Tale Spin

woke up like this

rug burn wrists

bruised touch by

nights of winding

questions

never satisfied

by posing the answers

self speculative

ecstatic inquisition

eternal imposition

external invention

of language to

solve the rubiks cube

of your cumulus 

mind patterns

morning bird song

last walk home

first step

baby waddles

perpetually re-learning

the story in your

sooth-sayers alienation

an object divorced

of contextualization

collection of imagination

connect the dots

leaf to the index

bread crumbs left

by future generations

explorers lost in time

a cataclysm of

half smoke cigarettes

and unopened snapchats

nothing says 4 in the morning

like walking

towards certain death

tied together

by loose associations

and assorted

crossed wires

  

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5x burn out

I am managing some code orange burn out after a more than hectic month which means I’m being extra mindful of what I spend my energy on. Unlike in the fall, the managing is actually going really well! I am finding time & energy to do the things that matter to me, and not killing my body in the process, but it means I don’t have much to share with you in the way of writing this week, so I hope you will accept this reading list instead of new material. If you are in Saskatoon you can come visit me at Short Cuts this weekend and I would be more than happy to fill you in on what’s next, otherwise stay tuned for new projects in May. Find somewhere to put your feet up and let your mind wander through these links.

Enjoy

  1. LSD’s Impact on the Brain Revealed in Groundbreaking Images via The Guardian
  2. Kierkegaard on Anxiety and Creativity via Brain Pickings
  3. Social Delicacies by Chunder Buffet via Bandcamp
  4. Episode 29 Aaron Scholz interviews Janet Scholz via Weirdo Magnets
  5. Sylvia Plath’s Drawings via Bust
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5x misinterpret me

Why do we choose the words we do and what do they mean? To us, to our friends, to people on the street, and future explorers. There is a magic in language that is itself hard to capture. Ambiguous yet specific; call to mind something particular that you have no way of sharing. We don’t recall the same tree, I can’t articulate your grief, colours are infinitely described as they are seen, will what you call me effect who I am to you? Read this collection before taking a long, quiet walk at night and see what hidden meanings you interpret or misinterpret.

Enjoy

  1. David Whyte on the True Meaning of Friendship, Love, and Heartbreak via Brain Pickings
  2. Daniela Andrade covers Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) so simple yet so much more grave, check her music here
  3. When Choirs Sing Many Hearts Beat As One via NPR – pair with my favourite hymn sung by the Soweto Choir
  4. On prescribing poems for the sick, the dying, and the grief stricken via LitHub
  5. Leading neuroscientists and Buddhists agree: consciousness is everywhere via Lions Roar – the article is a great summary, but if you have an evening to listen to the full conversation between the Dali Lama and Christof Koch it is well worth the investment (link in article).

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I must add this final note, we have lost another great soul, Kazu Ohno founder of Japanese Butoh has died at age 103, my heart grieves, this video soothes it, thanks Lia for sharing.

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Dreaming of the last supper

I dreamt I was a queen poisoned by loves hand, but it was only a role in a grand production, of which I had no say, and yet the blood and bile tasted real.

Before I left the death marked banquet where my subjects and friends entreat me stay I held each of them tenderly to my breast, a solemn goodbye. I would not wither and writhe before their eyes as a spectacle and a farce in hallowed death, instead I retreat to the belly of the castle in the wings, only inviting my newly crowned king to stay with me, whom had just the scene before murdered my true king and master whom I loved dear, and by whose hand I knew the elixir brewed. Yet still tender affection I held for both the actor who played him and for his part, but not enough to spare him witness to what he had wrought. Like a wounded animal I retreated as I felt my stomach lining begin to dissolve.

