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mikel q. brighton

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Low and Beheld [03 Sep 2009|01:46am]
We'd been walking for hours and were getting no closer to a solution. To call them corridors or canyons misses the point, he insisted. Corridors presuppose walls, canyons cliffs. In this way, in each case, something bigger, something greater defines the emptiness between it. He looked upward curiously, like something new to being earthbound. What is greater than these buildings? What defines their lack? What is vast enough to accommodate these multitudes? What could be? No, it is wrong to speak of canyons of steel and glass, the corridors of finance and capital. These are horizons, a point of meeting between modalities, sea and sky, earth and dark. And to all an offing, the point all vision blurs and others become one. People in there, people out here, negotiating utterly different and irreconcilable worlds. In those buildings, something happens. Value is made. Secrets are told. And they just let them walk in and out. Metaphors of containment, of subsumption have no place here. Here is all. No, each and all, a horizon. He studied a crack on the pavement and smiled, showing teeth utterly unremarkable in any way. What a blessed age, he said, to be enveloped in horizons.

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40 Days and 40 Nights [08 Jul 2009|02:07am]
He was a sad man. A man of many faults, cracks. We knew this. We all knew this. But watching him now, watching those furtive first steps, the genesis of our rapture, we mourn him. He is still beautiful. He was beautiful once. He is frozen in his beauty: a snapshot, a shockwave, a reflective disc. We know this. We forgive him because he is beautiful, because he is frozen. Art is a thing without context. The crimes of the creator are forgiven in her work; the roar of approval from the maddening crowd erases all blame, all memory. A Lethe of song and motion. So we forget and our forgetting is ecstatic. We forget the sad man; we know only our own applause. There were some that dared call this forgiveness.

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The Stunning Azure Mace of Pomo Electoral Fragmentation (+1d12 v. Incredulity) [22 Oct 2008|02:28pm]
Discuss: The internet (which creates the illusion that anyone can easily express themselves in a worthwhile manner and be instantly heard by a teeming mass of equally engaged, content-producing netizens) + election year(s) (wherein experts and technicians of all ideological stripes pore endlessly over demographic and polling data, searching desperately for that one niche vote, that single-issue wingnut, who can put their Candidate over the edge) = The Road (basically)

(I simplified the math a bit)

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A Cry for Help and Bourbon [02 Dec 2007|02:43am]
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An Embarassment, re: Riches [21 Sep 2007|12:40am]
Because this journal has become essentially useless, i may as well use it to point out that the first 10 minutes of Predator has an awesome homoerotic vibe.

Yes, i am unemployed.
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Fall [19 Sep 2007|07:38pm]
Inspiration is in short supply these days, like all things another commodity but a precious one. Hunted but elusive, something from the bowels of the earth, secret and inviting, hidden: rare ore, sacred mineral, fabled gem. Something precious for the crafting of other somethings. Something we dig for. Something we get our hands dirty with. Somewhere deep, beneath epochs of pressure and heat, somewhere away from our hungry eyes, the promise of



Strip-mined Central African bantustans? Shareholders' BBQ on the Green? Better alloys for the creation of new micro-conductors for notebooks? A wedding ring? A quarterly report? An envious glance?

We stand still, awaiting a new world.
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weeeee i got a jeep [04 Sep 2007|04:24pm]
Because today was nowhere near as bad as i thought it would be, here's the Second World War in an animated GIF, as re-enacted by 13 year old Starcraft obsessives.

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phrasing not yet specified [20 Aug 2007|04:09pm]
Remember J.G. Ballard's 'surgical fictions', where he pasted a celebrity name into the text of a medical journal article? Jane Fonda's Augmentation Mammoplasty, Princess Margaret's Facelift, Queen Elizabeth's Rhinoplasty, etc. These pieces succeeded on two levels, namely satirizing the cult of celebrity by reducing larger than life figures to the subjects of surgery, highlighting their flesh and bone bodies instead of constructed and managed public persona: bodies are mediums, celebrity is message. But Ballard also pokes fun at our own hunger for the minute details of these contemporary demi-gods: their relationships, their finances, their scandals, their embarrassments. Ballard knows that having celebrity reduced, abased, titillates us, allows us to feel secure and contented in our own lives, our own bodies. Thus, Ballard attacks both the media's deification of celebrity and our own desire for said deification. A feedback loop of triviality and boredom: LOL AMY'S GONE TO REHAB NO NO NO.

