When I was in high school, I used to frequent the used bookstores in my hometown and pick out books at random to take home. This process began with me, a guilt-ridden fourteen-year-old, warily sifting through romance novels, stacks upon stacks of them, with that delicious old book smell seeping from stained and cracked spines. I learned that if I let the books sit, resting half-open on my thighs for a moment, the pages would eventually lean open to reveal the dirtiest passages, the pages that were most marked and passed over, as though the books themselves were complicit and eager to share the secret desires of women locked in bedrooms. I learned words like "throbbing" and "tumescent" and, though giggling uncomfortably, would still take them home, the rose-pink dust jackets leaving my fingers gritty with dust.
World weary and intense teenager that I was, I progressed quickly from used copies of harlequin romances to Stephen King to Camus to Nietzsche, and I have only recently re-discovered the joys of a good smutty novel.
St. Catharines used to have some epic bookstores, and so did Toronto - many of which have closed. But one of the books I picked up as a 16-year-old was Anne Carson's Beauty of the Husband, which struck me in an intense way at the time but evoked a lot of things I didn't understand until years later. Anne Carson is good. Super good. Healing words. She has been a consistent influence. These quotes are from her book Eros the Bittersweet, a text that I have been revisiting lately.

"Infants begin to see by noticing the edges of things. How do they know an edge is an edge? By passionately wanting it not to be. The experience of eros as lack alerts a person to the boundaries of himself, of other people, of things in general.

If we follow the trajectory of eros we consistently find it tracing out this same route: it moves out from the lover toward the beloved, then ricochets back to the lover himself and the hole in him, unnoticed before. Who is the real subject of most love poems? Not the beloved. It is that hole."

"When I desire you a part of me is gone: my want of you partakes of me. The presence of want awakens in him nostalgia for wholeness. His thought turn toward question of personal identity: he must recover and reincorporate what is gone if he is to be a complete person."

"Where does that hole come from? It comes from the lover's classificatory process. Desire for an object that he never knew he lacked is defined, by a shift of distance, as desire for a necessary part of himself. Not a new acquisition but something that was always, properly, his. Two lacks become one."

"The recognition calls into play various tactic of triangulation, various ways of keeping the space of desire open and electric. To think about one's own tactics is always a tricky business."


I've been thinking a lot of desiring machines recently. I go to Deleuze and Guattari like I used to go to the Bible; every time I read Thousand Plateaus it feels like I just took a long bath, nothing is better. Maybe Jeff Buckley.

Anyways. They basically reconceptualize desire so that instead of it being about lack (in the psychoanalytic sense) desire is productive; desire forms a series of circuits, assemblages, inter-connected flows. I love this image. It comes to mind during the first few days of spring in Toronto, when everyone feels connected. The air is electric. People move differently. Whereas subway rides in the winter are quite possibly the most depressing activity possible in this city, particularly at rush hour, everyone breaks open a little bit when it gets warm. Bodies jostle, people maintain eye contact a little longer than necessary, jackets are unzipped. Desire pulses between people. Not (only) sexual desire, but a sense of affinity, a desire for closeness, to know rather than consume the other.
I feel that I lack the ability to cut those desiring lines. I feel like my desire is messy and chaotic. I feel that desire is messy for most people but that maybe some are better at cutting off connections to others and letting the wounds heal so that what is left doesn't continue reaching for what is gone. As much as I love D&G and believe that their theory of desiring machines is pretty great and true, it is also a profoundly depressing theory when your desire is out-of-bounds, when the reaching is not productive but only points out the impossibility of that desire ever reaching what it is directed towards. I certainly relate to the theory of desire as circulating, but I feel that my desire is, very frequently, only circulating around me and the un-tidy, prematurely chopped-off connections I had to people who are now out-of-bounds. Someone once told me that they hate looking into the faces of someone they once loved, someone who, at one point, they couldn't imagine not knowing and caring about, and then realizing that that feeling is no longer there. Maybe in that moment of (mis)recognition, what is being mourned is the desire itself, not the person.

I think if Deleuze was here and/or if I could have a beer with Guattari they would just tell me that I am still thinking of desire in terms of lack, as a negative term - a reaching out towards what I, myself, do not possess (humans want what we can't have!). Desire in their model is uncoupled from the individual ego - it becomes a circulating affect within an assemblage that exceeds the individual. But realistically, desire is tricky. Because as much as desire is productive, it also involves rejection, missed connections, missing people all over the place, god, I wish I could excise people from my brain. I am positioned at the median, oscillating between desiring-production and desire as lack. I'm just looking for distractions.


