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ÉPIQUE – Le blogue


le 10 février 2022

From claude

 

 

dear Ray, i miss you. 

i have been through the scariest time of my life recently and this begs for a rearrangement of my values and artistic process, but your departure hits my heart at a level i have very little access to or maybe none yet. 

you taught me a lot.

you smudged with me on the phone.

you sent me treasures i cherish.

and now, you teach me something i do not know how to listen to. 

 

yet.

 

i will never know if you read the Little Prince. i had not up until recently, when a close friend suggested it as inspiration to a class of theatre school students. i was grabbed by Saint-Exupéry’s drawings, by the relationship of the pilot with the prince, by the snake, the desert.

 

Ray Laporte, « Super Em: a Way Through and the Penny Foot Turtle »

 

Ray Laporte, « Super Em: a Way Through and the Penny Foot Turtle »

 

i was grabbed by the number 44. on his small planet, the Little Prince saw the sunset 44 times in a day. Saint-Exupéry mysteriously died one year after publishing his book, in 1944, at age 44. since i read about Saint-Exupéry’s life, his unwavering requests to participate in the war as a pilot, his endless losses, his numerous accidents and the painful health problems that followed, and his journey into depth of loneliness, melancholy and despair about the nature of human beings. about 3 weeks ago, i asked my friend who his Petit Prince was in his current life and he returned the question. i spontaneously replied “it is Ray, my friend in Sudbury”. 

 

and now, you are gone.

just like the Little Prince at the end of the book?

 

i feel like an old pilot

with a broken body and no plane.

i am past way past 44.

i miss you.

 

will i get a last mission?

do you hear my anger?

i am not angry at you.

Oh no.

i am angry at the medical system

that was recently around you.

i wonder if i am the only one

and even if so, i am saying it.

 

 

i promise i will listen to insights when they come, Ray.

 

i love you.

claude

 

 

Note by claude wittmann, on the ground of Andrea Ling’s installation at the core of the Rhubarb Festival, Toronto, February 2022. claude wittmann performed on February 7th, at 7pm for the Rhubarb Festival in Toronto. He asked the audience to be in silence with Ray for a little time.

 

Andrea Ling’s installation at the core of the Rhubarb Festival, Toronto, February 2022. Photo taken by claude wittmann, during an afternoon. The plastic bags on top of the tree stumps are meant to protect the mold and bacteria seeded to grow on the dead and decaying wood.

 


le 2 juillet 2021

panique/épique

bonjour,

J’ai de la peine à sortir de la panique et à vraiment faire le pas de mon épique question de possible déménagement à Sudbury.

Pourquoi ça?

Je suis témoin en ce moment de violence systémique contre les sans-abris à Toronto et de manière plus proche de celle directement menée contre une amie artiste elle aussi récipiendaire du POSPH/ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program). Mon propre traumatisme de l’année passée est réactivé et bien sûr, je vous entends déjà me dire: claude, prends soin de toi. Oui, et qui alors va prendre soin de mon amie? L’air frais de matin? Excusez mon ironie et ma rage. Elle n’est pas contre vous bien sûr.

Je comprends bien que mon corps physique, émotionnel et psychologique ont leur limites et que je dois les respecter, mais alors, où est le « corps social » pour ceux qui n’ont pas de famille?

J’ai de la peine à continuer à avoir de l’espoir en cette vie.

Je vais essayer de méditer sur un dessin que j’ai adoré lorsque je l’ai vu pour la première fois….. Le voici……

De la part de Ray Laporte de Sudbury, un dessin extrait de son livre pour enfants « A Way Through: Super EM and the Pennyfoot Turtle »

Mon autoportrait d’aujourd’hui, comme d’habitude dessiné avec mes yeux fermés et mes deux mains

à bientôt,

claude


le 28 juin 2021

de la part de claude: fin de la panique, début de l’épique?

j’ai eu le privilège de bloguer ici depuis mars 2020. comme mon art se déroule dans des gestes de ou proches de la survie (survival art), pour moi et pour ma communauté, ce blogue a été au travers de différentes phases liées à ma propre survie durant 2020. qu’ai-je découvert par rapport à « bloguer »?

