A Radical Cut In The Texture Of Reality.

April 12, 2015

Unit of Measurement

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We hate the government
the government represents us
we hate the government that represents us
the government doesn’t represent us
it represents corporate interests
corporate interests that give them money
money they use to get us to vote for them
we don’t vote for them
but someone does
with thirty percent of the vote
you can have a majority
the majority never says to itself:
I feel inferior because I’m only
worth thirty percent
it says: I used strategy and guile
to flip my thirty percent
into absolute power
perhaps every vote feels superior to the vote
sitting next to it, glancing over,
thinking: let me handle this
I know what I’m doing
or perhaps not

Our vote represents us
we hate our vote, our choices
we hate the choices that represent us
a vote is a unit of measurement
but the hatred we feel for the government
cannot be measured
if you want to understand the present you
have to read history
if you want to understand history you
must understand human nature
human nature is malleable
it is formed by the society and
culture that surrounds it
perhaps not entirely
our history: we came here, said it was ours
but it wasn’t ours
there is enough for everyone if you’re willing to share
if you use only the small part that you actually need
they say the government is ours but it’s not ours
it’s against us, but that
doesn’t mean we’re not the same
the problem of government is a problem we all share

I know someone will tell me I shouldn’t
use the word hatred in this poem
that hatred is unproductive
but we do hate the government, I think,
how they reshape our world in their image
I know someone will tell me
I shouldn’t be so simplistic or didactic
but perhaps all I’m trying to say
is that the simple things are complex
and the complex things are as simple
as poison



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April 2, 2015

Four Upcoming Toronto Events



Sunday April 19, 2pm - 5pm
HIJ Reading series #13
with Brecken Hancock, Grace O’Connell and Jacob Wren
260 Ryding Avenue
Facebook Event

Wednesday April 22, 7pm
Why Do We Do Things?: Aisha Sasha John and Jacob Wren in conversation
Mercer Union, 1286 Bloor Street West
Facebook Event

Friday May 1st, 10am - 11:30am
NeMLA 2015
ART WRITING AND CONVERSATIONAL THEORY: PROXIMITY AND PRAXIS
with Laura Edbrook, Maryse Larivière and Jacob Wren
The Fairmont Royal York, 100 Front Street W, Room: Tudor 8
(Local graduate students attending a university or college within 25-miles/40-kilometers of the convention site, as well as non-academic guests of registered partipants not attending receptions may register at no charge. You are still asked asked to complete the registration process and check in at the registration table for a nametag.)

Saturday May 2, 6pm - 8pm
Authors for Indies Day
"all new Jacob Wren title from BookThug > only 50 available"
Type Books, 883 Queen Street West
Facebook Event




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April 1, 2015

Two blank pages.

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Sometimes, when my notebook is almost full but not quite – the notebook I carry around in case I have a thought I want to write down, or when I’m working on a book or article – when this notebook is almost full but there are still five or ten empty pages left, I feel suddenly that I need a new notebook, a completely empty one. I feel this moment is almost the entire story of my life, always wanting a blank slate, to start again, to forget all the pages I have already written before I can even consider writing new ones, almost like a curse. The pages I have left empty over the years, always just a few at a time, if they were all put together could make up several new empty notebooks, but for me it never seems to work that way. I am writing this now because in this notebook I’m currently writing in there are only two blank pages left, and I want to fill them so I can then get a new notebook. I have already filled one page (my handwriting is large and clumsy and I only use every other line to make room for notes) and am now six lines into the second blank page. Why do I always want to start again? What do I hope will happen next time that hasn’t happened all the times before? Does this ‘wanting to start again’ make me a better artist or a worse one, and if I were to somehow leave it behind what would I actually be moving towards? I almost never look back over old notebooks, much like I so rarely think back over my life so far. But here near the bottom of the second, no longer blank page, I feel the way I almost always feel during endings: I don’t really want to deal with them so instead, while still asking myself questions, I just sort of throw them away.



