Nasty colds and interviewing.

I got me a nasty cold recently. Yesterday I got the worst of it, seeing that I almost passed out on the way home from school. I slept for about twelve hours and now I'm feeling much better. My chest is still congested and I got the sniffles, but I'm alert and my appetite has returned.

There's nothing like a roaring headache to tell a body to get some rest.

In other news, my articles are out and I'm looking to contact the publicist for the Vancouver Playhouse to interview a director. I'm in no shape to do a live interview.

No, I like interviewing. I've only conducted a few and they've all been enjoyable. Getting the inside information on an event is empowering, to say the least. Especially if you're a critic, when you need that extra, almost subterranean knowledge that keeps productions running smoothly. Usually I'm more nervous than the person I'm interviewing. My tension doesn't register (hopefully!) because the last thing I need is an interviewee who clams up. You can coax someone, but that can lead to some unquotable responses.

I just thought of something: I never learned how to do any of this stuff. I did a stint at the University of Victoria's radio station, but I never had any formal journalistic training. Story of my life. I tend to get thrown into situations and somehow I learned how to tread the dark, churning waters.


Essay for English 223 is up!

The Troubled Heart of Modernity: Freudian Discourse and Audio Recordings as a Means of Reading Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Poetry Friday on a Monday Morning.

When I was in the twelfth grade, all I wanted to do was run as fast as I could. Run anywhere. I painted a little. I liked books but kept a respectful distance from them, sticking to Nietzsche or Watts or skimming poetry and science fiction novels.

I learned about Surrealism. I heard how Andre Breton would write "automatic poems," a completely random selection of words and lines. Taking a random set of words, I would pull them out of a hat and arrange them in no order. Then I filled in conjunctions or articles to glue the sentences together.

My art teacher read these poems. One day, after class, he handed me a photocopied page from a book, containing this poem. I read it over a hundred times. I carried the page with me until the folded edges wore out and tore the paper.

This poem means a lot to me, and even now I can't tell you why. It strikes my gut like a sucker punch, pushing the air out of my lungs. After I read this poem I wanted to read more like it.

Walking Around

It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.

Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.

I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.

I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.

That's why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.

There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

When you see me, walk the other way.

I can't tell if I'm exhausted or depressed or terrified.

I can tell you something though: I'm sick of the chronic pain and the anxiety. Sooner or later I'm going to turn into someone who screams at pedestrians and tries to sell homemade pamphlets at coffee shops for fifty cents, detailing how the elaborate neo-fascist subterranean lizard-man conspiracy is using my veins to transmit clandestine messages to Burger King.

This semester is almost done. I want nothing more than to see my friends and my family.


Music toy!

Havana, drama and vendetta.

Lisa and I finally went to Havana last night for a light dinner and drinks. Although I was impressed with the friendly and efficient service, the food was a little dubious. For $6.00 I had the chili and rice, which was adequate; the rice was light and not too buttery, and the chili had a slight smoky flavour but it could have used another layer. Perhaps a sprig of cilantro or some dark chocolate? Also, the portion bordered on the miniscule. The presentation was charming, with the rice and chili divided evenly on either side of the bowl. However, a little spoonful more would be superb. Lisa described her black bean soup ($5.00 or $6.00) as being plain but very tasty. The two qualities seem to cancel each other out, no? That is not necessarily a good situation, you simply get a "neutral" soup that's not impressionable at all. We also ordered a pitcher of blanco sangria. Oh, yes, I was impressed: very fruity, very refreshing and very addictive.

We ate at Havana because the play I'm reviewing is performed in the small theatre space in the back of the restaurant. When I finish it today I want to link to the article from this blog. I've had plans to showcase my writing from here for awhile now.

Tonight I have plans to see V for Vendetta with friends.



I saw my doctor (some good news and some tests to run), finished the paper (at around 4:30 in the damn morning) and I have the interview tomorrow afternoon.

Thanks again to Lisa!


Oh, it's Day Ten.

