"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
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.
Exhibition sticker: Is there soon still a difference between life and death?
Somehow We Find Ourselves...
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?
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)."
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..."
Believe me. Yesterday was a very strange day.
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)...
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.'
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.
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.
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 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.
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):
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.
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