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Shadows help to describe and emphasise the folds and texture on this material, and the fading words also suggest, and maybe even reveal, the object of this image, but for me what is being represented is another story.
This cotton bag is part of our everyday life and we use it to hold our laundry until Saturday or Sunday when the washing machine goes into action. The lettering and logo on the bag refer to an acronym for the Berkley Mac User Group and to a nearly forgotten time in digital history.
It's the early 90s and I'm running the Hyperspace User Group (HUG) 'A loose alliance of people involved in integrated and interactive media production, who are committed to increasing knowledge and awareness of digital media through arts, educational projects and events'. These words were the aim of the group and to some extent summarise what happened over a couple of years. This was a vibrant time for those exploring the potential of multimedia and the internet.
Shadow was used by Carl Jung as a psychological term to describe the unconscious, and denied, part of our self. I'm wondering if I ever did reflect upon, or or make any substantial stories from this period of my life, or do bits and pieces of memory just bang around in the unconscious and come out in displaced ways every now and then. I suppose until we learn to write our own stories this is how it is.
The bag came from a trip to San Francisco in 1992. I'd been invited to attend a MacWorld Expo by some people from BMUG and HyperBole. The people at HyperBole were pioneering interactive storytelling using the new technologies of Quicktime and CD-ROM. I'd been booked into the Mosser Victorian Hotel, just a few minutes from the Moscone Convention Center. Across the road the Marriott Hotel was a hive of activity with all sorts of people showing their latest products and trying to link up with distributors.
In the hotel Voyager were showing 'Expanded Books' on the Apple PowerBook 170 (40MB HD/4MB RAM & floppy drive), the Expanded Books were made using HyperCard, and included 'The Complete Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' by Douglas Adams; a 3D game was been shown, called The Journeyman Project; VPL Research were using a Macintosh Quadra to demo their Virtual Reality Eyephone and Dataglove; and I remember seeing a CD-ROM by Pedro Meyer called 'I Photograph to Remember'. I've looked for photographs from this period in my life, but can find none. I'll keep looking for my photographs and trying to remember, and trying to write stories.
I was in between. Fiercely independent, had money saved up, and some time before I went west. My roommate called. Someone found a runaway dog. Dominoe.
Named her after the damsel in Sharky's Machine.
Malnourished, skittish, afraid of a raised hand.
We walked into the woods, she always following a few yards away, my buddy.
One day we drove farther and walked in the autumn leaves. Met an old friend. We chatted about 15 minutes, and I turned around.
She was gone.
I was hours running up and down the trail, crying out her name. I was worthless. I could take care of myself, but no one else, worthless.
I would camp out, return the next day. I would do that every day unti I found her. Every day.
I cried back to the car... and there she was, waiting for me.
My awareness became a circle of responsibility of more than just myself.
We drove across the country, we had adventures, to a new exciting land. We were companions.
We parted permanently, but I never forgot what I learned that day in the woods.
Created as one example of 50 Web2.0 Ways to Tell a Story
On Rokin I turned left an walked up the narrow Langebrugsteeg. It had been relatively cold in Amsterdam for the past week. It had even snowed---a rare event in this city. On a normal day I would have gone to the university on my bicycle but with the arrival of the snow I decided it was safer to walk. I also liked walking in the snow. I loved the sound of snow cracking under the sole of my boot. I guess I felt homesick. I missed the snow back home in Iceland.
Langebrugsteeg turned into Grimburgwal and the street got wider. As I approached the Sleutelbrug bridge I saw an odd sight that had yet become familiar to me over the last few days. A junkie on the bridge with a bactrian camel.
When it started snowing a few days earlier I was surprised to see how quickly the native Amsterdammers replaced their bicycles with camels. In a matter of a few hours all bicycles had disappeared from the streets. Everywhere you looked you could see people going about their business on their camel.
It can be dangerous to ride a bicycle when the streets are covered with snow---it is too slippery. Camels are better suited for snow. They have an incredibly good grip and an excellent sense of direction.
As I crossed the bridge the junkie came up to me and whispered: "Camel kopen?". I ignored him and kept on walking. He realized I was not a native. He followed me and decided to make me another offer---now in English: "Want to buy a camel? It is only 10 euros." I shook my head and walked on---faster than before.
Camel thefts are very common in Amsterdam. Many junkies finance their addiction by stealing camels overnight and then sell them the following day. I was very surprised by the lack of care that some people show their camels. Everyone knows that one should always lock her camel with at least two good camel-locks and always make sure to lock it to something that is fixed to the ground. Yet some people do not. Their camels sometimes get stolen.
Before entering the university building on Binnengasthuisstraat, I looked over the camel stalls. Long rows of camels eating hay and waiting patiently for the return of their owners---preparing for the ride back home. The sight made me wonder if I should have taken the junkie's offer. I wanted my own camel.
I decided I would go to the camel rental on Dam after class and rent myself a camel. It would not make sense to buy one. The snow would not stay long and I would graduate and move away from Amsterdam before next winter.
For more stories see Urban Volcano.
12th-31st May 2009, Rosemary Branch Theatre, London.
Click here to find out more!
See you there?
Creative minds are drawn to flickr, and spawned some interesting new forms of expression.
* Andrew Losowsky started a set of images of Doorbells of Florence, where each photo of a doorbell is accompanied by an original short story. This form has been coined "flicktion" (=flickr + fiction) which others have picked up as a way to use images and story together. See photos tagged with flicktion to see more examples.
* Six Word Story picks up on Hemingway's rise to the challenge of writing a complete story in only six words. In this version, a story must be told in one image and six words.
* Missio Stencil Story is "an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure story that takes place on the sidewalks of the Mission district in San Francisco" told via a flickr photo set
* Shutterhack, a photographer from Malaysia, combines stunning vivid photos with selected poems.
This is but one piece of "I Didn't Know You Could Do That with Free Web Tools", a presentation for the 2006 K-12 Online Conference. Other pieces are scattered across the web!
1300 hours Berlin, I was the last one lonely and totally out of ammo. Driven by my fears I load a spring to my knife. Moving through the shadows like cool air, swift and silent. There has to be at least four of them left. But wait is that who I think it is? It is! “Revnova watch out”. My hands are stead and strong, I hone in my sites only one shot. Chiikk! My knife leave my hands with great power and precision. Entering my enemies skull and not exiting. I call it in… it’s a kill. I regroup with Revnova and we plan an ambush. Its 3 to 2. And we are both on our last bit of ammo. Revnova with the AK-47 and me with my Ballistic Knife. The other 3 are locked and loaded with Grenade Launchers and Light Machine Guns.
Me: Revnova remember Russia back in 92?”
Revnova: “yeah” I look to him with a smirk.
He looks back with confirmation.
ME : “POLARBEAR?”
We go into polar bear formation and then we sit and wait. Hours go by and the other 3 are no were to be heard. We wait more… and after a few more hours we wait some more. Patience is everything in a situation like this. Remembering back to all the men we have lost because of the madness it brings. We had some good times. But I would trade it all for a little house on the prairie. Suddenly I hear Tangos 3 clicks west. I look to Revnova. He gives me the go ahead. I start cooking the last two grenades. 1 click away I run out and dive into the group of men. Giving them all I got. Just a little longer…. BOOOMMM!! Three birds with two stones. My pain is over!