Celebrity has become a dumping ground for our fears, anxieties, hopes and delusions, as evinced by any number of snarky gossip blogs, among myriad other indicators. Whether we glory in their failings or live vicariously through their questionable achievements, we need a figure on which to visit our own pronounced lack. Celebrities are to be sanitized or humiliated depending on one's tastes, but the social role they occupy, their niche in the dessicated ecosystem of capital, is itself unquestioned. They are something larger we situate ourselves in relation to, lives bigger than ours. In this respect, one could even offer that celebrity is the religion of late capitalism, which would go along way to explaining J.G. "Myths of the Near Future" Ballard's ongoing fascination with it.

TL; DR: J.G. Ballard predicted the Talk: Gary Glitter page on Wikipedia: Gary Glitter ejaculates on a teenage girl's breasts, the minute-by-minute account of Elvis' gastrointestinal pains, the brand of heroin Robert Downey Jr was arrested with, the nature and variety of Buddy Holly's skull fractures. Some want the gory details removed (the faithful), others want them included (the heathens), but everyone agrees on who (if not what) is 'noteworthy'. Raoul? "Pissing on the altar is still a way of paying homage to the Church." Heathen and faithful and the shaky edifice they, together, have built.

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In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction [28 Jun 2007|07:09pm]


* - Background-level Internets (TM) exposure has been linked to increased risk of heart attack, birth defects, erectile dysfunction, urinary tract infections, glossolalia, cancer of the esophagus, hemorrhagic fevers, face blindness and hikikomori; do not exceed daily recommended dosage. If swallowed, take a fucking shower, you goddamn beardo.
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For a Friend [16 Jun 2007|02:53pm]
I had, at one point in time, considered my atheism a point of strength: i did not waste time with the addled myths and flimsy ritual that occupied others. No, i knew (or as close as one can come in these matters) that we are alone, unbounded, a thing apart. I still know this. I do. But what strength can be drawn from the random cruelty of a mute, unthinking thing? What solace can be found in the face of idiot tragedy? Quiet matter (protons, electrons, atoms) skates along a universe that is the circumference of our eyes, their knotted pathway to our brain, the work that happens there. No order, no agency, no lessons, no blame. And what is worse? A useful fiction or a devastating truth?

There is nothing out there; there is no one to be mad with. Words, gods, platitudes, facts are all too small for a day like ours.
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We grab ass, we grab dick [03 May 2007|10:46pm]






(Jul 21 2007 8:00A: Limp Wrist (ex-Los Crudos from Chicago), Complications, Trioxin 245, Bastardator)


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BABYLON'LL SNATCH YA FACE OFF [02 May 2007|04:34pm]
It's spring! The sun is back! The birds and bees are off doing illicit things involving beaks and stingers and, yes, a young man's fancy does indeed lightly turn to thoughts of love (what with the birds and bees and their crimes against God and Nature). But, bees aside, since you can't talk about love without talking about class struggle or the refusal of constraints or corpses stuck in your mouth (HEY SOMEONE SHOULD PUT THAT ON A TSHIRT TAKE THAT COMMODITY CAPITALISM WHOOMP THERE IT IS), maybe it's the right time to mention that the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair is right around the corner, May 19 and 20. And, yes, you could just call it a glorified shopping trip for the great unwashed mass of a tiny minority (anarchists do tend to be unwashed, QED), but it's also The Season of the Road Trip and a great excuse to see old friends and chat about Important Things and drink in parks and generally have fun, which, near as i can tell, is pretty much the deal with love and don't let any t-shirt or smart-ass bird tell you otherwise.

