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The Public Ineffectual

For entertainment purposes only.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

I'm so bloated...

Keum Kang San
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

...ate up a storm with my aunt and uncle at restaurant in Flushing, NY - hive of pan asian activity.

I need to lie down.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

"Two Great Tastes"

Originally uploaded by tangentialism.

...was a comment on another photo of this exact same sign. Its not installation art as was my first guess, its a lower east side clothing label whose name captures some of the commodified sanctimony of some aspects of the yoga culture today. I have no idea what kind of clothes they make, by the way, and is wholly unrelated to the fact that I am currently in Lawg Island, New Yoik.

At my last yoga session I was preoccupied with the fact that I never blog about it. It has become an important form of respite for me, from myself. It is a level of interiority that doesn't lend itself well to words. As A Very Clever man once said to me, "there is nothing quite so dull as listening to people talk about their dreams." (Literal nighttime dreams, not 'aspirations'.) Same idea.

I don't practice yoga regularly at home as I would like to. Without the guidance of an instructor, facing an open mat is a lot like staring at a blank sheet of paper, pen poised in hand. The expectation can be crushing.

Have you ever taken an egg out of the fridge, cradled it in your hand and just looked at it really hard? Its sexless and sensuous, so completely without effort; solid and utterly fragile; the perfect compromise between form and function. Staring at the oeuf is just like staring down the oeuvre within you. Nothing you do can ever be quite as perfect as it already is at that moment. You can incubate it or you can break the shell and only then can you have a chick or you can eat breakfast. If you keep on staring at it, you will start to look at it askance because you're never quite sure of its shelf life.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A-muse Me

The Only Bird with Two Right Wings
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

I would like to say a few words about nudity in the world today. I, for one, am just appalled by it.

Are you aware that underneath their clothing, every single human is walking around completely NAKED?

Yes, and it's not just the people, although goodness knows that's bad enough. Animals too, even cute little doggies and pussycats can't be trusted. Underneath their fur they're absolutely NAKED!!

And it's not just the quadrupeds either! Birds, yes, even birds, underneath all their fine feathers, completely...

- Sam The Bald Eagle, The Muppet Show -

A furtive knock came at the door of the office and in walked a stranger who worked for an art gallery in the same building. He said we could have our photo taken by an artist by the name of John Oswald for inclusion in his upcoming show in May. He left us a photocopied sheet explaining the concept and the process. My remuneration would be in the form of digital copies of the photographs. He would take two identical shots save for clothes. In one, I would be clothed and in the other...naked.

I went up to investigate the studio and saw something close to the final result. Imagine a tableau of people of all races, sizes and shapes. They fade in and out and they fade from clothed to nekkid. There was nothing salacious about it. As far as photos go, I used to have a little rule of No Nudity. But in this case, my body was more an archetype - that looks more similar than different to other women, when naked. Then the artist came out and said hello. I gave him the same "I'm Just Looking" routine I give when shopping at the Gap. He implored me to take the opportunity while he wasn't busy and told me he would like to take a photo of me....because he liked my dip-dyed sweater.

Oftentimes, thinking about doing something is far more difficult than doing it. Once I started taking my kit off, it came off with the quickness. And once it was off, I didn't look down. I felt no particular shame. Signing the release took longer than the time it took to take two photos.

Hooray for John Oswald!

If you want to see what I'm talking about, go to the Musee Des Beaux Arts, in Montreal.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Strutting Your Stuff

Who's A Pretty Boy?
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

A phenomenal thing about Montreal is that the minute the weather is 10 degrees plus for more than 3 days in a row, people come out on the main drags to strut their stuff. Walking up Blvd. St. Laurent, I ran into this one preening by the sidewalk, Seeing and Being Seen. Get a load of what he's wearing! Totally overdone for daytime. I swear, he's gazing into the eyes of his own reflection. You're not Warren Beatty my friend! Get over yourself!

A prof from Melbourne whom I met in a bookstore was stunned at how the cafes were full in the mid-day, mid-week. Incredulously, he asked, "Don't people work here?" "No," I answered. "We are chronically indolent."

The weather means that people start dressing again and showing flesh. I miss flesh.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


I'm still trying to figure out the writing/blogging relationship. William Gibson quit updating his blog last summer because he likened it to "trying to boil water with the lid off". Someone else put a similar idea to me in less colourful terms, "I've been putting off the hard writing by doing the easy writing." I don't know if he keeps a blog, but he was referring to the magazine articles and the book reviews that always get written over the books and the articles bound for peer review. Nothing quite comes to that roiling boil; ideas don't get teased out to their logical limits.

A blog ought to be a good place for simmering ideas for the stuff that really matters to you but it seems that few of the people I know who really need to write use it that way. I like to believe writing begets more writing because it is, at its base, a discipline or a craft over and above an art. Those guys at MIT who recently used a random jargon generator to create an abstract for a conference that got accepted and the Sokol Affair are just two examples of how writing in academia is about having all the right bits in all the right places.

Meanwhile, as Claire puts it, "your blog has got cobwebs." Its true. I've been incommunicative as well as just plain old non-communicado. I've been spending too much time alone...and, paradoxically, too much time chatting on line. Too much time with my own thoughts and too much time getting inside other people's heads. Perhaps its because I've been re-connecting with many old friends (the long standing, long suffering ones I mean) but there are still too many outstanding emails and phone calls.

On a lighter note...whist talking to roomie yesterday I busted out with the following gem: "Now, I know this sounds like a dispatch from the Department of Easy Answers but..." I'm glad I got to write that down somewhere...and that someone got to read it. I wonder if I read this particular line somewhere. Its got Graham Green written all over it don't you think?

I'm off to Long Island on Saturday to see my uncle. Blogging might again be in short supply or might be copious depending on what I find when I get there. I will try to have some laksa in Flushing, Queens. I will meet my new second cousin.

In her honour, I will finish my post about babies and my changing relationship to them. And this time, I mean human babies and not puppies.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What a Shame

Naksan Temple
Originally uploaded by Oblivia.

Its not a film still, its a real temple on fire - Naksan Buddhist Temple in Korea. The Chosun Ilboreports, "Most of the wooden structures of the historic Naksan Temple including its Hall of the Great Veneration went up in flames Tuesday when a massive forest fire that broke out in Yangyang, Gangwon Province spread to the seaside. But three national treasures, including a seated lacquered statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara that is Asia’s oldest, were spirited to safety in the temple’s basement. No one was hurt." Awesome photo.