The hidden star!
(See the Hidden Star story.)
First go at a Macro Monday post - hope it passes muster. (I think the exposure/colours are a bit off.)
"Ho ancora cinque minuti."
Davide è in affanno. Cambiamenti dell'ultima ora. L'hanno sempre apostrofato come "l'uomo dell'ultimo momento". Sinora si è trovato sempre bene. Mai una scadenza mancata. Il capo è dall'altra parte del mondo. E questi numeri non quadrano.
"Mi sto accollando un rischio troppo alto."
Ha sempre odiato i fogli elettronici quando era all'università. Anche se ne era un esperto. Forse per questo oggi sono diventati il suo strumento principale di lavoro. Li avrebbe evitati se avesse potuto. Sono stati loro a scegliere lui, ad invadere il suo computer portatile.
"Qui devo alzare la soglia di un 10%. Non abbiamo sufficienti elementi di giudizio."
Stimare, prevedere, ragionare su un futuro che non si può conoscere, fare illazioni. Era diventato un gioco. Con la sensazione costante di avere qualcuno che scrutava i suoi pensieri nascosti dentro quel foglio elettronico. Uno sguardo divertito. Attento ai particolari.
I micro racconti che accompagnano queste immagini sono frutto di fantasia. Ogni riferimento ai luoghi e alle persone ritratte è puramente ed esclusivamente casuale.
The fireplace is casting a blanket of warmth through our cottage home but I still feel chilled. The small lake is as clear as a mirror today, leaves reflected in and floating on the surface burn with rich colours but I can’t really enjoy them today.
It was October 2002 and the cottage was on Bell Lake in the Gatineau Hills of Quebec. I had just spent three weeks in Iqaluit, Nunavut getting the academic year's courses underway. Within a few days of my return to the Ottawa area the youth suicide epidemic struck again. I wrote this letter to cyberspace but I really did not expect any response.
Yesterday my urban Inuit students in their course on Inuit art, spoke of death --- too many deaths, too many funerals and fresh graves in small communities where almost no one is left untouched. Another youth, Jimmy took his life last weekend in Iqaluit, Nunavut. The suicide rate in North America’s far north has no equal anywhere on our globe. We couldn't just talk about sculpture, prints and drawings. I strained to hear not just to listen . . . to force time to slow down. I was out of sync with the cadence of their voices. These are supposed to be the learners but I am learning from them. They were grappling with the loss of someone who was a real embodied presence throughout their youth and childhood. I needed them to help me understand. I speak too fast with too many words.
Seventeen hours later after trying to watch brain candy or tranquilize my mind with the hues and saturations of the lake leaves, I am still unable to settle in to my real world obligations. So I am writing letters to cyberspace addressing them to journalists. We are connected. NYT journalists do not simply produce our news stories, they construct our communal archives. The political philosophies that appear in the Times columns inform conversations internationally. Decisions made, policies enacted, interventions, transactions and agreements undertaken in New York, California, Washington, Kyoto, Rio Janeiro, The Hague, Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Beijing, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Toronto have as much --- if not more --- impact than conversations and consultations held in Nunavut. Assumptions and debates about the market, big or small government, direct democracy, policing, racial profiling, drugs, welfare, poverty, taxes that are covered in the pages of the New York Times impact far beyond the space on the grid of a New York mile and the time contained in a New York minute.
This is not Jimmy’s story. Inuit have tried hard to teach me that I cannot tell their stories. I can only tell my story through my eyes and my experience. Jimmy used to live in Iqaluit, Nunavut. He had a good construction job and his friends knew him as a young man who had a lot to live for.
Construction in Nunavut is booming. Entrepreneurs come north for several years or decades and legally amass fortunes as they rush ahead to improve southern Canada’s GNP by building, renting and leasing northern dwellings at prices several times the cost of a similar dwelling in the south. This is a boon to government workers and the upper middle class both Inuit and non-Inuit. According to the logic of the marketplace, this will eventually trickle down to the Inuit who are the most disadvantaged in the North in regards to underemployment, access to education, health and housing. But the youth are dying so quickly I don’t know how many will be there to benefit when help finally does arrive. In the midst of this construction boom many Inuit are still living in overcrowding conditions shockingly comparable to the Third World. Nunavut is a conflicted region of great promise after negotiating a more equitable relationship to the rest of Canada but it is also a region of ever-deepening despair. Extremes of wealth and poverty co-exist with intimacy that is too close for comfort.
Last week Jimmy was part of the boom. He was one of the fortunate Inuit who had found a job. The friends who introduced me to Jimmy through their memories of him, described a young man full of promise. The cadence of the conversations yesterday, like many kitchen table conversations with First Nations, Inuit and Metis friends resonates with the dialogue and silences that narrate the ‘long take’ vistas of a Zach Kunuk video. One of the students from the Igloolik area --- where Atanarjuat was filmed --- spent yesterday afternoon tracing intricate trails in red on a university photocopy of a 1-125,000 map of the islands, waterways and mainland that he knew intimately from his years of traveling with his grandfather. As he traced the pathways, he meticulously wrote the names of familiar places in red syllabics. From time to time he would explain the meaning of these coded words. Each place name described the physical space so accurately it was as though he succeeded in breaking the code that unlocked Borges’ ‘Art of Cartography.’ As he spoke, Julia whispered warnings about imposed flag post place names like Fury Strait. He created a virtual image for me --- and anyone else in the room who strained to listen. The images, sounds and smells he evoked were themselves Hauntings. As he traced and retraced these red pathways that barely covered inches on the photocopied map --- I, the cyborg collector of digital archives, could take a Janet Cardiff’s Wanås Walk… three-hour hikes… seven-hour hikes to his favourite places… seeing panoramas vicariously through his eyes… hearing silence and the wind, tasting… smelling. The place names acknowledged the super natural market of food supplies available to travelers who had local knowledge. He indicated and word painted the tiny island called Tern Island where his father was born.
He fingered the miniscule unmarked place on the map haunted by the toxicity of the abandoned Dew Line site that is socially, historically, politically, emotionally and physically charged. These stories of these sites, like the stories of the many suicide martyrs, have been erased from communal memory. But the threat of their toxins is a constant reminder of the fragility of the micro ecosystem of this unique place.
The island of Igloolik --- the place of many dwellings --- is where the family of my guide on my vicarious journey, returned for generations. Centuries of overlapping circular trails could be traced on this map in sharp contrast to the grid-like pattern of modernity cut into a New York mile of urban architectural spaces. The layered trails would represent countless seasonal journeys from hunting camp to fishing camp traveling on foot, by dogsled, kayak, Peterhead, snow machine or by foot. Like so many isolated places in the North --- Igloolik --- has been inhabited by the semi-nomadic Inuit for centuries if not millennia. Travelers walking on the land still come across centuries-old natural museums, archives and caches that should have been forgotten. Because the archives are not written, there is an assumption that they do not exist. But the tundra itself has written the story of the early travelers in vivid colours on ancient abandoned sites. Tiny resistant plants that flourished on organic accumulative remains unlock the entrance to the site of ancient bones and tusks. Discarded objects and ancient bones tell stories of those who traveled before.