So, any one going? Torontoians? St John'sites? Thinking of hitching/hopping/bussing/driving? Drop me a line, as i'll probably be looking for travelling companion(s), so as to amuse and delight ourselves with merry tales along the way. Either way, myself, i'll be there, caked in filth and covered in bees (they may or may not be dead).

It is spring and all.

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Pome [29 Apr 2007|10:32pm]
i thought you were a cat
creeping and squeaking across those stairs
your mass too light
for much of a noise

i thought you were a cat
and that's why i didn't say hello
not because my heart skipped
a beat
when i briefly considered
that you might not be
a cat
and that you are you
and all the promise and dread
that inspires.

that's what i thought.
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Dread Pez IV: This Time It's Personal [24 Apr 2007|02:52am]
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Amagical Urbanism(s) [25 Mar 2007|03:09pm]
Sunday "morning" at the liquor store. The clerk is young, mid-twenties. He assesses the assemblage of sketch-bags and winos perusing the freshly-swept aisles with a cool disdain. They form lines to pay for their afternoon libations. He greets each with a withering remark. He knows who comes to a liquor store at noon on Sunday, who counts dimes to pay for an armful of cans. A tired-looking man speaking Spanish simply wants to pay for his single beer and get out. "Uno," he motions with his finger in case there was any confusion; he wants to leave quickly, before this clerk can look down from his cash register perch to the ancient stains and fraying perforations of the man's shirt. "Uno, yes sir, I can indeed see that that is 'uno', as you say". He flashes a contemptuous smile. He passes over the receipt. "For your taxes, sir". Another smile. The man slinks off, embarrassed. I pay for my whiskey. He jokes about my not needing a bag. I conceal the hole in my sleeve, finger the provincial I.D card hidden in my pocket. I am official. I am speaking my first language. I make to leave. There is no follow-up smile: "Their courtesy was a habit meant both to reward good conduct and induce future cooperation."

I saw a policeman with beautiful swirling tattoos attack a homeless man. I forgot my sister's birthday. I mistook my own indifference for the world's. I debated writing sooner. I knew i wouldn't have much to say. I recorded the numbers, the addresses, everything. I avoided their eyes, wrong way down a one-way street. I was going to write sooner. I was.

Serving size
Serves 1.

2 or 3 ounces whiskey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 or 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
3 or 4 ice cubes
1 orange or lemon slice or peel
Maraschino cherry

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"I'm Crazy and I Hurt" [22 Jan 2007|03:15pm]
It had been a great show, sure, but when the momentarily unfamiliar chords of the song filled the claustrophobic basement, it became more than that. We'd been warned of two things: there's only so much air to breathe and please, please, leave the furnace alone. Sweat, heat, proximity: the stairs are blocked and the only exit seems suffocation or explosion. So when the first strains of "Nervous Breakdown" bounced about the exposed concrete and insulation, when the huge bag of popcorn is dumped overhead, i think so this is frenzy. I could die here, beneath the hightop Cons and heavy boots, down here with the popcorn kernels and spilt beer, and it would be fine. Ripped apart by a heat too hot to feel, smothered and trampled by the other revelers, and it would be literally and completely fine. There is a kind of joy, of abandon, so complete and total that, in the obscure ledgerbook of your soul (whatever it may be), you know there are to be repercussions, accountings. You will be exploded, you will be crushed, you will not escape this basement; you will never again worry about missed trains or tight margins, nor will the minor pleasures of a life by all accounts half-decent ever seem sufficient again. But all this is fine and necessary. Days later, and i still have no voice.

There are always repercussions.


