Industry's Last Movement

I just finished reading a highly provocative interview with Bernard Stiegler in the Fall issue of the Queen's Quarterly. I found it to be a very potent analysis of capital in a contemporary setting.

It got me thinking. According to Stiegler, the quantifying and disindividuating effects of capitalism reduced the craftsmen to proletarians and eventually managed to replace them more or less altogether with mechanical technology. The same thing has happened on the other side of the supply-demand relationship as well. Citizens were reduced to "consumers", cogs in the industrial process. Consumers have been denuded of identity and meaning by the arithmetic logic of capitalism. Socialists would tend to think that the way out of this is to turn away from capitalism. Many would suggest that we need to turn to other things such as religion or nature to re-establish a sense of meaning.

But maybe there's another answer. Rather than fighting it, perhaps we should let this disembodied spirit of Capitalism have its way and let it complete the process of industrialization. We have industrialized harvesting, processing, manufacturing, distribution, even the commercial side of consumption. But the actual act of consumption has been largely left alone, human in its inefficiency! It seems like the best way to finally free humans from the reductionist effects of capitalism is to complete the industrialization of the economy: that is right, I am talking about Consumption Machines! Nothing else would break us so decisively free, allowing us to go romping in the meadow at sunrise. We would be free at last from our obligations to the economy!

The picture above is from the Cloaca project, where they have been well ahead of me in designing these sorts of machines. The link: http://www.cloaca.be/
I'm very impressed by their work, which manages replicate a digestion process, but what I'd like to see is a machine that will also look at advertising, watch tv, surf the net, read books, listen to music, experience a museum, etc. . . now that would be a true consumption machine.


Defeating the Dark [side]

Our glorious Ontario Fall, while clinging on for an unseasonably long time this year, is falling. Winter approaches, quickly chasing. Although yesterday's first snow fall in Toronto was really just a few small flakes, it felt momentous nonetheless.

There is a long tradition of celebrating light in the wintertime, when, in the Northern hemisphere at least, the amount of natural light significantly diminishes. The lack of natural light provides us with the opportunity to celebrate our ingenuity in creating light. While our celebrations of light have many individual significations, together I feel they also represent humanity's capacity to rise above naturally-imposed difficulties, a certain technological optimism, and human solidarity amidst darkness. Examples of these traditional celebrations range from the Jewish Honukkah, the Indian Diwali, the Persian Chahārshanbe-Sūri, the French Fête des Lumières and the Germanic precursors to Christmas.

These traditions, linked by their appreciation of our ability to create light in the face of impending darkness exemplify how some symbols can transcend geography, nationality, and religion to evoke the universals of the human experience. Like how Hallowe'en costumes and decorations have adapted over the years from the traditional ghouls and devilish characters to include characters from the popular media such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and now even includes items such as security tape, reminiscent of CSI, so, we continue to forge new celebrations of light.

I took this picture at Notte Bianca in Rome, 2005

Nuit Blanche is one notable international example of a new celebration of light, where people stay up all night, often accompanied by many light-related art installations. In Toronto we also have the Cavalcade of Lights, a wintertime and Christmas-related series of projections, lighting displays, and fireworks.

Last night in front of the ROM occurred a new sort of light celebration, and one totally in keeping with this lineage of traditions. Far from a tradition, it was organized in a very brief amount of time on the Internet. Newmindspace's Lightsaber Battle drew over 2000 people to the small public square sheltered under the precipitous juttings of the new ROM renovation.

It was a tremendous time, with a great deal of communal positive energy. Together, people were vigorously battling darkness both real and metaphorical with their brightly coloured cardboard tubes. What I loved most about the event was that, while many would worry that people could get hurt at an event such as this, nobody did. Except in a few notable exceptions, where people really made it very physical, most people spent the time standing upright close together twirling their 'swords' in the air. The swords thus hit each other in their simultaneous radial movements - constituting a 'battle'.

In the few situations where people made it physical, it remained good natured, if frenetic. Even at one of the points where the battle seemed most like a mosh-pit, action was seen to come to a complete pause when someone's glasses fell to the ground!

Indeed, this new form of quasi-spontaneous event is I think a new manifestation of the same instincts that lead us to string our houses with little brightly coloured lights or light bonfires in the streets. It symbolizes that we are together in this; creating light, we can take shelter from the natural darkness.

