breakthrough risk of the untimely.

We think there should be a prize for books that are different, unusual, unnerving, too political or unrealistic, not quite right. We think there should be a prize for books that are really, really good but - because they are just too different - will most likely never win any of the many literary prizes that already exist in the world.

For now, this prize is only a hypothetical entity. What might be the best way to bring it into reality? Who should the judges be? How would we even find the strange, counter-literary books in the first place?