I just signed onto The Engine, but I'm having problems uploading a picture and getting my signature to do what I want.

Yes, I'm going to stop counting days after tomorrow. Although I still have one essay left, I don't have to hand it in until April 7. I'll be looking at the exchange of bridewealth in Afghanistan, with an emphasis on Rubin's essay on the trafficking of women and Mauss' work on gift exchange as a total social phenomenon.

I need to get my head around the essay due tomorrow. Okay, if street-level prostitution is inherently dangerous, since women (and a small percentage of men) must face poor health, inadequate housing, drug addiction and violence, and if an individual has made the choice to pursue prostitution as a means of income (particularly those who are low-income, homeless and drug dependent) then the conditions (legal, social and environmental) must be reformed. You can't make prostitution "go away," it's just like trying to make drugs or crime "go away."

Street prostitution is problematic because the act is illegal, and poor individuals may not have a stable residence, like escorts who can select their clients. Hence, street-level prostitutes cannot "hide" from the public eye, they become adjoined to the public sphere because of their presence.

More later?

I don't know what day this is.

Last night I looked at the page for my third essay and was stunned. I couldn't write anything down. Lisa agreed to help me bang out the bastard tonight. It looks like a late night for me.


Day Eight

I have a busy week coming up.

1. Finish the Poe essay and upload it to the class website. I'll provide a link when I'm finished.
2. Edit the Blake essay and include the citations.
3. Finish the essay on prostitution in Vancouver and Calgary. I'm examining the issues around legalization.
4. Get to my doctor's appointment.
5. Interview the director for Sexual Perversity in Chicago and get the article in Monday morning or Sunday night. It's only 500-600 words. I need a copy of the script, and all the copies at the public library and the university library are gone.
6. I need to look for a job. Ideally, something part-time and well above minimum wage.


Poetry Friday on a Saturday Night.

Hello and good evening. It has come to my attention that some bloggers are prone to post poems on Friday, but due to circumstances beyond my control I was unable to comply this week.

This is my first entry. The theme for the next few weeks will be What J Was Reading in His Teens and Early Twenties. This entry is no surprise for those who know me, but some might be surprised that I didn't choose one of Bukowski's more, um, "scandalous" poems. Well, for me, Bukowski shouldn't necessarily be regarded only as a writer of dirty or shocking poetry, but as a representative of America's underclass; the migrant worker, the ex-con, the drunks and the addicts. Was he a flawed character? Probably. His grammar was rocky and at times his ego bleeds way too much into the text. Take from him what you will.

I used Bukowski as a measure of character. I never trusted anyone who either vehemently adored or despised the man. Enjoy.

the souls of dead animals

after the slaughterhouse
there was a bar around the corner
and I sat in there
and watched the sun go down
through the window,
a window that overlooked a lot
full of tall dry weeds.

I never showered with the boys at the
after work
so I smelled of sweat and
the smell of sweat lessens after a
but the blood-smell begins to fulminate
and gain power.

I smoked cigarettes and drank beer
until I felt good enough to
board the bus
with the souls of those dead
animals riding with
heads would turn slightly
women would rise and move away from

when I got off the bus
I only had a block to walk
and one stairway up to my
where I'd turn on my radio and
light a cigarette
and nobody minded me
at all.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

I think this is. . .Day Six?

This morning I got a little angry at my cat. I think I was frustrated at having to clean his litter box and feed him and pay him some attention when all I wanted was a cup of coffee and few hundred words written. He was weaving around my legs and standing in front of me as I was walking, making me trip over him on occasion. I was like, I'm not getting any more pets after Sal, but I remembered all the good times we had together, and all the frosty nights when he curled up beside me in bed. I'm going to apologize later.

I was angry because I did very little work yesterday. I made dinner and watched Battlestar Galactica instead. My plan was to get up early today and double my efforts ("The Emperor does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation") to make up for last night. Sal seemed like an obstacle, one that I erected myself.

Now's he's snoozing in the hallway in a patch of warm sunlight.