To see more photos from the event, visit http://www.flickr.com/groups/newmindspace/pool/


Of Wal-Mart and the OMB

The Ontario Municipal Board is no stranger to the opposition faced by Wal-Mart in rural Ontario. Wal-Mart’s acquisition in 1994 of most of Canada’s Woolco stores had mainly situated them in suburban areas. Given their experience in the US, they knew that they could also play the rural game well. So Wal-Mart has for some time been aggressively chasing the markets of small-town Ontario. However, while Wal-Mart wants nothing more than to make love to rural Ontario, it seems that pretty much every time they make an overture, there is a group of citizens ready to try and rebuff them.

Stratford has been one notable example of this phenomenon. A few weeks ago, their municipal council, after long and highly controversial deliberations, refused to allow the planning amendment required for Wal-Mart to move in. Wal-Mart is now expected to make an appeal to the OMB.

Unfortunately, the usual arguments against allowing Wal-Mart into Ontario's smaller towns, centring on the degradation of local communities and cultures, usually fall on deaf ears at the very business-minded OMB.

An interesting article in the Star recently showed however that a new line of defense against the big box bullies is being tried out. As the people of the town of Port Elgin take on their local Wal-Mart development, they are focusing less on the muddier areas of how the Wal-Mart form of commerce will affect the community, but rather on issues of safety.

This is made possible by the 2005 Provincial Policy Statement issued by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, to which the OMB is obliged to respect. Amongst other things, the 'Statement' claims that "Healthy, liveable and safe communities" are sustained by "avoiding development and land use patterns which may cause environmental or public health and safety concerns."

While clauses like this one are probably intended to cover planning debacles like the Oak Ridges Moraine, they do suddenly make the development of 'safe' space a provincial issue.

The urban designs that tend to go along with big-box developments require large parking-lots that are empty most of the time. These are not safe spaces, goes the argument, and therefore should either be redesigned as safer or disallowed entirely.

I, for one, have never seen this argument levelled against big-box urbanism before, but I like it because of its potential usefulness. Unfortunately, however, the solutions that are being proposed in this instance are rather unsavoury. The experts at the OMB hearing are suggesting that Wal-Mart increase visibility by getting rid of trees that surround the parking lot and increasing the proposed lighting. In the interests of safety, the commercial experience is thus being made both less pleasant and less environmentally sustainable.

While the safety argument against big-box stores is interesting, I think the conclusions are wrong. This sort of urban design as I've seen it practiced throughout the province is fundamentally unhealthy to both the individual and the community. If Wal-Mart wants to integrate itself into the local economy, why can't it also be asked to integrate itself into the local urban fabric rather than landing itself on a huge empty lot on the outside of town?

Surely that would be a better solution for 'public health and safety'.

Photo by ChrisEvans


A New Marginal Fear For You

For whatever reason, it is never the big problems that really get to me. I'm less worried about the several world wars that seem impending on the global stage, the decline in the education of the west, the creeping fundamentalism and radicalism (both nationalist and religious) all over the world, or the increasing rates of violence and and mental illness in the west.

The problems that always seem to attract my attention the most are the unexpected ones, the global problems that seem to sneak in from the flank. Take for instance the bee situation.

We were just going along minding our own business - then, seemingly out of nowhere, we have a bee crisis on our hands! Suddenly (things always seem sudden when presented in the news) the bee population is dwindling dangerously, and David Byrne is quoting Einstein as saying that 4 years after bees go extinct, humanity is doomed. An apocalypse on the horizon, out of left field: Here we were concentrating on pacifying rogue states and cutting our carbon emissions, when it turns out the real doomsday was going to come from the disappearance of beehives!

Since then, we have discovered that the culprit behind the hive scarcity was a virus. So we can stop worrying about that now . . . maybe we haven't solved the problem, but we found a cause - you can sleep easy.

I have also always been fascinated by the apparent effect that cow flatulence is said to have upon global warming. I mean, it sounds like the punchline to a joke, but yet its a very real threat. And now we can add to this . . .. get ready for it - Mammoth Dung! Yes, it's the very latest thing in paranoia - if you're the sort of person who likes to get worried, you can forget about your cancer causing vitamin d deficiency that you got from wearing sunblock, or the hazardous chemicals leaching out of the water bottle that you bought in order to facilitate your heart-disease fighting exercise - the latest fad in fear is the apparently catastrophic effect that melting prehistoric poo is going to have on our climate! Talk about an unexpected (and hilarious) apocalypse. . ..

