The Canadian Bush

An implicit frontier thesis, ironical, detached, elitist, so very different from the American one, for people who disliked and mistrusted the United States and were disliked and mistrusted in return. Perhaps not so much even a frontier thesis—the frontier in the American sense is a process of repeated renewal and self-invention—rather a wilderness thesis, a bush thesis, a narrative of clinging to the edges of forbidden zones. [Read more]

Peter

Already dark by the time we got to the cloisters, Peter dawdled over a bit of glass here, a tomb design after Flaxman there, mostly to provoke a volunteer attendant, a retired military type, whose courteous remarks about closing time got more elaborately courteous as his patience grew strained. We were the last visitors and the man was no doubt eager to get to his sherry and slippers. Peter became yet more obtuse, finding yet other small treasures to linger over, drawing out for our benefit the rich absurdity of the scene. [Read more]

Rules

The danger in such a fantasy of withdrawal, if translated into present realities, is that it may amount to no more than idle distraction, gap-year pootling. Worse, a sort of workfare hell, the creation of a reserve army of redundant human leftovers doing useless things, a panic-response to the discourse of strivers-and-scroungers that animates much of the right. [Read more]

Bicycle

I’ve just acquired a Raleigh DL-1 Tourist, like the one in the picture, from Mr. Bob Beechy of St George, Ontario, through an advert in an online marketplace. Mr. Beechy proved to be one of those characters with a passion for mechanical things with whom it is delightful to discuss such a mutual interest as … Read more

Barbara

The second ready-made, so to speak, on which Barbara hangs, is the dynamic of life in the old German Democratic Republic, now well-trodden ground in films. The action of the film takes place entirely in a provincial backwater on the Baltic coast, a shithole of casual brutality and meanness within which, in spite of everything, something like a normal life surfaces in unexpected ways. [Read more]

Senior lecturer

The great books of the 1950s and 1960s were to be chewed over and quarreled over for the next forty years, but the terms of the debates they engendered were never displaced. They were anyway simply better books than anything that came after, and in retrospect I can see why I was drawn to the discipline as it then was, and why I was never afterwards diligent about keeping up with the literature, as they called it. [Read more]