Friday, June 30, 2006

A Note From My Life At Home

The Philosopher and I met, for the first time, exactly four years ago today.

He was the primary influence for the birth of my blog.
He has also been an inspiration for me in a great many of my other endeavours.

The Philosopher is a good man. No. The Philosopher is a great man.

My thoughts turn to you today Philosopher. More than usual.

Thank you.

The European Experience # 81

I have stayed for exactly how long it takes to finsih a box of cereal if you eat one bowl each and every morning.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The European Experience # 80

I think, because of the circumstances of my travels and their effect on my diet, I am gaining weight. I have discovered a layer of fat over my abdomen. This is not what I wanted to gain from my time abroad.

The European Experience # 79

I am literally and figuratively expanding my tastes.

The European Experience # 78

He calls me "His Canadian".

The European Experience # 77

I have never drunk so much champagne. I am talking about both over an extended period of time and all at once: Last night I participated in being one of fourteen people who drank fourteen bottles of top notch champagne in a matter of four hours, and I have probably drank a similar amount with another good friend of mine since I arrived ten days ago.

I also drank a bottle of wine that was old enough to be my mother (thats over fifty years old!)

Life is good. That seems to be the case somehow whereever I go.

'Life is good' is universal.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The European Experience # 76

Golf again today.

Maybe I don't like golf.

If I really wanted that ball in that hole, I would pick it up and put it there myself. This swinging at it business is not very efficient.

The European Experience # 75

The food here has an interesting consistency. It consistently has an interesting consistency. It is consistent in consistently having an interesting consistency.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The European Experience # 74

Golf again today.

Like many things in life, the goal of golf is simple. You aim to hit the ball with the club in such a fashion that the force of the club transfers with the least resistance to the ball forcing the ball to fly the greatest possible distance supplied by said force.

But like many things in life, somehow, something makes this simple goal infinately more complicated.

There are two ways to approach learning golf (as far as I can tell): constructive and deconstructive. The constructive approach consists of 'building a swing'; that is to say, teaching the particular parts of your body to produce a motion that will result in the goal of golf mentioned above. The deconstructive approach consists of altering, shifting, or manipulating the natural tendencies of the golfer in order to produce a motion that will result in the goal of golf mentioned above. The deconstructive approach effectively aims to remove the golfer, with his particular bodily tensions, strengths, weaknesses, and movement inclinations, and leave behind the 'perfect swing'.

Although I continue to deconstruct my swing, there have been fluke moments when, my club effortlessly descends and hits the white ball at that divine angle and the ball soars.

In this zen moment, pure physics, in all its simple beauty, is revealed unto me.

The European Experience # 73

Most of the time I have know idea what is happening around here.

This is a product of having a rudimentary ability to comprehend and speak the language.

Being in an environment in which there is a 'language barrier' I find myself in a similar position as an infant. I know what I want to communicate to others, but I do not have the capacity to express my needs in a language that will be understood by my intended audience. It would be false to assert that I am achieving the status of a pre-linguistic self. I have acquired a 'language', just not language that functions where I currently reside. I do though experience the frustration of not being understood, which, I imagine is similar to that of a baby.

Nonetheless, there are benefits to the aforementioned 'language barrier'.

When you don't know what is happening, it is amazing to discover what does.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The European Experience # 72

Religion does have it's benefits.

The European Experience # 71

They have a day here to celebrate cinema (as well as music).

Tell me a good story.

Tell me things I didn't know.

Tell me about people I haven't met.

Tell me about love, hate, betrayl, family, friends, loss, laughter, and life.

Tell me about far away places and the place that I think I know too well.

Tell me about politics, and social problems, and what it's like to be rich or poor.

Tell me relationships.

Tell me about culture.

Tell me all the things that are good and bad in the world.

Tell me a good story.

Or in the case of film.

Show me.

They have a day here to celebrate cinema.

What a grand idea?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The European Experience # 70

I am too quick to define.