Here's the link: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSL1076886120070917?sp=true

picture of mammoth remains by Linksmanjd


The 'Welcome' Screen

Why is it that when I turn my computer, it wishes me, "Welcome"?

What an appropriation that seems. It is as if the computer engineers actually believed that the non-space of the operating system were the privileged world, & that I am simply a visitor to their ethereal realm. As if the only world wasn't the world of air, earth, fire, water that I move in, but actually that this intellectually wrought imaginary world of their creation, complete with its spatial and temporal metaphors, was actually in some sense, more authoritative.

As I understand it, I sit in the real world observing a screen that displays a complex system of allegory, that I (still independent of the system), can then sift through at my leisure.

Should I not be welcoming the computer into existence as I draw electricity surging through its circuits, bringing it into operation? Not the other way around? It seems to me that there is a clear subversion of agency here, manifested in that one word, "Welcome".

I may have bought the computer, set it up, and turned it on, but according to its programming anyways, it is the host, and I the guest.

The Mind and the Body - a little spiritual rant

Yeah true, I get a bit heavy sometimes . . . but I wrote this the other day & thought maybe people would like to read it.

The world is plural & has multiple meanings and interpretations in the mind, but in the body it has unity & universality. For this reason, wisdom is found in a balance between the mind & the body's observations - little justice can be found in universal rules & narratives, but confusion & hollow placelessness is found in the exclusive acceptance of multiplicity.

Both the acknowledgment of universality & of plurality are important in life. They are mutually stabilizing.

There are two ways of understanding the relationships between these acknowledgments: either complex, paradoxical plurality exists within universal reality, or the appreciation of plurality exists above or external to the whole.

I think both of these models have their share of accuracy, & neither of them sums up the relationship perfectly. In the one model, the stable and inclusive whole contains an inherent complexity, rife with internal contradictions. In the other model, the complexity perceived by the intellect exists 'in addition to' the central kernel of stability perceived by the body [including the physical matrix of reality].

While understanding & perceiving the connectedness of things allows us both to love unconditionally & safely in addition to developing a sense of position in the cosmos, the mind's ability to perceive difference allows us to accept others, demonstrate humility, & make decisions that are rational, pragmatic, & fair.

Picture of carrot slice by Mimi_K


Orchestrating an Acoustic Riot

The Cinematic Orchestra creates complex, vibrant music. Although their most recent effort, Ma Fleur pales in comparison to their previous stuff, this does not stop it from being great music.

They miraculously combine an at times Lynchian obscurity with a film noir, polished savoire faire. They evoke both the words "camp" and "refined" simultaneously. These are confusing descriptions, I understand, but I insist that this confusion arises inevitably from their work, which is pluralistic and vast, at times ironic, at times erotic, at times chaotic, at times meditative. Imagine Humphrey Boghart in a Michel Gandry film. CO flirts with John Coltrane funky freneticism, Miles Davis calm, classical composure, and ties it all together with the smooth drum and bass sensibility of electronica and hip hop. And the beautifully rich vocals of Fontella Bass don't hurt.

As awesomely put together as their recordings are, the CO are also a true pleasure to see perform live, as they did Sunday night at the Phoenix, here in Toronto. It was definitely the best live show I have experienced in the last year, which is saying quite bit, given that that comparison includes TV on the Radio, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, and The Arcade Fire. For me, the most notable thing about their performance was their obvious sheer delight in each other's abilities; their enjoyment of one another's capacity to excel. They looked like they were having a great time, playing old tunes together that allowed each of the very talented musicians to jump in there and have a blast.

Also interesting is that although the project is obviously guided by the 'band leader', J. Swinscoe, there seems to be absolutely no resentment, which is not always the case. Just judging from their onstage interactions, it seems to be a wonderfully collaborative environment, mutually beneficial to all the members of the group.

Photo by El Dudero


Opinions Are True

It should be noted that this isn't about anyone in particular - its about the question of when opinions become fact. And of course all kinds of other things, like shoes, and goo.

