blah, blah #11, #12, #13 and home (blah, blah #15.)


blah, blah #15
october 23, 2007
Who assumes the right to occupy, to take as their own, a place? Who is welcome, who decides, and how is this decision enforced?

Questions concerning conflictual territories have been highlighted through doing the dream listener project. As soon as I stop and take up a place, a spot, others have to negotiate how they are going to move in relation to me. And how others move in relation to me depends upon how others perceive me, what my position is in relation to theirs. And it is all very subjective and personal. (And of course where I decide to stop and stand is also very much in relation to my perception of any given space.)

Our subjective attitude towards place was highlighted in recent news from Montréal. A violent conflict between two high schools, one white, mostly english speaking, the other coloured, mostly french speaking —was further broadcast via youtube with comments from the white students telling the coloured students to “go home.”

Go home. Implying this is my home but not yours. But how do we decide who is at home and who is not? And as Canadians it is questionable that any of us (other than the First Nations) can claim to be “home” in any kind of historical sense. But the word “home” cuts so deep. The slur is not, “go away,” the slur is “go home.”

There is such sadness in that knee-jerk response to ownership of a particular location of the earth. And it doesn’t stop there, we are territorial about every single kind of “space” you can imagine: social space, spiritual space, political space, and on and on it goes. What gives with us humans anyways?

below is my response to a recent post from urban photo (see urban issues blogroll):

actually…my experience is that public space is a myth,…or public space is for a specific public and if you don’t happen to fit in, you are quite literally hauled away. to me it seems that every space is monitored, and regulated. if people (citizens) lodge a complaint with the police you can be asked to move along, if you do not move along you can be fined for loitering…or causing a nuisance. so if you do find a space/place that will tolerate you and your actions you will tend to return to that place. ask any homeless person how ‘public’ public space is…

10 Responses to “blah, blah #15, (home)”

  1. neath Says:
    October 24, 2007 at 3:21 am editPublic space is certainly not democratic as your example suggests. Perhaps they should just be referred to as “unwalled” spaces as there are still a lot of “rules” concerning behaviors and appearances. If a young man wearing “circus” clothes juggles balls in a park he may be allowed to be a “street artist” and put out a hat for collecting money. If a middle aged man wearing simple old clothes begins juggling balls in the same park he may get asked to leave or even be arrested for being a “nuisance”. There are astonishingly severe stereotypes at work in people’s perceptions of behaviors and appearances in “public” spaces and they consistently get reinforced by how the police treat people in these spaces.
  2. dream listener Says:
    October 24, 2007 at 6:38 pm edityes. i think you articulated the situation very well. i noticed with myself (and i noticed with the “homeless” people i have come to know) there is a certain fear factor involved as well. i became wary of police, assuming if they were slowing down it was because they were then going to come after me…sometimes what happens is the people who become afraid because they don”t fit in, end up isolating themselves even more,feeling more unwanted than ever.
    and the thing about democracy is we, the people, create it. supposedly democracy is the people”s will manifested. (ideally anyway)as an aside but related:i think your blog is very political and what you do is also very political, because you have taken a space and you are living with the space and making it public. an incredible amount of dedication and sense of care comes through. but to actually be able to be included in the planning for the space … don’t you think the city planners know about you and what you do ?and shouldn’t you be included in any discussions of what to do with the space? doesn’t that makes sense? that the people who are invoolved and invested in any given space should then also be involved in how that space is manged, regulated…i don’t know…i’m getting off track.
  3. neath Says:
    October 25, 2007 at 1:31 pm editWell, that is not the way it works is it? You would think that some kind of “public” – there’s that word again- representation would automatically be included in the consultation/presentation process of this kind of project, but they rarely are, even if the powers that be claim that there has been a public consultation process, and those usually take place after all the plans have been made, are minimally advertised, and can be easily manipulated such as in time constraints on individual questioners.I agree that “stakeholders” should be part of the project from conception to eventual management. There is an amazing amount of bureaucratic and contractual expenses paid out to people who “consult” and arrive at conclusions that anyone paying attention could have observed. And more often than not these reports change nothing.
  4. dream listener Says:
    October 25, 2007 at 4:42 pm edityes, that is not the way it has worked…but i think your blog may actually have more power than you give it credit for…you do have loyal followers. actually at the launch i met one of them (who came to the launch because of your blog) who suggested we ask you to give a time/place where we could meet you in person and see what happens from there. you have already made connections with the tanneries, and who knows, maybe someone who reads your blog might actually have political goal would be to get your voice heard and heeded, i can’t think of anyone else who would know more about the turcot yards than the guy who walks it and photographs it and talks about it and keeps up a blog about it and who has made connections because of it…what say you neath?
  5. neath Says:
    October 26, 2007 at 3:27 am editNeath say that sounds like a great idea. My schedule is kind of erratic over the next week or so so maybe you can make a suggestion?
  6. dream listener Says:
    October 26, 2007 at 3:57 pm editdream listener says ,
    how does sunday november the forth sound? (for people who work regular weekday jobs) somewhere in saint henri? maybe johns? do you know if he is still open on sundays? or… and of course neath will announce this historical event on his blog?
  7. leslie Says:
    October 26, 2007 at 10:07 pm editI will be there in spirit!
    This is great!
  8. neath Says:
    October 27, 2007 at 3:24 am editI wonder how we can get Leslie there in the flesh? The 4th sounds good but no announcements from me.
  9. leslie Says:
    October 28, 2007 at 4:27 pm editThat funny little rattling rustling sound under the table, behind the chair…that’s me!
  10. dream listener Says:
    October 29, 2007 at 3:00 am edito.k. neath, then i will need more time to mobilize other bloggers to put up a post announcing the meeting…so does sunday the 11th work for you? one week later, at 14h at the green spot on notre dame one block west of atwater.
    oh yeah…its gonna be good.

