I toss these pages in the faces of timid, furtive, respectable people and say: ‘There! that’s me! You may like it or lump it, but it’s true. And I challenge you to follow suit, to flash the searchlight of your self-consciousness into every remotest corner of your life and invite everybody’s inspection. Be candid, be honest, break down the partitions of your cubicle, come out of your burrow, little worm.’ As we are all such worms we should at least be honest worms.

W.N.P Barbellion,_ Journal of a Disappointed Man

2023

December

Commentary on Light Enough to Burn a Hole in the Sun Sources and inspiration.

On 31 August 2023, Apocalypse Confidential published their third special of the year: DUST—JOHN FORD & THE ATOMIC FRONTIER. Included in the “non-fiction” section was an essay I wrote in response to the prompt. Light Enough to Burn a Hole in the Sun, a title I came up with early in the writing process and thought was good enough to not worry about changing, was written over roughly two weeks towards the end of August 2023. I spent around a week gestating in advance. I had only heard about the publication in the month or so prior. My memory is that I saw an old crush tweeting about them, but it’s possible that memory is a fabulation and I found them through conventional means (i.e. the platform’s timeline presented me with a stranger tweeting about them).

The second association that boosted my esteem for the publication was my friend Chuck, who stayed in my spare room during the final week of writing. He told me about Anna Krivolapova, who, by that time, the algorithm was definitely pushing on me. Her collection of short stories will be released by the publishing arm of Apocalypse Confidential this autumn. Chuck spoke highly of her, I think highly of him, and she thinks highly of APCON. Enough elements to make this publication stand out before having read them. I even went so far as to go through their website archives, and to read several pieces in order to get a sense of just what the project consists of. These initial associations, combined with the style of the call for submissions, combined with seeing Oppenheimer, fired my inspiration and led me to put a lot of energy into the essay I wrote for them. And I am quite proud of it. Finally I am working in the genre I want to. Finally, I can break free from the prison house of academic language; to paint a picture, while still developing the philosophical questions I am interested in.

One major element of the “literary” philosophical essay style, in my mind, is referencing things without necessarily providing citations. It would not have fit the epic voice I was going for to provide in-text citations. The purpose of this “commentary” is to provide a list of all the sources that I am conscious of having woven into the text. I am inspired by Kierkegaard, who, from the outset of his authorship, kept a series of large black notebooks where, in his own voice, not for publication but addressed to posterity, he provides yet another angle on his work. A running commentary and reflection on the published works.

  1. The protagonist of the essay is Spirit, taken, of course, from Hegel and his Phenomenology. In the sense I am using it in the essay, it is intended to refer to the general movement of the totality of social history. “Spirit” is “history as it has developed so far.”

    Spirit is thus self-supporting, absolute, real being. All previous shapes of consciousness are abstract forms of it. They result from Spirit analysing itself, distinguishing its moments, and dwelling for a while with each. This isolating of those moments presupposes Spirit itself and subsists therein; in other words, the isolation exists only in Spirit which is a concrete existence. … we may briefly recall this aspect of them in our own reflection: they were consciousness, self-consciousness, and Reason. … as unity of consciousness and self-consciousness, Spirit is consciousness that has Reason … when this Reason which Spirit has is intuited by Spirit as Reason that exists, or as Reason that is actual in Spirit and is its world, then Spirit exists in its truth; it is Spirit, the ethical essence that has an actual existence. — G. W. F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A. V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 264–65 / M440.

  2. The central image of the essay is a drill boring through to the core of the earth. I am quite sure that I started writing before Charles spoke about re-watching The Core, and this image was there from the outset. The association between “modernism” and “drilling, digging, excavating” is a common one that I could not give a single citation for. However, I realized only last week that I owe a greater debt to Glissant and his Poetics of Relation than I think I had previously realized.

    Poetics of depth. Baudelaire explored the early realms of this form of poetics. The vertiginous extension, not out into the world but toward the abysses man carries within himself. Western man essentially, that is, who at that moment in time governed the evolution of modernity and provided its rhythm. Inner space is as infintely explorable as spaces of the earth. At the same time as he discovered the numerous varieties of the species man constituted, he felt that the alleged stability of knowledge led nowhere and that all he would ever know of himself was what he made others know. As a result, Baudelaire quashed romantic lyricism’s claim that the poet was the introspective master of his joys or sorrows; and that it was in his power to draw clear, plain lessons from this that would benefit everyone. This romantic beautitude was swept away by the stenches inseperable from Baudelairean carrion. — Ëdouard Glissant, Poetics of Relation, trans. Betsy Wing (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997), 24.

  3. The next image is the idea of Azathoth, the lord of all the Outer Gods in Lovecraft’s Cthulhuverse, sitting at the centre of the universe. This was a significant adductive leap that came early in the process. It was my first clue that this was a serious essay. I’m not sure which Lovecraft story I read, or when—it may be that I only read the Wikipedia article some time ago—but some neuron fired, some crepuscular ray hit me, and I remembered that Azathoth was called the “Nuclear God.” As Chuck mentioned, this is quite simply an archaic use of the word “nuclear” to mean “at the centre of things,” but given that I was writing about Oppenheimer and the photo of the Trinity test, it felt like divine inspiration.

    Never was a sane man more dangerously close to the arcana of basic entity—never was an organic brain nearer to utter annihilation in the chaos that transcends form and force and symmetry. I learned whence Cthulhu first came, and why half the great temporary stars of history had flared forth. I guessed—from hints which made even my informant pause timidly—the secret behind the Magellanic Clouds and globular nebulae, and the black truth veiled by the immemorial allegory of Tao. The nature of the Doels was plainly revealed, and I was told the essence (though not the source) of the Hounds of Tindalos. The legend of Yig, Father of Serpents, remained figurative no longer, and I started with loathing when told of the monstrous nuclear chaos beyond angled space which the Necronomicon had mercifully cloaked under the name of Azathoth. It was shocking to have the foulest nightmares of secret myth cleared up in concrete terms whose stark, morbid hatefulness exceeded the boldest hints of ancient and mediaeval mystics. Ineluctably I was led to believe that the first whisperers of these accursed tales must have had discourse with Akeley’s Outer Ones, and perhaps have visited outer cosmic realms as Akeley now proposed visiting them. H. P. Lovecraft, “The Whisperer in Darkness,” Weird Tales 18, no. 01 (1931), full text.