She claims her opinions are true,
and I don't know what to do.

And my fresh bouquet is now askew;
I can't find my way out of this political zoo;
I'm looking for answers, but there are not a few,
and the baddies never seem to get their due!

And she claims her opinions are true?

And in the end its a Nike shoe;
we'll see how much honour a man can accrue;
if you're looking for the wealthy, they already flew,
and the seat that you offer's all covered in goo!

I completely forgot to close the flu,
and there's hundreds of banknotes,
and they all smell like poo.
The fat bearded doctor has a bagpipe tattoo,
and this lovely fresh bouquet is breaking in two!

And she claims her opinions,
mind you not a few -
are true!

And the sky has turned green,
I see trees of blue,
and my communist cousin has fled for Peru,
and Winnie and Piglet, and
Kanga and Roo,
All stare with amazement at this murky stew.

And the answers keep coming -
they are not a few;
the judge and the jury, paralyzed by the view,
have thrown out the old, to favour the new.

But in conclusion, although all this is true,
I can relax in my hammock without feeling too blue. . .

I mean,
at least my opinions are true!


Jon Sasaki

I really really like the work of this artist, Jon Sasaki.

He has a show on right now in Toronto at Gallery TPW. I haven't been to it. But I read an article about it, and then I visited his site, which I highly recommend to you as well:


His video work is the best, I think, but all of the stuff on the site is great! It's ironic without seeming contrived; it drifts into the uncanny without being overly serious; it's referential without being redundant.


ROM, June 2007

Back when it was first announced in 2002, my gut reaction to the ROM renovation was immediately negative. I am, however, coming around to passivity.

When I examine my own intial response, I think it can be summed up as a reaction to its "irresponsibility" as architecture, similar to the cotemporary addition to the Ontario College of Art and Design. I was responding to a feeling that the lack of civic responsiveness and respectability in the execution of these designs was a flagrant violation of the seriousness of Architecture. While by no means have I changed my mind about the lack of urban sensitivity and refined sensibility (lets face it, the crystal is gaudy, like a fat diamond ring!), I have seriously softened my demand for these things as obligations to either the architectural profession or to society. I can accept this "architecture as reaction" or this "architecture as spectacle" or this "architecture as personal expression", whatever you wish to denote it as, insofar as they represent voices in a necessary built dialogue. In other words, I can respect what the architect, Libeskind, and his team think they are doing and their vitality and energy in attempting it, whether or not I respect the final form. I am willing to admit this as a concession to plurality in the built environment.

Libeskind feels a need to break down the rectilinear and cellular structures of traditional museums. This is in keeping with a fairly noble idea of reinventing and loosening up the rigid story-lines we associate with the curation of knowledge. He wants, I believe, to architecturally represent the popular philosophic belief that our relationship to knowledge, and to truth should become more dynamic. The problem is of course that this is very difficult to accomplish through static architectonics. The crystal, while implying movement, is, or we hope is, static. The architecture then, failing in this attempt at dynamism, ends up relying upon showmanship, spectacularism, and its role as a monument to the architect - a celebration of his genius. Unfortunately this building, as civic monument, is a one liner, a joke got before its told. Let's hope then that it proves to be a useful space for displaying the ROM's impressive collection of curiousities.



for Jake . . . a synergetic niche

People and text


OmniTope 1

. . . and now for self indulgence maximized! Yes that's a picture of me. . .

Three Containers

This photo was oddly enough inspired by the water bottle that my philosophy proff. was drinking out of. I was thinking about the different sorts of things that we use to contain and transport water and their significance to us.


Make Good

I realized immediately after posting this that it might easily be confused for a rather angsty cry for help. It actually originates with the idea that I like to make good things, which neccesitates that I "make things good". "Make things good" also implies an active ethical engagement in the world. Furthermore, the similar phrase "make good" is a typical note used in architectural drawings. Thus the image above. . .