Boy Crazy

Serious love for Sons of Anarchy right now.
And feeling better.


The thing about anxiety is that you can't reason or think your way out of it. My chest feels like it is full of rocks, I am having trouble breathing, my palms are sweaty, and I keep retching up nothing - it is like my body wants to get rid of whatever it is that is holding me back from being a successful human being, that feeling of heaviness deep in my back, the one that makes it hard to get out of bed or open the Judith Butler, the one that makes it hard to eat. I keep forgetting to eat.

I'm not sure why I'm so anxious recently. One of my comprehensive papers is due tomorrow (I just answered my question, probably, but my anxiety is more than that, it is about other things I don't want to talk about) and I keep reading and re-reading it, feeling incapable of synthesizing my ideas into lucid prose, words that make sense of what other people have been writing for the last 200 years. Writing a field paper feels like such a futile exercise, I just want everything to line up beautifully and for the connections to reveal themselves in my words but, unfortunately, cultural theory doesn't allow that, cultural theory is a tricky bitch.

When I am this anxious about life it manifests itself in imaginings, thoroughly unproductive fantasies; my mind lingers to people it shouldn't, I invent things and looks and desires to make myself feel better, when, realistically, no one is out there giving a shit. Or maybe the anxiety is a result of those fantasies? I don't know. I understand how self-centered I sound but if you can't be self-centered on a blog where can you. I am having trouble being an adult, and will instead curl up in bed and watch Sons of Anarchy and let my cat roll up in my hair and wait for the dizziness to pass.


Too much to drink last night and now
the symbol claps of shame in August.
Had I been wine-wise, I’d
have been at work for hours by now,
but no. Television is more relieving
than I’d guessed, I watched a show
I’d never seen before because I tend
from terrors on the molestation line.
It was easier to take than TV news
whose theme today is also how someone
who had once been a girl had been
abused. Outside the sky is blue
and bright white clouds remind me
that the other news has been wildfires
in California, with pyrocumulus
soot clouds rising white in the blue sky.
This shame of too much drink is
shockingly tenacious. I tell myself
it is no crime to be seen in cups now
and again, but find I can’t
be disabused. I hold it all against me.
There must be water in these clouds
though, and freedom here, and nothing
that ever happened will happen again.
Jennifer Michael Hecht, “Episode”


Blackberry Picking

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
for a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
sent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots
where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
we trekked and picked until the cans were full,
until the tinkling bottom had been covered
with green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
with thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
the fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
that all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

by Seamus Heaney



there are things you refuse to think about
streets that are too raw for your perusal.
you wind through them like your feet are fingers through pages,
moist to the touch.
I cannot be that for you: the one who points the way.
who colours corners as you navigate shady sidewalks.
instead i am the compiler who thinks of witty retorts only after you are gone from me. i think, "what would you do if i opened my mouth against your collarbone, breathing there to warm you?"
you are always closed against my forceful unfurling.


Living and Lying

"The worst thing you do when you think is lie — you can make up reasons that are not true for the things that you did, and what you’re trying to do as a creative person is surprise yourself — find out who you really are, and try not to lie, try to tell the truth all the time. And the only way to do this is by being very active and very emotional, and get it out of yourself — making things that you hate and things that you love, you write about these then, intensely. When it’s over, then you can think about it; then you can look, it works or it doesn’t work, something is missing here. And, if something is missing, then you go back and reemotionalize that part, so it’s all of a piece.
But thinking is to be a corrective in our life — it’s not supposed to be a center of our life. Living is supposed to be the center of our life, being is supposed to be the center — with correctives around, which hold us like the skin holds our blood and our flesh in. But our skin is not a way of life — the way of living is the blood pumping through our veins, the ability to sense and to feel and to know. And the intellect doesn’t help you very much there — you should get on with the business of living."
- Ray Bradbury from here


The feelings that hurt most, the emotions that sting most, are those that are absurd - The longing for impossible things, precisely because they are impossible; nostalgia for what never was; the desire for what could have been; regret over not being someone else; dissatisfaction with the world’s existence. All these half-tones of the soul’s consciousness create in us a painful landscape, an eternal sunset of what we are.

— Fernando Pessoa