Notes to Self #1

Forms of Meditation That Are Not Mediation: Lessons from New York

Version 2
The High Line. Not recommended for walking practice.
A character in Jonathan Letham’s Motherless Brooklyn describes mediation as sitting and thinking about nothing without falling asleep. Awake is a higher form of consciousness than asleep, but thinking about nothing is a challenge. I have attempted it on the metro and each time ended in failure; like an infant in a car or an elevator, I soon fall asleep. Beyond public transit,  boredom, self-consciousness, and my cat assail me. I did for a period succeed by viewing unwanted thoughts as alien craft in a video game, but, like thoughts themselves, good video games lead to obsessiveness and the bad ones are merely tedious.

Better then to approach mediation obliquely and, as I discovered in New York, eliminate either the sitting or the thinking about nothing. Eliminating both will end in failure for the novice. Only for the advanced practitioner will it bring total enlightenment.

Here then is the start of the practice.Continue reading “Forms of Meditation That Are Not Mediation: Lessons from New York”

Imagining the Bag of Tat

Christmas is upon us. I know this because even the normally sane are unable to resist the festive calls this year’s herald angel, Justin Bieber. Abandoning dignity, Marina Hyde fessed up to her horde of Christmas songs, a trove so catholic that Bieber finds admittance. In Toronto, The Globe & Mail tells me, that Bieber has fulfilled a life’s ambition with a rink side photo op with the Maple Leafs. (This appears to be routine – the Vancouver Canucks get Bublé, although here in Montreal the Canadiens have descended into a festive dispute over a newly installed anglophone coach, leaving the McGarrigle-Wainwrights, who could probably form their own hockey team, to perform their Christmas concert in more conventional venues). Other intimations include the clearer focus on reapings which a slower new cycle affords, this year’s harvest including Cesaria Evora, Christopher Hitchens, and Kim-Jong Il, and the transformation of my Facebook feed into a series of frontline dispatches from conflicts taking place in the aisles of distant supermarkets.

Continue reading “Imagining the Bag of Tat”

Gary Shteyngart Has Exploded: How to Become a Famous Author!

Gary Shteyngart’s dystopian Super Sad True Love Story has been my best new read of the year so far. So much so that the piece I read at Tuesday’s Highland Lit Salon would only have been an exercise in grand larceny if it was better by a factor of a hundred. SSTLS is just out in paperback and, as Edmund White says in the trailer for the hardback, Shteyngart is “our greatest satirist”.Continue reading “Gary Shteyngart Has Exploded: How to Become a Famous Author!”

“Foreclosure” Published!

Today’s joy has been brought by the people at The Literateur and their publication of my short story, “Foreclosure”. It’s pretension quotient comes from the Fellini-esque inspiration (surely, more Bruce LaBruce). The reality quotient comes from being written on the day Bear Stearns collapsed and the bankruptcy of the age.