Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I don’t care, New Orleans. The only thing worth caring about is the infinite reach of our mind through galaxies and the meandering of the Holy Spirit dispensing freedom. And besides I was arrested there on a noisy street sleeping in a stolen Thunderbird.

But not for the Thunderbird. It was for suspicion, suspicion mind you, of the murder of someone I never found out the name of.

Arrested with me were David-Michael-Zeke -- the guy with three sets of identities -- and “fish eyes” who may have had a vitamin deficiency or perhaps a hormone chaos of some sort. They were sleeping in the Thunderbird too and were both as white as me on a black street under neon.

I feel some peace now that this street is under five feet of standing water but you can still loot the top shelves from the liquor store. I have a greater peace that something big is returning the city to the gulf and the people in it to a continent of smell, death and humid survival.

I have nothing against them. In fact I know some. There was the self-described former senator , drunk and chronically pukey but with a good straw hat, torn a bit thrown into the cell with me and the others and released early. Not like us. There was the cheerful guard who said he had pissed on our worm sandwiches. He had spat in the Toxic Tang.

The bloody marine released without charge in the morning before we were is maybe still in the National Guard, somewhere else or who maybe now is there “helping” the ten thousand poor people locked up in the stadium ready for deportation for their own good to prevent looting treasures in the black city from those tall buildings with the emergency generators still on to keep their logos burning. The logos are reflecting on the rising water. Is this how the whole thing will end -- in floating shit?

I was released in the morning after the last minute attempt, a reduced charge from murder down to vagrancy, was dropped. I had ten bucks. They never got on to David-Michael-Zeke. They never got on to the Thunderbird. They hadn’t heard of the place on the plates. Manitoba, where the fuck is that? Might as well be Bongo Land.

So all the rest of us were released with contempt. We three whites and ten thousand others who were arrested that night for suspicion. Out for the time being. I was advised to leave the city and the state. To evacuate. The judge did not understand my accent. He thought that when I said “not guilty” I was asking for orange juice. He told me that this was no time for that. That is how far I was away from home. He told me himself I was too far. The cops asked if I was one of those Cuban niggers. They said I should go back to Africa with them. I actually did that. Just as he said. Just as I was told.

The others, like now, went on to their promised land.

That old Holy Spirit is flooding the mind with analogy. Other places. Animals two by two, the spires of Atlantis. Bombed, flooded , drowned, covered in locusts, burnt and scattered into the desert. Blasting through a nebula on a million tortured comets. The neurons of something prophetic.

No, I don’t care, and this is a terrible thing because once I did so much.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Death's Doors Excerpt 1: a landscape

‘Like every Canadian,’ the uncle proposed, ‘he has three discernable natures. All without evil. Often without interest as well.’

‘There is a formless general Canadian social nature, nearly inert, but busy when it decides to be busy, creating little intricate smug parochial hierarchies and gibbering about pleasant simple dichotomies, saying nice things but saying them insincerely wherever it goes. I saw a lot of this in my newspaper office. This first nature seeks middle things and desires good feelings in everyone. It is not deep and certainly not to be trusted to make sense.

‘It has no discrimination. But it will discriminate. It will decide things; it can have opinions like to not like Toronto but rather like Vancouver, not like the country but adore the city, not want to work in the government but rather in a small business one day, but not in the sales department or accountancy, it would prefer to be a teacher. Not an American idea in its head. Or so it thinks. No, not ever that. Not ever a banal cultural warrior thought, a stupid know-it-all idea. Not a plotter against humanity. Not refined but a good teller of wise anecdotes and tortuously polite.’

The uncle, who had written a novel on the war dead and had had a collection of his articles published as well as a textbook, elaborated on the second nature provided to each Canadian by their massive expanse of empty landscape. It was their nature.

Maybe a Canadian hadn’t seen any of the expanse or landscape, but he knew it was there. It was the one thing that made him the most smug and talkative. He thought it trumped everyone else’s myths. For this big expanse he expected universal awe. As for himself, he was blinded to most of any features of any other place except by facile comparison. Landscape ate their minds, those Canadians. It was a landscape that swallowed most of the stories about it, made them into cartoons and cute fairytales. A not-known space, not even one imagined adequately.

