Posted by: Dan | June 16, 2019

Father’s Day

About a year after I moved back to the forks of the Antlered River, I decided to reconnect with my father. It had been quite some time since I last spoke with him (it’s a long story), but I emailed him and he agreed to meet me at the local Village Pub.  I was unsure as to how I might react to seeing him. Having sometimes deeply regretted that I never fought back, I thought about punching him. I also thought about hugging him. Sitting on the pub’s patio, having a beer while I waited for him to arrive, I figured things would sort themselves out one way or another.

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Posted by: Dan | June 10, 2019

Third Meditation on Love

Love is doing the dishes. And cleaning the apartment when the mess is stressing you out. Love is trying to stay on top of these things so that it doesn’t get to the point where it stresses you out—it’s just tricky sometimes when you live with a little girl who moves through space like a tornado intent on transforming, reorganizing, creatively redeploying, and otherwise repurposing everything she touches.

Love is sleeping on the couch while the trucks rumble by like 18 tonne tumbleweeds composed of scrap metal on the road outside our front window because my snoring, too, is like an 18 tonne tumbleweed—only this time composed of grizzlies and orcas forever locked together in mortal combat—and you need to get a good night’s sleep so you’re not too tired at work tomorrow. Love is being happy to be on the couch knowing that you’re just two rooms away. And when I sleep, you’re only as far as the next dream.

Love is having a quiet moment to myself and wanting nothing more than to write you a poem to say that I love you.

Love is putting on The Bachelorette so that you can watch the show and I can watch you and pretend that I’m watching the show when you look over at me. Love is being astounded that you, you, Jessica, are even here at all on the couch beside me. How did I get so lucky? How is this even possible?

Love is waiting to use the bathroom until you’re done in the bath.

Love is teaching myself to pay attention to things that I never paid attention to before because they are things that matter to you. In this regard, amongst other things, love is making sure I actually clean up *all* the hair I leave around the sink after shaving, instead of just cleaning up enough of the hair to make the sink look, mostly clean or clean enough (apparent “clean enough” for me is not the same standard as “clean enough” for most other people).

Love is not putting on my music while we putter around so that you can play your playlist.

Love is learning all the little things that annoy you and drive you crazy and then only doing them sometimes.

And, as you fall asleep, love is lightly scratching the back that you turn to face me and singing the songs I make up about you and our love and this tender, wondrous, ridiculous, and oh so precious life we share together. Love is not caring that my voice cracks and that I don’t always (or often?) hit the notes I aim for. Love is not caring that my lyrics don’t flow or rhyme, and not caring that I hardly know what I’m going to say until I say it. I have never known a love that moved me to spontaneously burst into song, but now that I know it, how could I not sing? Love is singing anyway.

Love is all day, every day, it’s sacred and mundane. It’s an adventure and a homecoming, a teaching and a game. It’s a glacier and a mountain, and the intimacy of how one rises and falls while the other flows. It’s a boat and an ocean, and we’ve barely left port. Once you find it, it’s everywhere.

Love is what we are and what we do. Love is us.

Posted by: Dan | June 7, 2019

May Reviews

Discussed in this post: 7 Books (Critique of Pure Reason; Suffer the Little Children; Making a Killing; Capital City; This Accident of Being Lost; The Remainder: and #IndianLovePoems); 2 Movies (Last Year at Marienbad and Slack Bay); 2 Documentaries (Señorita Extraviada and All This Panic).

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Posted by: Dan | May 31, 2019

Second Meditation on Love

I rest my head upon your stomach
In the space below your navel
Between the upswell of your hips

I breathe

We are sweat and skin and the sheets that I’ve kicked off the bed
And when I fall asleep
I dream the tree whose branches scratched against our window
Is whispering to the others

“I’ve found it! I’ve found it! The kind of love that remakes worlds. The love our grandparents told us is only born once every three hundred years.”