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March 21, 2015

You can’t just do the moves, you’ve got to let go.

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Let’s say there was a writer who decided that, in his lifetime, he wanted to write a hundred books. Before he had even started his very first book he had already decided: I’m going to write a hundred books. Of course, the moment he finishes his first book he immediately starts writing his second, then his third, and on and on it goes. When he finishes book number fifty he thinks: this is amazing, I’m already half way there. Then, just after book sixty-two, he dies. As he is dying he thinks: I could have made it, I really could have made it to a hundred. Now let’s look at the content of the sixty-two books he did actually manage to write...



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March 18, 2015

How did I become so bitter? (comment stream)

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I posted the question "How did I become so bitter?" on Facebook. This is the comment stream:



Too much lemon. Go easy on the lemon next time.

not sure I could tell you how, but I could think of a few good reasons why

you're not bitter. the speed of your mind and the want in your heart can't be matched by the trudge of reality.

Could say the same

Funny, you don't look bitter.

bittersweet

Dig the i out and put an e. It will be - ok -

social media addiction

cuddle deficit?

how do you think it happened?

Because what you are doing is nearly impossible. But don't give up.

Old age, happening to me too

it´s because they lied to you......all of them.....

do not become bitter Jacob, we need you and your thoughts/posts...go out and sit in the sun and so...

I keep asking myself this too

I was born this bitter!

hahahaha. wondering the same myself. but its no mystery really!

Just happens with age. As soon as you start freakin out about hearing people who were born in the 80s are are now over 18 you become bitter.

It's just a logical reaction, at a certain point.

I tried bitter, but that stuff'll kill you. So I'm angry. Keeps all of the other feelings alive. In theory, at least. Maybe.

Because you didn't eat enough butter

I think my bitterness actually peaked in my early 20s, for some reason.

People keep telling me yoga and meditation keep the bitterness at bay, but the bitterness goes so well with the paranoia that I'm on the fence.

Maybe because deep down you are too sweet. Try doing something bad on purpose? Balance things out...

Or walk around making sensory observations until you forget the bitterness for at least a moment.

Are you bitter, or cynical. One is a waste of energy -- the other, the result of intelligence. At least that's the way it seems to me.

Perhaps because you still give a shit.

You seem too busy. But then I may be not busy enough

Half Japanese-Put some sugar on it

Bitterness is the fate of the idealist. Sunlight, lots of fluids and a GG award can help.

Sit in the sun and close your eyes. Try to think about who you are, rather than achievements

It's usually because your ratio of leaf to water is wrong, or the water is too hot, or you left yourself brewing too long. Try using a thermometer and a timer, just to practice for a bit, and take yourself out of the water before you usually do.

One of the tastes we try when the others grow tiresome

i ask myself the same question somedays, guess it must be the business

brush your teeth?

I'm wondering what took you so long.





Bonus track: The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea



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March 16, 2015

Can't...

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Can't leave interdisciplinary performance alone the game needs me.






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March 5, 2015

Passage from The Fourth World by Diamela Eltit

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When I turned twelve I had my first sexual encounter. Transmuted by the ancestral force of passion, I was on the verge of consummating the act, but I didn’t know then if I was being liberated to experience glory or to experience punishment, for all I wanted was to go further – I had to go much further – until I could fuse hesitation with acceleration, disorder with precision, in the sacred flesh.

It happened on a street. The sky was darkened with clouds. I was walking attentively along a narrow street when I sensed that someone was following me. My heart began to pound, yearning for the secret pleasure that emerged from some part of my brain.

I soon realized that I was not the one being followed, but the one following someone else, someone slender, walking unhurriedly, and seeming to glide along in an affected manner. The equivocal situation made me fear I was hallucinating, but the sound of the steps, the crisp air, and the uneven sidewalk confirmed that I was deeply immersed in a real situation.