Friday, August 26, 2005

essay on true literature

C’mon now, be serious! All literature is only writing that is both derivative and unique. At the same time. That’s all it is. If it is just the one or just the other it isn’t literature. It is just writing.

And another thing. It is an object. It has to be somewhere. If it is scanned, it is just scanned literature. And I’ll tell you why.

It is all in the history of the thing. Recently it has all been in the history of publishing and marketing. Literature as part of production and markets. Before that it has been projections from places and professions. Like priests, universities, magis and prisons. Graveyards and generals. That sort of thing. Establishments and celebrities. Literature as part of the positions of knowledge. A membership.

Before that it was just the stuff from those putting onto objects. Stuff that came from songs and images. I don’t mean the words and pictures. That’s just writing. I mean the songs and images. Even stick people or humming.

They were objects to use to try to move thinking and feeling and so enliven the outside and inside. The ones that worked, that was going to be literature. They started to add to the original derivatives some of that uniqueness and some carried over uniqueness to that new derivative. Before that everything just moved in the mind and in the world without literature all the way back to the original mind and body.

With literature you are not trying to just stimulate readers. Yes you need those for literature too; they are part of it.

No, not tying to excite or please them. That’s just writing. Nope, you’re also trying to work with them to get to something somewhere. Move it around a bit. Get it to work again if it isn’t.

But what about stuff that isn’t in the history of literature? Is it literature too? I ask you that seriously! And I’ll tell you why I do. I have a book here, I don’t know who wrote it, written in pencil as a copy of something which my friend read before he went away and died. I haven’t had the time to read it myself.

It’s called ‘1001 Tales by the Exile in Dementia.’

Is it literature?

He said it was really, really good.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

what about the game?

I have met lots of Canadians who leave Canada both to find wars and to find peace (only a few to 'make' peace). You immigrated to Canada because there was a kill-off of class , tribe or nation somewhere.... the kids go back and out as a kind of deathly fun. To get away from the community and do something for real. Recently people came and still do come in to get away from wars. Recently the kids go out and back again. There are rings of peoples in every town. There are kids of immigrants in every agency.

I am just being stroppy about Magic Mountain. I have got annoyed with Faustus, creature of the state. They are both about art and politics and death one is centered on people, one on image.. Stroppy, stroppy me.

What about the game? What about madness? You think you are depressed. Ha!!!!

some sort of descent

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Red Nile excerpt 1: a death

The winter winds had been born in the central desert; there they divided into spinning arms each hundreds of miles long. The weakest scythed into West Africa attracted by pressure troughs in the Atlantic. In Nigeria they became the dirty, dry, maddening, endlessly blowing Harmattan. The strongest arms broke away, rotated, divided and then divided again to spin across the desert north to Cairo in a chaos of gust and squall.

From southern Assuit to Cairo many of the winds spilled down from the desert plateau into the narrow valley cut by the Nile. From over the rooftops in Cairo they descended into the streets in moaning pulses that exploded on the ground into torrents of fine, dry, drenching sand that instantly covered the oven lid, transforming it to a brown mound.

From Cairo, the winds bubbled on across the delta to swirl over the sea. When they reached the beaches, the winds quickened, passing over the waves as beige and yellow clouds. As the clouds rose, hammers of clear air smashed into the sea mist. Some of the squalls bounced on the pressure and incoming sea breezes to return to shore in small wet furies.

The weather caused wild wave patterns down the Nile. From Assuit through to the delta and to the sea feluccas and tourist boats were rocked. On the Mediterranean into the Ionian Sea the waves were tumultuous at the mouths of the small harbours and bays. In Albania they blew from the port of Vlora over the mountain passes to Gramsch.

