Ideas | Images Live Here



"Like" Facebook status $16 1919 419 Advance Fee Fraud 72 virgins accuracy Advaita afterlife Aki Kaurismäki Alberta Alcatraz Alchemist Alchemy algorithm all-knowing Andrew Keeling Andrew Rawlinson apparatchik Arab Spring archive art art criticism art theory Assam Assiniboine River atheism ATLAS auction baby names Battle of Marengo BB shot Ben Gurion betrayal Beverly Rowbotham Bible bicephalic Bing blenders blues Bollingen Bolsheviks Bourlon Wood Boxing Day Boxing Week Boxing Year Brahman brain Buddhism bullshit bureaucrat Cairo California Guitar Trio Cambrai Memorial Canada Carl Matheson Carlos Fuentes cause centre of being CERN CG Jung Chagas Disease Charles Frederick Gray Charles Hartshorne Cheerios chimpanzee China Christmas Christopher Hitchens church CMS cocking a snook commentary Conrad Black conscience Consciousness Constancia core organic search creativity criminal code critical realism crowds and power crowdsourcing crucifixion cruelty cuu chi Danielle Smith David Roberts DCM death degrangement democracy dentist died Distinguished Conduct Medal Drama Centre driftwood Eden Eduard Munch eduskunta effect Egypt election Elemental Particles elias canetti eon Epistemology era essay essayist existentialism F-35 Facebook fakhir falsehoods filter bubble finland First International Conference on Multiple Partonic Interactions at LHC First World War Franz Kafka Free Press Freedom of Association Friends Friendship Frippertronics fun G.I. Gurdjieff gamma waves gangs drug violence gender equality general strike Gethsemane Global Sunday Globe Mail God Golgotha Google Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew government Guantanamo happiness Harry G Frankfurt Hartshorne Heritage Canada Higgs Boson Hill & Thomson hit hitting horse diaper Hosni Mubarak hunchback Huxingting Tea House hyper irony ideas immortality Income Tax innocence of muslims interpretation Ipsos Reid J.G. Bennett Jane Goodall Institute jean valjean Jesus Christ Jiffy John Owen Pritchard journalism Judas Iscariot juice Justin Trudeau karma keisaku stick King Crimson Kingston kiss of peace La vie de Boheme Large Hadron Collider Lavengro Lawrence Hill left-handed leone vivante l'oiel de Gabes love Lucian Freud Machiavelli malt manger Manitoba Mark Stobbe market Matthieu Ricard maudlin Maxwell's Sorting Demon metaphor Mexico millisecond mindfulness mokhtar belmokhtar monk murder Myanmar Nanosecond narcissistic personality disorder nativity Natural Person neuroscience New York Times newspaper circulation nihilism no loitering Northern River objet trouve ontological argument ontology opinion Osama bin Laden ouagadougou P.D. Ouspensky pain painter painting paintings panpsychism Paolo Gabriele Pentonville Peter Higgs Peter Miller phenomenalism philosophy Picosecond Pierce Brosnan Planck Time Unit Plato PMO post-truth Post-Truth.News Prime Ministers Office Princess of Kashi Prismatic Pte 2361 public execution Public Safety pudding palace qatar raccoon recipes Rasputin Remembrance Day repeating names Rhosgadfan Robert Fripp Rodeo roses Saint Nick Samuel Beckett Santa Claus Sarvapriyananda satori Savoy scotch whisky scream search engine optimization Second Law of Thermodynamics security Self SEO Sigma 5 sirhan sirhan skateboard Somme sorrow sotheby Soundscapes space flight Spinoza Standard Model Physics Statistics Canada Stephen Cave stolen Svedberg Syria T.S. Elliot Tahrir Square Tat Tvam Asi television The Coon Hunters Handbook The God Particle The Simpsons The Wine of Silence The World's Happiest Man Thomson & Hill Tom Thomson top secret trial trout Trump Trump.Rodeo Truth in Advertising tyranny Ultimate Reality undefined University of Manitoba Upanishad Vedanta Via Dolorosa Vic Toews victims violence Viva Mi Fama voters wabi-sabi Welsh Guards Whole Grains wild fox koan Wildrose William Klassen Winnipeg Winnipeg Free PRess Wolseley women Wormwood Scrubs writer writing Yoctosecond Ypres Zen



tumblr visit counter

Entries in Pentonville (1)


Our Perfect Alcatraz

Isle of the Gods (12 x 9 watercolours)


It was an inspired idea – sometimes a notion is just so big that you think it must be the gift of a Higher Power – and it arrived as I watched Vic Toews defend something or other on the TV news.