  4. The next important ingredient is the photo of the Trinity test. This is also one of the few things that I started off knowing that I wanted to write about. Is the essay more a review of Oppenheimer, or more an analysis of this photo? You may notice that the colophon for this website is the “dark protozoic organism” that represents an “absence of medium.” This photo has been my banner image for years. I lifted it from an art history course I took in Winter 2018, led by Tal-Or Ben-Choreen. As I recall, she used it in the context of discussing what constitutes art: is this photo, taken for mechanical/scientific purposes, an artwork? She and I both stole it from The New Yorker, which remains the only source for the image online (as far as I can tell). I have not now and did not then read the article, only scrolled to steal the photo (in the pdf I submitted to APCON, I included a caption with citation details).

    Photograph of Trinity, the first recorded test of a nuclear detonation. Taken in New Mexico at 5:29am on July 16, 1945.
  5. Past the halfway point, I added in yet another metaphor: the core of the earth is a “hollow world,” where cro-magnon man stalks pre-historic creatures. This is another fantasy image that I feel is so generic I don’t have a specific reference for it. My intuition from the outset is that ultimately comes from something by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Like the Lovecraft, another inheritance from my father. In doing research for this post, I discovered that ERB wrote a series about Pellucidar, which Tarzan visits in Tarzan at the Earth’s Core.

    Cover of Tarzan at the Earth’s Core.

    As a teenager, I used to write stories set at in the Hollow World about a pirate ornithopter, as big as a frigate, crewed by an assortment of intelligent animals. The main character was Hrothgrar, an “albino spirit bear,” whose name is an osmotic corruption of the Danish king Hrothgar. My best guess on how that word entered my consciousness is through Bulfinch’s Mythology. A combination of Redwall and Elric of Melniboné. The idea was that, spirit bears being all white, the albino version would be all black; and, spirit bears being the most rare type of bear, their culture would be highly refined: the wizards of bears. But my Hrothgrar, being an albino (the inverted form), would be huge and inarticulate, showing the influence of The Incredible Hulk, yet another childhood favourite.

  6. “The layers of the earth weigh on Spirit’s head like a nightmare” is a spin on Marx’s famous line from a pamphlet published in 1852.

    Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when they seem engaged in revolutionising themselves and things, in creating something entirely new, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle slogans and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language. Thus Luther donned the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789 to 1814 draped itself alternately as the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire, and the Revolution of 1848 knew nothing better to do than to parody, in turn, 1789 and the revolutionary tradition of 1793 to 1795. In like manner the beginner who has learnt a new language always translates it back into his mother tongue, but he has assimilated the spirit of the new language and can produce freely in it only when he moves in it without remembering the old and forgets in it his ancestral tongue. Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, ed. Robert C. Tucker, 2nd ed. (New York; London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1978), 595. full text

  7. The reference to “conquering reason” is an explicit reference to Glissant, who is himself referencing Deleuze & Guattari.

    Summarizing what we know concerning the varieties of identity, we arrive at the following:

    Root identity

    1. is founded in the distant past in a vision, a myth of the creation of the world;
    2. is sanctified by the hidden violence of a filiation that strictly follows from this founding episode;
    3. is ratified by a claim to legitimacy that allows a community to proclaim its entitlement to the possession of a land, which thus becomes a territory;
    4. is preserved by being projected onto other territories, making their conquest legitimate—and through the project of a discursive knowledge.

    Root identity therefore rooted the thought of self and of territory and set in motion the thought of the other and of voyage.

    Relation identity

    1. is linked not to a creation of the world but to the conscious and contradictory experience of contacts among cultures;
    2. is produced in the chaotic network of Relation and not in the hidden violence of filiation;
    3. does not devise any legitimacy as its guarantee of entitlement, but circulates, newly extended;
    4. does not think of a land as a territory from which to project toward other territories but as a place where one gives-on-and-with rather than grasps

    Relation identity exults the thought of errantry and of totality. — Glissant, Poetics of Relation, 143–44.

  8. In the sections where I discuss cinema more explicitly, I reference the “transcendental perspective of the camera.” This concept is taken from Christian Metz, who writes that the most basic pleasure of cinema comes not through identification with characters or narrative—but from identification with the perspective of the camera itself.

    In other words, the spectator identifies with himself, with himself as a pure act of perception (as wakefulness, alertness): as the condition of possibility of the perceived and hence as a kind of transcendental subject, which comes before every there is. — Christian Metz, “Identification, Mirror,” in Psychoanalysis and Cinema: The Imaginary Signifier, by Christian Metz, trans. Celia Britton et al. (London: Macmillan, 1982), 49.

  9. Around this same section, I refer to Denis Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan as the two fathers of the “house Netflix style.” I didn’t come up with this: I think it was my professor Luca Caminati. I think it is 100% true.

  10. The idea of climbing up the sides of the ziggurat to become one with the sun is an image that keeps returning to me. It’s in another piece of writing that I am currently working on. It references Aztec cultures more so than to the Old Kingdoms of Egypt. It’s almost certainly an image taken from some racist text, but hopefully its origin in antiquity is neutral enough to cancel out any cancellable offense. I will not be surrendering the ziggurat, no matter how much the woke mob might clamour of my blood.

    One of the stairways on the Ziggurat of Ur, circa 2100 BCE.
  11. The idea that modern art is characterized by an “absolutely subjective, arbitrary [aesthetic] vocabulary” is an idea I took from the book The Crisis of Ugliness, a book by the Soviet art critic Mikhail Lifshitz.

    Cubism is characterized by its incursions into the field of the theory of knowledge.

    It sees the greatest danger in the visual perception of the real world. If the world is bad, it is vision that is to blame for reproducing it to us again and again. In its assumption that visual perception gives us images of the real world, the old painting attempted to convey these images with the greatest possible fidelity and fullness. The modernist schools reach for exactly the opposite result: all their discoveries are a ‘sum of destructions’ aimed against the perception of the ordinary person. Things-in-themselves do not exist or are unknowable to us; truth consists in the artist’s subjective experience. Properly speaking, this false axiom was already found by the predecessors of the Cubists, who now only had to make the next step: from the simple negation of ‘naïve realism’ to the total rejection of vision as the basis of painting. — Mikhail Lifshitz, The Crisis of Ugliness: From Cubism to Pop-Art, trans. David Riff, vol. 158, Historical Materialism (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 84.