And the trees looked in our darkened window—
While I dreamed upon your stomach
And you hugged me with your legs
And brushed your knuckle on your lips
And mouthed a silent O—
And they rejoiced

Posted by: Dan | May 23, 2019

Meditation on Love

The fundamental evil of our time is that we have allowed some people to grow so rich that they have forgotten how to love, they have forgotten why we love, and, in fact, they have forgotten what love is.

What those who have grown so rich that they have forgotten how to love know is greed and what they feel is fear. Where greed goes, fear will always follow. But fear is the opposite of love. A society that is afraid is a society that does not know love.

What are the rich afraid of? Many things, but ultimately it comes down to this: they are afraid that they will one day be treated the way in which they have treated others.

Therefore, because the rich are greedy and afraid, and because they are always vastly outnumbered by those whom they are actively and continually dispossessing, they propagate ideologies, academic disciplines, political economies, religions, ethics, and social imaginaries, designed to teach all of us—no matter how poor we are—to forget the how, why, and what of love and to, instead, know greed and feel afraid.

In this effort, the rich are ever only partially successful. This is so for a few reasons including the following: many among the dispossessed know that life without love is literally unliveable; many among the colonized remember other ways of structuring life together; many among the oppressed see through the lies of the oppressors; and babies, themselves, come into the world loving unconditionally.

This final point suggests that love (and not some kind of neo-Darwinian notion of “selfish genes” or “survival of the fittest”) is what exists at the core of being. To be is to love. Only a sustained assault upon our being, thinking, hearing, seeing, and imagining, from the time we are born until the time we die, can make us forget this.

Given this ontology of love, to forget love is to embrace nihilism. We see this nihilism playing out all the time in the mass destruction of life we are witnessing today, in the merciless laws crafted by the rich, and in all the ways cruelty and ruthlessness are justified and valorized. If we allow some people to grow so wealthy that they forget the how, why, and what of love, the end result is the annihilation of life as we know it.

If to be is to love, then life is impossible in a world without love.

Therefore, if we are to confront the fundamental evil of our time and contribute to the formation of a world where it is easier to be good, the rich must be dispossessed of both their wealth and the fear that accompanies it. In this dispossession lies their liberation. It is an act of love that presents the rich with the possibility of, once again, remembering what love is, why we love, and how to love. It is an act that makes life possible—for them and for all of us.

Posted by: Dan | May 6, 2019

April Reviews

Discussed in this post: 7 Books (Atom Land; Lichens; White Fragility; Feminism for the 99%; Palace Walk; What We Talk About When We Talk About Love; and the mermaid’s voice returns in this one); and 5 Documentaries (Cielo; Minding the Gap; Lo and Behold; Hale County This Morning, This Evening; and Two Worlds Colliding).

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Posted by: Dan | April 21, 2019

February and March Reviews

Hastily discussed and poorly treated in this post: 12 Books (The Extended Organism; Testo Junkie; The Practice of Everyday Life; Social Reproduction Theory; Policing Black Lives; The New Faces of Fascism; You Know You Want This; Kintu; Baho!; 100 Days; Sleepwalking Land; and White and Black); 3 Movies (Custody; The Endless; and Sicilian Ghost Story); and 5 Documentaries (Makala; Matangi/Maya/M.I.A; Leaving Neverland; Won’t You Be My Neighbor?; and Alt-Right). I apologize that these are especially rushed. Two large writing projects took up my writing time and I’m a month behind on these reviews and trying not to fall further behind!

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Posted by: Dan | April 9, 2019

Sex Work is Real Work: A Guide to Taking Sides

[What follows is a Position Statement pertaining to sex work in Canadian-occupied territories. In addition to the Position Statement, I have provided a considerable amount of context and research to assist others in negotiating what (initially, especially to outsiders) appears to be a very confusing, complicated, and contradictory terrain. This is a live document, meaning that I may still be altering it based on feedback received from sex workers, sex worker led and organized groups, and others whom I trust and respect (just as voices from all those groups provided feedback on earlier draft versions of this Statement). Feel free to copy and share this as you see fit. I can also email you a PDF version of the document, if you provide your contact information in the comments.]

