"This is the second time I have seen that girl here. What makes me suspicious is that her manner has not changed... ...Does anyone else think of this I wonder? Yet why should I be suspicious? And why should her manner not remain unchanged? She has probably been cold, unhappy, unsuccessful or simply not alive ever since I saw her last. Quite honestly I wish her success..."

From 'In a Café' (1928) by Laura Riding.

Of the 3 preliminary proposals I presented yesterday at the Nuon it was decided that I should concentrate on the further elaboration of the 'milestones' proposal -- a project to measure change. Next deadline: 15 January 2001.


Hear and Understand

Jokes and the Logic of the Cognitive Unconscious (1980) by Marvin Minsky.

"Freud, who never returned to the subject after writing his 1905 book on the theory of jokes, suggested that 'censors' in the mind form powerful, unconscious barriers that make it difficult to think 'forbidden' thoughts. But jokes can elude these censors--to create the pleasure of unearned release of psychic energy, which is discharged in the form of laughter. He explains why jokes tend to be compact and condensed, with double meanings: this is to fool the childishly simple-minded censors, who see only innocent surface meanings and fail to penetrate the disguise of the forbidden wishes.

"But Freud's theories do not work as well for humorous nonsense as for humorous aggression and sexuality. In this essay I try to show how these different forms of humor can be seen as much more similar, once we make certain observations about the nature of commonsense reasoning."

Near Death Experience Throughout the History and Systems of Psychology by Glenn F. Schuyler.

"Much of the Western tradition of thinking was shaped by the another great philosopher from this era, Rene Descartes. According to Susan Blackmore, Descartes distinguished two fundamentally different kinds of things, physical or extended substance, and thinking substance. For Descartes, mind and brain were made of quite separate kinds of stuff. Blackmore argues most people in modern times believe in the dualism proposed by Descartes. She argues most individuals do not want to think of themselves as just an ever-changing and perishable body, controlled by an information-processing brain. We rather like to believe some part of us stays the same throughout life. 'If you believe this,' says Blackmore, 'it is not such a big step (though neither is it a logical one) to believing that this 'something' can leave the body and travel outside it.'"


When Theory Becomes Too Much

A literate Panda bear walks into a bar, sits down at a table and orders a beer and a double cheeseburger.

After the Panda finishes eating, he wipes his mouth, pulls out a pistol and tears the place apart with gunfire. Patrons scatter and dive under chairs and tables as the bear disappears out the door. After making sure that no one is hurt, the bartender races outside and calls after the bear, "What the hell did you do that for?" The bear calls back, "I'm a Panda bear. Look it up in the dictionary."

The bartender returns and pulls out his dictionary.

panda, Pan"da\, n. (Zo["o]l.)
A small Asiatic mammal (Ailurus fulgens) having fine soft fur. It is related to the bears, and inhabits the mountains of Northern India. Eats shoots and leaves.

One of the graphic design students who visited me yesterday evening told me a wonderful (--sad) story about a patient he'd met in a mental hospital in Estonia. The student had worked there for a couple of weeks. The patient, who the student described as otherwise 'quite normal,' had been institutionalised because of his belief that he died several times a day. The man in question was a Pentecostal Christian. The only outward sign of his 'dying' was that he'd close his eyes and become silent for a few minutes.

Excerpt from a mail from Ian le Cheminant

"Every Greek citizen had the right, once in a lifetime, to attend the Mysteries at Eleusis. The preparations made by each participant took months -- this was a major ritual. It was a group transit into the underworld, guided by priests, mediated by wine blended with herbs and more active substances (probably derivatives of ergot obtained from wheat rust). It was said that anyone who attended this rite afterwards no longer feared death. See The Road to Eleusis. My own copy disappeared a dozen years ago."


Exhibition sticker: Is there soon still a difference between life and death?


Somehow We Find Ourselves...

Chitral, Spring 1976.

"Somehow we find ourselves in the company of a strange doctor. He is going to operate on us, but he is not going to use an anaesthetic because he really wants to communicate with our illness. He is not going to allow us to put on our facade of psychological sophistication or any other disguise. We wish we had never met him. We wish we understood how to anaesthetize ourselves. But now we are in for it. There is no way out. Not because he is so powerful. We could tell him goodbye in a minute and leave. But we have exposed so much to this physician and, if we have to do it all over again, it will be very painful. We do not want to have to do it again..."

Chögyam Trungpa

For days I've been completely involved in trying to arrange the anaesthetic I need for this coming weekend. This has (up to now) proved exceedingly difficult and frustrating and I've been exhausting myself waiting for 'officials' who, while sympathetic, in the end say 'no.' At the moment -- and it's very late -- I feel very much at wits end.