    The “predecessors” of cubism here are all the various styles of modern art that had already flourished throughout Europe by the turn of the 20th century. Although this essay is a study of cubism, the book is generally concerned with the “crisis of ugliness,” i.e. the loss of mimesis and the turn towards conceptual art in modern culture generally. What I find to be so special about this book, aside from Lifshitz’s extremely erudite analysis and excoriating remarks on art critics and theorists, is its outsider perspective. The book comes not only from another time, but from a world that no longer exists (the USSR).

  12. “A new religion of art.” At the end of the Phenomenology, Hegel describes how the stage beyond the current can only theoretically be realized in the form of religion, the path to absolute knowing. Religion in the sense we know it, as in worship of the divine; or a religion of art. Both seem to be valid.

    In the condition of right or law, then, the ethical world and the religion of that world are submerged and lost in the comic consciousness, and the Unhappy Consciousness is the knowledge of this total loss. It has lost both the worth it attached to its immediate personality and the worth attached to its personality as mediated, as thought. Trust in the eternal laws of the gods has vanished, and the Oracles, which pronounced on particular questions, are dumb. The statues are now only stones from which the living soul has flown, just as the hymns are words from which belief has gone. The tables of the gods provide no spiritual food and drink, and in his games and festivals man no longer recovers the joyful consciousness of his unity with the divine. The works of the Muse now lack the power of the Spirit, for the Spirit has gained its certainty of itself from the crushing of gods and men. They have become what they are for us now—beautiful fruit already picked from the tree, which a friendly Fate has offered us, as a girl might set the fruit before us. It cannot give us the actual life in which they existed, not the tree that bore them, not the earth and the elements which constituted their substance, not the climate which gave them their peculiar character, nor the cycle of the changing seasons that governed the process of their growth. So Fate does not restore their world to us along with the works of antique Art, it gives not the spring and summer of the ethical life in which they blossomed and ripened, but only the veiled recollection of that actual world. Our active enjoyment of them is therefore not an act of divine worship through which our consciousness might come to its perfect truth and fulfilment; it is an external activity—the wiping-off of some drops of rain or specks of dust from these fruits, so to speak—one which erects an intricate scaffolding of the dead elements of their outward existence—the language, the historical circumstances, etc. in place of the inner elements of the ethical life which environed, created, and inspired them. And all this we do, not in order to enter into their very life but only to possess an idea of them in our imagination. But, just as the girl who offers us the plucked fruits is more than the Nature which directly provides them—the Nature diversified into their conditions and elements, the tree, air, light, and so on—because she sums all this up in a higher mode, in the gleam of her self-conscious eye and in the gesture with which she offers them, so, too, the Spirit of the Fate that presents us with those works of art is more than the ethical life and the actual world of that nation, for it is the inwardizing in us of the Spirit which in them was still [only] outwardly manifested; it is the Spirit of the tragic Fate which gathers all those individual gods and attributes of the [divine] substance into one pantheon, into the Spirit that is itself conscious of itself as Spirit. — Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, 455–56 / M753.

Glissant, Ëdouard. Poetics of Relation. Translated by Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997.
Hegel, G. W. F. Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by A. V. Miller. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.
Lifshitz, Mikhail. The Crisis of Ugliness: From Cubism to Pop-Art. Translated by David Riff. Vol. 158. Historical Materialism. Leiden: Brill, 2018.
Lovecraft, H. P. “The Whisperer in Darkness.” Weird Tales 18, no. 01 (1931).
Marx, Karl. “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.” In The Marx-Engels Reader, by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 594–617. edited by Robert C. Tucker, 2nd ed. New York; London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1978.
Metz, Christian. “Identification, Mirror.” In Psychoanalysis and Cinema: The Imaginary Signifier, by Christian Metz, 42–57. translated by Celia Britton, Annwyl Williams, Ben Brewster, and Alfred Guzzetti. London: Macmillan, 1982.

Birthday Failures

The part itself was a failure: many of the people who said they would attend didn’t; there were a few new friends, but attendance in general was down from my Christmas party last year. No-one expected food, no-one ate except for the cookies.

I thought there was a moment of success at the end of the night, but it turns out that it was just another failure. Coming back from the bar after last call, I ran into the upstairs neighbour. Beautiful and cheerful, she felt safe enough to come inside my apartment at 4am and have a smoke. Told me that her old roommate—the one with the dog—had had a crush on me. Her presence was like a joyful ray of sunlight in the darkness. Warm, cheerful, bubbly. I was too wasted to make a move—could barely even hold on a conversation—but that would have been too sudden, anyway.

That felt like a win: for about 24 hours, I was riding high on that one encounter, which lasted maybe 15 minutes. Then—Saturday morning, I got the rejection letter from APCON. I knocked on the door and gave back a pack of rolling papers, knowing they weren’t hers but wanting to use it as an excuse to re-initiate contact. The blonde answered, as ever; and visibly unhappy about being disturbed.

September

On the Occasion of Checking my Inbox, or, Why Phones Aren’t Allowed at Work Writing Prompt: Description, adjacent

Sometimes I am so drawn into the pleasure of my sensing-body that I lapse into idyll, and therefore need to be reminded of my facticity. The scorching ray of an all-seeing eye falls on me, and I am brought crashing back down into my paper-body. Who I have been—and by some vague extension, not lacking in a Protestant ethic, who I am privileged to be now.

We might feel differently about the organism our cogito is attached to, but no-one likes to be interpellated. In the course of a life, each of us will sew an idol representing ourselves; and if we fail to repay our debts, it is the duty of our creditor to stick pins through the stuffing of our joints and send bolts of pain screaming out of the blue light of an interface, glimpsed in the half-light of a bored moment at the bar. Sometimes I lapse into idyll, and therefore need to be reminded of my own facticity. A facade of sociality that slips beneath the waves of forgetting, laying bare an iron edifice of fiduciary obligation. There’s no more rude awakening than a reminder of our economic trail. I tried to set fire to my icon as though it were a Wicker Man, but the rain put it out. My debts haunt me like a spectre that phases into the corporeal when I need to be disciplined, before disappearing back into the alien unknown. A creature of the imagination hovering on the edge of my peripheral, tinting my vision black when the pain overcomes me out of nowhere. Don’t make me do it. I don’t like it any more than you do. The trace of the way we lived in the world; who we are, best understood as who we are no longer. A tether to the past, an unjust fetter, but—let’s be honest: have we really changed? Aren’t we still the same desperate phylum scrabbling for survival, borrowing money without a plan for how to pay it back, from someone whose memory will always trigger a split dioptre?