Just before the fated goblet scene, backstage between my lovers death and mine, we had talked of the sado-masochistic ecstasies of religion, the self abasement of the Catholics, the zealous fire of the baptists. My vengeful soon to be king, or at least the actor playing him, looked at me with such blood thirsty lust as we spoke. I could neither advert my gaze or rebuke him for I understood how our fates were linked and it was in my part to submit both as actor and grieving queen. I was enamored with him and our linked demise, how could I not feel affection and love for someone so central in my life? As the hunter and the hunted; I could feel him licking his chops against my skin as our eyes locked. A moment of give and take. His third to be wife-upon-my-death approached me all hair of mermaid and remarked upon how fierce I seemed in my velvet head, she entreated me to visit them, and teased me with her tales of hostages for sport. We laughed and made merry, this was only a scene change to the main event, backstage at the water cooler, nothing to be thought of. Yet I could feel my time running out as surely as so could she.

When he had murdered my true king it had been after careful cunning and consideration with his true wife, a beautiful and severe sight all dressed in rich red, but her performance was too affected. She kept touching her face and biting her lower lip in such a grandiose show of concern no one could much believe her she cared one way or the other who lived or died. Yet it was this caring that drove her to madness and a quiet death off stage announced by some unnamed messenger boy. A necessary device to urge the murderous king to ally with the young prince, wronged and exiled from his betrothed bride whom the subjects adored. With his fair golden locks shining the way forward no one would see the black heart and cold piercing eyes actually spurring the charge. I watched this scene unfold from the back of the audience with one of the stage hands obsessing about how to best market this tragedy to the paying masses, I helped her take photos of the charming prince, invite them with news of his recent engagement I offered, everyone loves a romance.

Thus began the final act in darkness. I concealed in the wings where I could see nothing. Calling to my love and true king with all my heart, warning him of the fated surprise hid behind the rocks, but it was dark and the storm raged loud, he could not hear me because the play was written thus, but I cried with all my heart anyways. When the deed was done I wept and held the bloodied blade to my chest refusing to return it to the company to be washed and used in the next scene. I wanted to preserve it as the hallowed sacred object that it was, savoring the last drops of my beloved heart. They granted my pathetic wish “we always have another” the stage hand assured me. My fellow players looked on contemptuously and amused as tears stung my eyes and a painful lump welled in my throat.

Fate hung about me closely everywhere I turned. There was very little I could do on or off stage that was not per-ordained. I accepted this with quiet grace and mostly kept to myself, never liking it but not resisting. I played truly from the heart. The love I felt was true, the good byes I said were lasting, my feelings for my vengeful king were both conflicted and tender, my affection for the players and stage hands sincere, I drank knowingly of the poisoned goblet playing my part willingly in my death.

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Dear Devotion: a process of discovery

The idea for Dear Devotion first came to me sitting in the doorway at the top of the stairs in the hallway that separated this tiny French bistro from my ballet studio. I was probably about thirteen, and I was waiting to be picked up again. My parents were often late to get me if they were fighting which happened a lot lately. So I would bring books to read, but mostly I would write. This one day particularly riddled with angst I wrote a poem called Dear Devotion. I’ve always been highly critical of my work so I knew that objectively the poem wasn’t very good, verging on overtly sentimental and forced tragique, but the idea at the heart of it was fire.

I journaled about it for days, and weeks, and months turning that idea over, never quite satisfied with my conclusions, but I felt like I was starting to unravel a riddle far greater than I was. The poem was simple stanzas that repeat about a woman falling in love, getting married, making a home, and burying a man who can not, or will not, love her. She devotes her life and love to him but it’s never enough, and in the end bitterly rebukes him for all they have lost as he lays dying.

It was around this time that I was introduced to Taming of the Shrew and A Doll’s House. I was struck by how these women resembled the woman of my poem, of my mother, and of what I imagined for myself. Still a young girl I lacked the experience to contend with their noble struggles but I felt a natural affinity for them all the same. Kate’s longing and green sickness, and Nora’s determined naïveté. Somewhere over time these became woven into my tragic aesthetic and I knew I would write a play about them, but I needed a third to round out the comparison, all good things come in three. I read lots looking for the third thinking she would be a more contemporary heroine when I accidentally stumbled across Antigone at university at around age 17. Her fierce loyalty would round out Dear Devotion, and in my mind the three women became inseparable.