Dufferin to Spadina on King

Somehow I can't get Blogger to retain any of the formating of text. This poem should have a lot more complicated formating, but I think it works ok without it too. I wrote it over a couple of weeks riding the streetcar to work.



tracks through









for the third streetcar


its nice and juicy always surprised when it isn’t


he spreads his knees but feels kinda lonely, in a state this morning, moving like monkeys, like penguins, like


disappointment on their polished angular faces, disapproving of the snowbanks they step grimly over with


Cultures Collide: white lids, brown lids, black lids, may yourbucks always be starbucks, your second cup always better than your coffee


on sunday morning coffee in one hand, pram in the other, her boots are made of spanish spanish


none of this pleather bullshit! Never underestimate a pregnant woman! She’s got a pretty face, but have you seen her


shuffling, he cuts through the crowd with a queens quarterly


alights down



babel --



tap sole, wolf howl, summer beach, woolen solitude

I am exhausted by the hilarity.

Tie up the tap shoes,

remove their soles;

let me carry the wolf howls in my chest

quietly into the moonlight;

let us kiss quietly on summer


drink tea in woolen solitudes.



This item also occurred to me while reading Tret'iakov. It's pretty blatant, and probably even counts as bad art. . .

Blue Bench

The Autumn number of the quarterly, October, contains a number of articles written in the thirties by Sergei Tret'iakov, notable proponent of the Russian Factography movement. In one of the articles, he uses this fragment of text to condense all romantic revolutionary literature.


Bionic Eye Saga Continues

I have uploaded more images of the bionic eye sculpture (originally posted on the 30th of December) at www.geocities.com/duncpatt

All These Are Possible

This is a study for later work.


Violence in the Media

This is a collage I completed recently. The silhouette is of Sean Connery as James Bond. The other image is a photo taken by a journalist in Palestine during recent riots. The point is to juxtapose the very real violence that confuses us so in the representative media with the way in which we conceive of violence in the media of fantasy.


Here is a sketch I whipped up recently as a study for a triptych painting. It's pretty cheesy, so I decided not to make it, but the sketch is still worth looking at.

The point behind this painting was to be to imagine that we became so independent of our sensory organs that we lost them entirely. At a conference I was at a couple of weekends ago, one of the speakers talked about the 'practical' telepathy afforded by cellular phones. I thought this was really interesting. He also spoke about researchers who seriously envision telecommunication implants in the throat and ears as a possibility in the near future. This would literally allow us to communicate sub-vocally.


I've finally got the old scanner up and running. Here's a diagram that I made recently concerning the question of how architects and designers can engage the world around them. . .


Proud Mullions


When I first moved to Toronto, I discovered this site close to where I live, defined by the rails of the train and King street. It is a wedge-shaped site, with a really dynamic feeling to it, formed as it is by transport infrastructure. Soon it will be saturated with mindless 'victorian' row-housing, which is sad for a parcel of land with such potential.

I now realize that this site is in fact part of a chain of such pieces of land left over from the industrial activity surrounding the rail line that run all the way from down by Fort York up to near Dupont. Most of these sites are now being developed either for row-housing or apartment buildings. For an area with so much potential for drama and dynamism, it is rather disappointing that the architecture will probably not do it justice.


Eternity 5

I descend the stairs ponderously, my hands slack in the pockets of my overalls, step after step, pausing at each landing, every ten steps or so, to look out into the darkness. I am always on the lookout for more material. Wood comes along every once in a while – often it gets caught, entangled somehow with the stairs. Nails are harder to come by.

I keep descending until I reach the bottom. On the last step I pause awhile before sitting and letting my legs dangle freely in the emptiness. At first it made me nervous, this emptiness, but I’m getting used to it. At first my stomach would get all knotted up ascending and descending these stairs, with nothing but black void to either side. I haven’t fallen off yet, anyway, so I suppose there’s no reason to assume that I shall.

A plank of wood. At first I see it only in the corner of my eye, but turning my head and focusing on it, I can be sure that that’s what it is. And it’s just about the perfect size: large enough for at least three treads!

My heart racing, I take off up the stairs at a gallop. It looks like it just going to miss the third landing up. The ‘catcher’ is currently hanging from a hook near the fifth landing, so I have to run up there to retrieve it before coming back down. Thankfully most of the stairs are even and consistent, so I won’t trip. On the eighth landing I rotated the orientation of the stairs a complete ninety degrees which I think makes for a pleasant change. There is a great deal more possibility for variation, but I guess I don’t really see the point.

