Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Darts, innit

I was walking along the other night and passed by the Golgotha. I hadn't been in that shithole since long before the Interruptnum. It had been, however, the site of many heroics at the oche, always amidst tsunamis of Toby lager. Nagged by nostalgia, I decided to take a tour inside. Sitting at the bar with my Stella Artois (Toby, who's that?), I looked around the room. And there he was, finishing up his early evening athletics by burying a bunghole. Still the pub superstar, still the hero of the Golgothiad. Semi-violent crime had not been good to Keith, it seemed. After wrestling his lances out of the ale encrusted cork, he passed by the bar. "When I get my wing straightened out, I'm taking you down Keith". The legendary arrowman looked at me, no recognition registered. "Yeah, cheers". He noticed the book on the bar - A History of Histories. "Heritage, innit".

Keith Talent then left the Golgotha, climbed into the same royal blue Cavalier. It needed a new muffler, just like it did ten years ago.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Counterfactual of the Week

This week, we consider an extraordinarily cogent contingency. What if I wasn't too busy to post a counterfactual of the week?

As the courtier of Cooper St., I find working for coin particularly vulgar and contrary to my humanist virtue.

However, they call me the workin' man, I guess that's what I am.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rolling out the Bumboats

Look, King George is shitting on France! HAAA HAAAA HAAAA!

Sorry to offend anyone's Gallic sensibilities. But the scatalogical quota needed to be bumped up before the end of Fisheye's fiscal year. To be fair, I'll throw up old Sawney as well. But given the Auld Alliance, maybe that won't be appreciated either.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cold Knees

in April (almost). Where did our preternatural spring go? Soon we will be able to say that June Is Finally Here.

Was there anyone better on the kit in the 90s than Damon Che? No One Gives a Hoot About them anymore, probably because they have all moved on to other projects. Except Che, who later formed a bastardized version of the math rock outfit (as Patti Schmidt would undoubtedly have taxonomied Don Caballero, despite their denials). Instrumental music, kids. Don't let those words get in the way. Interesting music tells its own story. Godspeed, and go do, make, say and think. And when normally instrumental music does have something to say, its worth hearing. Remember that when you die, you have to leave them behind. When you keep this in mind, you'll find a love as big as the sky.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I had a dream the other night that I was entirely composed of vegetation. I had everything at my fingertips -- food, photosynthesized energy, complete environmental self-sustainability. And then I woke up, realizing it was actually a nightmare. My body was shuddering uncontrollably as my organic memory was suffering a flashback to an overdose at a wheat grass juice bar in Vancouver during the late 90s.

Thanks, Ativan.

I went for a long walk last Saturday. The longest odyssey I've undertaken since the Grand Productive days had resumed. It was a preternaturally spring day. Across the canal, through the university, toward the first of many bookshops. I continued along my route, basking in the glow of having successfully bartered with the enormous, bearded and organically tonsured caretaker behind the desk. I hadn't seen a Victor adding machine in decades. I walked away smugly, having secured a reprint of Alexander Carlyle's anecdotes, published in the 19th century as his Autobiography, 1722-1805. It had been there for three years, collecting dust and feeling resolutely unwanted. I walked away with it, as well as a first edition hardcover of Graves' Belisarius. All for under $40. I continued down the slide roads, heading for Rideau St. There were other used bookshops and record stores that I hadn't visited since the Interruptnum. I approached the rear of a church. In the cramped yard adjacent, an itinerant was delivering a sermon for three other homeless comrades. There was much pantomime and wild gesticulation. Miraculously, the bottle did not fall from his hands. A remarkable display of enthusiasm and ferocious fervour, leavened with Stoic self-command. I made the humble mistake of "taking an inerest", and slowing my pace as I passed. Instantly, the itinerant preacher leapt to his feet and ran towards me, exhorting me to lead them in pious prayer. I laughingly protested that I was a Sceptic. "A heathen", snorted the holy man. "Then give us your fuckin money". Obviously, this latter day saint knew how to initiate at least one of the sacraments. Again, I protested. "I spent all my money", and showed them the bag of books. Things took a menacing turn after that. All of the congregation were now on their feet, advancing towards me with disgust and derision in full evidence upon their soiled and darkened countenances.

Things were not looking good. I glanced around. There were no bystanders, nobody to witness the enthusiasm of the mob. In the wake of the Interruptum, I was in no condition to resist a Rideau St. rolling. I raised my bag of books, for what purpose I do not know. Suddenly, the contemptuousness of the congregation was transformed. Perhaps it was the Byzantine bellicosity of Belisarius. But I prefer to think that it was the moderate Presbyterianism of Dr. Carlyle, emanating through the plastic of the grocery bag provided by the tonsured one. Following the lead of their quintilious leader, they returned to the enchanted cup. As one of Carlyle's contemporaries would note, "the poor savage, upon whose mind there are few objects which impress his external senses, and who, if not roused to exertion for the relief of his wants, passes many a tiresome melancholy hour, flies with avidity to this terrestrial nectar, which creates a new world before his eyes, makes all nature smile and dance around him, and at length steeps his senses in a grateful oblivion." Obviously, I felt much fellowship with these men, but not at the expense of my own martyrdom. Relieved that I had been spared by the moderate grace of my Protector, I scuttled off towards the Bytowne, found the cheap copy of The Information that I was hunting down, and hurried home to the Elysian fields of Elgin St.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Counterfactual of the week