Remember? Remember? She’s still there, out of sight but adjacent, still in the same world as you.

hello

May

Minimalist to Maximalist Training Personal bests achieved through terrible training methods.

The first weightlifting program I followed was the Reg Parks Beginner Routine, which I began circa 2015 and ran for an unknown length of time. My logging was terrible back then: I’m pretty sure I was training by memory alone. The only documentation I have is the following screenshot of my Symmetrical Strength profile.

weakling.jpg. March 21, 2016.

The Reg Parks routine closely resembles Starting Strength. This is the program I have been following, with some modifications and with occasional gaps of up to 4 months, since roughly the start of 2021 when I was living in Vancouver. Since December 2022, I have been consistent and was able to break all my previously-established records.

This is the routine as written. I only implemented Power Cleans lately, and only did them occasionally.

Workout A Workout B
Squat 3x5 Squat 3x5
Row 3x5 Chins 3xAMRAP
Press 3x5 Bench 3x5
Deadlift 1x5 Power Clean 3x5

Notes: * All weights listed are in pounds. * This does not include my general warm up, which is 10 minutes spent pushing the sled, followed by a dynamic stretching routine. * This does not include my warm-ups sets, which usually looks like 1 set with empty bar/low weight, followed by sets at 60% and 80% of my working weight. I also have a post-workout static stretching routine. * I only implemented power cleans lately, and only did them sporadically. I consider myself to still be in a phase of perfecting my form. * Total time, including warm-ups and cool-down, was usually around 2 hours.

Here are my personal records on the above lifts:

  • 32 years old, male, somewhere between 195–200lbs.
    • Squat 3x5 (285, April 10 2023)
    • Row 3x5 (185, April 10 2023)
    • Press 3x5 (105, March 31 2023)
    • Deadlift 1x5 (300, April 5 2023)
    • Chin-ups 3xAMRAP (9/8/8, April 2 2023)
    • Bench 3x5 (155, March 29, 2023)
    • Power Cleans 3x5 (145, March 31 2023)
weakling2.jpg. Image based on numbers achieved around the end of March / early April 2023.

I am very proud of my squat. The squat is some kind of divine activity. When I deadlift, I get intense headrushes and my training log is filled with asides like “profound existential disassociation,” but the squat is the most complete means of expressing one’s will to power that one could dream of.

I believe that my upper body is so weak because the Reg Parks routine I followed when starting out very confusingly said “bench press OR dips,” and because the bench press stations were always in use, I always went for dips—but was never strong enough to get to depth, and always had to use a band.

Starting Strength is a good routine, and I learned quite a lot from reading Rippetoe’s books Starting Strength and Practical Programming. I also achieved quite a lot of gains. However, the discourse around them is far more rigid than it should be. Speaking from my own perspective, I became so addicted to the routine, so locked into its rut, that it took an immense psychological effort for me to break free. I had this feeling that if I changed things at all, I would lose my precious, hard-won gains. Additionally, because Rippetoe is so single-mindedly focused on low rep-ranges for strength, I myself did not have the imaginative training to even really think about working with higher rep ranges. I knew that the rows I was doing as programmed were doing nothing for me, but I was closer to dropping them from the program rather than doing a variation, or different rep ranges.

The perception of bodybuilding is fairly coloured disfavourably by the toxic elements of the profession, but bodybuilding-style training is far more complex, intelligent, and sustainable in the long-term than powerlifting. At the end of my run of Starting Strength, which, I admit, because of my regular layoffs, was highly protracted, I was run into the ground and burnt out despite training so minimally. A proper auto-regulating, bodybuilding-style routine will have you in the gym 5+ days per week, but because it is not structured around peaking, you should not need to de-load.

I’m not entirely there yet. The new training program I am following is the four day Texas Method, which combines intensity and volume work for all of the four major compounds, split into upper/lower days, and supplemented with accessory work. Here is my new program:

Day 1 (upper 1) Day 2 (lower 1) Day 3 (power/conditioning)
Bench (intensity): 2–3x2–3 Deadlift (intensity): 2–3x2–3 Sled work
Press (volume): 5x5 Squat (volume): 5x5 Power Clean: 5x5
Dips: 4xAMRAP Chins: 50 total Squat variation: 5x5
Tricep Extension: 3x10–15 Back Extension: 3x15 Mobility work
Curls: 3x10–15 Sit-ups: 3xAMRAP
Sit-ups: 3xAMRAP Push-ups: 3xAMRAP
Push-ups: 3xAMRAP Farmer’s Walk
Day 4 (upper 2) Day 5 (lower 2)
Press (intensity): 2–3x2–3 Squat (intensity): 2–3x2–3
Bench (volume): 5x5 Deadlift (volume): 3–5x5
Incline dumbbell press: 4x8–12 Rows: 5x8–10
Delt Raise: 5x10–15 Glute-ham raise: 3x10–15
Tricep Extension: 3–5x10–15 Sit-ups: 3xAMRAP
Curls: 3x10–15 Push-ups: 3xAMRAP
Sit-ups: 3xAMRAP Farmer’s walk
Push-ups: 3xAMRAP

Notes:

  • Sit-ups are done on an incline bench or GHR machine, super-set with pushups and with a 1m rest between sets.
  • Rest times are strictly controlled using a stopwatch: 2m rest on volume sets, 3–5m rest on heavier intensity sets as needed, 1–1.5m rest on isolation movements.
  • I still do 10m pushing/pulling the sled before each workout; or, worst case, 10m on the ergometer if the sled isn’t free. It’s an absolutely incredible method of warming up, and is probably in my top 3 exercise movements at this point. I usually do slow, deep lunges while pushing, and pull with a rounded back for about 3 minutes or so to warm up, then will run each push at full speed and use the pull to recover. RPE by the end of tend minutes is usually around 7. Currently working with 160lbs. That is a guaranteed 40m of conditioning per week.
  • Day 3 is still a work in progress. Since switching from minimalist, powerlifting-style training to maximalist, bodybuilding-style training (with a focus on strength), I have embraced spending all my time in the gym. One of the factors that made me switch from Starting Strength to something more complicated—in addition to being simply burnt out from the constant intensity—is that it simply did not have me in the gym enough. I am currently doing front squats at a lighter weight to focus on my quads and upper back.
  • Current sessions are around 2hrs–2h20 for lower days, usually around 1h50–2hrs for upper days. Because my upper body is weak relative to my lower, my goal—and I have no idea how to achieve this—is to make the upper day take longer than the lower day (or at least as long).
  • I’ve been doing the four day routine for about 5 weeks or so, and I haven’t quite dialed in my progression metrics. I eat intuitively and am currently cutting, so I am trying to not feel bad that my numbers are not going up as much as they were in my novice phase. My volume squat is going up and feels excellent, but my intensity squat is still sitting around the PR I achieved for 3x5, but at a lower volume.
  • Upper days get me high as a kite, feeling really good, even though my intensity press refuses to progress. Volume squats make me feel excellent, too, because I know that I am really strong. Friday makes me feel bad, because it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier. I’m trying to increase weight on the bar by feel, and it doesn’t feel like I’m closer to bringing it up.
  • My goal is to compete sometime this year, but I don’t think I’m running this program in a way that is conducive to peaking. I’m having a lot of fun with it, it feels like I’m definitely making gains, I love being in the gym so much and I feel more like a genuine “athlete” than ever before, but my progression metrics still need work.