I was astonished to realize that not only was I following an unknown person but also I didn’t know why I was doing it. Inexplicably, and in some crucial way, however, that moment pulled me away from the world I knew and pushed me into another in which that hieroglyphic person would make similarity and difference fade into one another.

At one particular moment I lost sight of the figure. Dejected and vexed by inertia, I began to double back, thinking nostalgically about my loss. I felt deprived of some absolute presence, more fundamental than my parents and more mysterious than the sum of my fluctuations.

Sadly, I started back. Of the four roads from which I could choose, each one was as equally possible as it was a mistake. I quickly realized that not only had I lost someone but also, in the search, I had become lost myself.

It would have been absurd to wager on which way I should return. One of those roads would take me home, but if I were to choose the wrong one, it would take me three times as long to get back. It seemed as if I were being punished for letting myself be guided by my impulses. Soon it was going to get dark and the city would become even more dangerous. I had been warned about it so many times that now it seemed like a dream to be exposed to it, just on the edge of twilight and shielded by anonymous, conventional dwellings.

Some curious faces observed me while I stood there, stubborn and rigid, trying to decide which way to go. Becoming desperate, I tried to reconstruct my original route, but each possibility seemed equally valid to me. As I got cold, I became more anxious, so I made a random choice. I had no memories or assumptions that would have convinced me that I should have headed south.

I was facing a long and lonely walk, intensified by fear every step of the way. There was nothing to distract me, except the darkness that was overtaking the sky ever so quickly.

Suddenly, when my miserable condition was too much for me to bear, I saw that same figure standing nearby. I froze, overwhelmed by irrepressible desire. Without thinking, I walked through the darkness, guided only by the scent of another person’s skin near me. I stopped.

I felt myself being pushed up against the stone wall, breathing in unison with the figure that was stroking me. Expert, soft hands ran all over my body and fingers pushed against me in order to remove my clothing. In that public exchange, those hands that traversed my body back and forth found their way to the most stimulated part of me.

Unable to feel the stone wall jabbing my back anymore, I sought a deeper reality once those caresses had prepared me for that moment. Feeling totally outside my body, I tried to touch the other person, but a pair of hands stopped me.

As if in apology, our mouths became fused with the passion of our saliva. My tongue became a sword, seeking not only to wound my rival but also to lick my ally.

Out mouths witnessed a combat of shifting liquids that became desperately and painfully prolonged. My breathing became nasally vulgar as the undulations, domination, and pricking left me out of breath. Unable to continue, I decided to consummate the act, but the figure fled, leaving me stinging against the stone wall.

Then the pain began. A sharp, genital pain, provoked by vigorous and demanding desire. Alone and shameless, I resigned myself to the personal glory that I had assiduously attained for the first time. Satisfaction was measured by the curve of desire and the dimension of abandonment. When the violence of the stones returned, I knew it was over.

The hours it took me to get home were agonizing, for I cursed and cursed the whole way, trying to destroy my sexual vitality. I saw myself as an outcast, I was unworthy of living with my family, and I felt as if my mind and body had been condensed into all the encrusted afflictions of the world.

At intervals, strong surges of well-being helped return me to a state of moderation, reducing the denigrated feeling I had about myself. The accursed sermon of reason incessantly accused me of a perfidious crime whose fine was permanent shame and horror.

I promised to make all kinds of sacrifices, even castration, in order to alleviate that burden; yet something had become hopelessly perverted in me and, deep inside, I had exposed myself to a cynical yet honest life.

I suffered intensely for several days but, little by little, even though I was feeling much anxiety, I concentrated on elucidating exactly what happened in that meeting on the street.

I couldn’t determine who or what seduced me that evening. Despite continually reconstructing that encounter I could never ascertain anything with any proof, even though I know I encountered youthful plentitude in the flesh of a young female beggar or a young male vagabond who, as night approached, performed a charitable act for me.