Catcher in hand, I return to the fourth level. Seeing the plank, I reach out carefully. Hooking the crook at the end of the catcher around the board, I draw it towards me. When it gets close, I reach out and grab it. I hoist the plank over my right shoulder, balancing it with my hand, and then proceed upward to the summit of my stepped domain.

When I reach the top, I temporarily nail my new salvage to the side of the riser, letting it hang in the void. I sit on the top step now, catching my breath. Looking downwards, I can survey the extent of my construction: flight upon flight upon flight of toilsome building, leading up to this point where I now sit, weary, but happy. Below the bottom is nothing – there will always be nothing. But above the top, I see limitless potential.

- edited Sunday, January 14, 2007

Eternity 4

I am in a newly constructed house. The air smells of sawdust and cleaning detergent, crossed, multiplied and layered elegantly over the volume of the house. Cupboards, trims, finishes, tiles, wood, paint; all are in their place – aligned, straight and true. I can hear only my own solitary steps and shuffles. I know that most people would be more easily satisfied, but I'm just not most people. I look at things differently. I survey details. I'm looking for cracks and scuffs - signs of error. But anxious as my eyes may seem, inside I am relieved.

I kneel on one knee to inspect the dried paint of some four-inch base trim. I run my thumb over its surface as I feel for irregularities. I find none. The paint is smooth. Even the counter-sunk nails are elegantly and consistently done. I stand, feeling a smile sneak into the corners of my lips.

I carry with me a heavy, metal triangle. I hold the triangle up in the corner of the room, horizontal, with a side of the triangle against each wall. Again, as with the trim, my expectations are exceeded. I feel the smile broaden on my face of its own accord. Finally, before leaving the room, I lay a level down on the hard-wood floor in the centre of the room. Concentrating, I slowly rotate the level around in a circle. When, finally I have completed a 180° sweep, I stand again. This relief is magnificent. This room is perfect. No just good, not just passible, but perfect. I have no assurance that the next room will be the same, however, and so the relief is short lived. My tools in hand, I move into the next room. It's pretty much identical to the first at initial glance, but I won't be fooled. I survey the space from the doorway before heading over to inspect the light switch more carefully.

How I ended up here I don't know, but I'm getting used to it. It's as if this eternity expands and extends the moment of satisfaction that rarely greets the perfectionist in this world of entropy. I can leave my frustration behind. Now I am rewarded by the forces of space and time. This is a world of right angles and evenness, of flush surfaces and straight lines. All that is solid, is, and remains, solid.

- edited Sunday, January 14, 2007

Eternity 3

I feel as if I am balanced on a narrow ledge, suspended in that clarity of adrenaline that comes directly before a fall. Except I never fall. My eternity exists in the sweet precariousness of creativity.

Sometimes in my life I have felt like I have broken through something, exposing what is beneath. When I write it resembles a landslide. The words could be tumbling from my cramped, scribbling hand like rocks down a rugged hillside – and then all of a sudden it will hit. The stones stop tumbling and start sliding – straight, quickly and true, hurtling rapidly towards their eventual rest. In the visual arts it has happened to me as well, as the forced, forged form suddenly becomes inevitable. And in music, too – crafted art can unexpectedly give way to something else, something deeper.

Now I feel as if I have broken through a screen of some sort, like I have blasted through a projection scrim and revealed the blinding light beyond. And I am stuck in this light. I reached an apex and stayed there. The moment is sustained – extruded to infinity, spread out to cover all space and time. It is blinding, and sickeningly sweet. It is an eternity of impossibly sore wrists and unstoppable headaches. I am covered in paint and graphite. My hair is falling out.

- edited Sunday, January 14, 2007

Eternity 2

The stone is moulded just right to fit my backside. It is smooth and comfortable. I spend my time watching the shifting worlds before me, as scenario upon scenario are enacted upon my screen – understandable constructs and narratives. A man on a cool day in a light trench coat sits on a solid bench to rest his tired legs. He eats an apple to satisfy his hunger. He is cold. I forget about the unfathomable options behind me – the swirling masses of ideas and theories, of utopias tightly winding themselves around dystopias. They don’t need me and I can quite easily forget them. I am merely a selector or possibilities.

When I turn around, my eyes are very nearly overcome by the sheer complexity of the shifting, coiling, spreading potential to be found. Beyond the lip of earth-stained rock, the possibilities are endless. I have never dared venture beyond this threshold; the mixture of fear and complacency in me is strong enough to counteract my curiousity.