j’ai appris que le blogue de la GNO peut servir d’espace de survie psychologique, un espace qui permet à l’auteur de sentir sa dignité, alors qu’en parallèle elle est coupée en morceaux (mon cas pendant ma crise de logement à Toronto, de mars à août 2020).

plus récemment, j’ai appris que le blogue de la GNO peut être partagé avec un autre être humain et servir de coin protégé où se tissent les liens fragiles d’une nouvelle amitié à distance.

c’est là ce que j’ai eu la chance de vivre depuis janvier 2021, en compagnie de Ray Laporte, artiste de Sudbury. et nous voilà amis avec le besoin, non plus d’un coin protégé mais de réaliser notre amitié « offline », au travers de téléphones et de courriers par la poste qui vont inclure des dessins et de petites lettres.

ma relation avec Sudbury n’est pas finie pour autant.

ce blogue entre dans sa prochaine, peut-être dernière phase: épique.

vais-je déménager à Sudbury dans quelques années?

j’écrirai plus à se sujet plus tard.

claude


le 17 mai 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

je te sens loin. est-ce que ça va? si tu peux, donne-moi des nouvelles.

claude


le 8 mai 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

it is hard to find the words that would translate at what level i thank you for your honest May 2nd email/post mentioning eating, trans, sexual identity and love. it is reassuring to hear that you are cautious with the word « love ». it makes me feel safe. i have tears in my eyes as i realize how much i have felt betrayed by this word when it has been said while contradicted by body language that screamed something different. and now it is my turn to reflect on my use of the word as i also have trouble with self-love. i have these winds around my spine, that i am getting to know and release sometimes, but they make my heart/spirit/trust/love disappear in a landscape where there is no self-love, only fear and terror.

i like our new phone habits. i really like to be allowed to spontaneously call you. we spoke three times i think. your offer yesterday to smudge for my friend S just blew my mind and was so welcome. after we spoke, it felt that my air was thicker with existence and potential and S and i had a productive conversation. thank you Ray.

i am so glad that things are rolling for you again. congratulations on the hard work to arrive at that again.

here two recordings. tell me please which one you prefer and why, if you know.


le 2 mai 2021

de la part de Ray

Insulin plant -Claude – I got the insulin plant in the post yesterday. – thank you – I potted it today. Am continuing on my portrait project and continue to make turtles. I am in good spirits. things are starting to roll again, All the best

– All the best, Claude- respect with affection – ray


le 2 mai 2021

de la part de Ray

feeling divided – a response – I feel divided a lot of the time too. its because my focus is split because of this underlying anxiety that is caused by the depression, (from trauma and old issues from my past) Also i am moving slowly in our relationship because i am still being cautious because this is my first relationship with a trans person at this depth. I know other trans people, but only on the surface and not with this level of vulnerability and honesty. I am still struggling with my sexual identity at this late date. I know you refer to my strength of spirit. but at this time I am learning, so much about recovery through Overeaters Anonymous which is a spiritual program I am learning (awkwardly) about my higher power. You know yourself well and you bravely say love and dear you. Goodness i am only now, unlearning and relearnng to love myself . So its hard to say i love you with any degree of peace and serenity.

Thank you for searching out the ‘insulin’ plant – I will certainly try it. And thank you for your friendship – with affection and respect – Ray


le 30 avril 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

i really keep our chat on the phone in my ears and heart. thank you for that.

after we spoke, i went to pick some nettle in a park not far from where i live and the next day gave some to an artist friend living close to me. it was some kind of exchange for the toilet paper he buys for me when he buys some for himself. carrying big package of toilet paper on my bicycle is not very handy….

he and i spoke about what nettle does to the body and then, he shared with me that another artist, dear friend of mine too, gave his partner an « insulin plant » she had brought back from Colombia. he explained to me that the leaves help stabilize sugar levels. i have no idea if it could be of any benefit for you, but i could not help thinking that this sequence of event had some kind of meaning.

so, today, i found a rhizome on the net that will be sent to you. maybe you will have the desire to plant it in a pot and let some leaves grow and then try one to see what it does to you. maybe it won’t feel right and you won’t.