She looked me up and down, voiceless and familiar. "Let me guess. No, i can totally do this. Despite all the acknowledged flaws that exist within 'the scene', it's still a viable means of distributing culture (DIY culture, no less) outside the usual constraints of capitalist media ownership. It's not so much a music genre as a strategy, the ground-floor of cultural production outside capital. Uh-huh. And, of course, let us not forget 'your' pet theory of the Dionysian aspect of it all, the psychic and sexual release of tension through excess. So, essentially, we've got an attempt to build an anti-capitalist infrastructure for the support of weekend bacchanals by silkscreening patches and trading rare records? Right. Gotcha. Doesn't it seem more likely that it's a safety valve? You've got work this week. You might see another show next week. One-seventh Dionysian ain't that bad, but it ain't all that great either." She paused and glanced out the window at the promise of future mid-priced condominiums as they retreated from us along the streetcar line: "It did sound like a good show though."


What are we to make of ourselves when we conform, almost exactly yet unconsciously(?), to our teenage expectations of who we'd be and what we'd be doing when we were "older" and "cooler"? Discuss.

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Dread Pez: "Live" and Fucked Up from Mischief Reef, The Philippines [27 Dec 2006|11:48pm]
I had just settled in for my long winter's nap when i received a phone call. The voice on the other end of the line was faint and raspy, bearing the distinctive digital crackle of a satellite phone surrounded by tall buildings. 'Q? Q? That you Q? Jesus Christ Q, things are < indecipherable>'. I knew immediately who it was (how could i not?): the enigmatic global-trotting 'DJ' and notoriously inept gun-for-hire, Dread Pez.Collapse )
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Speaking in Lists: An Orderless Top 10 of 2006 [26 Dec 2006|11:45am]
For some bizarre reason or another (medical?), Elling (!!!) from The Scope asked me to do a Top 10 of 2006 list, which i've kinda been meaning to do for awhile now. Let's establish three things first and then we can get the messy business of what i think about a bunch of random commodities out of the way, shall we? Great.

1.) The inherent limitations of the form of Top 10 lists. The Internet lends itself all too easily to identities predicated entirely on cliches and commodities, yadda yadda yadda, the spectacle, blah blah blah, late capitalism, etc. We cool?

2.) I've limited myself to things that came out in 2006. Non-2006 stuff that was new/kinda-new to me includes a bunch of stuff by Samuel R. Delany, Cormac McCarthy, Husker Du, Howard Zinn, Paul Bowles, DJ /rupture, Martin Amis, Kathy Acker and jesus too much other crap. As for stuff that i still haven't checked out but will probably be amazing, Pynchon has a new book out. Oh, and The Good Shepherd is a C.I.A. movie, which means i'll probably totally love it and... shit, this paragraph is getting a little thick. THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS PEOPLE.

3.) I'm actually a little embarrassed by my taste, which is why i never rarely sometimes end up spewing shit like this. The return of the repressed and all: every man his own 3 paragraph local weekly music critic. For the (cough) record, THERE'S NO REASON YOU SHOULD GIVE A FUCK WHAT I THINK (excepting blackmail). On to the festivities!


10.) Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie - Lost Girls - As several friends will attest, i have a total fascination with the sexualization of children's entertainment. Not in a creepy, "I would die to fuck Strawberry Shortcake" (read: earnest) way or in a "look at how degenerate and sick pop culture has/can become" fashion (read: very earnest), but more because i'm fascinated at how utterly limitless the erotic imagination can be. If it's animated or easy to read, someone, somewhere, has masturbated to it. How crazy is that? And that says nothing of those children's tales that actually do seem to have erotic subtexts. Apparently, Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie share a similar fascination, but they actually did something about it beside showing their buddies slash and created an amazing, positively filthy comic out of it, which is just as weird and disturbing and wonderful as it sounds. I didn't think he could (ahem) top From Hell, but, fuck, here we are dog.