On my right, suspended by beige nylon elastic straps, hangs a large, complicated mechanical device. It is suspended from the ceiling by 3 straps, and tethered to the ground by another three and is thus prevented from swaying. It resembles an optometrist’s lens-selector, the big black-and-chrome machines they would press up against your face when you would sit in that comfortable chair. I am still working out the details of operating this device. It is exceedingly complicated! There are all kinds of different lenses to choose from – a cornucopia of colours and shapes.

I’m figuring it out slowly. The basic principle is that this device allows me to select which of the swirling collection of ideas and principles behind me, many of which are blatantly contradictory, I wish to admit into my enclosure. By fiddling with these lenses I can filter in certain possibilities . . . and fortunately keep others out! I can choose my own projections, thus, and when I get bored, by flicking a few switches, rotating a few lenses, or twirling a few dials, I can totally alter my projected reality – add new character types, say, shift values, flip meanings. Eternity, this way, is endlessly entertaining, even in the relative darkness of this enclosure.

- edited on Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Eternity 1

It was not my intention to hang on this long. Now, blinking in the grey light, I can't even remember how long its been. The more I realize how little I know (who I am, how long I've been here, where here is . . . ), the more I assert my own anxious energy to the task at hand. I pull, terrified, with all my weight and with every gasp of strength. But with every spurt of effort I pour into this pulling, she, in turn, pours an equal amount of effort into pulling the rope in the opposite direction. Why I am terrified I don't even know anymore, and this just increases my terror. She feels differently though, I believe. I've never discussed it with her. She seems to have resigned herslf to a blissful blankness of emotion - to a sort of meditational toil. Her body is coiled into a mechanized, brainless object, destined to respond to my effort in kind, and nothing more. Her physical fibre has become like a taught trampoline membrane, that when pushed, responds with an equivalent push in the opposite direction.

A vague shaft of light, from a small window high above, illuminates her form. I realize that I love her. Is she capable of love? We don't speak. Is she capable of speach?

Looking down, I realize for the first time that we are no longer hauling, as I had believed, on either end of a strand of rope. Rather, our two arms have become one arm, connected to my shoulder on one end, and to hers on the other, with two elbows in between. We cannot let go! We are one, defined by our antagonism.

At any rate, even if we could let go, we would only fall over!

- edited Sunday, January 14th, 2007


Wiki Eternities

My 'Eternities' series of fictional prose is now posted to Google Doc's. I had originally thought that if a document was stored there, you could open up collaboration to everyone and anyone, but it would appear that you have to be invited, so please email me at duncpatt@yahoo.co.uk if you wish to help me edit these! In addition, if anyone reads anything on here and would like to help me edit the work, please just let me know and I'll move it to Google Doc's as well! The beauty behind the Google Doc's setup is that many people can edit the same document, similar to a Wiki, thus making it a collaborative effort. Lawrence Lessig, a Lawyer from the States, once posted his book, Code, online as a Wiki, opening it up to editing by both his supporters and his detractors. Perhaps this could be tried with other texts that are already in the public domain, like the Bible, Origin of the Species, or Das Capital.

Untitled #A



Spread all over the map like intellectual custard.



Nerves and skin and blood and loose tendons; liquid.

Like a small lost child on a nameless day, under a

motionless sun, grass above my unguided vision.

What lies beyond the hill?

Are there trees to shade this fervered forehead? Is there

water to quench this aimless thirst?

Blades of green, worm-tillings, a couple of aunts,

Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan, a

shelf of hourglasses:

What lies beyond the hill?

All Tomorrow's Parties

What is this world into which I stumble every morning? Head over phallus, an adult newborn each morning, with every gloomy dawn of grey clouds, and silence, with intimations of whispering cars and muffled birdsong. Who are these people on all sides with words of their invention, with ideas that spring forth like jack-in-the-boxes from their random heads, wearing smiles and frowns and scowls so grey and serious? Why do they weave their paths so, these complicated tangles of trajectories left to melt in the snow, a puzzle never to be interpreted by any archaeologist? Why dance, why sing, why grumble about the weather? Why read, why write, why contemplate your sad reflection in the mirror? Such confusion! Such malarkey! Such a proliferation of monarchies; private domains, with private languages, with private deluxe ensuites with their very own love entanglements! Inclusive! So many latrines! So many vanities! So many wandering sexual organs! And billions upon billions of leaves, about to fall from trees, and rot in piles in corners and nooks.