In Egypt trailing gusts drove the surfaces of marshes, lagoons and wetlands over coastal roads and into delta towns. The windowless cement hut in Raz El Bar where the dead engineer had holidayed before he retired was flooded. The waters left patterns of shards of cracked shells on the street in front of it. The road to the hut was littered with heaps of rubbish and piles of dead birds woven with reeds and small stones.

The evening before, the only fishing boat that had risked a trip out from the port of Raz El Bar had difficulty threading the narrow opening between concrete abutments to get back into the harbour. It surfed in high on the swells from the deep water, its hold empty, moving sideways until turning sharply, almost at right angles just as it reached the narrow harbour entrance. The boat hovered there an instant, seemingly on the spray and in the sky. It then jerked itself around, turning, keeling over, and knifed in close to tipping, with its masts at acute angles to the sea. The boat righted at the last moment, hurled into the calm inner harbour on a dying wave, scraping its sides on the jetty behind the seawall.

Because of this, the fish stall next to the cigarette cart in the Cairo street, the fish stall run by the family from Raz El Bar, was not to open on the morning of the explosion. There were no fish. The stall for cigarettes had therefore set up in its place.

On the other side of the Mediterranean blown sand descended over tourists in Delphi to their astonishment. Sand clouds were seen over the water opposite Vlora. They obscured from two Italian patrol boats a ship crammed with women and children which had below decks an additional cargo of newly manufactured small arms and ammunition. The arms would be landed secretly and then, as arranged, travel on across Europe to Ireland by railroad and ferry. Others would go on to West Africa. Police in several countries would exchange information about the markings on the barrels.

Hailstones fell on Jerusalem and some screaming howling was heard in the sewers under the souks in Alexandria.

To the proprietor of the Cairo market cart, the man who had pulled a cart from his home four kilometres away each dawn to this street for ten years, the man who had now just moved the cart slightly away from his usual place in order to be in a better spot, a lovely spot just where the fish cart usually was, the fish cart owned by the Raz El Bar family who had not come this morning as they had no fish, to this cart proprietor the sudden death of the retired engineer was miraculous. The death composed itself to him first as a note from an invisible instrument, as a sudden unfamiliar castanet sound, a drumming clatter, and a harsh wet whisper blended into one.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

i am a citizen of the modern absurd state

I am a citizen of the modern absurd state. It is a place in which you can be summarily executed for vaguely resembling an Ethiopian while acting above suspicion.

I can be arrested for wearing a t-shirt praising the prime minister while in front of the parliament buildings while fifty people next to me dressed obscenely as Americans go scot-free.

My family have lived continuously in Britain and its sovereign predecessors from the Domesday Book and before. Yet I can be deported for having a different sense of linguistic tone than the chief constable.

Look it up. You can be deported if you quote Ghandi approvingly in what he has to say about violent terrorism. Technically he justifies it. You might even say he glorifies it.

Where will I be deported to? Would it be to places my ancestors did not live in but died in? Vimy Ridge? Rourkes Drift? The Plains of Abraham? Some of them burned Washington.

Would I be deported to the country where, by an accident of war-time lust I was born, considered by some to be the most peaceful country on earth and where I was tortured by the police for eight hours to near death before being rescued by nuns? It is a country that has legislation that would probably reject me.

I want this absurdity to end. Are we at war or not? If so, why? That is the basis of this. The prime minister won’t tell us exactly. It is his secret. Are we? And if not, why not, with all this gathering danger?

If we are in an ideological struggle with those who hate freedom. Let us implement what is necessary to defeat it. Let us go on a war footing. Let us deport citizens who hate freedom or even dislike it a little to countries that absolutely loath it. Let us put the heads of those with dodgy ideologies such as those that link terrorists treacherously to the wars we are fighting that they say they are part of, a link the prime minister says is absurd and perhaps soon to be illegal, let us put those heads on pikes.

If we are not at war let us stop doing things where absurd explanations become plausible. For example that the Prime minister is not fighting terrorism but actually sticking it to political opponents by creating conditions in which his declining popularity is bolstered by Churchillian myth and his opponent’s views succour thought crimes.