9.) Fucked Up - Hidden World - I loved this, completely and totally. Sure, it's a tad pretentious at times (personal beef: WTF does "Cognitive dissonance of the soul" mean? You can have cognitive dissonance with regard to beliefs about the soul, but souls themselves aren't cognitive (right?). YES I STUDIED PSYCHOLOGY + PHILOSOPHY SO WHAT) and the hype about them is getting to be a bit much, but, fuck, i played this record several times a day and i think may have permanently lost my roommates respect because of it. Whatever. They're amazing live and they make me wish i'd dropped out of high-school so i could re-enroll and go back to school and carve their logo on a desk or something.

8.) Clipse - Hell Hath No Fury - Clipse are two smart guys who write pretty clever rhymes about being rich and dealing coke. They are largely produced by the Neptunes, two (one? Pharrell is a joke with ice) equally smart guys who make pretty clever beats for them. Together, they made one pretty clever album about being rich and dealing coke with pretty clever beats. It was good. But say this pretty clever duo is fucked around relentlessly by their record company, has their album release pushed back numerous times and is generally ignored and treated like shit? Why, they release a few awesome mix tapes and then come out with a devastating album equally full of rage and self-doubt (duh). Where Lord Willin' was full of clever coke-and-gats raps, Hell Hath... is full of... coke-and-gat raps. But here they're less swaggering and more menacing, full of grey areas and reluctant introspection. When they talk about being rich, they're being dismissive and snide; not a party rhyme boast, but a "get out of my face" threat. When they talk about how they got so rich, well, that's where shit gets spooky. As for beats, there's Trill, which is possibly my new favourite Neptunes song. Another record i loved and that i think has cost me credibility. NO I DON'T READ PITCHFORK (that much)

7.) The Wire - Season 4 - The Wire is a cops-and-robbers show, which means, by rights, i should have nothing to do with it. Still, as i explained to more than one incredulous acquaintance, every year i tend to get really into one episodic TV drama. Naturally, this doesn't mean actually watching television week in, week out (oh the indignity), but instead downloading entire seasons via BitTorrent (THE ONLY WAY TO TRAVEL). Last year, i watched the entire run of The Sopranos in, like, two months. This year, it's been The Wire and i have to say, i really enjoyed this show. Police surveillance, police brutality, drug dealing co-ops, sociology experiments in the classroom... all pretty much shooting gallery fodder for one such as myself (know thine audience). But here's the thing. The whole episodic drama format, in theory, lends itself easily to extended character studies, as opposed to sitcom cliches or feature length films. Characters i've followed on The Wire have changed and developed over the show's run, acting in ways that might have seemed unbelievable to previous incarnations of the same character. My major qualm is uncertainty over whether, in this case, this represents writers exploring and developing a character or simply lazy, inconsistent writing: OH SURE PREZ HAD AN EPIPHANY, SEE AND THAT'S WHY HE'S NOT PISTOL WHIPPING PROJECT KIDS ANYMORE. In any case, the fact that i'm on the fence about this show as opposed to simply dismissing it out of hand probably strongly indicates that this deserves a spot on the list.

6.) Filastine - Burn It - As much as i love electronic music, i rarely feel qualified to talk about it. I can insert macros in a Word document and i'm a notorious Soulseeker, but technically and musically, i'm actually slightly clueless. So i loved this record and i have a hard time saying why. 'Eclectic' is a music journalism cliche that is to be avoided like the bird plague, so i can't call it that. And i refuse, REFUSE, to invoke the dread spectre of 'World Music', so let's just say this is a fearless, political, inventive album by someone whose passion for music(s) is deeper, wider and more far-reaching than my own. Don't believe me? Check out the mutant violin (?) d n'b of Crescent Occupation, that somehow manages to be a mournful sounding floorpacker.

5.) Bathroom Graffiti at Work: "Goddard, Truffaut: God Blows" - Everytime i pee at work, this makes me smile, which is more than i can say for most things.