I am too quick to conclude.

The European Experience # 69

The people here are stylish.

They wear their clothes as if they were wearing their bodies.

The European Experience # 68

The Paradox of Change

I am different, yet the same.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The European Experience # 67

I drove in a car that has a Global Position System.

You do not know where I am, but a satellite in the sky does.

A GPS System has the capacity to map out and identify the entire planet.

I may be discovering this continent for the first time, but it has already been map and charted by someone else.

The World is no longer innocent.

The European Experience # 66

Golf again today. Who knew I liked golf?

I play piano a lot here. I knew I liked playing piano.

Golf is like piano. You practice and practice. Repetition is key. You fix your mistakes and try again. Over and over. You begin to improve.

The following day, you try again, and begin to see, ever so subtly, that the corrections and repetition of the previous day, is effortlessly present, at least in the smallest detail.

The satisfaction of progress.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The European Experience # 65

Today I played golf in a different language.

With my new friend. She is old enough to be my mother.

The world continues to reveal it's mysteries to me.

The European Experience # 64

Before I left, I knew the Eiffel Tower was here, and the Canals, and the hot beaches and Gaudi Architecture, and Buckingham Palace, and the Colliseum.

What I didn't know about this place is the astounding diversity of thought?

Different people from different places think different things.

Diversity is universal.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The European Experience # 63

They have a special day set aside to Celebrate Music here. That day is today.

I have heard Liszt on a pipe organ and pop/rock in the streets. I have heard a choir of twenty young girls sing as angels and then, moments later, rap. I have heard progressive music around the corner from ska. I have heard Norah Jones, "Come On Eileen", Maroon Five, and "Makin' Whoopee" all sung in different languages, or in bad bad Anglophone accents. I have seen line dancing (in Europe!), swing dancing, and rave dancing and even Capoeira.

Today they set aside time and money to celebrate music. Come one, come all, come old, come young, come rich, come poor, it is all for you, free of charge, let your soul take flight, just listen and your heart will fly.

This is the day that they celebrate music.

What a Grand Idea?

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The European Experience # 62

Thursday morning. It is raining. I am far from home. The bartender tells me so. Hearing it from someone else reminds me it is true. It is odd to drink beer before noon, but I am on holiday. These are the facts.
There is a different kind of lonely when so far from home. When at home friends are close but unavailable for company. Here, friends are so far removed (rather you are so far removed from them) that there is no other possibility than to be on your own. I am on my own. The woman on the train told me so yesterday. Hearing it from someone else reminds me it is true.
I am free. From any obligation. "The World is my oyster" Except I don't like oysters, even though they are an aphrodisiac. The world is mine to discover. Except that Christopher Columbus already finished that deed a long time ago. There is no innocent place left in the world. I still love the world. Oh world! offer me everything but ask nothing in return.
The longer I am away from home, the more I believe the world has already offered it's greatest gift. "Nothing unknown is knowable." So why go on searching? There is a difference between thinking something is true and knowing something is true. Why go on searching? Experiencing it reminds me it is true.

The European Experience # 61

Driving here is like being in a video game.

The European Experience # 60

It is after moments like this that I feel closer to death.

The European Experience # 59

Just being here is an experience.

Just being here is enough.

Just being is enough.

The European Experience # 58

It is comforting to know that it is not in the nature of any particular place to disappear.
There is always time to return to this place or any other.
There is always time.

The European Experience # 57

Too much is taken for granted.

The European Experience # 56

Being so far away from home brings me so much closer to those I love.

The European Experience # 55

I do not understand how some believe that the world can be alienating.

The world offers so much to love.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The European Experience # 54

Where are the art works that are a product of here and now?

Where are the art works that are a product of someone who lives and know this world?

Wheer are the art works that represent life here and now?

The art work of the canon are beautiful. Stunning. They have achieved this timeless for a reason...


Museums are graveyards and the canoncial works of art are tombstones.