Wake in Fright The curse my father handed down to me.

Last night, I woke up in the dark and perceived something hovering over and to the left of me. My body was frozen, but the thing’s presence was so horrible and filled me with such terror that I could do nothing but—scream. It wouldn’t come, I couldn’t move, but the shadow crept closer and closer; and in response to the looming malevolence, my breathing became heavier and heavier. With great effort, I wrenched my gasps into something like a scream, but even in my ears then sounding more like a harsh groan: no, no, no! was the best resistance I could wrench forth after great effort. This mewling cry was enough to allow my consciousness to regain control of my body, and I began to shake violently. The dark presence was still there, hovering to the left of me when I rolled over onto my right side, turning my back on the unknown power in hopes that it would disappear of its own accord. I lay there shaking, and feeling the phantom presence of the woman who used to lie next to me; who used to shake me gently, her shining face casting radiance into the dark vortex of the unknown thing waiting for me.

My father was haunted by the same darkness. He used to stay awake, eyes wide and whites shining in the dim illumination of the lamp he kept burning through the night. He resisted sleep, sought to escape it, afraid of the close proximity it brought him to death. My mother related stories of rolling over at night to see him there, body completely still, face frozen in horror, eyes wide and fixed on some corner of the room as though he were seeing through to the beyond. In these moments, my mother told me, if she followed the direction of his gaze, she saw nothing but the haze of interrupted sleep would sometimes evaporate instantly, and she could feel the hairs raise on the backs of her arms. Something in her body knew the presence of terror. Sometimes, she told me, she could hear a thin stream of sounds coming out of his frozen lips; and if she put her ear to his mouth and listened intently, she could make out syllables, words. But the words were nothing—nothing—a string of thorough gibberish, sentences dredged up from the alien depths of his unconscious mind, strung together following an unknowable logic. This dark curse haunts my family, generations of men stalked by an incomprehensible force reaching out of the unknowable and into the known through the vulnerable crossroads of sleep.

March

Return to Drones Club A Montréal after-hours that was once the centre of my universe.

Went to a rave at The Silver Door (Torn Curtain / Drones Club / Cyberia) last Saturday. First time I’ve been there in a long time. The event was called: Bubble Bath x Service de Garde. The DJs listed are: Ma Sha (NYC) and Martyn Bootyspoon. I have definitely seen him somewhere or other.

I took a meandering walk along Van Horne, through the empty lot at Hutchison. Threw a few stones at the concrete and corrugated metal shapes the city keeps there. In my past the night recalled, they somehow had not figured out how to put the lot to use. It was just an empty lot. The entire chain-link fence cordoning off the tracks was pushed down and grown over. I returned there often in 2015 and noticed that someone was using it as an installation medium. Arranging broken chairs, tables, flower pots, dishes, lamps, toilets and other modern conveniences in a pastiche of interior design. The neighbourhood’s profuse supply of run-down street leavings was combed for things broken beyond use. I noticed one day when I examined the dozen or so chairs that had been arranged in neat aisles before a broken hunk of concrete, as though waiting for a group to hear some garbage-speaker. Each one of them was broken in a different way such that they crumbled if touched at all. Another day I came and saw the four walls of a cozy living room, complete with ruined armchair and smashed TV. Another day, the entire field had been emptied except for two chairs facing each other square in the middle of this empty lot.

I didn’t know then what this place meant to me. I didn’t have perspective enough to see that my life had already been concentrated in a few square kilometres around that empty lot. I write to you now, unhappy: I can’t help but live in the opiatic haze of nostalgia. I deeply wanted to go to a party at this specific after hours because Drones Club was once the de facto centre of my universe, a solid shape I craved to fill the emptiness. Sometimes one’s desires can get caught up in the currents that circulate outside, and it feels all the more exciting to satisfy them in a communal ritual. I did what I thought I would have done then: it was the best I could do now. Drank 4 beers by myself and read Hegel at the kitchen table. Turned my music off to perversely accentuate the emptiness. Left at midnight. Had a brief misunderstanding with the guard at the door. Things have changed: now, anyone tuned in to the right channels online could buy entrance (it didn’t take me too much looking to find the event page), but the ticket was the address and you identified yourself by name to the person at the door. The events are framed around organizing teams, rather than venues. The doors were formally closed (not likely in practise) to people coming in off the street. That didn’t stop the riff-raff: you can’t.

I have memories of this place in at least 4 radically different configurations. Then, it had more rooms; now, if it has layers they are opaque to me and I see a flat surface. I lament the loss of the neon “rock’n’roll” sign, but the fog machine is kept alive in honour of the place’s legacy, and that’s good enough for me. I loosened up far more quickly than the previous week, and once the acid hit I started enjoying myself immensely. There were a lot of very cute girls on the dancefloor that I did my best to send psychic waves to: as it has been my entire life, it’s impossible to tell if it worked. I remember one who was quite short, but who weaved purposefully through the crowd and danced with a stiffness. As the evening wore on, I caught sight of her loosened up, but still moving relatively little. Very charming. To the girl in the dress, to the tall girl, to the short girl, to all the girls who were there: email me.