I read the biographies of the successful terrorists and the bunglers. They were the ones who cunningly avoided all the intense security work of a decade. Yet they were espousing terrorism in mosques, fighting with moderate Imams, visiting training schools in Pakistan and selling inflammatory texts on the street every week. But security never heard of them. One was a concocted criminal. Most were citizens. Thank God the next potential lot can be stripped of that. That will get the buggers next time!

The profiles seem to me like the classic profiles of patsies and bozos that become provocateurs or informers. How did we miss the chance? It is such an absurd place now that we live in that it is equally plausible we didn’t miss the chance. We took it to fight the real war. Like it is plausible that Brazilians are killed to reassure the public on immigration. Just like it is plausible that here were no weapons of mass destruction and the Iraq war was planned way before any inspectors were mildly restrained. It is plausible that only the ugliest Imams are deported. Also plausible that for two decades the terrorists were kept around and enabled in case they became handy in overthrowing Arab Socialist states. Is the war on Terrorism a war on Gallaway and those who vote for him? Plausible. It is a paradise for bloggers, a hell for democrats.

War or Not. Let’s get off the pot. And while we are at it let us fight the speed control cameras. They are causing all sorts of deaths. Deport those who slow down and glorify slowing!

As for me, I intend to quote Ghandi by the parliament buildings.

I read the obituaries of those who died on July 7. Like many I wept. There was not one that I wouldn’t have liked as a neighbour or friend. They did not die for ideology.

They were ordinary people slaughtered by criminals. By madmen. Let us not make their death absurd.

to break through all this dreaming

To break through all this dreaming.

Or is the point not to? Is the point to all agree on the dream and who we are in it? Is that to make us different people in it? To surround us with wavy lights lit from below...

There are not any oppressed cute little high cheek-boned coffee coloured girls in fetching scarves now joyously going to school in whitewashed buildings. There never were. We are supporting elite religious boys' schools in a different country. There are not grateful women, veiled but cooking delicious unleavened bread and succulent meat over discrete open fires. The schools are in ruins. The people are eating from cans. Their militia are guarding the paths. The Americans are in convoys. The warlords are building some schools for their tribal areas. We did nothing. You can’t. It is a war and chaos. Besides, no one wants it.

Some money has gone to the staff of a sectarian organisation.

Some of the money went for a makeover in Los Angelus for our fundraiser which actually made her late for the fundraising event. She had put little flags on each table sold to celebrities and lady wives of corporate assholes to show fictitious cities where we have fictitious projects in a fictitious Afghanistan now democratic and free. Fictitiously. Her assistant, who represents the products served at the event, insulted the journalist who asked about that. As did the false Afghan. Princess. A Mercedes mama who got a commission. They were all the entelechy of concerned bourgeois.

It is worse than the fictitious crisis with the paid starving baby on a pallet, the mothers running and fighting for food handed out from a truck in the billowing dust. There is also the little child with machete cuts but no sign of the CIA supported guerrillas who guard the camps and herded the refugees there in the first place. All paid for though. The villains, coincidentally the villains of our foreign policy.

I once worked for an agency to whom I pointed out how imprudent it was to refurbish a magnificent historic building (using the brother-in-law of the executive director as a contractor) paid for with money raised on television from children who sold their music and toys in small stands on the street because they were trying to eliminate blindness in other children (filmed in rows, tiny little blind kids, one hand on the shoulder of the next) caused by a worm, a worm eliminated with one cheap pill to be delivered in trucks to remote areas). The executive director got a lovely office.

When I went to the area of the blindness I found a doctor in a lovely house doing nothing. There was another doctor with a great jazz collection who rented her house as the office and got a salary too. They took me to restaurants in the vehicles. Not trucks but SUV’s. For personal use. There were no pills delivered. It was a dreamy landscape of slow moving rivers, desert and colourful markets. There were mansions in palm parks. There were embassy parties. Some of their kids had sold their music and toys on the street before they came. They got new ones in diplomatic bags.