Many historians have begun to be heard above the professional cacaphony with regard to the significance of contingency. A renewed recognition of this has begun to reshape our historical representations of both continuities and discontinuities within the seismic seams of the past. At least in terms of how we think we can "see", understand and and/or imagine the texture of the past. Beyond the temporal elasticizing of our familiar historiographic heuristics ("The Reformation", the "Renaissance", the "Enlightenment" et cet.), the consideration of contingency nudges us towards, even more than usual, thinking about the possibilities of the counterfactual. For the most part, our weekly "what if" will not contemplate the traditional topographies of high political and cultural mediation. These questions are not confined to the conventional historical discipline and its genres, of course, but also to a glut of various forms including cinema and novelized fiction. The alternate vision of a fascist 1930s England, topped by the additional conceit of being a re-enactment of Richard III. Or, on the other hand, a fascist postwar America after Charles Lindbergh's defeat of Roosevelt in the presidential election.

This week will not conjure such an imaginative re-rendering, but will briefly (as not to cause despair in the wake of its contemplation) offer a grim prospect. What if Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin did not enact the beast with two backs and produce a happy result the next year? Even after a pirated viewing of Lars von Trier's Antichrist, this is an alternate reality that I would rather not speculate upon (take care not to confuse the latter, as I'm sure you may be tempted, with L'anticristo, the 1974 spaghetti horror from Alberto de Martino, a masterpiece of the exorcisploitation genre. Only Jesus Franco's Les possedees du diable, aka Lorna the Exorcist, could possibly match its Empyrean exemplariness in the genre).

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I have a correction to note. The gold toilet was actually at Evergreen House, a library at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Another remarkable bathroom etched in my memory is located in the basement of Graham House at Green College, UBC in Vancouver. Technically its not a library, however there was a Reading Room upstairs, its bookshelves lined with some stunningly uninteresting titles. It did have some comfortable chairs, and was an ideal place to pass out once the sun came up at 4 am.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Night Hag

I am not the man I used to be. I have accepted that. I am an inscribed body. The scars are also invisible. The lesions are on your mind. On your soul. I have passed through many dark nights, but not the darkest yet. I was spared that. But dark nights of the soul do not end. After the visitation, the day is different. Twisted. Grotesque. Perpetual blackness. The absence of light. Where once there was peace, fear and doubt envelop the void. Natura abhorret vacuum. Many things have been achieved, but the hag cannot forever be warded. The light has been swallowed, the nocturnal cinema has ceased to project -- only blackness, and unrest. I cannot bear another Stygian night.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Old Woman

The scenes across the street are constantly in flux. It is always too late to avert the gaze. The recluse, the exhibitionists, the bohedonists, the yelping dogs and bemused cats. The regimes of domesticity that appear familiar, yet far removed. But throughout the years, and the sickness, and the absences, you have remained. When I began to doubt my stability, I turned my head and there they were. The signs of continuity. And they reassured me. Someday I'm going to turn my head, and the owl will have ceased its vigil. And then I will know.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Counterfactual of the week

What if Jimi Hendrix had not died prematurely in September 1970? And what if Miles Davis, who reportedly admired the guitarist, had agreed to form a new fusion band in 1971 with Hendrix included? John McLaughlin was remarkable in his own idiosyncratic fashion, but it is interesting to imagine what the Davis-Hendrix combination might have sounded like. Perhaps with Tony Williams or Billy Cobham on the kit, and Jaco or Stanley Clarke on bass. Chick Corea or Hancock on keys. It might have been the End of Music. No anxiety of influence after that, right? Its also regretful that Jeff Beck never directly collaborated with Davis during the former's fusion flirtations in the 70s.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fisheyeiana #2

The Golden Globe Awards were held a few weeks ago. I couldn't help notice that Drew Barrymore was allotted a seemingly unlimited amount of time in which to babble incoherently in acceptance of her award for a TV drama that looked to me to be a "very special" episode of the Waltons. Immediately afterwards, Michael Haneke, a true master of the cinema, was granted all of ten seconds to accept, in his halting English, an award for best "foreign language" film from the Hollywood Foreign Press. A puzzling moment for me, until I quickly realized that the television is always most effective when it is turned off.

I'm noticing that I seem to prefer my contemporary music without any words in them. Instrumental music -- isn't that a forgotten redundancy? Godspeed, you black emperors. Go do, make, say and think.
On a different note, I fully confess that I don't get the Tom Waits fetish. Or the Leonard Cohen thing. Uncool me, I suppose. Double uncool me.