Now bear in mind that I know Vic Toews, Canada's Minister for Public Safety. We've known each other for 25 years, from when he was a mere prosecutor, and then a constitutional lawyer, and in the private sector, before all this politics. More recently - neither of us could have predicted this - it fell to me to offer him non-partisan communications advice, which he both blatantly and wisely ignored.


We know each other so well, Vic and I – if I may call him Vic – that the last time we ran into each other on a downtown Winnipeg sidewalk he quipped: "Ah, so they're letting you roam the streets by yourself these days!" And he laughed out loud and went on his way. And I chuckled too.


A mental note

But later, as I thought about it, Vic's words gave me reason to pause. Here was the Minister of Public Safety and he was taking personal note of the fact that I was at liberty to roam the streets. He also implied there were unknown people who might be empowered to set limits on my freedom, and he noted the gift of the present: "these days" as opposed to some time when I might not be so free.


How could one not be impressed and grateful for such intimate concern for my liberty and well-being?


I wondered if Vic did this for everyone, if this was his job, you know, to make a mental note of who's out on the street and who's not. Maybe that's what Public Safety ministers are supposed to do: like Maxwell's Sorting Demon they effortlessly, naturally, and sometimes by fiat, see who is where and somehow know if it looks right and whether some of us should be on the street now or at all.


Anyway my big idea was this: I was watching Vic on TV and I admit I was lamenting slightly that I sometimes have to work for a living.


Because we really crave more time for the living side, rather than the work side, of the equation: to make new things and to sustain endeavours such as this blog. Yes, we know this lament is the time-worn crucible of all lollygagging creative types, to dream of being free to just play all the time.


So it occurred to me that the really perfect place, the place where I might enjoy the fullest extent of my freedom, might be in prison.


Making sense

The exquisite irony of this idea, wherever it came from, is not lost on us. As my friend Cecil recently noted, here we are together on this planet hurtling through space at 70,000 mph, on high speed wobble, and spinning on our axis at 1,000 mph, and so we are quite naturally trying to make sense of it all.


So we dream. And in our perfect Alcatraz, in the bold and woolly Pentonville of our imagination, in our ideal Kingston, we'd enjoy the freedom and luxury of being able to observe and to paint without the distraction of work.


Some of you will argue that an artist should not shun honest work, that time spent getting one's hands dirty builds character. The artist will reply that he does in fact work, he works at making art. And I will say that I don't mind work, but when I make either a painting or an observation it does not feel like work at all.


Yes, it is true that even after he published Prufrock and The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot continued his day job at Lloyd's bank. And we know that Wallace Stevens found time to be an insurance executive and that William Carlos Williams was a physician who jotted poems between medical house calls.

We know prison would be no cake-walk. We should not expect to watch porn. There might be other limitations – the lighting on the canvas we are painting might not be great in the dungeon. A guard might, on short notice and rather gruffly, demand a view up the old l'oeil de Gabes. There surely would be, Conrad Black would advise here, other untold indignities that befall the miscreant with creative bent.

Yet at this tender dawning of the 21st century we continually are told that we must consider the overall work-life balance. Who is to say that a Canadian Guantanamo might not be a civilized step in the direction of advancing such balance?


An audacious thought: what if government shut down Heritage Canada, took the savings, and built a giant Wormwood Scrubs to safely house the artists? I fear that would be far too inspired and over the top. They'd more than likely just take the ones who rely on government grants, and leave the rest of us to roam the streets. But I'll be sure to suggest it to Vic next time we bump.


(Top Image: The Isle of the Gods 9" x 12" watercolours)