How far can you go in a New York minute? How many miles are encompassed in the Wall Street grid? How much widescreen and close-up geography can be covered in the longue duree, the ‘long take’, the extended view that echoes natural time. Jimmy’s identity was a personal geography he inhabited, composed of endlessly repeated everyday habits haunted by a communal history that resists the forced act of forgetting.
This week Jimmy’s life and story is beginning a process of being wiped out, completely erased, deleted from communal memory. In an everyday life process his image is beginning already to move from opacity to transparency in the painful but unspoken process of total erasure from a community’s memory. Once the local memory is completely gone, the tiny byte of time and place that he once occupied will be irretrievable from the meta files of data being processed in this the age of the great flood of the archives. If he had children they will never know their father’s story. His image will not be found in photo albums nor will laughter at his exploits be shared around kitchen tables. His name --- if it ever does come up again --- will be spoken only in whispers. Jimmy is not being cruelly punished for dying young. His memory, his life is doubly and triply erased in a desperate attempt to save the youth around him. In Iqaluit, Nunavut there is still nowhere for those youth-at-risk to go for help. They are living and dying through the worst epidemic of suicide on the planet.
When my granddaughters are reading the socio-economic, cultural and political histories of North America several decades from now, how will the story be told? How can and will the bones of this entire generation of our youth be explained and justified? These are our youth. They are not Canadian or American. They are North American.
Bell Lake, Quebec, Canada
I had just returned from Iqaluit, Nunavut where I had set up two courses. I had developed a northern-centred course on Human Rights that was I was teaching along with the Introduction to Sociology I had taught from January to June in 2002. I didn't really want to return to Nunavut but the Director and administrators of the Centre for Initiatives in Education really wanted me to go again. Last term was such a success they had signed an agreement with Nunavut Arctic College President, McClenning. But the Inuit Art Foundation in Ottawa wanted me to teach their courses again as well. So I was commuting between Iqaluit and Ottawa. My own PhD was moving too slowly.
Email correspondence in response to letter
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 16:01:08 -0400
Subject: Re: An Epidemic of Youth Suicide
To: Maureen Flynn-Burhoe
From a friend and mother who works in education in Iqaluit, Nunavut
Thank you for your for sensitive insights and for taking action. Your letter is very eloquent and persuasive. I am at my wits end with the number of deaths as it impacts so terribly on the youth left behind. I had to get my x out of town once again at the end of August after a friend died in a wasteful and tragic car accident. x stayed out visiting family and friends, then joined x and I for Thanksgiving in our x house. It was so peaceful and sane. We all returned on Sunday. The very first phone call to x was from a friend informing x of Jimmy's suicide. x had worked with Jimmy last summer at x. x just collapsed and all the healing seems for nought. Yet x went to the funeral yesterday, but today x hasn't really risen from bed. And at lunch today, I heard that x's step son (really her grand son) died last night, a possible suicide, but we won't know until the autopsy is completed. He was only 19. I think we may have to move away, just in order to keep our x healthy and optimistic about life and youth. Again, though you letter so beautifully articulated the problem. I hope they respond.
From a friend, an anthropologist in Israel working with an off-campus Social Work program for Bedouin women:
Your letter arrived just in the right time to strengthen my belief that, after all, we are connected by some sort of a great path leading us to the same places, meeting us at some crossroads. In two days I am about to start a new course named "Inter-cultural Training in Human Services". Your letter will certainly be shared with the students at the beginning of the course, used as a starting point. I thank you so much for letting me be part of your healing -I consider it as our mutual need for healing. I know from very close the feelings of self-devastation, just from hearing about the silent violence in their lives. But we need to heal ourselves so we can continue hearing the stories and expand the message as far as we can, to as many ears we can, especially to those who can make changes. The act of hearing itself is, I believe, a direct healing process, a humanizing process, we experience with the direct victims of the community, all hurt by the violence. Be strong and courageous to go on in this painful task and remember to take care of yourself. I am always here for you (despite the distance) very close to you in my thoughts and feelings. wish you all the best and warm hugs to x, x
From a university student
Your story was emotionally moving. It is truly unfortunate how there are not enough articles that try and explain the truth, that will attempt to reveal an alternate side to what is actually going on. The newspaper is a valuable source of information, however if we cannot rely on it to report factual accounts than how are we to remain informed? I find that in today’s society it is getting harder and harder to experience true reality. Organizations that are supposed to relay news to us (the individuals) such as CNN, The New York Times, The Ottawa Sun, etc… seem to always have an incredibly bias view on things. It is unfortunate that instances like these occur yet; it seems that if they were to print the truth they would have too much to lose thus, resulting in uninformed patrons, such as yourself and others like me. The account you heard about Jimmy, appears to be a common story in native life these days, and it makes me sore inside. This summer on my way to Vancouver I had the pleasure of being seated next to a lovely young girl named Suzie. She was a young lady from Coral harbor – a small island off the coast of Hudson Bay in Nunavut. As we flew I found out many interesting things about the life she lived. The way hers differed from mine was substantially significant. She told me about her life up north, how she witness first hand a good friend of hers commit suicide, she experienced her brother take his own life, and even her local high school, it seemed like there was another case of suicide every other week. She was flying back to Victoria where she attended a fashion design school. Talking to her really opened my eyes up as I am sure your students opened yours. It was wonderful to see how far she had come along; taking into account the experiences she had gone through.
I believe part of the problem these youth face is the way in which society “has” regarded them. In the past native people have always been looked down upon and have been pushed around physically and mentally. There have been many repercussions created to alleviate the Native community, however many of these things have come a little too late. Obviously the argument can be made stating that these repercussions are better than nothing, yet it still doesn’t account for the losses native youth will suffer.
In order to understand what is actually going on in places such as Iqaluit there needs to be a proper healing process. Having stories printed in newspapers about those who have suffered are only the beginning of the healing process. Marilyn Manson, a famous musician was asked what he would have done to prevent the shooting that occurred at Columbine High School. He said “I wouldn’t have said anything to them; I would have listened to them, and what they had to say.” This is an attitude that should be adopted by many more school officials that deal with students and stressful environments. The youth of Iqaulit not only deserve someone to direct them in correct directions they NEED someone who is willing to listen and to understand their problems. Peter Tenute
Labels: benign colonialism, inuit social history, RCAP, youth suicide
fliction by Mick Mather -
"The immature fruit hangs low, over banks and canal, within equal reach of the footman, the boatman and thee. Fine as they seem - for the mule, the crow or the bee - they're much too young for me."
In the few short months that I have spent in Nunavut, two mothers who had become my colleagues and friends, lost youthful sons to suicide. Within a brief period of two months, four youth in a community of less than 1,500 people committed suicide. Almost the entire community attended the funeral. The hall was filled with infants, toddlers, children, youth, adults and elders. The youngest children wove between chairs and family members comfortably a part of community life. Youth dressed in southern street-smart clothing respectfully gave their seats to elders. The shared pain in the room at the loss of their youth through suicide, was suffocating. At the graveside, it was cold and windy. It began to snow. As one mother witnessed the shovel-fulls of sand thudding onto her son's coffin, another walked quietly alone to another fresh grave nearby. I stood there helpless feeling so overwhelmed I couldn't move. I know many others felt the same paralysis. How many of us were mothers? How many of us had sons in their twenties?