The European Experience # 53

To figure out where you need to go, you must get lost first.

The European Experience # 52

"To get to know someone who is ______________ well, and intimately, and as a true friend, you must speak _____________.", he tells me. He has lived here for sometime, but was not born here. He should know.

The European Experience # 51

At home, I am a participant of culture. Here, I am a consumer of culture.

The European Experience # 50

It has been an awful day. Maybe the worst day of my life (but I am always wary of such grand over-arcing statements)

I call my mother.

I cry.

A mother's love is universal.

The European Experience # 49

The idiot box. The boob tube.

"It rots your brain"

Many people spend countless hours with their eyes aglaze when they could be in the theatre, at the museum, or reading a book.

If you are an addict or not...
If you are a surfer or not...
If you have it on just for the noise...

Television is a definate representation of a nations cultural landscape.

Television is universal...
(At least in the places I have been)

The European Experience # 48

I am sweaty. I have spent the day wandering the streets in the hot hot hot sun. Still...

He is wearing a suit. He has long hair which is very popular with young men here in Europe.
His eyes pierce me with the razor of desire. I have seen that look before.

The look of love is universal.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The European Experience # 47

'' I didn't see the Mona Lisa. You can't even take pictures of it, so what's the point?'', says the fat American.

Photos capture experience in a form that is possessable. It is true that we 'have experiences', but in today's world of consumerism and capitalism, to have an experience that is relegated to the depths of memory once its temporal existence has terminated is not enough. It is popular as a tourist to record every moment of an experience away from home by capturing in photography. These efforts transform an experience into an object- something that can be held and displayed. It is not enough to 'have' an experience, we must 'possess' an experience, we must 'own' an experience, by transforming that experience into a photo that we can frame and put on our mantle piece.

Such an examination of the purpose of photography in tourism calls into question the connection between livng (the accumulation of experience over time) and society's current paradigm of consumer culture. Are we at an age in which living is only valid or valuable if it can be reduced into an object? Consider all the junk that they sell at the mega-musicals? Is not the art enough? Why do we need a 'thing' in order to validate our experiences?

Over the past three and a half weeks I have taken 555 photos in Europe. I do not think that I am in anyway attempting to capture my experience here. I feel that my experience, here in Europe, and at home, is not able to be reduced into a mere photo, at least a photo taken by such a layman as myself (maybe a true artist could manage to capture a moment of my experience in a photo, but not me). My photos are often a mere exercise in my own attempt to make art out of what I see - not connected to my experience, but rather connected to the geometry of my surroundings. Often my photos provide evidence for a particular scenario or story I wish to share with friends and family on my return home. But these stories exist outside of my own personal experience, and are stories that belong to the places and people I come across on my journey.

Unlike my fat American acquaintance, the Mona Lisa was a part of my journey here, despite the fact they will not like me take a picture.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The European Experience # 46

I buy groceries. I sleep in a room with five other people. I spent most of my time alone. I do not speak the national language. I rarely eat fast food. I am unshaven. I go to Tourist destinations. I have no place to be at any particular time.

I will not attempt to capture what is foreign about this place in mere words. I do not believe I am entitled to reduce a whole nation of people and their culture into a mere blog post. Nor will I bore you with the inane little details that are slightly different here than where I come from.

What I can tell you is that here,

my life is foreign.

It is not like my life at home.

The European Experience #45

is it polite to pass gas in Front of ART?

The European Experience # 44

"Picasso is like a cover band" the girl says to her fried as a crowd examines one of his 'Masterpieces'.

Nothing is Original.