The primary object of going out is always to lose yourself; the possibility of losing yourself is the allure. There was no chance of me losing myself, given that I was my only accompaniment—but I did manage an acceptable level of integration with the moment that the whole thing was very pleasurable and satisfying overall. My secondary object in this outing, my conscious goal was to remind myself of who I am: remind myself that I have my own history, my own life, a relationship to the city that is mine and no-one else’s. Something that goes further back than this year. Than the past four years. I recognized both Eden and Sophie’s silhouette; I didn’t speak to either of them, of course, being too frightened; but it was very vindicating to see two women I have slept with on only my second or third outing as a bachelor again. Recognition of their distinct and positive aura brought me such joy. Sophie in particular was working so hard. I felt inspired to keep it up myself.

Every single relationship I have ever had with a woman that has been in any way either romantic or sexual is somehow fraught (the Sophie thing is contingent, owing to the maverick nature of an old nemesis). Suddenly, before I knew it, I was surrounded by my old study group. Suffocated by the overbearing mess of my present social relations. Not counting the two girls from my past, there were around 7 other people that I knew—that I have known for months, in fact, seeing each other multiple times a week—and yet, somehow it was forbidden for us to talk to each other. My fear is the emptiness of not knowing anyone, being utterly alone, which I am. But the problem is that I have such a hard time getting along with them. At Luke’s party a month or so ago, I connected with a few people. I was shy and didn’t take full advantage of the situation, but I felt capable of getting along. I was in a fundamentally different gear, receptive to the world, which is how I usually am not. I was able to make friends with the study group because when I met them, it was not clear that my relationship with Rachelle was over; but then it ended, and the entropy was so sudden and complete, I was reduced to an emptiness. The relationships I had formed were not strong enough with the people I cared about (Daisy and Abby) for them to work to maintain it on their end; and on my end there is just rubble.

I left Luke’s party absolutely elated. I left the rave in a similar recognition that I had had an experience of great personal significance, even though, objectively, nothing special happened: spent the evening reading, poisoned myself with beer in silence, walked alone to a rave where I danced by myself for 6 hours before leaving without having spoken to anyone. Bummed a cigarette from someone so frazzled by the sensory overload that I had moved on before she processed what I had said. Walked home as the sun was coming up. The sunrise on a hard night is more beautiful than anything.

The author on his way home.

January

Whinge Report

Leave it all behind and start again. Save for a few years, practise on the side; when it comes time, retreat again even further. That’s what it takes to write a book. I should be on my third or fourth book by the time I’m in my mid-thirties. Each one closer to publishing. Keep it up during work-time because I have nothing else. Encountering no-one but—myself. It sounds like a nightmarish torture; she said she was doing me a favour, and that I would be glad to be alone after she left me.

Can’t say that I have been glad. Careless, maybe, in the sense that I have nothing to care about. The part of me that is presently dead, that I need in order to move on, was already dead. But it’s always been dead. I’m back to ground zero. When I went through previous breakups, I had a society. Now I have nothing. Lost it all in the course of our time together. I look forward to forgetting what brought me to suffering, nothing left but me with my miserable self.

There’s no more future for me as a happy man: the only thing I can hope to do is make money and keep writing. My only optimism is the lure of a new idea. I am coming to a point where my skill is beginning to cohere.

Angel Statue

The statue of the angel at Montréal’s Mont-Royal stands out against the night sky. The green of old bronze is indistinguishable against the grey sky, palely illuminated by the city lights. Her outstretched arm and its torch form a line to the cross, lit up orange in the distance above her. The cross that sits on top of the mountain. There is a direct line from it to her. I have always found her to be beautiful, and proud that such a divine statue is a central locus in my fair city. This night, walking home in the cold snow, the line from cross to angel strike me as perfectly representing the provincialism not only of Montréal, my home: but the country itself. A big fish in a small pond. Insignificant.

2022

December

In/Out 2023 What we’re in for in the New Year.

In:

  • Setting new PRs
  • Pull requests
  • Pitching
  • Morning, afternoon, evening

Out:

  • Faking
  • Disassociating
  • Procrastinating
  • Looking backwards

Fear of Writing Who am I?

I’ve started to develop an anxiety around what place my writing occupies in my life right now. Since my relationship ended, it has been all I have; I have leaned on it very heavily over the past two months. This includes my decision to apply for an MFA in Creative Writing. The whole thing is unsustainable. My practises are unsustainable. Too much caffeine, smoking, drugs, drinking. Becoming fat like all the men in my family. Neglecting my health, and getting older, where things stick. I need to take care of my skin now, too?

Sacrilege in Love Thinking about good times and feeling bad.

Hopping the chain link fence late one night at Parc Jarry, skinny dipping in the pool. Sitting on the beach next to Lac Wapizagonk at night, buzzing on mushrooms, sipping a fancy beer, trying to describe the clouds rolling in. Road trip through the eastern provinces. Parking on a lawn next to a lake out in Newfoundland, the sky open and striated pink and blue as the sun set. Screwing so hard in the back of the car I thought it would roll off, then watching Casablanca and eating Ryvita and cheese. “Dance with your left hand.” The moon phase of the relationship. Etc etc.

It’s hard to remember times like these and not begrudge the decision to break up as sacrilegious. It is. It remains as such for all my past loves. Can I honestly say that I would rather continue to be with Noelle, rather than accept that it was good that it ended? And with Eden? I don’t want to go backwards. Eden and I never got to the point of a “holy” communion. Noelle and I did; our love, and some of our memories, are preserved forever and can never be touched by any moralism. Does this mean that I admit it is better that it ended? Even considering all the fallout of that relationship, I still believe, on the condition that we fell in love with each other, that there must therefore be a basic compatibility; that we could have come to an understanding.

The same is true for Rachelle. I can’t help but think it’s the “wrong” decision to end things; it feels sacrilegious when I recall the holy history of our love; but why should I think that I have some special knowledge of what is most valuable? She knows what is better for her than I do—but does that entail something for Us? If she is not healthy, then We cannot be healthy, given that she is one of Our constituent parts. We are not a body-without-organs (lol). I surrendered my happiness to Us, but I was not concerned with my happiness to begin with. I did not fall in love for a good time, as many good times as it may have yielded.

I can remember fond nostalgic moments from past times: at the Theatre Rialto with Noelle; visiting her in Campbellton for the first time, and for much of the month I spent with her. Nuit blanche. Letter writing. When I first met Eden at La plante; our charged meetings at the Centre St-Louis between class; reading my love letter written in French in Parc Outremont, the snow falling. Partying. Alisha: memories of her from a prior epoch, she bridges a gap between selves that few other than family can. All the times we met out in public. When we first went home together; then, months later, when we started to know each other; the Liberal Arts party, when we both looked very cute. Everyone in her ambit seemed to hate me: her friends when I joined them at Grumpy’s. Her apartment seemed so mature. She invited me back a few times, and told me all about her life. Alisha is a towering figure, much more powerful than me. It’s unbelievable how much I fucked that up, wow!