The family of the young man, colleagues and friends provided support to the parents and to each other. On the return flight home, one man was unusually upbeat and talkative. Perhaps that is his way of dealing with the pain. I didn't know who he was. He sat behind me. As I left the plane I asked the woman next to me who this man was. To my astonishment it was the *** for Nunavut.
Following the suicides, friends and acquaintances attempted to find ways of absorbing yet another tragedy. Some felt anger at the youth who committed suicide. Many expressed feelings of numbness. Some regretted their own inability to know what to do. They felt guilty for not knowing how to prevent it. Like many others I feel a sense of powerlessness.
December 11, 2002: While waiting for my plane at the Iqaluit airport I met a physician-researcher who had just completed a report on the Nunavut Ministry of Health. She told me about a two-hour conversation she had with a man called TNC in a hotel bar in Rankin Inlet. TNC had lost a friend to suicide. He was deeply bothered by his loss. He went to see a nurse. The nurse became very uncomfortable when Tommy mentioned he was depressed and upset by this suicide. She sent him to a Social Worker. The Social Worker was also ill at ease. She called the police. TNC spent the night in jail. They were concerned he might hurt himself. Because the small hamlet had no counselling services, TNC was flown to Yellowknife. He was separated from the only real support system he had --- his mother and grandmother in Rankin Inlet. Later on the plane I sat beside a young man GRB. GRB worked for Baffin Correctional Centre. He started there in c.1996. He told me about a millionaire who made his fortune by buying high-end buildings in Iqaluit, then renting them at high rents to the Nunavut Government. GRB loved speed --- the speed of the snow machine. His best moments were out on the land with a half a dozen friends on powerful machines. His work bothered him. He felt surrounded by uneducated, untrained fellow-workers --- many of whom came from Halifax --- who cared little for the young offenders. Many were there because they could earn huge salaries --- especially with overtime. Some of them didn't even have high school education and in Iqaluit they were earning much more than they ever could in the Maritimes. It frustrated him to see how these untrained workers wanted to work by the book to earn points from the supervisors. Sometimes a situation could be diffused before it became violent and ugly. By rigidly following the book, a small incident could escalate into an ugly incident very quickly. GRB came to know the offenders so he knew how to calm things. Increasingly the workers who lacked experience but were older than him, made the situations worse. GRB noticed the most improvement in the youth came through the on-the-land program. Youth would spend a couple of months with the elders. They came back healthier and more confident. He commented on the work of the psychiatrist Dr. Q He said that Dr. Q tried to prevent the worst from happening but he was not really in control of the situation. He was not able to make all the decisions that would be beneficial to the youth. GRB said that Iqaluit youth threatening suicide would be sent to the Youth detention centre. He would be stripped down, showered and then given 'baby dolls' to wear before being locked in a safe cell where he could do himself no harm. (What a contrast to the treatment my friend's son received in Ottawa. )
June 2002: This text will change organically as the flicktion develops.
July 2009: This image was selected to be part of a phenomenal project entitled "We Feel Fine."
November 2009: The book launch of We Feel Fine
September 1, 2005
Collage of sentences from Thomas Mann's Death in Venice.
It was a late summer afternoon in 2005 when my anxious shrinking world seemed to be beset by menacing clouds blowing from all directions. I feel overwrought from months of frustration built up through this nerve taxing work that will not cease to exact my uttermost sustained concentration. Lately I have been feeling hopeless against the onward sweep of the unproductive thoughts within me. I seek but find no relaxation in all the pleasurable pursuits of the past. I take walks in the hope the air and exercise will send me back refreshed to a good day's work.
September has begun and after the dramatic exit of the month of August with its unprecedented devastation of hail, heavy rains and violent wind storms, a mocking giddy sun shone. Ottawa was full of vehicles and pedestrians. Back home in La Peche, the lake was solitary and still. Trees stirred with the rising breeze. I was brought back to reality with the sound of traffic that blends into the wind in the trees and the hum of the old refrigerator that never stops running. I thought of my work and the place where weeks ago I was forced to lay it down since it would not yield. I had meant to bring the work to a certain point before September. The thought of a leisurely ramble east to the Maritimes or west to my granddaughters seemed too fanciful, too expensive, too luxurious to be seriously entertained. This yearning for a distant place, this craving for freedom, release, forgetfulness - they are, I admit an impulse toward flight, from the spot which is the daily theatre of a painstaking, passionate  struggle. The research, reading and writing I love has almost come to take on a form of a tyrannical avenger. Again and again I try to untie the knot - which physically grasps my neck creating a sensation of a bulky growth whose finger-like tentacles grasp the back of my neck. Again and again I try to break the knot only to retire at last with a shiver of repugnance. What saps my energy is not that I think I am doing bad work. Since my youth I have known the ectasy of conquering the feelings of easy contentment and half-perfections to discipline myself to [fastidious, scrupulous details]. To me it seems my work has ceased to be marked by that fiery passion. I dread the solitude I used to crave shut up here in my heavy discontent. What I need is a break to make this period in my life more tolerable and productive. So ran my thoughts, while the lakeside gusts of wind sang through the heavy branches of trees in all directions around me. Some other physical or psychical influence came to play as I felt the most comforting consciousness of a widening of inward barriers - a kind of vaulting restfulness, a childlike thirst for the first home, the first grove of poplars that sang that familiar melody. I sat there rooted to the spot, my eyes on the birch tree and my pencil frozen in my hand as I explored these feelings, their bearing and scope in my new composition book, labeled fall 2005.
What pleases the [public are lively and vivid plots, actions and descriptions.] But I seem to need a problem. I am obsessed by the presence of the absence. I have taken false steps, blundered, exposed myself, offended against tact and sensitivity. But I have attained to higher goals. My whole life has been one conscious effort to learn, to be useful, to make a small part of the space around me more beautiful. My active mind has been blunted against the sharp and bitter irritant of knowledge. I have called genius itself in question, have become cynical about the nature of art and the artist's life. My self-conscious constancy of purpose now seems shallow and unaware. I am turning my back on the realm of material knowledge in a right about-face. For this kind of knowledge - which calls itself science or art - has lamed my will, my power of action, has paralyzed my feelings and my passions, has deprived all of these of their convictions and their utility. I reject all heroes except those born of weakness. I admire those who labour at the edge of exhaustion, those who continue trying although over-burdened with challenges and faced with a scarcity of resources. I admire those who are worn out but still hold themselves upright.
Note: By the time Gustav von Aschenbach died on a beach in Venice with tinted hair and his face painted in a grotesque effort to hide the ravages of fifty years plus on the body of a highly-disciplined, severe and celebrated author. there was little to admire or even like in this, the main character in Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. 
Mann, Thomas. 1912. <a href="http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12108/12108-8.txt" Der Tod in Venedig aus
München, Hyperionverlag Hans von Weber .
But Thomas Mann's writing . . .
