x.mas / x.day . santacon? NYE?

.. yes: x.mas.

Open up some wine, gather some thoughts & write, as these warm temperatures persuade traffic to speed past vicariously on Cotes-des-Neiges, honking their horns in drunken abandon.

Oh, sacred season, I wish I was in Vancouver for Santacon mind you & a certain Whistler house party .. (which I Dj'ed two years ago, dropping hours of ancient rave tracks to a crowd thoroughly dropped into robotdance mode by chemical combos of a highly suspect nature. Yet, stepping into the fresh air in the snowy morning, my car windows were smashed in, hood dented, windshield wipers ripped off and paint job keyed. Yeah, upon stumbling outside @ 6am -- apparently not because of the extended 7 hour musical marathon--I don't think there were any complaints about the musical selections--but just because that's the way serious Whistler parties go).

But this year I am in Montreal -- like last year -- & I hope I can find something worthwhile to slip into. Dance naked in. Seeing Dj Frigid & Morgan Geist @ SAT (a Neon party) isn't really where I am at--although Frigid is playing downstairs in the cement basement, which could, with the right pounding grooves & demented DJ manipulations become dark & oppressive enough to enjoy a Rave Experience’Ñ¢, that is, were it not for the fact that the themeatic be electrocash, another retro-this-n-that party even heralded as 'NYC NYE' -- I mean this is Montreal, not NYC! Can we please kill the '80s dead? Are we not yet sick of more retro-revival bullshit? Montreal! Where are your tight house parties with chemicals, quality DJs and friends..? Montreal needs some West Coast lovin' ..

Back to Santarchy. Looks like someone did try to organise a Montreal version (hilarious English translation). If you know this someone--who claims that the humour of Santacon is fairly anglophone & that wearing little underneath a Santa costume in a Montreal winter would be a tide trying--you contact me below in that Comments section, Ok? Alright.

Ah yes, the stars twirl, the fact that Santacon doesn't click with the Quebecois mentality corroborates to the absence of knowledge & interest in events such as Burning Man over here, or for that matter, of any kind of anarchic West Coast activity--hard-techno meltdowns, forest solstice pagan gatherings... The counter-culture is slim pickins'. It would appear that there is a cultural divide between Quebec & North America, especially heading West. Not in pop culture but in resistance culture, which seems to have been arrested at the border along with the writing of HST (who, by the way, recently broke his leg, in his hotel bathroom, out covering the Honolulu marathon for ESPN in his column, Hey Rube).

I've been roasting this all over, the issues of Quebec culture, & I've picked up enough of the Quebecois slang to realise that the majority of the humour is about tits n' ass, race, and sex. Which is fairly normal for humour. But here it is the basis of an acceptable humour--along with the usual things like farting. And I don't mean this as a sampling of working class humour (hey, I worked as a landscaper for a few years), but rather of what is to be found on the radio & in the workplace. Wit & sarcasm are not the prevalent modes of the guffaw; sexism & racism are. This is fascinating as Montreal's Juste Pour Rire (Just for Laughs) festival is the one of the premiere comedy festivals in North America if not globally, a serious talent-scout for Hollywood (Seinfeld got noticed here).

What is of interest is that in Quebec the 'racy' angle is imprinted direct to the language. Various races are not named, as is polite (perhaps hypocritical) North American convention, by their (hyphenated) nationalities/identites, but rather by skin colour and physical characteristics. 'Noirs'=blacks, and the translation of 'Asian' is approximately 'slanty-eyes' (in the same swoop, the difference between a Korean and a Taiwanese, for example, is erased, while at the same time, the [white] French Quebecois wish to distinguish themselves rather sharply from the [white] English Quebecois). Quebec has some implicated racism as well as sexism issues (I hear about it daily--my significant other is quite sick of the sex jokes at work during lunch hour). That there is, to an extent, an inability to act on a cosmopolitan or internationalist level (Quebec's politics continually revolve on questions of the Quebec nation, family, and sovereignty) seems to tie in with a cultural outlook that is inverted and linguistically encoded. By this, I mean it has yet to come into contact with many of the radical elements of North American culture that undermine the institutions of the State, the family, the Church, and the centrality of the institution or bureaucracy in itself (punk has made headway here, rave culture hasn't, the West Coast element is simply not a factor). A primary factor in understanding Quebec would be grasping the power of the Catholic Church, which until recently handled the Province's education. Among film critics the role of the confessional in Quebecois cinema is a focal point. There is a knot that encompasses Quebec's culture in its humour, grasping of resistance & rebellion, and the power of the Church. It can be witnessed easily enough by trying to return a purchase to any store--you're in for a rough time. Employee-culture in Quebec is ingrained with a sense of servitude to the owner/manager/company that far exceeds that found in the rest of North America save among the desperate situations of (illegal) immigrant or indentured labour. And this even in stores that would appear somewhat less corporate, such as an art store like Omer DeSerres, where I had a terrible experience trying to return an Xmas gift.

Making rough assertions about Quebecois culture is dangerous... especially in this short format, here. Yet these are currents that mark Quebec's difference. The Rest of Canada and America are certainly not beacons of perfection in these respects, but it is true that the issues of racism, sexism, and the institution are recognised at various levels and within elements of society, and often with a corresponding change in language. If only superficial, there slowly arises what the Marxists used to call--and what we use here because I don't know how else to say it, at least right now--'class consciousness'. Quebec is undergoing these delicate changes at a profound level, yet on a timeline that is running at a different speed than the rest of the continent, and with a set of cultural backgrounds or prerequisites that render the situation an entirely different beast. Kind of like how the Catholic Church approved the beaver as a fish so the faithful could eat their weekly poisson.

[rewritten 12.30.03]

[Ah, of note, just saw an old post by AJ on Adbusters that clicks in with what I was thinking.]

Right. That's enough. Here's a list of things to ponder.

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich -- William Shirer
Ubik - Philip K. Dick
Time Regained (In Search of Lost Time, last volume, VI) - Proust
Electronic Civil Disobedience - Critical Art Ensemble
If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho - Trans. Anne Carson
Sociology of Youth Subcultures - Mike Brake
The Aesthetics of Disappearance - Paul Virilio
On War - Clausewitz
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
Uncanny Networks - Geert Lovink

Specters of Marx - Jacques Derrida
Parables for the Virtual - Brian Massumi

posted. Thu - December 25, 2003 @ 11:13 AM           |