Yes. I've been here before (crazily searching for materials needed for an artwork).

So what is it all about? What can I learn from this?

Should art have to explain itself? Explanation and the need to justify one's design seems, at least right now, more deadly than breathing (think oxidation).



Good news. I got a phone call and things are looking up. Today I promise to pay attention to *all the little things* that happen -- as they happen around me. There is no longer reason to be so single minded, one track obsessive.

God is in the details.

So now that I've scored my material (almost) the question remains: How do I prepare for the unpreparable?


Elsewhere, Jamie offers us an interesting opportunity to do something special for a special someone:

"Forward this link (6 December 2000 entry: Vote for Jemma) to any of your friends who won't be offended by it. Beg them to vote for this lovely person, explaining that it will positvely affect their karma and cause them not to be reborn as a stoat in their next life(s)."


Countdown... 3

Two cannibals are eating a clown.

One scowls and spits the mouthful she was chewing on -- on to the ground.

She reaches out to grab the arm of the other cannibal and says,

"Does this taste funny to you?"


Looks like Jouke has had a spontaneous out of the body experience somewhere deep in the French countryside...

"December 6 is an off day with a remarkable 'on' ending. After having lost precious hours this afternoon when my iMac crashed on the installation of Palm HotSync and couldn't be fixed at first; after having seen the deficit on our account at the Crédit Agricole; after Rolf being deeply sad and we don't know and he wouldn't tell what it is; after not getting to get any work done; after having a cold coming up and general fatigue hitting suddenly; tonight I lay down with Steve Miller the Joker and vintage Joan Baez 'Noël' and a couple of whiskeys and I stare into the flames of the fire in the salon for a long time and suddenly enter a different dimension, an alternate state of mind, lifting me up and looking at myself and the life I've chosen and the distance which always I keep from authority and gridlock and my own independence of consensus on a parallel but alternative track and the good friends I have and how valuable they are and I'm happy! In a deep and true way and I want to invite the world to spend new year's eve here and I want to party and be drunk with a happy ending. I had a link but lost it..."


Countdown... 2

Believe me. Yesterday was a very strange day.


Chitral, Spring 1976.

The unconscious director, or bearing responsibility, or wave after wave crashes into the ship.

This afternoon Paul, Joke, Louwrien, Egon and I shot the dialogue scenes for the film. After a short break I injected 2 ml. of ketamine (100 mg.) into my right gluteus maximus muscle and 'died.'

The following hour was confusing, but not frightening. The actors (Louwrien and Egon) behaved wonderfully. The crew (Paul and Joke) were magnificent.

After we finished and everyone had left, still feeling a bit disoriented and sick to my stomach, I went to bed. Just before midnight my sister-in-law Jane called from Vancouver to say that my mother had taken ill and was in the hospital.

More later.



The possibility of hallucinations: when I phoned Rogério this morning to discuss yesterday's events and last night's phone call concerning my mother, he felt compelled to ask, 'Did you really get that call?'

Yes, I did (part of the message still rests on my answering machine).

Feeling slightly sick and disoriented I took the train to Breda to look at the rushes. It is sobering to have to search for those moments when the camera reality corresponded to my own... It is sobering when the temporal ordering of subjective events (what I can remember of them) are re-ordered in camera time (realtime)...


Connections. Connectivity.

Heard that my mother is doing better.

The brilliant Paul Sixta and I have digitized about half an hour of Saturday's material. It looks like we will be editing until Thursday or Friday.

Mark Kremer says that I should look at Ingmar Bergman's 1956 masterpiece, 'The Seventh Seal.'


AND when He had opened the SEVENTH SEAL, There was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

Paul Sixta's extremely aged cat disappeared last night.


We edited all day. (Actually Paul Sixta edited and I watched, contributing the occasional suggestion.)

I've been experiencing minor flashbacks.

Before we began the shoot Saturday we had a long discussion about whether I should lay on the floor or on something softer. For the film's sake I decided to lay directly on the floor. In retrospect this turned out to be a mistake. The hardness of the floor acted as a tether to my body. Several times during the experience I sought out the floor's hardness and used it as a reference (once banging my head very hard against it) in order to return to the setting around me.

This evening I noticed that Susan Blackmore (in her book on NDE's 'Dying to Live') mentions the Christos Technique as an effective method for confusing the body/mind and facilitating a breakdown of the body image.

Paul Sixta's cat was found alive.


We've finished editing and started rendering.


Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. (This purportedly is a picture of Alamut. Mr. Sabbah is the gentleman standing on the right.)


Good news: We managed to get the film to the Arti opening on time (with about an half an hour to spare...)

Bad news: Paul Sixta's cat died last night.


Earth Coincidence Control

Got home from the opening in Arti about midnight. Ten minutes later the phone rang. It was Jane calling to say that my mum's condition has taken a turn for the worse.

This afternoon I bought a ticket to Vancouver. I'm leaving early tomorrow morning. Next update from there.


I am afraid I arrived too late. Mark picked me up from the airport with the news that my mother had died while I was under way. She died in her sleep. She was not in pain.

Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

(T. S. Eliot)


Mark and I make mum's funeral arrangements (the viewing of the body on Wednesday, funeral mass on Thursday and cremation on Friday) and clean out her room at the care facility where she's been living for the past four years. (Mum was moved to hospital last Saturday and others are waiting for her room.)

One of the nurses tells us that 11 people have died on mum's floor alone over the last couple of weeks. The flu. She says that every Christmas it's the same story.


I spend most of the day looking through my mother's photo albums and discover a few which I've never seen before. They are filled with pictures from the period before my mother met my father.

I re-photograph two old black and white snapshots of my mum and mail them, together with two verses from Wallace Steven's 'Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird' (verses VI and XIII) to Jouke in St. Germain-des-Bois. Jouke has offered to design a simple memorial card for the funeral.

My mother in her early twenties.

At dinner time great aunt Maggie arrives with her children Neville and Phoebe. Aunt Maggie will be 91 on Thursday and Neville is 70. After dinner I go through some of the photo albums with them and make notes in margins of the names and places they remember.


Time moves forward very slowly. This afternoon, between 3 and 5, is the viewing of the body. A priest will be at the chapel then to say prayers.

Jouke mails his design for the card back and I take it to have it printed. Mark is working in his office on mum's eulogy. Guy arrives at Mark's house and I go together with him to the chapel. It is the first time I see mum. One side of her face is distorted. There is dark makeup on her hands. Guy says that mum's hands had been badly bruised by all the needles.

I realise I've been wearing the same pants and sweater since I left Holland Sunday morning. Tonight I will have to buy clothes for the funeral.

AFTER great pain, a formal feeling comes--
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs--
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round--
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought--
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone--

This is the Hour of Lead--
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons recollect the Snow--
First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go--

(Emily Dickinson)


We celebrated mum's funeral mass today.


Pre-dawn. The house is quiet. I sit at the dining room table drinking tea and folding memorial cards.

11:00 A.M. Outside the funeral home, Mark, Guy and I stand in a circle and look at our shoes while a few meters away sits the hearse, loaded with the casket. The weather is cold. We wait for a limousine to arrive.

11:30 A.M. With the funeral director at the wheel we drive along Marine Drive to St. Peter's church in New Westminster. I look out the window at the city where I grew up. There has been a lot of changes.

12:10 P.M. The church hasn't changed a bit. I was an altar boy in this church 35 years ago. I recall the last time that I was inside was 20 years ago for the funeral of my father.

12:45 P.M. Communion. A large number of the congregation line up on either side of the casket to receive communion. Many people I do not know touch my mother's casket as they pass it. I find this act very moving.

1:30 P.M. The reception. An older woman approaches me. Do I remember her? No, sorry I do not. She says she lived across the street from us here in New Westminster. I say I may remember her daughters but I'm not sure. Turns out she's Flemish. We exchange Dutch pleasantries.

2:30 P.M. A friend of Mark's has been quietly talking with Mark's son Patrick for the last hour. Patrick has been upset all week.

17:00 P.M. After the reception we are invited back to Surrey to great aunt Maggie's house for supper. I feel rather wonder-struck by the grace and warmth demonstrated by this, previously unacknowledged, side of my family. And embarrassed when I remember my past attitude towards them.


At 10:00 this morning Mark and I witness mum's cremation. Standing together behind a glass window we watch as the metal door of the oven slides back, the box containing her body rolls forward into the flames and the door slides shut again.

Outside we walk around the small pink building until we can see the chimney. We stop and stare up at it. It is raining. We walk back to the car, get in, switch on the engine and wipers and drive away.

Later at a local supermarket I see a display case filled with Droste chocolate letters. The cashier tells me that they arrived from Holland last week -- just in time for Christmas. I tell her that in Holland they are sold for 'Sinter Klaas' (the 5th of December) and after that date no one buys them.


I wonder whether a singularity can appear behind you...


Funny, I did not think that I would be back here again so soon.

