Let’s talk for a minute, seriously just a minute though, about Canada Reads. The thing about Canada Reads, the annual CBC program that sells books and allows “celebrities” to appear thoughtful. The theme this year was a moral one, what’s a book that will make Canada better, what is a book that’s good for Canada? And all of the selected books have already been nominated for all the awards and sold very well. I sometimes feel incredibly resentful of the process by which work becomes institutionalized here (the Ceeb bing a major institution). We’re in a weird place where the people who make decisions are chronically expecting Canadian readers as a whole to be incredibly conservative and risk adverse, and then reinforcing that perception—now shared in some sense by both media-makers and readers—by making conservative, risk adverse choices. Yet, my experience of Canada is full up of weirdoes craving more than the books we as a culture have made into vitamins. Our specific nationalism with regard to our literature has its advantages, I guess, but then something like this year’s list of Canada Reads books offers a perfect opportunity to reflect on how the virtuous hashtagging of #CanLit has always come at a price, and is only getting more and more expensive. (I’m reminding myself here of Steven Beattie’s take on the Giller long list earlier this year, which is worth a revisit.)
“Through the bodily ego, the body becomes meaningful as our self, not only as a functional source of delight or as a means to an an end. Our investment in our bodies is in this sense inseparable from our most basic sense of self.”
"Andrew O’Hagan writes: ‘Joan Didion gave me her hand and she was so thin it felt like I was holding a butterfly’ (LRB, 7 November). A beautiful sentence, but I wondered about the simile’s plausibility. It’s been reported that Didion weighs less than eighty lbs. She’s so thin her doctors have put her on an ice cream diet to keep her mass up. A woman’s hand is said to be 0.5 per cent of her body weight. So if Didion weighs 75 lbs, her hand probably weighs about six ounces. The world’s heaviest butterfly, the female Queen Victorian Birdwing, weighs about two grams. There are about 28 grams in an ounce, and Joan Didion’s hand probably weighs about the same as holding 86 female Queen Victoria Birdwings. It would be difficult to hold them all in your hand because each one has a wingspan of 18 centimetres. The smallest butterfly in the world is the North American Pygmy Blue and you’d probably need thousands of them to tip the scales against one of Didion’s fingers. None of this is to detract from the loveliness of O’Hagan’s sentence. We tell ourselves stories in order to live."
I am not actually an indecisive person, not really. I make decisions, hard and firm ones, ALL THE TIME. But there’s something about Facebook and Twitter as media that make me want to get a largish group of people to give me some input on some of my decisions. Do I work on this project or that one? Do I get bangs or do I commit to bein’ full face? A poll wouldn’t decide anything, the data would be flawed and this is my life. But the temptation, man the temptation is there.
God, being alive is so much work. Work on your relationships, work through your family/psychological issues, work on eating better, working your body out, literal paid work, doing the housework, work through a new hobby, hoping that it all works out in the end, making it work, working on it.
"Lately, I’ve become afraid that the feeling I used to feel, like something good was waiting, is what people mean when they say “young” and that it is nothing more than a chemical associated with a metabolic process and not anything real at all."
So weird reading Choire Sicha’s book with a fever, lying in my sickbed (I can be so melodramatic when I have a chest cold) and having fever dreams about Mayors and money and waking up and my own Mayor is basically a one man hallucination and Bloomberg is finally, finally out and two cites are forever changed, but only to the extent that they’re both same as it ever was, at least for a little bit longer.