1. I am not sure about this translation.
It was a cold day,
I was riding my horse around an open field
When I came across this black horse, he was by himself away from his herd.
He was scared of me as I was frightened of him.
We stared at each other for a little while, till he snorted and took off into the unknown.
It was getting dark and I had to camp out, that night I heard the roaring of hooves around me,
They stayed away from me as if I was a hunter, but I was only an observer.
When morning came I was in need of water, I found a creek and filled my canteens.
I saw a slow moving shadow among me in the trees, when I looked up it was the same black horse that I saw yesterday.
This time he seemed more curious of me and my horse.
I named the unknown horse, Laguna.
He reminded me of the moon he is mysterious and beautiful.
I tried to approach him, which did not go well he got scared snorted and took off once again.
I was disappointed I want to befriend Laguna. That night he came back and watched over me and my horse.
I was in surprise he was standing so close, it was almost like he was protecting me from the nightly dangers.
The next morning I packed my camp and started heading back to my ranch, when I was almost home I heard a snort…
Laguna was following me back to my Ranch, so I keep going to see if he’ll give up and turn around.
I get home and he is still with me, I put him in a round pin.
Now five years later I still have Laguna, he is a great horse and I still let him come and go as he pleases, the wild in him will never die.
This is a partial truth, more like a flicktion, or a dream, or the virtual than the real. It's not science or art, more like an invention or innovation. Pieces of this a flicktion are scattered throughout my semi-nomadic cybercamps like tiny inukshuk on a global landscape. It mimics visual anthropology but isn't. It imitates ethnography but lacks the objectivity. There are words written, pictures taken of events, dates, settings, stages and characters without an author. Maybe it's the wrong venue in a photo album of beaming faces, stunning scenery, professional photographers, travelers, techies, retirees. But we can all choose to follow each others sign posts in this cyberspace or move on. This is the power of this new social space spun in CyberWeb 2.0.
Cultural ethnographers are supposed to return to their academic spaces, sharpen their methodological tools to a tip that almost cuts the paper they write on (and too often the culture, pop or otherwise they are writing about). You're not supposed to return from the field with their your mind numbed from the frosted words of those who were seduced by the gold mine of benign colonialism, their voices confident, mocking, paternalistic, jaded by years, or decades of northern experience (1970s-2002). Your were supposed to leave the field with the pace of your beating heart uninterrupted inside your embodied self. You weren't supposed to leave your a chunk of your soul in that graveyard in Pangnirtung on the Cumberland Sound. This is just lack of professionalism. Get a grip. Just write that comprehensive, proposal, dissertation. Move on. It's just the way it is.
In this coffee shop sipping a cup of freshly brewed French Roast, (better than a Vancouver Starbucks!), SWF listened with her eyes. She was compassionate but ever so slightly distant. She doesn't seem to realize how much others from the outside can perceive her knowledge. It is what at times makes her intimidating. Her three generation life story is the stuff of Inuit social history. She seems to almost be unaware of how important that story is. She was surprised that the First Nations cared about the creation of Nunavut. I remember our first class together. She spoke so softly but she was so firm, so insistent, modest and dignified. The wails I had heard by the open graves that still echo in my mind, were all too familiar to her. Slowly, insistently she explained to me as if I really needed to listen, remember, register this. "We do not need your tears. We have enough of our own. We do not need you to fix this. We need your respect. We need you to not make it worse. We need you to listen to us, really listen. Alone, with no resources an elder has been taking them out on the land. She gets no funding. What she has done works. The funding is going elsewhere on projects that are promoted by the insiders. Inuit like her are not insiders."
flicktion from The Vignettes -
Away, across fields of green upon green, is life so lush that it hangs in the air. Pastel blue skies are brushed by low scrub and second growth, chasing about gnats 'n butterflies, June bugs, 'skeeters and wasps. Buzzing and clicking and chirping 'round gnarled and stunted trees their cacophonous medley directs cool breezes that meander between shady breaks of an oppressive summer.
Jochum de Boer wanted his body to instantly sink into the sandy Amsterdam soil below him. He was so ashamed of himself. The building inspector had not responded positively to his suggestion. "Can we not flush away the sand from under the construction and sink it into the ground -- down to the appropriate depth," he had suggested. The building inspector had looked at him with burning fury in his eyes and responded, "You stupid idiot".
Jochum had woken up early this morning. He had not slept well. He felt both nervous and excited. He had a big day ahead of him. It was two months into Jochum's first project as a construction supervisor. Today, the Amsterdam building inspector would come around and check up on the progress. Jochum was quite sure that the inspection would go well. He had followed the blueprints in every detail and was sure that everything was going according to plan. Yet, he was a bit nervous. He did not know why. Could there be something that he had overlooked?
Jochum took a long shower. He liked taking long showers. It helped him relax. The time in the water helped him clear his mind as well as cleaning his body. After the shower the nervousness was gone but the excitement remained. No, there could not be anything he had overlooked. Everything was as good as it could be. He was going to pass his first inspection with a top grade.
When Jochum arrived to the construction site in Damrak and looked at his construction he felt the nervousness again. There was something odd about this construction. Yet, Jochum could not figure out what it was. It was just odd in some odd way.
While he waited for the arrival of the building inspector Jochum looked over the blueprints once again. Then he looked at the construction. As far as he could see there was a perfect match between the blueprints and the construction. He could find no sensible explanation of the oddness of the construction. It was probably just designed this way. It was an odd design.
Jochum looked out the window and saw the building inspector's car drive toward the construction site. Jochum rushed outside to greet the inspector. But as he approached he could see on the expression on the inspector's face that something was wrong -- terribly wrong. At the same instance Jochum realized what was wrong with his construction. He realized that he had made a terrible mistake.
"What on Earth is this construction?" shouted the building inspector. Jochum noticed the irony in the inspector's words. The construction should not be on the Earth -- but in the Earth. Before Jochum could even try to come up with an answer, the building inspector continued, shouting even higher: "Did it never cross your silly little mind that a subway tunnel should be a tunnel? -- underground?" It had not, but Jochum did not answer the inspector. He did not think that his answer would be heard -- even if he answered. How could he explain that he had accidentally built a subway tunnel above ground?
The building inspector stared at him in furious anger. Jochum had to think quick. He had think up a plan that would make up for his mistakes. Something clever. The only thing Jochum could think of was to suggest to the building inspector that they could perhaps flush the sand away from under the construction and sink it into the ground -- down to the appropriate depth.
Jochum broke down and started to cry. His tears fell down onto the sand around him. He cried harder and harder. The sand around him got wet from all the tears. Jochum started sinking into the wet sand. His wish had started to come true.
For more stories see Urban Volcano.
Octavia Butler's science fiction unfolds in a post-nuclear world overtaken by an alien species. Lilith, a woman of colour, out of Africa, becomes the primal mother, the new Eve to a polymorphous species. It is a survival fiction about the "... resistance to the imperative to recreate the sacred image of the same (1989:378)."
Lilith talks about her feelings of being impregnated with something that is not human, a metamorphose:
"I had gone back to school." [Lilith] said. "I was majoring in anthropology." She laughed out bitterly. "I suppose I could think of this as fieldwork - but how the hell can I get out of the field? (1987: 262-3)?
