Tag Archives: books

Reading 2017 into 1886

I don’t particularly like to write in books. I know people who keep Foster Wallace footnotes in the margins of all their books.

Like most things, I have an exception: my Nietzsche books. They are fair game. Friedrich Nietzsche’s works, when not aphorisms, are dense–they are difficult to scan.

I read and re-read Nietzsche, the same way I mull Patañjali or the Bhagavad-Gita or Kerouac or Baudelaire.

The passage below struck me when I read it last night. It was hard not feel a it like Nietzsche was sitting on the other side of the sofa, sunk and uncomfortable in his Bismarck-era get-up, smoking all my ganja and rambling about decadence.

This excerpt is Section 242, in ‘Part Eight: Peoples and Fatherlands’, from Friedrich Nietzsche’s 1886 work, Beyond Good and Evil. This translation is by Michael Tanner in 1973; the italics are Nietzsche’s, the underlining is mine.

“Whether that which now distinguishes the European be called ‘civilization’ or ‘humanization’ or ‘progress’; whether one calls it simply, without implying any praise or blame, the democratic movement in Europe: behind all the moral and political foregrounds indicated by such formulas a great physiological process is taking place and gathering greater and ever greater impetus–the process of the assimilation of all Europeans, their growing detachment from the conditions under which races independent on climate and class originate, their increasing independence of any definite milieu which, through making the same demands for centuries, would like to inscribe itself on soil and body–that is today, the slow emergence of an essentially supra-national and nomadic type of man which, physiologically speaking, possesses as its typical distinction a maximum of the art and power of adaptation. This process of the becoming European, the tempo of which can be retarded by great relapses but which will perhaps precisely through them gain in vehemence and depth–the still-raging storm and stress of ‘national’ feelings belongs here, likewise the anarchism now emerging–: this process will probably lead to results which its naïve propagators and panegyrists, the apostles of ‘modern ideas’, would be at least inclined to anticipate. The same novel conditions which will on average create a levelling and mediocritizing of man–a useful, industrious, highly serviceable and able herd-animal–are adapted in the highest degree to giving rise to exceptional men of the most dangerous and enticing quality. For while that power of adaptation which continually tries out changing conditions and begins a new labour with every new generation, almost with every new decade, cannot make possible the powerfulness of the type; while the total impression produced by such future Europeans will probably be that of multifarious, garrulous, weak-willed and highly employable workers who need a master, a commander, as they need their daily bread; while, therefore, the democratization of Europe will lead to the production of a type prepared for slavery in the subtlest sense: in individual and exceptional cases the strong man will be found to turn out stronger and richer than has perhaps ever happened before–thanks to the unprejudiced nature of his schooling, thanks to the tremendous multiplicity of practice, art and mask. What I mean to say is that the democratization of Europe is at the same time an involuntary arrangement for the breeding of tyrants–in every sense of that word, including the most spiritual.”

Uh Yeah, Me Neither… (A Poem)

Do you take

all your poems

out ‘round back?

Fantasize

about them

during teleconferences?

Sketch them

from memory by candlelight

when the wind sounds

like orgasmic gasps?

Does your blood

burst in your genitals

when you feel

the line break?

Do you try

to conjure their smell

and end up hyperventilating?

Tell me, do you ask

all your poems

to stay for breakfast?

Presence

I have been absent. This blog hasn’t had much of an update in some time, and I have no illusions that this is a bad thing.

Then again, I consider myself a writer—or at least I aspire to be a writer—and a substantial part of being an active, contributing artist in our modern society means having a presence.

Of course, that primarily means an internet presence. The flashy artists, the ones who show up in trendy magazines or are renowned in the lit scene, they live in big cities and can attend live events, buy drinks for fellow poets, or have a one night stand with that cute up-and-coming singer/songwriter. More than anything else they do, they show up.

More than anything else I do, I don’t show up.

I have a measly internet presence. Years ago, a woman wearing too much make-up laughed at me. How the fuck could I even be human if I didn’t have Facebook? It was a naïvely idealist view, at the time. Something I could roll my eyes at and dismiss. But since then, it has become more and more true.

Not that I feel any less human. In fact, in the past year of neglecting the internet—after too many years trying to coyly join in on the party—I feel more alive than I ever have. But then again, as the Millenials say (and let’s face it, Millenials will become the dominant force as Baby Boomers vegetate & die): if you did it but didn’t record it, did it happen at all?

None of it happened. Because life never happened. It is happening, or it is not. Anything besides what is currently happening is either memory or imagination. Life itself is an existential experience, a matter of the present—of being present—of presence—and there we are again, with that goddamn pejorative.

What really gets me about presence is Definition 1.1 in the Oxford Dictionary: “A person or thing that exists or is present in a place but is not seen.” That is essentially internet presence, although of course, with the narcissistic twist that the internet produces, this usage gets confused with 1.3: “The impressive manner or appearance of a person.”