The most superior library bathroom I ever enjoyed -- not the National Library and Archives, not the Library of Congress, not the Fisher at Toronto or UBC, nor the Firestone at Princeton. The Peabody in Baltimore has a gold toilet. Enough said.

Reasons to turn the TV off, part 2 -- watched half an hour of the Oscar extravaganza the other night, enough to take in the "tribute" to the horror genre, where the montage was interspliced with classics such as The Shining and Leprechaun 2, the auteuristic masterwork and commercial lynchpin of the lucrative Leprechaun franchise.

To be honest, I have the TV on as I write these initial entries. David Starkey is the shit. Now that I can't watch tv, or listen to music with words in them, what am I to do? I no longer need to watch films, as my funky body chemistry and addiction to sleeping pharmacology means that I can enjoy a nocturnal cinema every night, a baroque circus worthy of Fellini. I'd like to read, but it must be noted that a portion of my brain is sitting in a refrigerator at a mid-town hospital. I believe that it is periodically wheeled out for schoolchildren to observe in a perverion of Benthamite display.

Unfortunately, the radio isn't what it used to be. The new CBC has left me behind. Please return Brave New Waves and Jurgen Gothe post-haste. Strombo and Buck 65 are too cool for school. I miss the simpler days of Patti Schmidt's endless recitations of muscial genres. Apparently now I have to adjust to basking in my post-cooldom.


Fisheyeiana #1

Let's get this mistake good and made. A gold star for anyone who can identify the creative artists captured in the fisheye lens. The answer may perhaps be revealed by The Answer.

Why do advertising firms anthropomorphize the food they are trying to sell? Is there a cannibalistic imperative latent in all of us, particularly children? Take, as one example, the Mini-Wheats commercial that depicts animated children (an alienation effect in itself, no doubt) brutally ingesting their glutenous victims, fully sentient and seemingly thrilled with their lot in life as they haplessly writhe within the blanched waves of their cereal bowl? Not to mention M&Ms. The evolution (or devolution) from animated mascots to self-aware food appears to have been realized. Bon appetit!

I am also reminded of something that only belongs in a formless forum such as this. As reported in a newspaper article I read back in 2003 (aka the Mists of Antiquity), Deep Purple is revered by a current generation of post-Soviet Russian youth. When the band played there in the 1980s (perhaps the legendary "Perfect Strangers" tour?), many young and desperate eastern Slavs looked to them as larger than Lenin. Yes, I always tear up when I hear that stirring ode to the galactic proletariat, Space Truckin. This also reminds me of a mid-80s, early 90s encounter with Ian Gillen that a friend related to me. At the table they shared, the hero of the post-revolution, in a miraculous performance worthy of modern hagiography, simultaneously dragged on a cigarette and snorted a whiskey. A wondrous prescription for the vocal chords. Jesus Christ! superstar, indeed.

Speaking of semi-legendary figures, I am thinking today, oddly enough, about a denizen of my hometown who is usually referred to only as The Kid. This 50 yr-old wunderkind, now weaned off a lifetime regime of milk and vodka, recently had his foot amputated, and before that, had a portentous, horn-like growth removed from the centre of his forehead. "Oh, that little flap of skin? Its a skin tag, I wish I could get rid of it", now available at your local pharmacy, it appears.

Social networking is a sign of the Apocalypse. But who am I to say -- having rejected these heuristics of identity, I am not a fully realized self.

I miss going to conferences. No more panels such as (Re) Membering Milton: the carnal commonwealth of the Puritan res publicae.

I'm thankful for my country home. It gives me peace of mind. Someplace I can walk alone, and leave myself behind. Those lyrics, from the best and likely most forgotten album from a Canadian icon, don't make a lot of sense. If the butchering needs to be corrected, another gold star.


This blog has crawled out of the primordial sludge as a mistake. An unfinished fetus of formless flesh and translucent tissue. Swimming upstream in the cultural soup, darting in and out of the viscous arteries and the primeval swamps of our modern consciousness, taking notes and baring all to my internal Melfi. Did I bring my log? No, I brought my blog. Christ, it IS like taking a shit. There's your log.

Continuing along with the Great Tradition of the monumental mistake, there will be regular additions to the blog (oddly, a genre Professor Frye neglected to mention in his Anatomy of Criticism). Regularity, of course, is a beatific gastrointestinal grace. Thank you, Dr. Kellogg.

You will find no poetry here, not even of the street. I ain't one for poetry, and I ain't one for prose, but I sure do get a kick out of that Beavis & Butthead show. Actually, I am prosaic to a painful point. Gentle Reader (both of you), will you learn anything? Not likely. Will you find edification? Absolutely not. Will you be bemused? Possibly. Will you be offended? I'll do my very best. But you will come back. The Power of Christ compels you. Do not hate me because I am a sinner.

Finally, I close my eruptive entry into the blogosphere by laying complete blame at the anointed feet of HP and SC. Balmed soles and all, it is your collective fault that this grievous mistake is being made. I promise not to blink before I blog. There will be no recollections in tranquility from this evolutionary error. As ever, your obedient servant, FEL.