(“Phosphorescent Sea”, M.C. Escher, 1933)
The Pacific coast, its waters sly and secretive, crests out of its moss and wet shadow, growing into the soft Coast Salish languages, into sounds that become heavy and metallic when they hit against the rockface of the coast. Against the brittle bones that gird Vancouver under mist, the water’s spine melts back into seafoam and the clack of stones displaced over sand. The ocean is said to retain its secrets here, keeping them indecipherable and beyond the anticipations of ritual. The tide moves, as the land is taken, in small parts, as its due, until the face of solidity is given over to the water through the particles that are left most exposed. The soliloquy, advancing and diminishing, extending everywhere.
The far north of Quebec is full of silence. The carcass of the continent is laid nearly bare here. The Arctic seeps its cold tongues south through the St. Lawrence gulf, against the shores of the Inuit east at Rigolet, a lover catching on the lip of Gaspé. Each of its syllables is ice meeting the still wild water, tumbling words of Mi’kmaq, songs coloured by the dialects of the Gaspésie and Sanguenay, where the northern forests crest along the subarctic tundra to meet with the Boréal that runs towards the broken coast, once respite from the frigid wake of the world wars. On these cold waters, in 1943, André Breton wrote in Arcanum 17 of the morning star – of a rebellion that is born not out of an intellectualization – but which is fallen into, entranced.
As water moves, capable of magnetizing to its formless body from outside of distance, there is the matter that history is out of time. Or, that war and its revocation rises out of a landscape that is interior as it is outside, placeless as it is situated, and historical as it is momentary. There is the matter that war begins to occur before we have imagined its machinations – those of the state and the languages of economic exchange – beginning with the profound emptiness that leaves something to be desired, which provokes the desire and envy towards existence itself.