I inserted this image of Lilith into my own photo taken during a sunburst in the middle of a blizzard in Iqaluit, Nunavut (2003). Lilith is protected by a sunburst parka using a third Adobe layer. I wish I could have found a similar protection for my own spirit. Images of Lilith's experiences flashed through my mind frequently as my own conflicted role as impassioned researcher crunched against the sea ice of academic 'professionalism' and detachment which came to resemble convenient apathy for inconvenient truths. When the ice pan is disturbed by currents under the ice, hummocks form in these dramatic shapes resonating with the emergence of mountain ranges --- not miniature but not the Rockies either. In parts of the frozen seas these hummocks impede winter travel. Dog sleds and snow machines navigate around them.
A flicktion - Aflicktion - Afflicktion are derived from the term Flicktion developed on Flickr by innovator Andrew Losowsky to describe his unique, creative response to non-linear aspects of blogging. On his photoblog Flickr he published a series of 'short stories' with photos entitledThe Doorbells of Florence.
"As more than 12,500 viewers (and counting) of the Flickr set can testify, The Doorbells of Florence is cult fiction at its least predictable. This book contains 36 real Italian doorbells (including some never before seen), each one with a strange story about the people and things that may, or may not, live inside. This first-ever volume of flicktion was written by Andrew Losowsky and lovingly put together by award-winning designer, Nuno Vargas as the mini coffee table book that espresso was invented for $27.99." Inspired by Andrew Losowsky I began my own work-in-progress series on Flickr and Speechless entitled Aflicktion on my afflictional misadventures with social and cultural institutions as a PhD candidate and contract lecturer --- and at times fly-in (Flynn) professor --- in remote northern communities. flicktionMore">
First Jake had tried by simply concentrating which had worked last time. Actually he had quite looked forward to that feeling of compactness which it had produced. But using mind power just didn't work this time, so he tried to pull the cable. The frame wouldn't budge. He kept pulling, and as he did he curiously felt his entire body stiffen and soon his being was arrested in a two-dimensional world without escape.
Text copyright © Per Brask
vibrant colour on
empty bones awaiting a
fresh spring renewal
red against blue sky
falls leaving nothing
fading coloured leaves
fall on tired earth, I'm
hoping for snow soon
The tiny museum stood by the side of the dusty dessert road like a lone piece of driftwood in the sand. Murals faded by the sizzling California sun depict moments that put this town on the map. Just five dollars and I too was transferred into the world of cowboys, Indians, stagecoaches and The Wild West. After using fifteen minutes of my life viewing a mediocre show of all of the films that were shot in The Sierra Nevada Mountains, I got to see costumes and props used by the actors that my grandfather and grandmother adored at the time of their courtship. Patiently I walked through the exhibits to see Roy Roger’s costumes, the saddle that John Wayne straddled and the leather Stetson Hats, stained with the sweat of these men. Then I followed my brother’s voice, turned a corner, and felt my heart start pounding in amazement in amazement.
The secret back room was the home to my favorite exhibit, and one of my favorite childhood movies, The Tremors. The model of the General Store looked just as it did when I visited there so many times in my childhood. The autographed posters of Kevin Bacon and Reba Mc Entire held my attention as I circled every inch of their autographs with my eyes, daydreaming about where they first signed. Did they know that it was now here, in this shack in the center of the dessert? Did they know that their low budget film would become a cult-classic, or at least a classic to me? The models of the human eating worms were painted with pristine strokes and gentle details. They did not seem treacherous in this back room like they did on the screen when I was young. Instead, they were pieces of art, pieces of movie history, and pieces of my youth.
To others who came into the corner of the museum, these gross worms with tentacles flaring out of their mouth were disgusting and not as important as the spurs that Val Kilmer ore in Tombstone. But to me, the life-size foam props actually used in the movie symbolized a special time of my life. Those gross blind worms were what my brother and I flocked to the TV at night to see, over and over. We would snuggle in under the covers munching on buttered microwave popcorn that my dad bought in bulk at Wal-Mart. We’d keep each other company, even scaring one another, while our parents worked next door. Those alien-like creatures were a bond between us, and helped build a base for the relationship today.
So you see, sometimes a place does not have to be grand or expensive to make a special memory. Sometimes the silliest or insignificant objects to other people may be the most important to you. Who would have thought that a crummy museum in the middle of no-where, that is a home to one of the most ridiculous stories ever made, could bring back so many heart-warming memories?
An Adobe Photshop image consisting of 5 layered images: del.icio.us/ocean.flynn title layer, google generated 3-D virtual space with branching rivers as metaphors for organically emerging rhizomic pathways, a miniaturized image of Vancouver, BC's skyline, the del.icio.us tag cloud image (my first since I began to use this free social bookmarking tech tool) and an altered topographical map of a site where a meteor landed. This final layer was inverted so the meteoric collision with the planet became the sun in this delicious cloud. I have recently joined Frimr web site that keeps track of the rhizomic growth of your personal internet connections through numbers. I am not sure if it is fictional, virtual or real. I haven't figured it all out so my numbers are conflated. I think I did correspond with Claude aka clauer a real person (?) in France who solved a technical oversight within hours of my leaving a comment on his blog!
Photos of Iqaluit cemetery taken October 2002; Uploaded to Flickr, Trawled by wefeelfine, Linked to wordpress, wefeelfine.org
On We Feel Fine's nonlinearirty:
"At the beginning of Chapter 5 in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim finds himself in jail on the planet of Tralfamadore. Billys captors give him some Tralfamadorian books to pass the time, and while Billy can't read Tralfamadorian, he does notice that the books are laid out in brief clumps of text, separated by stars. "Each clump of symbols is a brief, urgent message -- discribing a situation, a scene," explained one of his captors. "We Tralfamadorians read them all at once, not one after the other. There isn't any relationship between all the mssages, except that the author has chosen then carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time."
We aimed to write this book in the telegraphic, schizophrenic manner of tales from Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers are.
a flicktion by Mick Mather -
"Two spires scrape the sky, pointing their own way, a wide gulf separating references to the cross. One an unnatural harness attempting control and redirection of the mysterious aura. The other a simple and narrow path, harmonious synchronicity with the spirit - and yet, no less a mystery."
After the devastation of the Ice Storm of 1998, our lake-side cottage in the Gatineau Hills seemed constantly starved for brightness and warmth. I sought out light mirrored in and on every surface. I found frames within frames, windows within windows. I would spend hours in the Baroque room of the National Gallery of Canada staring at the Jacob Jordaens' painting, one of my favourites. I wandered through the rooms of Escher's prints. In tiny sections of canvasses and prints artists left coded imagery. There was no more white noise. I could see miniaturized worlds everywhere. Worlds within worlds.
By this time I knew I would have enough for an exhibition. One painting alone seemed to spawn countless others as I zoomed in to reflections. This lantern was in PC invasion as was the glass of the fireplace itself. I am reflected in the centre of the lantern's glass mantel standing by my easel painting by the light of the window which extended along the entire wall. Tall spruce grew so close to the A-frame their branches seemed to protrude into the living room.
