Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout



As the year becomes steadily darker (not that we're there yet--we've had plenty of sun recently, though a couple of dark dark rainy days, still the nights come earlier again and we're clearly past the equinox) I've been thinking about darkness. How it became equated with evil. We "naturally" think of bad things coming out of the dark, the unknown. Children are afraid of the dark. We are children afraid of the dark.

And why? There's the simple, obvious reason that when it's dark we can't see what's coming up behind us about to eat us. We rely so much on our vision to protect us. It does seem natural that what is unknown is scary, and what scares us we consider evil. But things that we consider evil--the creature that is about to jump from the darkness and eat us--isn't inherently evil. To itself it is only good. But we can't see that past the fire we huddle around. And when we ourselves are moving in the darkness does that make us evil?

I guess I find that the darkness/light black/white dichotomy is too simplistic for the creatures we are now, and yet we still find it compelling--hence all the books we love to read when the goodly good folk-like-us defeat the nasty evil folk.

It's in the darkness that we become more inner and find our own demons inside us. Depression seems a dark thing while anger seems closer to bright red. So which is darker? Which more evil? Which more like being out in the dark forest, worrying about destruction at every step?

I guess I'm saying now that I think depression is a greater evil than anger. But maybe it's time to wax unphilosophical rather than philosophical, because I'm not depressed, or angry. I am tired as I've been battling a virus off and on for a few weeks, an annoying one that goes away and comes back, so I have days when I think I'm over it and then there it is giving me headaches, making me dizzy and tired and congested. Viruses are evil; I'm not sure about their darkness, though. Of course, to the virus, it's all just a matter of trying to survive.

So are viruses my inner demons? Well, no, sloth and all the chores I make up for myself are. But conquering my inner demons still wouldn't make me a better or more interesting person, just a different person. And I'm sure not a less stressed person because I know then I'd simply find something else to agonize about, unlike I managed to conquer the agonizing demon.

I guess what I'm saying here is that dealing with the darkness is not a winning situation, but part of the complications of our ever-spiralling lives. Or my ever-spiralling life. And I embrace the darkness as part of life, part that defines the brightness, which both make the gray come alive.

I guess what I'm saying here is that I'm planning to come out of this winter alive and kicking. Though I confess that I'm dreading the darkness and dealing with it. That rising in the dark of the morning isn't easy. But I'll be fine. And I'll love the bright grey and cherish the sunny moments when they happen as I can. And I'll maybe even have friendly chats with my own darknesses.


last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


I spent much of the last few days listening to the strange Gothic songs of Hannah Fury, who sent her discs in to The Ectophiles' Guide for review. I've already sent her a check so I can have my own copies of her ep and full-length album. One of the fun things is a series of songs based on Gregory Maguire's Wicked, a very strange book that tells the life story of the Wicked Witch of the West. Gothic and intriguing, just like Hannah Fury's music. Though Hannah does it all with pretty much just her voice and a piano.

last week's listening § next week's listening


N. M. Brown's Warriors of Alavna is a young adult novel about an athletic young man (Dan) and a tall and stocky young woman (Ursula) who, while off on a school field trip, pass through a strange yellow mist and emerge in Roman Britain. They fall in with a band of warriors who have been protecting a sorceress who created the mist to draw warriors to help them defeat the Romans. They are shocked that they were the ones drawn through, and to protect herself Ursula doesn't disabuse them that her strange clothing conceals a man's body rather than a young woman's. Gradually Dan grows to learn the ways of Celtic warriors and Ursula does, too, as well as learning a growing power that challenges that of the sorceress who brought them there. At the site of a town, Alavna, where the Celtic populace was massacred by the Romans, both Ursula and Dan swear to avenge the deaths. What I enjoyed best about this book was the way the world comes alive through the visitor's eyes, giving us a medium to see just how different this world is from ours.

Clinton Heylin's No More Sad Refrains: The life and times of Sandy Denny is one of the most depressing biographies I've ever read. She was so talented and like so many other artists so self-destructive. Heylin's version of her life makes it sound so bleak, as though there were few and brief moments of happiness or of pleasure in her accomplishments. Somehow that just doesn't ring true for me from the portrayal of her as someone who had a good sense of humour and laughed easily. And I suspect her life was more complex than purely dark, despite her inner demons. In any case, I found learning more about an artist whose music I have adored and played to death for over 20 years was interesting, and I recommend this simply for that.