The point of this exercise of recalling with fond nostalgia romantic moments from my past is to remind myself that my memories of Rachelle should wind up sharing the same status: shelf-objects, part of a collection. But they don’t; this exercise was unsuccessful. Rachelle and Noelle are the two relationships I’ve had whose status is similar, and in both cases I still feel disappointed by the opacity at the centre of the other.

Women I Have Known, Loved, and Failed Notes on failed relationships.

I toss these pages in the faces of timid, furtive, respectable people and say: ‘There! that’s me! You may like it or lump it, but it’s true. And I challenge you to follow suit, to flash the searchlight of your self-consciousness into every remotest corner of your life and invite everybody’s inspection. Be candid, be honest, break down the partitions of your cubicle, come out of your burrow, little worm.’ As we are all such worms we should at least be honest worms.

W.N.P Barbellion,_ Journal of a Disappointed Man

  1. Rachelle

    The longest one, and the one most recently passed. I still haven’t successfully eradicated the deep-seated sense that it will work out, even though that is no longer possible (but we’ve been through so much—we’ve worked it out before—). I would swear vengeance on her and get it all out in the open, but the nature of a failed relationship is that it inevitably tars both parties. Her failures are my failures, and mine are hers. Somehow, during the pandemic, she wound up becoming a fairly extreme political reactionary; she also degenerated into illiteracy, again on my watch. It was my job to protect her and I failed. Since our first trauma, since she cheated on me with my best friend, whom I repeatedly warned her was going to try to sleep with her, I have always asked myself if I know what love is. In the early days, I had no doubt whatsoever. When I had to leave her apartment early in the morning, and she would stand on the porch watching me recede, and I could never look away. Perhaps this explains why I never liked her kissing me on the neck—why I found myself becoming so cold to her. I don’t want to acknowledge my own failure to myself, my inability to protect my own interests. I should never have fallen in love with her to begin with.

  2. Noelle

    The most disastrous one, the one whose fallout haunts me today. She disappointed me more than anyone, that’s true; but I loved her very, very deeply; I know that she loved me too; the disaster it wound up in is not something anyone could have predicted, but I still feel like I bear some responsibility.

  3. Eden

    Far too wise for me, knew better, got out quick. I am very grateful to her for her maturity. She sensed long in advance what Rachelle came to know after four long years.

  4. Alisha

    Funny, platonic, then tragic. Too tragic to speak of right now.

  5. Felicity

    Fun but erupted strangely. One where I asserted myself, where I looked out for my own best interests. It is because of this that she makes it to the list of women I have disappointed.

November

My Value Proposition as a Critic An anecdote illustrating my impeccable critical instinct.

After the reading group on Sunday, I was discussing identity politics and cancel culture with a couple of Europeans. They have no context for a whole discourse that is deeply, deeply stupid. The example we were discussing was whether we should NOT read Marx because he was a white man. Not merely a straw man, in fact this is a claim someone made out loud in the class we are meeting around (a seminar on Glissant’s Poetics of Relation). A Guyanese scholar of Black Studies, in response to our prof’s mentioning that she will be leading a reading group for Capital in the winter, said to the class that we should read Cedric Robinson instead of Marx.

Having to explain these sorts of things from the ground up starkly illustrates how ridiculous the question is. My coffee table was covered with books by Nietzsche and Kierkegaard: toxic men, forbidden philosophers. I would never say that people have an obligation to read either of them (unless they are researching a relevant domain). However, I would say that everyone should read Marx. Reading Marx may not be sufficient; we should read Black Marxism in addition to Capital; but the claim that we should disregard Marx is the opposite of my politics. I have spoken in the past about how I am not interested in engaging with certain adversary figures or discourses. This is a decision made on the basis of self-preservation and interest—I don’t have time or interest to engage with enemies whom I am not in the process of overcoming—but it is motivated by an initial political instinct. If you disregard Marx on a political basis, then you are an enemy of the people.

The general point that I wanted to make is simply to brag about my impeccable instincts. Since the pandemic especially, when the entire population became alienated all at once and all by the same institutions (state and media), we have found our critical judgement put to the test. My ex was led astray; my head was too far up my ass to reverse the slide before I lost her. She has wound up in a very reactionary place that seems to me to be the consequence of an inability to sufficiently distance herself from the deleterious institutions of modern society (media). At the same time, I have seen friends, hardcore “communists,” fall onto the other side of the fence—so alienated by woke liberalism that they themselves fall into a state of conservatism.

My claim is that I can see things others don’t. I am highly media literate; I have a fairly wide base of knowledge and education; I have a lot of life experience, and have interacted with many people from all over the world and from many different walks of life. Even before I commenced my education, which is where I began to seriously hoard knowledge and train my judgement, I always trusted my read on the situation. I have a good instinct. I see nuance where others don’t, which is the very practise of critique (separation of elements). I can navigate us through the harsh shoals of this shitty world. As a practising flâneur, that is the product I bring to market—but I am no flâneur, idly standing by. I am committed to the proletariat!

N.B. We discussed instinct in class today! In the context of Bergson, but despite that—a funny coincidence.

2020

August

The New Mirror A fantastical confusion of the early 20th century revolutionary press, and the late 20th century alternative press.

Lenin became a leader as the 19th century gave way to the 20th, when revolutionary consciousness in Russia was at a high point. A statement credited to a group including Georgi Plekhanov, Vera Zasulich, Pavel Axelrod, Julius Martov, Vladimir Ilyich (Lenin) and his younger brother Dmitri Ilyich Ulyanov, read “we are passing through an extremely important period in the history of the Russian working-class movement…The past few years have been marked by an astonishingly rapid spread of Social-Democratic ideas among our intelligentsia, and meeting this trend in social ideas is an independent movement of the industrial proletariat…”

This comment was published in September 1900 by the editorial collective of the newspaper Iskra (Spark). Lenin and his comrades formed this publication amidst intense repression from the Tsarist regime, and a high degree of “disunity” on what we might call “the left.” The collective shared common interests with “several organizations of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, as well as of separate groups of Russian Social-Democrats.” In addition to those who were united around Social-Democracy, the broadly-construed “left” also included the right wing tendency of “trade unionism,” and the left wing, whose tradition of “terror” had provoked the military crackdowns.