The tiny plastic framed photo on the mantle was a reminder of 126 King Street, Charlottetown. My mother's apartment is now Silsby Kindergarten. Her rose lantern and collection of family photos have been dispersed. But even reduced to a few brush strokes on a small canvas each of these remains as clear to me as the original photo. I can see hair blowing in the wind beside the Rideau River and details of the lace shawl from Brazil.
I was reading about reflexivity as a useful concept in the social sciences. It became the title for my exhibition. I decided to aim for my birthday as the opening night.
In addition to RSS functionality, Flickr’s API source code is available to third party
programmers; this encourages the development of additional applications that make use
of the Flickr photography database. Many of these applications have creative uses in
various instructional settings.
Flickr’s use in education settings is not without concern. This is a big open system with
users uploading any and all types of imagery. In all cases, caution should be used when
searching specific topics and a discussion with students about what should take place
when inappropriate imagery is located should be done prior to use. As always, the use of
Flickr, or any other resource like this, should be balanced against the climate and culture
of the school or school district.
Flickr contains imagery that can be used in every aspect of teaching to help develop
visual literacy skills, and in the process, help students understand intellectual property
rights, while contributing greatly to a host of learning applications.
Classroom and School Uses of Flickr
1. Anywhere visual images are required, such as presentation, etc.
2. Single image analysis
3. Single image writing prompt, sometimes called Flicktion
4. Multiple image digital storytelling projects
5. Creating slides shows within Flickr
6. Virtual Field Trips
7. Creation of visual arguments, e.g. biology classroom-The Case for Genetic
8. Illustration of Poetry with Flickr, or Flickr meets Carl Sandburg
9. Using Flickr with Google Earth to teach Geography
10. Visual documentation of school events
11. Visual documentation of student artwork and other school products
12. Creation of digital visual portfolios, using the photoset function of Flickr
13. Social software applications: how to tag, how to make comments
14. Delivery of school/classroom visual information via RSS
15. Intellectual property rights lesson using Flickr Creative Commons licensing
16. The use of third party Flickr applications to produce classroom products:
a. Motivational posters
b. Magazine Covers
c. Movie Posters
d. Flickr slideshow
e. Mosaic Makers
Using Adobe Photoshop I layered Friedrich's (1818) Voyageur au-dessus de la mer de nuages, a Google Earth generated image of Garibaldi Mountain region, British Columbia (220.127.116.11N - 122.57.18.09W elev 6026' eye alt 13964) and my del.icio.us/ocean.flynn.
Since I began exploring the cyberworld I have felt a similar vastation experience of infinity that terrified philosopher William James. We don't live in James' world of modernity anymore. In 2006 serious brilliant thinkers present compelling arguments stating that consciousness, including higher consciousness is merely a chemical reaction. Are moral and aesthetic judgments merely chemical?
When in 1818 Caspar David Friedrich (1774 - 1840) painted Voyageur au-dessus de la mer de nuages he was deeply influenced by Goethe and Runge's concepts of colour and Goethe's affirmation that nature was the new Bible. Friedrich rejected the art of Greek and Roman antiquity based on fables and fantasy which placed the gods in an unattainable sublime world. Friedrich preferred Nordic legends where humans retained their humanity in a natural world. Art could mediate between man and nature. He echoed Schelling's concept of the artist who could reveal the secrets of the universe that were hidden in nature. Art could bring the sublime to man by revealing the power of nature that was both beautiful and terrifying, familiar and strange. Confronted with the vastation of infinity revealed in nature man can lose himself in God. The belief in the omnipresence of God was adopted by the Romantics as a form of pantheism. God was present in a grain of sand. Nature itself was the New Bible, the Sacred Book through which the infinite could be known by man. Landscape painting was elevated by the Romantic artists to the highest order of painting. Through landscape painting the Romantic artist could present the Sublime. (It was considered to be among the lower forms of painting with the historical painting of the academics like Benjamin West being the highest.)
This is also uploaded to photoblog
flicktion from The Vignettes -
Beyond the rustic rails of a forgotten fence a promenade of small evergreens mark a course to the marshy edges of a swamp. The first water reached is a slough, separated by reeds and marsh grass from that still pond. I stand there, holding my breath, wishing to trap and hold the rush of perfection. In this world, moments like these are precious and fleeting glimpses past the gates of heaven...that golden place where I know I'll find you again.
Sam was mortified to find his letterbox covered by the landlord's notice AGAIN. After all that effort to shift it on to the other letter boxes.
He didn't understand the rationale behind having the notice hanging over his letterbox. Firstly, his had the clearest indication of what the address of the building is. Why, he had even gone to the trouble of putting the word "Central" just in case some poor soul wasn't sure which district he's in. He was doing a public good for all visitors and the postal service!
And more importantly, couldn't they SEE that he had made an effort with his letterbox? Thick, good quality black ink. Bold Capitals. Yellow wire to match the burnished bronze lock (kept painstakingly clean). The letter box hung just slightly askew to give that quirky look. Neither of the other letterboxes look as good, have as much thought and love put into it!
Well, he'll show them. If he can put that much effort into his letterbox, he'll put as much effort into securing that goddamned notice so that it doesn't get anywhere near his side again. Duct tape and extra twisting of that awful pink wire are in order.
(As inspired by Andrewlos)
I sat. I watched.
This person came closer and closer. She was talking to me in a soft, kind voice.
She took this picture as she talked to me.
Strange--I seemed to understand what she was saying. She wished me well and told me to enjoy the sunshine.
She also thanked me for sharing the day with her!!! What an interesting experience.
I seemed to be disembodied, living through the digital images that appeared by magic on my Dell laptop screen. It was minus forty or fifty degrees. There was no taxi service so the town was shut down for me. Severe weather warnings were issued from Environment Canada. Suddenly a blinding sun broke through. I pulled on my army parka, leggings, mittens and Pangnirtung hat, grabbed my Kodak and headed outside to the breakwater. This image encapsulates the entire experience.
There were many painful things that I tried to forget but these images keep flashing into my mind and I am back there again. I am embarrassed that the loss of this silly lap top remains as such a crushing memory considering the suicides, the murder, the stories of everyday violences against human dignity. Having the laptop confiscated without warning is a metaphor for my inability to process the memories, a missing archives, a secret archives, an archives fever.
This is a higher resolution of a January 4, 2007 upload to Flickr.
Shauna had loved the water as far back as she could remember. Her father had often said that maybe she should consider becoming a fish when she grew up. Right now though she had to run as fast as she could or she'd get caught by Karla and Annie. "Team tag is a great game," she thought, as Annie touched her right between her shoulder blades.
Text copyright © Per Brask
When one puts up his/her feet with the intent of relaxing or taking it easy for a moment in time, I recommend getting out of the hectic surroundings of the city. The sounds of honking, screeching, construction, crashing, yelling, crosswalk beeping, etc. pales in comparison to what a secluded place can bring to an individual. Living only a block away from one of BC’s biggest hospitals – I am immersed in the sounds of sirens, the whirring of helicopters, and the congestion of traffic jams. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the city – three of the many things I love are biking through the designated biking streets, soaking in the atmosphere either on the beach during the summer seasons, or walking through snow-covered streets during the winter time.
