Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lecturing in Figueres

A student took these pictures of me a couple of years ago to demonstrate that I change position wildly as I lecture.

I remember the place.
It's beside the abstract Isaac Newton statue outside of the Dali Museum in Figueres (Homage to Newton).

I remember the content.
The lecture was about art, genius, and statistics. We were discussing social experiments (like Asch's Milgrim's and Zimbardo's) as well as 'genius' as an outsider personality type (specifically Dali and Newton) .

I have no recollection of why I put my fingers in my mouth.

*This gif is posted at archive.org. It's also where I'm hosting my KnowMore lectures podcast. Communism. Capitalism is up. Available for download or listening online. Unfortunately, the quality is quite poor. I'll improve my equipment for the next lecture. In two weeks: Lecture #3: "All the Philosophers".

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Here are some of my high school revelations:
-When I see the colour blue, is it the same colour that you see? What if my blue was your yellow?
-How is it heaven if my friends go to hell?
-Would I have joined the Nazi Party if I were a German in the 30s?
-If it was funny for us to think that the Greeks believed in Zeus, how do we defend our religions?

And some epiphanies from my adult years:

-You cannot give someone else your experiences (Hesse's book Siddhartha creates this sentiment beautifully).
-What people say to you has more to do with them than it does with you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Are They All In There?

Can you remember brushing your teeth three days ago? Are you sure you're not confusing that memory with eight days ago? Or yesterday?

My favourite question to ask a friend when walking a familiar path is "are they all in there? Every time we walked from here, across the field, to the park. Did each walk produce its own memory?" Certainly I can remember walking and carrying the basketball but my mind is generalizing. But if you were to trigger my brain, perhaps by mentioning that we were talking about Tom Hanks' Academy Awards, my mind would burst forth with the relevant walk. I might remember the exact words of the conversation. The sensation of the weather on my skin. The hand I used to hold the basketball.

Looking into my three-month-old niece's eyes today I remembered reading that we don't have memory until we have language. Nothing will trigger the moment that I spent touching her tiny cold hand. Even though it may be having a momentous impact on her personality, I am the only one with the potential to remember.

Of all the things I lost in the Great Deleting the resource I miss the most is a small text file I kept on my desktop. At odd intervals (sometimes not for months) I would log my day in minute detail. Everything I could remember about the day. Sometimes specific dialogue, what I had for breakfast, how much time I spent reading a particular book. It was a continual sense of wonder to open that file, look into my past and discover how much my mind could be triggered. Now that they're gone, I wonder if the circumstances will ever arise to trigger those insignificant memories. Will I lose them or will they lie dormant? (Is that the same thing? Is forgetting the same as destorying? Is amnesia death?)

Are they all in there?

Sometime I am so energized by the realization that I will die that I feel like I'm almost in reach of something. But it's too confusing to grab hold.

The Greatest Post

My generation uses superlatives because we have to sell our experiences. If what happened to me wasn't the "funniest", "best", or "weirdest", then why would anyone listen? Thus, an office chair with a broken wheel is sold in the package: "the worst thing happened to me at work". The sound of a dropped telephone in the other room becomes "the scariest noise". And a new red shirt can be considered "the nicest".

Have people always had to sell their stories by tacking on exaggerated descriptions? Or is it just because we grew up with commercials that described toys with the word "Turbo"?

I think it has always been a tendency of human beings to exaggerate. To mythologize. Achilles can't be killed. A massive school of dolphins indicates the changing tide of war in the Tale of Heike. The Green Knight is decapitated only to pick up his head and leave the room.

We prefer wild, imaginative interpretations to straightforward facts. A love of exaggeration is prevalent across time and cultures.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


When my mother talks on the phone, she shouts. I can hear her in every room. I love this family. We are very loud. When my parents watched the movie Pearl Harbour they blasted the volume. Blasting volume isn't a frequent feature of our booming household. But it occasionally happens when action movies are rented. The dog unleashes when the doorbell rings.

My brothers and I yell against the injustices of bad movies and poor plays in sports. We get excited when telling a story. My dad does this as well.

I can hear the clothes dryer humming away downstairs. The click-clacking of these keys. I can hear the fan in the bathroom running.