4.) Limp Wrist - Want Us Dead 7'' - Six-odd minutes of raging faggot-ass hardcore, which is more than fine by me. I saw Limp Wrist last year and hot skinny sXe boys were stripping to the waist (and beyond!) and going bananas, which encouraged my non-hot, non-skinny, non-sXe ass to do the same. Any band that can, through sheer force of musical bad-assery, make me remove my clothes in public or practice stage dives (NAKED!!!) onto my mattress is just 2 HOTTT 2 HANDLE.

3.) Spike Lee - When the Levees Broke - I watch a lot of movies, but i have to say, i wasn't very impressed with the 2006 crop of films. I've heard varying things about Monkey Warfare and i must say, Borat kinda sucked (over-scripted; racist intro; too much fucking hype, etc.). So i needed a few movies here (for honesty's sake) and, pretty much at the buzzer for '06, i get to see this fantastic documentary. Lee's greatest strength here as a film-maker is to simply point a camera at an incredible array of people and just let them talk. Meteorologists, politicians, historians, conspiracy theorists (with some rather legitimate sounding conspiracies, as these things go) and, most of all, ordinary people tell stories of a storm and how its attendant fallout wiped a city off the map and nobody gave a fuck. Mix this with astounding and terrifying primary footage of Katrina's aftermath and you'll see what all the fuss is about and maybe, just maybe, forgive him for Girl 6. Lee also provides heaping doses of cultural and historical background material that, surprisingly, doesn't collapse under its own considerable mass (4+ hours?). A genuinely fascinating indictment of racism, poverty, indifference and, uh, the weather. It also made me realize i totally want a jazz funeral, which would almost be worth committing suicide so as to have RIGHT NOW.

2.) Martin Scorsese - The Departed - Another fine(?) movie i saw late in 2006. I could say something pretentious and sophomoric about the nature of identity in the film, but i'll leave that to lean-and-hungry critics and desperate undergrads. No, for me, Scorsese is kind of a guilty pleasure. Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Casino... they're all kinda shitty in their own misunderstood tough-guy way, but fucked if i haven't watched them all multiple times. In the same way if Limp Wrist make a pretty generic hardcore record that i love to death, i can deal with a generic Scorsese pic. And it's all here: within the first five minutes, we have all the Scorsese touchstones: casual racism, check; classic rock background, check; cheesy machismo, check. Although it has to be said, Scorsese kinda went all out for this one. I don't know much/anything about Hong Kong cinema, but Scorsese sure seems to be well at home with cheesy archetypes and sentimental soundtracks (The Pink Floyd scene is nigh-on unforgivable). He's got the usual stuff about masculinity and power in here but he's also less afraid to just run with it, no matter how convoluted and tangled the whole mess gets. Fun stuff. And, y'know, Matt Damon was pretty good and all... Did i mention i'm embarrassed by my tastes?

1.) Venetian Snares - Hospitality - Yes, i like Venetian Snares. Yes, i've listened to everything he's ever released. Yes, you probably already knew that. No, i don't think it's all amazingly brilliant. No, i don't think breakcore (sigh) begins and ends with him. But whatevs. This record rocks and you knew it'd probably be here, this being me and all. Yes, fuck you, i know i'm terribly predictable. But you know what? I've been getting the same vanilla frosted donut with sprinkles since i was about 5. BUT THAT DOESN'T MAKE SPRINKLES UNTASTY.

Honourable Mentions: Girl Talk - Night Ripper, Everything by Skullface and Others, Timeblind - Ghostification (How good is Soot Records right now?), Nomeansno live, Drop the Lime and Syrup Girls - Shotgun Wedding, Vol. 4, Wisp - Building Dragons, you (DON'T YOU READ TIME??? YOU'RE BIG IN JAPAN)
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A Name For Our Records (More Xmas Meandering(s)) [26 Dec 2006|08:53am]
I placed a coffee cup in front of John and asked him to grab it [with his phantom limb]. Just as he said he was reaching out, I yanked the cup away.
"Ow!" he yelled. "Don't do that!"
"What's the matter?"
"Don't do that", he repeated. "I had just got my fingers around the cup handle when you pulled it. That really hurts!"
Hold on a minute. I wrench a real cup from phantom fingers and the person yells, ouch! The fingers were illusory, but the pain was real - indeed, so intense that I dared not repeat the experiment.