blah, blah #13.

August 9th, 2007 by dreamlistener


I recently had a run-in with the law regarding attaching my sign/dream on city property. this offense is classified under the bylaw of “nuisance.”

but, the thing is, the charge is true. I am sure the people whose property my signs go up on/in do find the dreams to be a nuisance. after all I am leaving cardboard in another person’s space. someone has to pick the cardboard up, throw it away (or keep it for themselves, or leave it and let it disintegrate). and my dreams, the dreams I write, are not so amazing, everyone has dreams…which is kinda the point.

so why am I continuing to attach my dreams to buildings, fences, or anything? because I feel like I have to? because I said I would? what am I hoping will happen by continuing?

well, it does have something to do with valuing perseverance. with not giving up/in. with continuing an activity until it is completed as planned. and reaching as many people as possible with a physical and tactile trace referencing the dream that disappears. and also because the world is so much more complex and varied than we seem to want to admit within our social sphere, and doing this action plays with those boundaries, smudges them a bit, between what is considered “proper behavior” and “improper behavior.” also…dreams seem to me to open up such a vast space of possibilities and wonderment that to keep the border so strongly policed between the dream world and this world seems to deny so much of who we are, or can be.

but I am tired. I think I am missing the support from the members of the saint james drop-in (the centre is closed for the month of august.) roger and burt and chris and anne-marie and bernard have helped me so much through their quiet acceptance of what I am doing. just writing the dream on cardboard in their presence helps me feel not so alone, and this has been such an unexpected gift.

blah, blah #12.

July 22nd, 2007 by dreamlistener


I have returned from a “hotel holiday” with my son in downtown montreal…

just blocks away from the saint james drop-in centre we took the elevator to floor 3 and swam in the outdoor pool, we were handed two large white towels, I took a red apple and my son took a green apple from the basket on the counter. once back in our room I dialed 2 and called up room service. we selected a movie from the menu displayed on the t.v. and then we fell asleep between crisp white sheets our heads sunk into feather pillows.

after our three nights we took the city bus back home.

opulence intertwined with desperate poverty in downtown montreal…it’s not that I think enjoying luxury is wrong, but there is so much incongruity in life.

and this great divide leaves me feeling blank.

blah, blah #11.


I suffer from an outmoded idealism. I act upon the belief people are tolerant and kind, capable of compassion. I also act upon the belief the oblique, the chance encounter, the spectator, the non spectator, the glimpse, the turn of the head, the stare, the smile, the averting eyes, the moving away, the coming towards—can affect us in profound ways.

Although these beliefs are sincere, they hold no expectations, and would have to be described as despondent, or fractured and fragmented. I act “as if” the world was full of harmony and “as if” humans treated each other with respect—while all the while knowing this is not true. A belief I can’t really believe, but desire to believe, is both asserted and questioned each time I go to the street.

Words and cardboard disintegrate, as do ideals.

2 Responses to “blah, blah #11.”

  1. romy Says:
    August 20th, 2007 at 3:04 pm edithi karen.i just read your blog. or at least up to here, going backwards from the present i suppose. the top of the screen scrolling down…
    i am at work. the office job. there is no work for me to do right now. but there could be at any moment.
    i did my first “real” shift after training yesterday at the call center. it brought back to a terrible terrible place. but “something about perserverance” made me stick it out. the 7 hours of automatic dialing and hearing a voice come out of me, so detached from any reality i want to be a part of. asking people inane questions on a sunday. “do you that it’s sunday?” people yelled at me. i wondered what world they were living in. i wanted to ask them. “what world are you living in? is sunday supposed to be holy still? do you really believe there is any space free from the harrassments of this society?” not like there shouldn’t be. of course i’m just pissed. enraged. and wounded. now i want to cry. but i am at the office and i could get “work” any minute.i could be looking for work right now. i guess i will. i guess i will. thank you for helping me, sending the email list. i sent them a subscription request. now i just have to see if i can persist, persevere.
  2. dreamlistener Says:
    August 21st, 2007 at 3:47 am editromy,
    sometimes persisting and persevering is not a good thing to do. sometimes you have to trust your gut and get out.

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