Is that universal?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The European Experience #44

It is Saturday night. I don´t know where to go or what to do.
I did´t see him sneak up behind me. He is older, far too tanned, and wears his hair slicked back. He is wearing a poshblazer so I figure he might be interested/capable in/of buying me drinks all night like that British bloke who entertained me two nights ago (who begrudingly, but respectfully, left me on my own toward the end of the night so I could find other more suitable company). I am foreign and I suspect he is not.
´Hello,´ I respond. I am saved.
He takes me around the corner to a busy bar.
His name is Juan and he is from Argentina.
The more time I spend with him, the more I think I was better off alone and lost. He is cheap. He buys beer from a corner store, hides them in his pockets, and sneaks them into the bar. His tactic to appeal to things we have in commonis too aggressive (he actually says Ít´s perfect we have so much in common). Even though he apparently has great appreciation of theatre (he has seen Judi Dench in Hay Fever, Kathleen Turner in Who´s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Alan Cumming in Cabaret), using theatre as a pick up tactic doesn´t interest me when employed insincerely. He was apparently on a reality tv show called Í m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. I am not surprised he was the first one voted off. And he gets far too close to me whenever he leans in to talk.
Two attractive boys have noticed Juan leeching the enjoyment of my Saturday night out of me. I roll my eyes at them. I excuse myself from Juan, pretend to go to the toilet, and on my way back, stop to talk to the two attractive boys. I have escaped. I am saved.
They tell me they were hatching a plan to swoop in and rescue me from the Argentinian. I am flattered.
At first glance (when rolling my eyes to them whilst in Juans evil clutches). I figured Roberto (the Italian version of my father's name) was the pretty one. Yes, Robert has an incredible body, a great jaw line, and blonde hair, but Stephano (the Italian version of my name) who oozes personality and sexuality.
Robert and Stephano invite me to a club called Salvation.
After spending time walking with Roberto and Stephano to the club, and especially on the dance floor, I become completely smitten with Stephano. I can not keep my eyes off him. Masculinity (but not misogyny or chauvinism), confidence (but not arrogance), sex (but not sleaze), style (but not effort), fun (but not hedonism), seep from his mere being. He wears a white linen shirt that hangs from his torso, the cuffs are undone, and it is unbuttoned to reveal a tantalizing fraction of his smooth chest. He has been able to achieve the miraculous feat of being both manly and boyish. His dancing is energetic (but not wild or out of control), masculine (but refined), and sexy (but not erotic). I can´t stop watching him. He takes off his shirt to reveal a lean muscled torso. Young. Masculine. Sexy. I can´t keep my eyes off him.
He swoons as a butch muscle mary walks by. He is into bigger men. Exactly who I am not.
My desire is painful.
Ít´s late, I tell them. I have to go. And I do.
I´m saved.
Sartre was right ¨Hell is Other People´. In more ways than one.
Strangers, lovers, friends (some times it is difficult to tell the three apart) are both solutions to some problems and the cause of others. Salvation isn´t just a club. People are both my salvation and my hell.
Humanity is and is not my salvation.

The European Experience #43

What to do when there is nothing better to do?

The European Experience #42

I never believed that I ´had it all right´, but what if I actually have it all wrong.

The European Experience # 41

I suspect that travel before the ´Global Village´ was very different.

The European Experience # 40

´´ I didn´t go to the Louvre. You can´t even take a picture of the Mona Lisa! What´s the point?´´, says the Fat American.

Good question.

What is the point?

Friday, June 02, 2006

The European Experience # 39

´´ Nothing unknown is knowable.´´ from Angels in America by Tony Kushnir

That which is foreign is not the same as that which is unknown.

That which is foreign is what exists within ourselves, our realm of knowledge and experience, but that which we have not yet reached an adequate understanding of.

Think of a foreign language. We know it is language to begin with, we know that the sounds have a meaning a group of people have an agreed meaning upon, what is unclear is the content. That which is foreign is that which has a familiar form, but unclear content and meaning.

Love is ultimately foreign.

The European Experience # 38

I think I am experiencing something that most people commonly call a HOLIDAY.

The European Experience # 37

I sit drinking another beer. Alone. I wish I was drinking with you.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The European Experience

I want a foreign lover who speaks only a foreign language and so I will not be able to understand his lies.