—V.S. Ramachandran, Phantoms in the Brain

So intense that i dared not repeat the experiment. I don't talk about my father much. Indeed, if anything, i think i'm pretty cavalier about the whole affair. I'll claim i was too young to really know him, that my memories of him are grey and indistinct: he was more a presence in my young life, despite being a constant and loving one. But it's a time for family, for recollection, for the women i love (mothers, aunts, sister, grandmothers) to gather and tell stories of dead men. All things are blameless in death, especially parents and lovers.

"A phantom limb is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached to the body and is moving appropriately with other body parts"

Oh, you had a limb once. A beautiful, strong, faultless appendage. It rose with you in the morning and served you well, if silently, all the live long day until sleep would steal its function. We all remember your limb, how it glistened with bath water, how it would grasp and hold, how it would touch and welcome, clutching other limbs, other bodies to itself, almost jealously. We remember its smells, its sights, its hidden strength. Yes, you had a wonderful limb. And sometimes, when the season is cold and the nights are long, when mangers are dragged from closets and we gather to speak and reminisce, there is a tingling, a scratching, a lingering unplaceable sensation. It takes stories to remind us of what has been cleaved away and we mumble apologies, leaving to claw at stumps. There are experiments too intense, stories too near. We are all bodies without.
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You Are Your Sins (tl;dr) [25 Dec 2006|12:13pm]
"Insofar as it has to do with the ethos, that is, the residence, one's at-home, the familiar place of dwelling, as much as the manner of being there, the manner in which we relate to ourselves and to others, to others as our own or as foreigners, ethics is hospitality..."
-Jacques Derrida, On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness

Can reason accomodate hospitality, welcome it as a friend? Probably not. Home is always an odd thing. At once familiar and distant, the traveler warms by the hearth and is filled with tales of difference, of minute change, of incremental erosion. It is at once the same and uncanny: you are Home, but Home is not the same. The church near my house has a sign reading XMAS IS THE SEASON WITHOUT THE REASON. For the longest time, on the way home, i would see this sign and think "Why do they think Christmas is without reason?" I never pieced together that this was some sort of Christian "Keep Jesus in Xmas" inspirational bullshit. I always thought this was profound commentary on the contradictory emotions this season elicits in the people i love, an aphoristic acknowledgment of the inherent strangeness of our seasonal migration rituals: the traveler charts the days until she will return to a place no longer her own, to be welcomed by those who miss the person she no longer is, and all this fuss for a long-dead Nazarene (and it's not even his real birthday). A season without reason: i sit by the artificial fireplace, stoked with gas and wire, and listen to my grandmother sip brandy and slur about her dead love. I run my tongue over the scar and metal of my mouth, their eyes proud and sad. There is a taste of shortbread. It is old and familiar but perhaps the recipe has changed slightly. Now is a time without excluded middle.

We speak the same sentences over and over and they are changed in the telling. They are probably disappointed in me, but their disappointment is warm, familiar, caring, gentle. I wear it like a loved sweater, nuzzling into their concern and old stories. I am sad, the same and different. But they've finished the steeple and she's pregnant again and we're all here, playing the same polite games, dancing adroitly around the same questions. Home is where everything is exactly the same and everything is entirely different. Xmas is the time to go Home, to retreat to a place suspended from reason and burdened with history. It is glory in defeat, a concession to our own embeddedness, a season of lights and long, happy, awkward silences. It is exactly as i, a welcome interloper, a stranger in the nest, remember it: "But do you like it up there?" Same and different, stranger and friend, Home and not-Home: binaries by the wayside in this, hospitality's sanctioned hour. "And they departed into their own country another way."


Heraclitus (supposedly) said "One cannot step into the same river twice". But it is not the water which is in flux; it is the foot.
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