Day Four

Yeah, day four. I wrote 400 words for Mr. Blake, who is turning out to be quite the complex fellow. His poetry, and I'm referring to Songs of Innocence and Experience, seem to waver between serious discourse and, perhaps, some comedy? I've yet to explore this further. Oh, and I wrote 500-600 words for my Poe paper this afternoon. Not much to say there, except the link between Freud's "nervous illness" and Poe's tortured narrator is looking flimsy, and I have to bring in the multimedia parts too.



Day Three

Just to give you a heads up, the following entry will lack any real colour or drama.

I wrote about 500 words last night for the Blake essay and a brief outline for the Poe essay. When I get home I plan on writing another 500, or possibly more, and finish up Mr. Blake by Friday or Saturday. That gives me two or three days to write another 1200 words for Poe, and the last three days to write for my crime and society class.


Good old Sam.

An excellent discovery: Samuel Beckett plays on BBC radio.

Day One

As of today, I'm in work mode. I have to see the prof for my American lit class, go to an orientation for my exchange program, and then collect research material and class readings at the library. Then I write, write like I've never written before.

A couple of semesters ago, while I was at Douglas, I enrolled for five classes. Near the end of the term I had papers due for all those classes at around the same time. I panicked, so I procrastinated, which ignited more panic, and so forth. I was a wreck for two weeks. I'm worried I'm going to pull the same stunt this semester. I decided that whenever I'm awake, I will be writing. No doubt this blog will suffer as a consequence.

Did I mention that I'm interviewing the director for a student production of Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago? I'm slowly returning to freelancing, although I'm not getting paid. More clips for the file, I suppose.


Nietzsche and essays

This month will be a trial, but it will definitely make me stronger if the month doesn't kill me. I have three papers due at the end of the month, all relatively short, but I haven't a clue where to begin. The next two and half weeks will be interesting. My paper for social theory class isn't due until April.

I guess that's it for now.


Now I take the fight to the enemy.

Reading Daredevil recently has instilled a deep sense of justice and dignity within me. That may sound corny, but in light of my current situation, I remember how proud I am to follow the story of my favourite character and equally proud of Matt Murdock. He is a fictional character, yes, but he embodies the struggle I sometimes encounter.

I should mention that on the day of my morning anxiety attack, I had a relapse during my social theory class. There's nothing like being engulfed in paralyzing fear in a huge lecture theatre with almost a hundred people attending the class. I felt waves of undulating terror sweeping over my body, and I was dizzy and nauseas. I kept opening and closing my laptop, and then I finally walked out of class and called Lisa, who talked me down. Going up the stairs to exit the theatre was like climbing a hill on the Moon, my legs were as heavy as lead and each step was really difficult . The smell of stale body odour and old socks stung my nostrils. I honestly don't know what I would do without Lisa. She has supported me all through this difficult period, even to the point of taking me to the emergency room and staying at my bedside until I recovered. So, I'm taking a proactive stance. Counseling services are covered in my medical plan, and I'm going to set up an exercise regime plus more hiking trips. I have an appointment to see my gastro-intestinal specialist in about week. This problem will be snuffed out like a flickering candle.



Ah, it's when technological design is isolated from social processes, not that it may be isolated from them.

Everything unfolds like a rose.

I'm currently in the library, or, more precisely, since there is more than the one library, I'm in the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. I have no idea why it's called a "Learning Centre." It's a library. Well, yeah, one does learn in a library, but c'mon! Anyway, the Main library is being torn down, and this building is the first one to be built on the old foundation. The (ahem) Centre has become my favourite place to study these days. The building's interior is very modern and has huge windows, there's a lounge with long, wooden tables that resemble the libraries in old American universities and it's in a pretty central location. I've been told the law library is equally good, as well as the forestry building.