The first definition speaks to something beyond the self, something beyond the senses. The second speaks to ego, the self, the senses. The way we interact with the internet is that: it’s beyond the senses, beyond the self, beyond the ego—and yet it engages the senses, the self, and the ego. It’s an empty egg, and we’re subsisting on an imagined yolk.

I prefer the first definition. I even take it to heart and let it expand: “A person or thing that exists or is present in a place but is not seen, heard, felt, smelled, or tasted.”

Then what is it?

I don’t know. Maybe that is what I am endeavoring to find out.

How to Write a Poetry Chapbook

How to write

a poetry

chapbook:

 

Fill

seven notebooks

with longhand poems

for eleven years

 

Tear out

your best

heart-pounding words

 

Lay them

on the floor

 

Let them

tell you

a pathetic story

 

Then

collate

accordingly

in proper

manuscript format

the way William Shunn likes it

 

Douse

in

diesel

 

Strike

match

 

Ignite

 

Dance

a pagan jig

 

Repeat

In the Newspaper: One For My Mom’s Fridge

Caseros - Meridian Booster 2015

Read the full story from the Meridian Booster online.

If I was smart, or more adept in the Ways of the Extrovert, I probably would have done this a long time ago. But alas, my introversion has conversely become something I have accepted…and something that I would readily trade away for three magical extrovert beans.

It took me too long to seek out some exposure for my novel, Onwards & Outwards. I am getting used to the idea that the artist in modern society is, more than anything, loud (it has probably always been the case). The quiet artist, the secret sharer who bares their soul with the door closed, or the one that does not ask for a person’s eyes, ears, and heart, is one that easily becomes just another weirdo in the din.

But that’s okay. Because I don’t have to deal with coverage and criticism about people crying because I didn’t sign their autographs.

Are you an artist? What has been your experience with exposure and self-promotion? Tell me all about it below. I look forward to downing some Writers Tears while reading your stories.

‘Onwards & Outwards’ Now at Saskatoon’s McNally Robinson (!)

From the pragmatic, not-so-creative aspect of Life: Onwards & Outwards is making strides out into the world. Newborn fowl strides. But steps nonetheless.

And the cool people at McNally Robinson were kind enough to concede that Onwards & Outwards is indeed a book, and it can physically sit on a shelf. So if you are in Saskatoon and already not stopping at McNally Robinson, do it. Not even for my shit. You want to go there because they do good things for much better writers. And the food at the neighbouring Prairie Ink restaurant is tempting and just as pleasing (I suggest the grown-up grilled cheese; do not eat while reading).

…Then take your time to step through their bookshelf cove. The Saskatoon location even feels like you are on the film set of someone’s personal library. Endless good finds, and though there are not used bookstore prices, the selection is incomparable.

It also happens to include a little book about some kids doing some stuff called Onwards & Outwards.

It is already a little awkward to see your own name on a shelf—objectified and commodified, the titles blinking on the spines like a proto-Broadway sign as the eye scans down the row—it is even more awkward to be the person who has the carry the books there.

For one thing, books are heavy. The box is awkward to carry.

But there is also a vulnerability. It is different when you encounter a thing on a shelf in a store—it is there, outside yourself, magically ready and available for your consumption. Much like meat packaged in the store, you never have to think about the animal it came from (if you don’t want to).

But I won’t ask you to feel compassion for this cow. If that cow is me, then I guess that makes me a butchered carcass. This metaphor is getting out of hand. Suffice to say that Onwards & Outwards is at a cool place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

I have some other exciting projects too that I would love to write all about. Unfortunately, I have known way too many blowhards that talk a lot and don’t do shit. So don’t worry, I won’t bother you with things I have not yet done. You will know about them when (and if) they get done.

Onwards & Outwards Into the Physical World

It has been a long time coming.

After the utter failure of Onwards & Outwards as an e-book, I decided to strive with my head to the proverbial wall of rejection and put some resources into putting my words into print.

Dig it? Touch it.
Dig it? Touch it.

In all honesty, I did not even really want to read my novel as an e-book. Call me a Luddite, but I am still unconvinced by long fiction in digital format. Some of my favourite things about reading happen in the visceral aspects of our material world. I was cheating myself by taking the easy shortcut and presenting my words unto the Universe as lifeless kilobytes…instead of dead trees.

Feel free to buy this book to burn it.
Feel free to buy this book to burn it.

You can do a quick search & probably find Onwards & Outwards paperback at your favourite online retailer. If you are in Canada, and specifically western Canada, message me and I can hook you up.

I would love to spend the next few months travelling around, particularly in warmer climes, to do readings and peddle my book  and generally be the vagabond poet I was born to be. But alas. Much like this book, I too am of this material world.

Prices are rising. Get it quick, before your national currency collapses!
Prices are rising. Get it quick, before your national currency collapses!

At best, you can be in on the pyramidal ground floor of a cult classic. Or you can have some emergency 5×7 50 lb crème toilet paper. Either way, I think you will enjoy this.

Trust me. We’re friends damnit.

This is the best list I will ever be part of. *cherished*
This is the best list I will ever be part of. *cherished*