Position Statement

This paper proposes that individuals and organizations take something akin to the following public position pertaining to sex work in Canadian-occupied territories:

We believe that sex work is real work and, although any form of labour that is determined by the dynamics of capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy, is necessarily exploitative and harmful, we believe that sex work is not any more inherently violent or oppressive than the other forms of labour that are available to those who are not born rich. Therefore, we believe that workers who choose sex work are just as free (or not free) as workers who choose any other form of real work. By recognizing this, we distinguish sex work from human trafficking and affirm sex work while opposing human trafficking. In our affirmation of sex work, we recognize that the overwhelming bulk of evidence-based research demonstrates that full decriminalization (of both supply and demand) consistently produces the best outcomes for sex workers, victims and survivors of human trafficking, and the community more broadly. By affirming this, we stand in solidarity with sex worker led and sex worker organized collectives who, like other organized and organizing workers’ groups, are fighting to determine the conditions, supports, and protections they need in order to do their jobs.

Therefore, although we recognize that the Canadian State and most State-sponsored social services are heavily invested in perpetuating capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy, we urge the Government of Canada and those who offer support services to people who engage in sex work, to abandon the harmful Nordic Model and, instead, to learn from New Zealand’s much more successful (but still somewhat problematical) Prostitution Reform Act, and enact the full decriminalization of sex work. In the meantime, we will refuse to contribute to or participate within the surveillance, oppression, and abuse of sex workers that is currently sponsored by the Canadian State and its juridico-political and carceral apparatuses, we will refuse to support non-governmental organizations that equate all sex work with human trafficking, and we will follow the lead of sex worker led and sex worker organized groups and do what they suggest is best for finding our way forward together.

In order to unpack and defend this position, this paper will proceed in three sections. First, a number of dynamics that complicate the conversation around sex work will be explored. These include: setting out the basic terms of the conversation and how various parties deploy them, examining whose voices are prioritized and how or why those voices are prioritized by various parties, and highlighting further contextual factors related to capitalism’s exploitation of labour, the context of Canadian settler colonialism, and the ways in which men who engage in sex work are often overlooked (and why that might be the case).

Exploring these dynamics paves the way for the second major section of this paper wherein I will examine the two main positions taken on sex work, prostitution, and human trafficking. Here, I will begin by looking at the abolitionist position (sometimes also referred to as the “prohibitionist” position), its equation of all “prostitution” with “human trafficking,” and its support for the Nordic Model, which criminalizes consumers and third-party managers rather than the direct suppliers of sex as a market commodity. We will then look at criticisms of the Nordic Model and the full decriminalization approach advocated for by those who are personally involved in sex work or who are motivated by research pertaining to health, safety, de-stigmatization, and the lessons learned from the Prostitution Reform Act that became law in Aotearoa (so-called New Zealand) in 2003.

Finally, in the third part, I return to examining contextual factors and briefly comment on the notions of “root causes” and “upstream interventions” as they pertain to the discourse on sex work.

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[On March 28, 2018, I was invited to both moderate and participate in a panel discussion about Trauma at an event hosted by a group called Sarnia Speaks, located in Sarnia, ON. What follows is the transcript I used for both my introductory moderator remarks, and the presentation I did as a panelist. It was a wonderful evening and I am very grateful to those who invited me to participate.]

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Posted by: Dan | February 27, 2019

A Love Song and a Lament


Sometimes, I think we valourize brokenness.  We romanticize it, ennoble it, and tell beautiful stories about it but, baby, I’ve been broken, really really very broken, and the truth is that it just hurts.  All the time, everywhere, it hurts.  And the heart that is broken weeps in a million ways that words can never touch or reach.  It just weeps. All the time, everywhere, it weeps.

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