Thursday, October 26, 2006
inside the zoetrope
another halloween, another fundraiser at the AGO. this is the interior of what we called a 'zoetrope', but is really more of a 'dream machine' á la the Beat poets. It does its job: it looks cool. This gig is busting my nards, though - I told Steve Lucas, the design wizard behind this gig, that we've got to stop working like this, on such tight / non-existant margins, and he said: "you said that last year - and the year before that. At about this time, too" -- meaning now, the day after a grueling load-in that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.
We just keep saying yes to things that hurt us. Taking on extra gigs to pay the rent, or the credit debt, or whatever. I watched "Thank You For Smoking" the other day, and it lead me to think that if our age has an anthem, it is "For The Mortgage!"
Monday, October 16, 2006
people as design elements
This is an old pic from a rehearsal in 2005 for "Little Dragon". I just spent a few hours in a workshop for a dance piece called "\dance\songs\" going up at the Theatre Centre November 17th.
It's been a few months since I was in a workshop -- longer since being at the formative stages of something based so deeply in movement. It is sometimes a deeply surreal experience, watching performers exhaust themselves in an abstract set of movements, in a search for the few that will be in the show itself a month from now. They do fascinating things, not really knowing what they are searching for, but trusting that how they work will lead them to finding it. Sometimes they know when they see something worthwhile. Sometimes it's hard to tell.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The word of the day yesterday was "unlearning" -- trying to unlearn bad habits, self-destructive behaviour, weird relationship shit that grew out of the quotidian traumas of early family life... Not stuff I usually dwell on too much myself, but it was Thanksgiving yesterday, and I was in a car with women who were discussing the male and female influences from parents to their children.
... the idea of unlearning fascinates me. It has huge implications: what is the Environmental movement but a huge effort to unlearn destructive habits? ...and it has more subjective implications: if we don't forget all the little forgettable details of our everyday lives, would there be room in our heads for the next day's worth of living?
Is this something you can take control over? Can you get up and say, "Today I will unlearn my macho ways?"
more importantly: would that be any fun?
Saturday, October 07, 2006
looking forward, thinking back
I just did a little time check on my last week and realized that I spend an average of about 30 minutes a day re-learning to do things.
Things like how to make and keep a schedule, to communicate, to pay bills. Some of it is unavoidable -- the phone bill was getting silly so after some research I think we have found a way to cut it almost in half. But even that involved learning a new way to make phone calls. And that's the thing about this kind of re-learning: it's not recovering from having forgotten something, it's having to cope with the yearly reinvention of how people do business these days.
So if I spend half an hour today learning a bit about online document sharing, or some new feature on google, that's half an hour I could have been working or reading or writing or doing whatever it is people with free time do. And tomorrow it will be some bookeeping tips, and next week it will be spreadsheets, and after that some other computer-generated whizthing that replaces the old pen-and-paper ways.
I feel like an old man everytime I rant about the techno-treadmill -- but did people a century ago lose as much of their lives to keeping up with all these little techniques for minor increases to efficiency? If I wasn't having so much fun I'd go back to an analog life in a minute. If I can remember how.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Whenever I have had the chance lately, I have passed through Berlin to see my uncle. This past month I was in Sweden on the way home and spent a day (I couldn't stay longer). We walked for an hour around a little lake where he sometimes jogs, then drove to another spot, in Wannsee, where a trail follows the Havel river. After another hour and a half we had coffee and came home. That was all the walking uncle Arno was good for -- he is down to about 80% of his normal lung capacity since losing a chunk of a lung to cancer. His recovery is very good -- he is on track to recover almost 100% of his capacity. But it takes time, of course.
He says he came to a decision while in recovery. A decision to live. Funny how we have to decide such things, but it's true, we do. Otherwise we coast along and several years later wonder what it is we've been doing. I find myself thinking that I am waiting for life to begin, that this week I am busy with a few things, but next week, or the week after, I will do the things I have been putting off for a while (a month, a year, a decade...). That story I want to write, that picture I want to compose, that chair I've been designing in my head, that row of plants in the garden, the renewed commitment to my lover...
And I was walking past a soon-to-be-developed chunk of land in Toronto today, thinking that we do the same thing here to this city we live in. Put up a few buildings in isolation from the neighbourhoods around them, hoping that somehow it will turn into a place for people that works. But it turns into a whateverland with no place to do groceries and a great view of train tracks, a cellphone tower, and a soap factory. As if someone with a sense of heart will come along later and turn it into the place we really wanted but didn't have the time to set up properly when we were doing it.
I think Arno's come to a new understanding of himself. Maybe us, too.