- Diamela Eltit, The Fourth World/El Cuarto Mundo



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March 4, 2015

The Doppelganger

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[This text was originally published in SIC #2/The Characters]



You turn the corner and there he is. He’s you but he’s not you. He’s pathetic. He’s you, but if you were someone else he would also be you. He’s the person you see unexpectedly when you’re walking down the street, turn a corner, and suddenly chance upon a version of yourself. But what I’m trying to explain is that it’s him. He’s always the same person. I realize this is not an original idea. Doppelgangers have a considerable history in literature and art, and this year alone there were two feature films about characters encountering their doubles. But he doesn’t need to be original because he’s you and, let’s face it, you’re not so original either.

All of this is only preamble. What’s important is that we try to see things from his perspective. Because he knows that he is in fact himself, but you know that he is also you. If you woke up tomorrow with another face, you might have an intense moment of crisis, but in the end you would still know that you’re yourself. And when you turn the corner to stumble upon him, for him it is a bit like he has just awoke with another face, your face, but he’s used to it. It might have bothered him a long time ago, when all this first began, but now it no longer phases him. He simply glances in your direction, thinking here we go again. He’s accepted the fact that constantly others will approach him, others who view him differently than he views himself.

Over time he has become philosophical about the matter. Everyone believes they have a self and is encouraged to over-invest in this belief. However, since his own self is, on an almost daily basis, undermined by the intense projections of relative strangers, he has no choice but to take the opposite road. He works each day to under-invest in his own sense of self, to see it most clearly where the edges blur and he is indistinguishable from many of those who surround him.

Over time he has come to find a strange comfort in this daily fact. As you turn the corner, stumble upon him, and are disturbed, thrown off-guard by your sudden encounter with some new version of yourself, he takes it all in stride. We are each, perhaps, ourselves. But, at the same time, every street is filled with hundreds of others who might also be us, and if they were, or are, what difference would it really make to each of our lives? All you have to do is turn a corner.



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February 26, 2015

Five quotations on suicide

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During the decline of Christian moralism few groups have risen so rapidly in the overall estimation of society [as the suicide has.] It was dangerous for Donne to suggest that suicide was sometimes not a sin. It was still daring for Hume to reason that it was sometimes not a crime. Later one had to point out that it was sometimes not simply a sickness of the soul. Now it seems necessary to argue that it is sometimes not a virtue. To paraphrase Freud, what does a suicide want? Not what he gets, surely. Some simply think of death as the absence of their present state, a state which pursues them like a malignant disease and which cannot be otherwise escaped. Others consider it quite positively, as thought to die were to get on in the world. Seventh Heaven, after all, is a most desirable address. Still others spend their life like money, purchasing this or that, but their aim is to buy, not to go broke. Are we to say to them (all and every kind) what we often say to children? no, Freddie, you don’t want a pet boa, you wouldn’t like the way it swallows mice.

It doesn’t follow at all that because it is easy enough to kill yourself, it is easy enough to get, in that case, what you want. Can you really be said to want what you cannot possibly understand? or what you are in abysmal confusion about? or what is provenly contrary to your interests? or is plainly impossible? Is ‘I’d rather be dead’ anything like ‘I want to be a chewed-up marshmallow’; or: ‘I want 6 and 3 to make 10’; or: ‘I want to be a Fiji princess’; or: ‘I want a foot-long-dong’; or: ‘I want that seventh scotch-on-the-rocks’; or ‘I would love to make it with Lena Horne’?
– William H. Gass, The World Within the Word



Suicide is a crime of loneliness, and adulated people can be frighteningly alone. Intelligence does not help in these circumstances; brilliance is almost always profoundly isolating.
– Andrew Solomon



The obsession with suicide is characteristic of the man who can neither live nor die, and whose attention never swerves from this double impossibility.
– E. M. Cioran



The destructive character lives from the feeling not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble.
– Walter Benjamin, The Destructive Character



Only the suicide thinks he can leave by the door that is merely painted on the wall.
– Vladimir Holan



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