Is there no silence beyond all this? If I sit quietly enough can I see through all these disorderly ids, this tangle of motion? Where is there room to stand in this cocktail party? Does eternity await with the next hors’d’oeuvre?

We Are The. . .

We are the fatherless


charging head forth

into the


of our own creation.

My father died in battle,

yours in surrender.

We follow their bloodless bodies

to revenge,

through dunes of grime and grit,

and clouds of fractured wit.

After The Storm

After the storm, I took to cleaning. I swept the hardwood floor and shook the thread-bare carpet outside. I made my bed and straightened my books.

After breakfast, after doing the dishes, I set out to work on the garden path – a task bestowed upon me by my hostess. The night before had been splintered by heavy southwesterly winds and thunderous rain descending on the roof of my cabin. I awoke on numerous occasions and couldn’t sleep for fear of being whisked away by these winds. The roof of the cabin was pummeled by branches that were violently torn from the surrounding pines, oaks, and maples.

My first procedure, then, was to sweep all of the fallen twigs and pine needles off of the path. This took some time, but was also highly gratifying. Sweeping the small plastic broom back and forth, swiping aside the needles, exposing the stones beneath. The path itself was a curved, drystone affair that led from the dock, around the garden, and to the back of the boathouse. It had been constructed by a previous guest and it was horribly irregular. My task was to rearrange it so as to assure that it was even and that it had smooth, regular sides.

Oh catharsis! To straighten a path – to rationalize a form, so! What a perfectly simple and clear problem! To take the world as you find it, and by moving earth and stone with your hands – with your arms and back and legs as well – to perfect its form, for firmness and delight- this is worthwhile!

And so, after the storm, I picked up my shovel, and my trowel, and my pick, and set hard to work rationalizing the surface of the earth.

Sun In . . .

Sun in melancholy morning

makes everything beautiful even

my cold hands as they clean

last night’s smudgy literary

coffee pot

swirling the grains with hose water

and splashing them

across the earth

where they desperately cling

to grass petals

but by afternoon are




I wrote this when I was living on Georgian Bay at the beginning of Autumn and I would swim each morning before work.

Swimming with these morning mists

I blend my body with such beauty.

This water, black velvety ink,

bends to my fingers.

I would I could cast it

in vast, flowing caligraphy

across these golden skies:

a Haiku, for God and

for You.

A Poem?

The clouds are heavy, perhaps fecund. They no more threaten

than a teenage mother. More, they loom complacently and

full. They brood over the landscape like office clerks brood

over fingernails.


I see your face as

if through thick

foliage and you aren’t


Your frozen expression looks off towards

a horizon

not my horizon.

I am standing on my horizon! Where are you

looking? Who is it there that stands in sillouette?


Cosmos Continued. ..

Further to that last posting, here are some more large numbers for comparison. They are taken from wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1_E9:

- Chance of getting heads 40 times
in a row in a coin toss _______________ - 1 in 10+12

- Chances of being dealt a royal
flush in Poker _____________________- 1 in 10+5.8127

- # of possible 5 card hands______________- 10+6.4148

- # of distinct astrological objects
in the the observable Universe __________- 10+8.9993

- approx. # of neurons in the
Human Brain_______________________- 10+11

- # of different positions offered by
a Rubik’s Cube _____________________- 10+19.6334

- # of different 9x9 Sodoku grids
possible __________________________- 10+21.8242

My uncle tells me that there are approximately 10+120 different possible games of chess.

Given a 26 note melody such as Mary Had a Little Lamb, and allowing the whole scope of the 12-note chromatic scale as possibilities, there are 10+28.0587 different possible melodies. Hence, anyone who claims that all of the melodies are already taken, should seriously think again. That's far more melodies than the number of centimeters between the Earth and the Sun, and back again. Then there are those that say “everything’s already been written”. To that comment I only have to suggest that the OED includes 616,500 (10+5.7899) different word forms, and that Don Quixote is 1072 pages long. Given a rough average of 400 words per page . . . my calculator refuses to even tell me how many different possible combinations there are.