Once again I find myself sitting in the library of Norman and Valerie's house in North Vancouver. Seated comfortably at the table next to the window, I watch the sky gradually lighten over the north shore mountains, listen to the crows cawing outside, and observe, a few blocks away, the maple leaf waving lazily from the white flag pole.

I'll be staying in North Vancouver for a week. Norman and Valerie are leaving this morning for Palm Springs and have very graciously offered me the use of their house while they are away. It has been really wonderful staying with Mark, Anna and the kids but after the events of this past week I feel I could use a bit of time alone.


The Dalai Lama's forward to Lati Rinpoche and Jeffrey Hopkins 'Death, Intermediate State, Rebirth.'

Jamie King: Lector vs. Spector ( 23.12.00).

"The divide had been crossed: he had gone over, we might say, to the land of the Type Two. The Substance, in some ineffable way, appeared to permit the true devotee to cross over from the mundane world of helpless unbelief into the far more interesting Type Two world in which, to put it in a more strict, philosophic way, the Cartesian membrane between the subject and object had finally been elided."


The state of the mist at about 3 o'clock this afternoon.


Christmas day up in Langdale with Guy, Jane, Hailey and Austin is a mix of love, zone affirmation and zone denial. Zone affirmation is the love I feel for the view -- every time I look out the window I see a different panorama of magnificent, cold, wet raincoast. Zone denial is what my little brother does when he wears his shorts out on the deck to barbecue our salmon dinner. This I love too.

Canadians, god bless them, are showing signs of becoming progressively more eccentric (witness the number of Canadians wearing red and white santa hats in public places this season...) and are proud of that eccentricism. The North Vancouver Indigo store has an enormous sign painted on their back wall: 'The World Needs More Canada.'


Feeling slightly ill and tired, I hand over my capacity for attention to the useless advertising of desire on the net and, as evening falls, to the most vague and unsatisfactory feelings.

Life's little obsessions. (You don't need to be aware of them to be caught up by them.)


A cheery sun peeks through cloud cover. This is the first time I've seen the sun since I arrived here 10 days ago. An absolutely amazing sight. Five minutes of direct solar energy at this time of year causes steam to rise off all the wet wood.

That said, spent the day indoors fooling around with the new video codecs divX; and 3ivx. Spent the evening lying on the couch reading the National Post (the wood chip version). The most memorable piece contained therein: this obituary of 'god is in the details' newspaper copy editor Martin Lynch.

His taste in information was catholic. He could recite entire pages of Debrett's Peerage, one of his particular passions, but could also come up with the suggested best price for a used Mercedes automobile one of the editors was thinking of buying. While he never had a driver's licence himself, he had been clipping and filing the used car ads for Mercedes for years...

...When public tours were conducted through the office, Mr. Lynch often donned a beanie with a propeller atop it or encouraged the hedgehog that lived for a time in his shirt pocket to poke its head through his beard.

After midnight, with the final edition out of the way, he would mount the cleaners' large wheeled garbage containers and, using their brooms, pole himself around the office singing a song from The Gondoliers...

...(At the Globe and Mail) he met and married Jane Tiel, a reporter, his wife of 41 years who helped him maintain what is probably the largest private clipping file in the country.

The files occupy close to 50 four-drawer filing cabinets in their Kaslo, B.C., home to which they moved in 1982 when the copy control Mr. Lynch exerted so assiduously was diffused by the advent of computers.

(Think Charles Fort... entries: 5, 8, 9 and 10 August 1999.)


This Way Out. (Downtown Seabus terminal.)


On my way to dinner at Ewan and Helle's this evening I was struck by the number of people carrying snowboards while waiting for the seabus at Lonsdale Quay. A quick tally of the 5 P.M. sailing southbound (North Vancouver to downtown):

  1. 13 individuals carrying snowboards

  2. 2 individuals carrying skis

  3. 1 bearded man with snowshoes

  4. 1 individual with a skateboard


Very gray and raining.

To the End of the Millenium

Transit. Norman and Valerie returned yesterday from Palm Springs and in a few hours I'm catching the ferry up to Langdale to house-sit Guy and Jane's house while they visit Jane's mother in Campbell River.

I'm looking forward to getting some reading and writing done. In addition to the books I brought with me from Holland I'm taking the pile of books that I've been accumulating here: PKD's Ubik (a book which really impressed me as a teenager), J. P. Sartre's Huis Clos (which I've never read), P. J. Nahin's Time Machines: Time Travel in Physics, Metaphysics and Science Fiction and Stephen Batchelor's controversial Buddhism Without Beliefs.

November 2000

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