"you have to enable it from the options"
I can hear my brothers talk in the other room. Now they're laughing.

"sometimes you have to let things fall apart. She has to work it all out."
I can hear my mom talk to an upset friend on the phone. She gives really good advice.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Evolution of Cool

It doesn't matter what you think of evolution. Charles Darwin looks like the fucking man in this picture. Look at him lean on that vined wall like it ain't no thing. You know it took him two hours to pick that hat in the morning. And it takes a lot of fluffing to make a beard look effortless.

Work it Darwy. Give me thoughtful, but tortured. Yeah, yeah, yeah! Do that thing with your cape.

He's wearing a fucking cape.

Remember scientists, this was before GQ magazine and hottest celeb lists. Man was ahead of his time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Literate in the darkness

Streetlights have taken night away. Before perma-day, Benjamin Franklin and his friends would run away from the maddening black abyss of nightfall and hold hands as they huddled around a candle. They were terrified into developing electricity. An exaggeration. I forget moonlight can be quite bright.

All science began with a curiosity about the stars. A nightly constant that has been observed, predicted and pondered by every civilization. Sometimes they insisted that you should connect some of them because they looked like animals (do you see the lion?). Today, the celestial wildlife is hidden by the artificial glow from our well-lit cities. I guess we're done thinking about them.

I used to work as a maintenance man at a recreation center. We cleaned up from midnight until eight am. Our ice rink was overwhelmingly lit -the glare on the white ice strained tired eyes. Our auditorium was throbbing with the dull glow of artificial light. It gives a peculiar manufactured look to colours as if we were all shot on a worn video. When we took garbage bags outside to the dumpster it was always amazing to see what time nature was trying to suggest. Inside there is one hour: on.

State education may seem like daycare for teenagers to keep their trouble causing instincts off of the street (my brother's interesting theory) but it does provide one useful tool: literacy. At no time in human history have so many people been trained and encouraged to read. I liked the metaphor of knowing the combination to a safe. Without literacy, information remains locked away. But now I prefer to think we are given a light that allows us to see more.

That should be the criteria for what tools we should expect from our teachers: lights that helps to see more. Basically, I'm arguing that our musical theater unit in drama was bullshit.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Talk'n Nietzsche

My new project is the KnowMore Lectures. I'm part of the Unit120 Collective and it's time I started using the theater space. I'll be delivering a series of straightforward lectures about historical events and philosophical concepts. I've crafted some pretty great lessons from my teaching experience. I always wished someone would cut though the pretentious nature of academia and give me the straight goods. I've realized that I'm at a place where I can do that for others.

I'm going to advertise at U of T campus with these flyer/bookmarks. Advertising is a finicky beast. I remember, years ago, selling zines at the Canzine festival. Plenty of people walk by your table but every so often a crowd forms to investigate your wares. What was it? Was it the way one zine was lying open? Was it that a paltry pile suggested they were selling out? Maddening. Endless second guess fidgeting.

I like these. Even as bookmarks.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Laptop/Sand Mandala

The Buddhists have it right. Nothing serves as a better reminder of the fleeting nature of life than creating an intricate piece of art and destroying it.

To be safe, I made two backup copies before I wiped my laptop. They both failed. My own mini-burning of the Library of Alexandria. All of my files have been cremated and spread on the wind. Is that what the Buddhists do? Very unlike the Christian maintenance of coffined bones and tombstones.

Thanks to Google, anything I sent to a friend remains. But all of my works-in-progress have vanished. Novels, plays, sketches, stand-up, slam poetry, stencils, pixels, ideas, ideas, ideas. It's an experience of death on a removed intellectual level. Physically, I'm happy to have my health. Emotionally, it has put me in a happy, goofy mood. I've been challenged to ponder nonexistence in a way I would wish on everyone. After all, these files are not lost in the bottoms of a closet they are on a formatted hard drive. Utterly destroyed. They are not buried like our recent ancestors. They have vanished like our ancient ancestors.

I've caught myself sulking to my friends but my heart isn't in it. It's funny to catch myself in patterned behavior. I know I have "the right" to sulk but it feels insincere. I prefer to step back and feel what I really feel instead of play the part of what I "should" feel.

There's always something refreshing about destruction.