I have devoted much of my time since then to what I would call my research to develop this piece. From learning to write grants to training my body to collecting a million snippets and pins of design ideas to coming to a better understanding of my own history and relationship to these women and my femininity I have grown into the piece for over a decade now. The piece becoming more of itself as I have become more of mine.

Last night I presented what I will call my first public exploration of that work at a house party in the Sound & Silence HQ that I put together that very afternoon with the support of my dedicated friend and conspirator Tristan Hills. I took a thousand and one raw ideas I’ve been harvesting for years and wrought them into a shape that resembles the direction the piece is taking.

First we shaved my head, a cleansing as much as an aesthetic task. Then I rolled around in his backyard and marked the beats and transitions that I wanted to play with. After that we retired to the basement where Tristan showed me how to use Audacity to record the rough underscore for the piece in what felt to me like a record breaking time. The record breaking part definitely had to do with Tristan’s ability to intuit my needs as I abstractly explained what I wanted each part to sound like, and he let me muck around recording guttural screams and a hundred tracks of snippets of things that we didn’t end up using, while also fixing audio quirks that I didn’t know were issues, then at the last minute he lay down a beautiful guitar track in one take that cinched the whole thing together. It is no small estimation to say I could not have delivered the performance I did without him. The final step was to prepare the fake blood and paint my face doll white. The performance went off without a hitch, not to say perfectly, but beautifully imperfect and raw.

I can feel it in my bones that this piece is ready to be delivered into the world, and this small step is the first contraction. Just as this has been a long gestation period I intend wrestle with this at great length, but the time is finally right to commit my body to the pains of labour uncovering the gems that have been compounding thus. If ever I were to have a thesis project in my unschooled life this would be it. I look forward to sharing more discoveries as they arise. For now you can listen to the track we recorded for the performance below.

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pomegranate seed

a dying star
a millennia flash in the pan
fated to shine brightly
then no more
for a few hours while
the glow leads you home
into the heart
for a time
when warmth in your cheeks
softly beckons
persephone home again
to give room for
life to fade and grow
fresh

I am but a wonton child
full of mischief
and idle temper
let me feel tempted by death
to relish in life
sharp contrast
pricking the rose bloom
faded before
it’s forgotten

again
great minds
plainly seeking
the impending tyranny
blank impetus
infatuating illusions
time marked
a crack
a start

  

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5x Devotion

Have you heard? I am performing the first ever snippet of Dear Devotion at PUGO tomorrow night. This is both terrifying and exhilarating. This piece I have been incubating for over 12 years, and although I talk a lot of shit, I’ve been too shy to share it with even my nearest and dearest, but tomorrow all that changes. If you are in a 306 area code you should make yr way over between 12 and 2. This weeks reading list is heavily influenced by all the disparate pieces of this performance I am trying to hold in my mind. Read under the cover of darkness.

Enjoy

  1. Listen to Lily Baldwin: It’s Not My Own Trip via She Does – I think she might be my creative spirit animal/true love/personal prophet, I relate to so much of what she has to say about process and life and creating.
  2. Pedal Glossary: Defining Effects and Signal Chain via She Shreds – I’m trying to understand how I can use time based pedals in this piece to fill the space while still calling all of the shots from stage.
  3. Handwritten letter of advice by Molly Crabapple via The Provocateur – also check out her memoir Drawing Blood which I read in December and have been gushing over endlessly to anyone who will listen.
  4. The Feminist Movement Has a Capitalist Problem via The Establishment
  5. James Baldwin on the Artist’s Struggle for Integrity and How It Illuminates the Universal Experience of What It Means to Be Human via Brain Pickings
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