However, as this picture depicts, up on a mountain range where the wilderness and nothing but quietness surrounds and engulfs a person – I find myself with my two feet up, with my down-filled snow booties on, and basking in the sunshine. The stresses of my life, the hustle-and-bustle of daily urban verve, and the challenges of living out my faith are all put into perspective and deeply reflected upon as I relax on the snow.
At first, this may be surreal and confusing because one might not be used to the change of scenery; however, as I revisit environments that cause me to be silent and be in awe of its beauty – I look forward to the times during the year that I can experience such moments. In a sense, it refocuses my personal priorities in life, reminds me that I am abundantly blessed, and that I need to serve others as best as I can.
Everyone needs time to rest. I suggest getting out and stretching those feet out – and by doing that hopefully experience something that is special and meaningful.
"He's been pretty good" she thought to herself as they were sharing a quiet moment in a hectic day. "In fact," her thoughts continued, "as I look back I can honestly say that he got better and better to live with as time passed. He's settled down quite a bit. He's much more content with himself than he ever was. He's cute too. Still, I should say. Not bad for an old fellow. Now if only I can get him to stop chewing his nails."
Text copyright © Per Brask
Granted, the day had started off really strange. What with his insistence on wearing his jumpsuit and carrying a suitcase. They had all agreed that, okay, he could do what he liked. After all, they had all been friends since high school, and though he was quite brilliant he'd always been a little weird. Buy hey, that's alright among friends. And though he was the best man none of them really cared all that much for formal ritual. When they'd arrived, though, he'd said "I'm inaugurating this today in your honour," then he'd pull a string and disappeared in a gust of wind.
Text copyright Per Brask.
It begins with the sweat. Unnoticeable at first, it appears on your forehead. Slowly, it forms beads that grow, becoming heavy and unstable, until finally they start to roll down your brow. A drop slides down your nose and plummets to the rock strewn ground hundreds of feet below. As the perspiration grows more intense, you instinctively think to wipe your face until you realize that you cannot. Your hands are gripped tightly onto the rock face. To move them would invite disaster. One single bead of sweat drips down and slips into your eye. The salty sting startles you back into reality.
It was getting late, and still no one came.
Li Tsu continued to act preoccupied on her computer, glancing around every once and a while to search the library for...him.
The words echoed in her mind, "Why run away when you know I will always find you?"
Li closed her eyes. Her fingers itched to touch the reassuring security in her pocket. No. He will see. He is probably here right now. Watching.
A young man, maybe about 20 with sandy hair and a small smile sat down on the opposite side of the room. Was he trying to get her attention? He put some earphones in and leaned against the wall, eyes closed. Li wasn't sure, but it looked genuine. Another false guess.
Would he be tall? Or maybe he wears only black. Long black coat with sunglasses. Of course not Li, who would wear that to school. Well, yes - but who would make a threat like that? It could be anyone here and the only way I will find out is if I run.
Or maybe he will come to me soon.
Li bit her lip, a small tear corroded her cheek as it fell on to her keyboard. Darkness overflowed her. Inundating her mind like water from a broken dam.
His touch was much softer than she had anticipated. Her eyes opened to sandy hair. He grinned. "Sorry to bug you, but I think you are in my chemistry class."
"Ah, ok." Li was confused. This isn't him. It can't be.
Sandy Hair laughed, taking an awkward breathe and looking at the ground. "Uh, so I was wondering if maybe you could help me out? Professor Smith just makes no sense."
That was it, Professor Smith. The code was there, but did Sandy Hair actually know he was giving her a code?
"Professor Smith?" Li whispered. "I don't believe I have him for Chem 105."
Sandy drew close, scanning the room with his eyes but keeping his hands in his pockets. His voice was suddenly different.
"Of course you don't Li." He forced her to stand. "But in about 30 seconds they will be here for you, and I am not going to let that happen."
Just before Sandy pulled out his gun and tugged her after him, a small flash of a pin on his shirt blazed in front of her.
It was going to be ok.
There once was a king who had everything. He was very wealthy, but he was very bored. So, he set his wise men and a task: he wanted to see a star that no one else had ever seen. The wise men looked through their telescopes and found a new star. They hurried to king to show them their discovery. But he flew into a rage because, of course, the wise men had seen it first. He offered half his fortune to anyone who could show him a star that no one else had seen.
Just then, a small serving boy said he could show the king a hidden star that no one else had seen. He took an apple and a knife and cut an apple across the middle. He then asked the king to seperate the halves and look inside...
One thing was absolutely clear. If it hadn't been for her they would never have made it out of there. But they didn't know whether to be thankful for it. After all which was worse: Being encased and left to die after a finite period of time, or, to resume the grey and uneventful lives which awaited them. She also didn't know whether if she'd done the right thing. After all she'd been given a lot of attention down there, she had been listened to and she'd found a kind of joy in leading the others and giving them hope. For the first time in her life she'd been given a special status, albeit because of her remarkable eyesight and her ability to remove barriers emanating from the strangest nooks and crannies. They'd been like a single organism with her in the center programming the cell's responses to its environment. And it had worked. Maybe we ought to return, they all seemend to think in unison. But, no, it couldn't be. It was too late. There was no return. They could do nothing but face the future.
Text copyright © Per Brask
The fight was simply the worst they'd ever had. He had accused her of manipulating his life, making him middle class when his real ambition had been to concentrate on his art and perhaps play a little tennis every once in a while. She'd gotten absolutely furious, said that it had been his suggestion to have kids in the first place, and now she was stuck with the main responsibility for them, not that she didn't want to stay home with them the first couple of years, but hey buster, that's unfair. He was free to leave anytime he wanted, pursue any dream he had, but as long as they were together they damned well had to share the responsibilities. It had all started just because he'd ask why the hell his exercise clothes never got washed. Stupid. Before she slammed the door on the way out to visit her mother with the kids she'd shouted, "And take the plant outside while you're at it."
Text copyright © Per Brask
"Damn, this is a strange looking place," he thought to himself as he checked around to see if anyone had noticed his abrupt appearance. They hadn't, but he quickly saw that indeed he had chosen the right uniform and case. Nobody would suspect anything. He could begin his mission unencumbered.
Text copyright © Per Brask
"I am ok," said the hippo, "I am not afraid of the dark." I wasn't sure. So I left the candle lit in the bathroom.
For more stories see Urban Volcano.
Leslie: Maybe if we move just a little bit closer.
Lesley: I don't get it.
Leslie: Well, it's a shape.
Lesley: I can see that.
Leslie: Sometimes, I just can't stand your attitude.
Lesley: What's that supposed to mean?
Leslie: Well sometimes you just don't dare get close to anything. It's like the way you deal with my mother.
Lesley: I can hardly get any closer.
Leslie: Well, still.
Lesley: Does this have anything to do with last night, I wonder?
Leslie: Don't be silly. We're talking about art.
Text copyright © Per Brask
flicktion by Mick Mather -
"At first, Midge was basking in the glow of this perfect morning together with Ted. She laid aside the book of love poems, certain that a breakthrough regarding his inability to commit was imminent, but wasn't happy when he finally spoke of its perfect blend of style and content. It wasn't quite the wedding that she had envisioned."