Wednesday, January 21, 2004

At certain hours of the night
ducks are nothing but landscape
just voices breaking as they nightmare.
The weasel wears their blood
home like a scarf,
cows drain over the horizon
                                      and the dark
vegetables hum onward underground

but the mouth
            wants  plum.
(from Michael Ondaatje's "Claude Glass" in Secular Love)

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Lear.   ...When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em out. Go to, they are not men o' their words. They told me I was everything. 'Tis a lie -- I am not ague-proof.
(from Shakespeare's King Lear)

Friday, January 16, 2004

...
Living, we cover vast territories;
imagine your life drawn on a map-
a scribble on the town where you grew up,
each bus trip traced between school
and home, or a clean line across the sea
to a place you flew once. Think of the time
and things we accumulate, all the while growing
more conscious of losing and leaving. Aging,
our bodies collect wrinkles and scars
for each place the world would not give
under our weight. Our thoughts get laced
with strange aches, sweet as the final chord
that hangs in a guitar's blond torso.
...
(from Julia Kasdorf's "First Gestures")

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig. Came straight from the London airport (via a ride to pick up my stuff in Beamsville) to drop my backpack in the entrance, grab some pens, and run to class. Which sucked so I dropped it. Yup, a week of class gone and I'm taking my first look at what courses to take. Good times. A bit of catch-up to do (not to mention a lot of grad application stuff), but hey, I'm going to bed.

Enough of the minutiae. Go read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Smooth and flowing, it's a wonderful way to kick off the shoes of reality for a while (of course, my plane was delayed such that I finished the book *before* take-off... but thankfully I was pack-horsing it for Vaughn and had backup material).

From picking oranges off the trees in Italy to snow in my socks and a cloud of negative degrees in my hood... Oh Canada.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

London, Barcelona, Paris, Lausanne (Switzerland), Cinque Terra (Northern Italy). The "blithe tourist" shell began to crumble on the train through Southern France... and now I find myself in Rome, my mind completely blown. Indescribable. Coming from a country with history only as deep as the topsoil (the other thousand years swept under the carpet), walking among the mighty ruins and monuments of Rome is quite unlike anything I'd imagined. To walk under stone domes that have stood and felt the rain for more than two thousand years is to rethink our force as humanity. I have never seen anything like the ruins left by the fall of the Roman Empire. History textbooks and photographs can only give it context.

If only I were sure I could see the Taj Mahal and the streets of Jerusalem before I die... and perhaps Tibet's Forbidden City. My goals for simple living remain unchanged, but the taste of walking through St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, alone and for the first time, will never fade. Only rock, only buildings, and perhaps a testament to misplaced ambitions, but you can feel the essence of the human drive throbbing through the stone.

My advice is this. Go to Cinque Terra over Venice: those foot-pathed villages among the mountain vineyards say more about Northern Italy than canals ever will. Be impressed by Rome and what was once the height of Western Civilization (the sheer scope is both fearful and awesome)... but maybe, just once, think about the majority of the human race that existed outside of some rich, privileged patriarchy.

And for goodness' sake, whatever you do, read Umberto Eco on the train through Italy and La Swisse. Trust me, you'll never feel the same way about monastaries again ;)