The reason I'm writing is two-fold. First, the pain in my side disappeared this morning and then returned just now. I did some serious "chair stretches" and now the pain is gone. Huh. Second, I was chatting with Lisa about technology, and here's a thought: technology sometimes has trouble keeping up with established social processes, especially in the computer field where the advances are towards usability. Unfortunately, because technology may be isolated from social processes, there's a cultural lag. That's why when we see an intelligent design (I think it's called "intelligent design" (not to be confused with the philosophical position) or "human design" or "human-orientated design") we truly appreciate it, because the design has aligned itself to current social needs. That moment of appreciation lends technology its aesthetic quality; the synthesis of form and function (since it outwardly expresses the designer's intention and relative position on design theory) is flawless, and as consumers of both materials and aesthetics, we consider the design to be successful. That is why we become frustrated and angry when the design is not properly aligned.

Also, wearing earplugs when you're studying? Golden.


The adventures in my head.

There's a mix of snow and rain falling outside today. The snow tumbles down in thick heavy flakes then it softens up and turns into a gentle rain. The air is cold and damp, and I all want to do is go home and drink something boozy and hot while I'm wrapped in my favourite blanket. I really want to read, too.

I spent the last two hours fighting back another anxiety attack. Victory is just within my grasp, but I'm getting tired and concerned. I've been having this acute pain on my left side, just below my arm. It usually bothers me in bed, but the pain flared up while I was on the bus. So, imagine struggling with intense fear on a very crowded bus that's speeding down the street. Yeah, fun. The anxiety persisted when I was in class, so I had to take deep breaths and focus on the lecture. My approach worked, but how's that for commitment, huh?

Hey, the snow is back.





Some notes on the terror of determinism.

The fatalist versus determinist argument will never cease to fascinate me. I've involved myself in this debate many times, either by design or by consequence. The argument is not necessarily a purely metaphysical one in this case; rather, I'm asking if human beings are ruled by expansive, pervasive biological impulses that are predetermined by a genetic master plan. So the question is, are we conscious? Do we possess consciousness? Is consciousness a clear view of our world and of ourselves, or is it merely a constrained window, pried open by our will or desire to survive, yet does not allow us to see all the contours of material or mental life?

We are terrified of not having control, or the presumption that we do have control over our bodies, our relationships and our psyches. Individuality is a valued sentiment in our society; that is, the individual's needs and desires are paramount, and we value our uniqueness and strive to maintain it (for further explanation check out Simmel's work on eccentricity). In this case, I would refer to this value in terms of morality, in the sense that it frames how personal character should be constructed and expressed. So, if burden ourselves with the knowledge that "outside" forces coerce us, then our moral framework collapses under the weight of existential despair. Well, possibly.

However, we cannot dismiss the potential harm of implementing social, political, economic or cultural reforms founded on a deterministic ontology. However, I'm still thinking about this point. There's more to come, I'm sure.

I just remembered I have some material on defining common sense somewhere. I should dig that up.


Burroughs archive in New York!

Some excellent news and another incentive to visit the Big Apple. The Berg Collection of the New York Public Library has acquired William S. Burroughs' archive, which, according to BoingBoing, includes "11,000 pages of writings (published and unpublished), correspondence, collages, diaries, notebooks, photographs, and 50 hours of unreleased tape recordings." Now when I conduct my genealogical research I can browse through this collection with the intent of planning my master's thesis.

An open letter to professors and teaching assistants.

Discombobulated. That's the word that best summarizes my day so far. I missed my English class this morning and I didn't bother going to school yesterday. I read and bought comics instead.

So, an open letter to professors and teaching assistants: sometimes students get burnt-out, exhausted, confused or terrified. Students must endure these feelings as they progress through their academic career. You, as the teacher, have already gone through this stressful, difficult process already, how did you cope with the struggles as they appeared in your undergraduate years? Your students can't always produce perfect work or give a stellar performance during class. Some have obligations outside of school, like families or health issues that prevent them from being the ideal student. Do you find that students don't take advantage of your office hours? It's because of the obstacles I just mentioned, not because they're lazy or unintelligent or shy. Although, sometimes those are the reasons too. So, dear professors and TAs, keep these circumstances in mind before writing off a student who you think is simply slacking off.