Mark Chadbourn's World's End is one of the most intriguing fantasies I've read for a long time. It posits that the age of reason is over, and the time has come for an age of magic and of the power of the old gods again. All of the Celtic gods, in all their darkness, begin to return to battle over the earth. Church (short for his last name, Churchill) and Ruth get caught up in the battle against the evil old gods when they separately witness a murder by a creature whose horrific appearance and evil haunts them from then on. Together they start investigating what happened, and discover that all over Britain strange occurrences are happening more and more often. They meet up with others who have also had similar experiences and begin to learn how to battle these ancient evil forces--and how to try to stay alive to do so. While much of this story is closer to horror than I usually enjoy, the concept and characters kept me interested and reading. Too bad this isn't available in the U.S. (yet?)

I also received Joanne's poetry chapbook Overcome by Water this week and have begun to get to know the poems inside.

last week's reading § next week's reading


My essay "Poetry as DNA" just appeared in the collection Imprint and Casualties: poets on women and language, reinventing memory. This is a collection of essays that were originally presented at the Feminist Caucus panels of The League of Canadian Poets. It's basically an essay describing the beginnings of Blood Memory, and some of the philosophy behind what I thought I was doing.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

November-December 1977

893. An aid of Phonos

Well, Phono, you gonna help me write a poem fr tammora? Are ya? Huh? Gimme sum werds, u gotta nuff, eye'll juss steel sum, knot menny, eye prommiss. Spare me sum werds, Phono? Huh? --Phono-aid, much like a band-aid. I'd better get going, poems to not write themselves (unfortunatement).

894. Oh snore

Oh snore. Socolgy was cancelled again. This is a repeat of 892. I'm in pain. I'm in pain strong [1]. O howl. My eyelids are dropping again. they land with a crash. I wonder if I have anything better to offer than this, anything's better than this, must be, g'nite. [2]

895. Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost is rather overwhelming, rather put me to sleep so complicated stuffe. Still got Book III to go for yesterday, all Satan falling then Adam falling (but Adam was tripped [by Satan of by Eve?]) Dreams on, little buzzes in the library, Beëlzebub &smp; Satan fry and fly on (poor Satan) flying up through Chaos (how brave) getting ready to trip Adam.

896. End of November

End of November, panic is beginning to spread, paranoia is returning [lyric skipped]. Not under too much pressure, just one assignment and a lot of reading. (Paradise Lost, The Way of the World, Social Work coarse bok, sociology text, humanity and modern soshul thot. an' lots and lots of classics.)

897. Did I tell ya?

Did I tell ya? 'bout ma weakend? 'Bout Lawunie and Deby comin' up frum south, frum Yanky-land? talkin' 'bout dotsuns, mozdas, etc? Layny's gimped knees [weelchare & piggybacks), tea at the Empress & the Museum & Star Wars and (oh help) Lawny pointing out my pain? Oh dear o dear o deer. Wondering what'll come next, what sleep, what wonder. My gonness. Cuddn't find 'em mountain dew, unfortunatement. (My gonness.) Well, see ya soon, dreamin' sleepin', soon, ma gonness.

898. Ah ha!

Seems like I bin here before. Running down 898 before, but prob'ly prob'ly a dream. Wondering if there's any rhyme any more (one, two, three, four). Finding only a few week ones, I'd better get to work and stop Phonoing around but it's so much easier, so much fun, so much dreamier, so further away, so further away.

899. Screama-dreamin'

hard to explain, but this is hello, nor am I out of it, lost my paradise, roamin' the burn, while burnin' Rome. Oh my gonness, o ma fancy, screa-dreamin, could it be Nancy? Ha, what a wild world.

900. A notable experience, reachin' 900

Not even a hundred chapters in this book, 'cause I stole many pages. A long time writing, too, through a lot of hassle. (Oh, dear, de-de-de-de dear [3].) Long time, from the end of April to the end of November.

90. Three hour blank

I've got a three-hour blank to wait for classes. (Shake a smile and run.) But I've only got an hour left, I've left an hour, my goodness and I already ate my lunch my lunch, I already ate my lunch. Study carrell that used to have my label on it, oh my my my my. The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry somehow...and all the C.W.201 masterpieces. What a day what a day.

902. Really waiting now.

December, hurrah, racing down the final stretch to Christmas exams (oh joy!) Pas de Christmas shopping done, I'd better do something to something. Good ole Christmas carrells carols. Hah be dah bah. I think I've got a crazy problem I mean a crazy-problem. There.


1. Part of the dialogue in Simon and Garfunkel's Bookends.

2. My handwriting steadily deteriorates into oblivion.

3. Like Porky Pig.

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