Revolutionary consciousness was high among all these different groups, but they all worked independently to bring down Tsar Alexander, and some had radically different visions of what to do on the other side of that horizon. It was in the middle of this “disunity” that Lenin started his newspaper. Its staff was united in the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party, whose majority would go on to lead the revolution. The objective of Iskra was to fulfil multiple functions: it would be a space to elaborate a “consistent ideology,” and thereby draw “lines of demarcation” between the Party and offshoot tendencies. The second function of Iskra was to “achieve an organisation especially for the purpose of… delivering our newspapers and periodicals regularly to all parts of Russia. Only when such an organisation has been founded…will the Party possess a sound foundation and become a real fact, and, therefore, a mighty political force.”

The content published in Iskra was subordinated to an end outside the essential purpose internal to writing. Developing a material organizational structure was the primary undertaking of the newspaper. Producing and distributing the newspaper to members of the proletariat across Russia would require a network of active, mobilized comrades, embedded within workers’ communities, study circles and other mass organizations. This network of mobilized revolutionaries united in theory and trained in militant organizing would constitute the skeleton of the revolutionary Party.

Meanwhile, in the West, instead of a brutally oppressive monarchic state, the left has had to contend with the more insidious apparatus of liberal soft power. Despite a long tradition of leftist newspapers, journals, and magazines throughout North America and Europe, the absence of a legitimate (in the eyes of the people) revolutionary worker’s Party–even any organized left movement–proves the failure of those projects to overcome the same obstacles Lenin and his comrades faced.

We can blame quite a lot on counter-revolutionary state programs: when they are not assassinating leaders or violently attacking organizations, intelligence organizations have always been used as a counter-revolutionary measure. The CIA was heavily involved in all forms of culture, funding anti-communist intellectuals and propaganda outlets. Although the Americans have exerted a disproportionate impact, all national intelligence services controlled by the bourgeoisie have a history of undermining attempts to organize around socialism.

The state’s forces are powerful, but necessity demands that we find a way to overcome them and build a worker’s Party that exists as a “real fact.”

The reportage of outlets content to play within the bounds of the liberal regime have arguably been more useful to the cause of revolutionary socialism than any of the attempts to relaunch Iskra and speak as a legitimate worker’s Party. By the second half of the 20th century, local newspapers with a progressive-reformist political line abounded. All this punk ethos has to offer is a bourgeois alternative to the bourgeois mainstream. Despite their limits, the “alternative press” should be appreciated for its role in the facticity of the present-day left–for better or for worse. What distinguishes “bourgeois journalism,” no matter how critical it is of the regime, from Lenin’s revolutionary project is that the former takes writing as an end in itself. The newspaper is not being used as a means to construct something that will surpass it in historical significance. Iskra was never about writing, it was about organizing, and its medium as a printed newspaper is the matter by which the two are joined.

The Mirror was one of two anglophone alt-weeklies published in Montreal, this one from 1985 to 2012 and freely distributed to a circulation of 70,000 at its height. By comparison, Now Toronto publishes over 500,000 newspapers per week, and the Georgia Straight an average just under 120,000 [citation needed]. In Montreal, the two anglophone newspapers (Hour and The Mirror) existed alongside the two francophone (Voir and Ici). Hour and The Mirror both folded in 2012; Ici in 2009; Voir lives on as a blog. Cult MTL has inherited the mantle from the Mirror, with former columnist Lorraine Carpenter stepping up as editor-in-chief. Its thin broadsheet is symbolic of Montreal’s equally thin cultural nourishment. In the early 90s, Voice of Montreal seeded here, but recognizing its outsized ambition, it was re-named Vice and moved to New York City.

Montreal is the cultural centre of the country, whatever Toronto’s worst excesses might want you to believe. Those who live here know that the city’s value is not determined by the amount of capital moving through its institutions, because there’s certainly little enough of that. The agglomeration of scenes feels perched on the edge of relevance, slacking prone atop a vein of latent energy, belied by the lack of any achievement. Montreal is a cultural capital in the national context, with a developed art scene in all forms of media, and across languages. It also has a revolutionary spirit that the world recognizes. No socialist media has been able to combine the spirit and the culture, and attain either a meaningful degree of local relevance, while simultaneously bringing that spirit to a broader national or international audience.

The culture industry still has the potential to be employed as a tactical means to build an organization with a greater ambition than perpetually producing further content. The culture industry needs to be put to work in the service of the revolutionary subject. As Canada’s de facto centre of both class consciousness and cultural prestige, the task is to re-appropriate that apparatus toward the same end Lenin used his newspaper to accomplish: building the material structure of a revolutionary Party, and turning it into a “real fact.”

Schopenhauer wrote that in the experience of the sublime through music, the audience can temporarily dissolve the boundaries of their ego and feel as though one with the world-spirit. These moments of dissolution is the most one can hope for in an existence whose precondition involves suffering. No other aesthetic form rivals direct connection with the totality of creation. The Voice of Montreal was purely aesthetic, a sonic gesture empty of linguistic content.

When we combine voice and language, it becomes something other than purely aesthetic. It might come in the form of the poetic, where the sounds and meaning of the words play out their aesthetic dialectic; or the prosaic, where the aesthetics of sound become subordinate to those of language. In the latter case, the voice is no longer important: what matters most is the meaning of the words. The Voice of Montreal was neither poetry nor prose, but something akin to music: its legacy is a rhythm that still lingers online. Nothing was ever said in those pages; it was no more than an aesthetic experience. Whether good or bad, I leave to the reader to judge; what I say with conviction, is that pure aestheticism is escapism. The mirror reflects, holding onto nothing; there is nothing to be aestheticized. Reflection, rather than articulation, is the ideal model for media instrumentalized to revolutionary ends: The New Mirror.

July

Early Days on the Internet

Spent some time falling into a nostalgia trap, and going back through old message board archives and reading my 13-14 year old self talking shit. I was a rude, cynical bastard at that age. A lot of anger inside. Not enough attention at home; too much instability. I wrote about some memories using The Place in this Twitter thread. The two forums I was reading through were Martial Arts Planet (MAP), and the Crestfallen Studios community board. Maybe someday I’ll reveal my username. Real ones already know.