with love,

claude


le 23 avril 2021

de la part de Ray

I am open to a letter or a phone call. Probably the phone call would be easier to manage

all the best – ray

le 22 avril 2021

de la part de Claude

Ray,

thank you for writing. i am as faithful as a dog in friendships, so, i am here. my last post said something about reaching the limit of this friendship on a blog and this was about the limitation of the blog, not the limits of my/our friendship. unfortunately i am physically far, so, please, if you would like a phone call let me know.

i think of you with the same endless respect for your power of spirit.

claude


le 22 avril 2021

de la part de Ray

Lack of communication Claude I am sorry that this has taken so long. My sugars are off for some time now – which has triggered a depression. all areas of my life are affected, including

reaching out to you  I don’t know what to ask of you. I do care about you and i hope we can remain friends. and i do know that you care about me  

 
All the best – ray

le 21 avril 2021

de la part de claude

cher Ray,

ton silence me trouble. il doit se passer quelque chose. je suis loin et mon imagination s’empêtre dans des cercles vicieux où il n’y a pas de voie par laquelle je pourrais raisonnablement être près et avec toi sur ton chemin. Ray, as-tu besoin de quelque chose? merde, je vois à quel point il est ridicule de poser cette question sur ce blogue. merde. je crois qu’on a atteint là la limite d’une amitié sur un blogue. merde.

mais, mon amour pour toi est le même,

claude


le 19 avril 2021

de la part de claude

Ray, i feel far away from you.

Ray, i do not know how you are doing.

Ray, it feels like nothing can buffer the physical distance between you and me. life is not easy here and must not be there either, and maybe it also seems to you that it is shrinking to the necessities of the local to an absurd point where even the local is not possible anymore.

Ray, i am going to meditate soon and salute the 4 directions.

Ray, i am ok, not dying of covid, so i am grateful for that.

claude


le 9 avril 2021

de la part de claude

hey Ray,

thank you very much for your sharing. you shared a photo of yourself. here are some of me:

with my building behind me (unfortunately my unit is on east the side where any sunlight is blocked by condo buildings around)

April 8, 2021

April 9, 2021

a lot has happened in my housing advocacy during the last weeks, in parallel with trying to get back to health. i am almost there but Toronto is in a covid exponential nightmare and it is quite scary to belong to the oversensitive, low-weight, high-risk, disabled in that context.

life is really a very precarious thing, such that sometimes i wonder what the fuck we are doing trying to invent layers and layers of mind and of activities that have nothing to do with heart or the basics of care.

yes food is sacred, but does this exclude that sometimes it becomes a dark teacher, one that hurts?

i do not know what my spirit color is. blue was my favorite color as a kid, but later on, even if i still saw colors they had no vivid individualized presence; they were overstimulating or meaningless or too attached to what others would say they are or just representing form. now, through meditation, i start to be able to differentiate them again and to experience them sometimes slightly independently from the shape they are in. rarely. please tell me more about colors.

i hope you are ok. i often think of you, but not writing to you made me feel further, less connected, less part of your life too.

take care,

claude


le 27 mars 2021

de la part de Ray

currently my main direction is to get myself to Paris in 2023 or 2025. For this I am completing a project of 40 portraits of people that i admire or love – the significant people in my life. This is a vehicle which will win me a senior artist grant the OAC Chalmers award. The work shall be exhibited in 2 or 3 galleries in Sudbury and Peterborough i have a record of exhibitions and installations to support my application, including a recent major installation of sculpture at the McKewen School of Architecture in Sudbury.

Regarding food as sacred: I believe that everything is sacred. In Overeaters Anonymous I am learning a new found respect for food. The First Nations see food as medicine. They also believe that in everything there is moderation. This is a spiritual approach to the planning, preparation, cooking and eating of food. Not unlike the preparations in building a fire. Speaking of fire which has a spiritual agency, do you have a candle?

How am I? – healthy, happy …..

My favourite colour is yellow. It is my primary colour of spirit. Whenever I am dealing with matters of spirit in a painting, you will find yellow somewhere. All the other colours are my playground. I am a colourist foremost rather than one of form. Yes, I surround my self with my poetry: my favourite paintings & drawings. My entire home is a workshop/playshop.

To be continued – amitie – ray


le 17 mars 2021

de la part de claude

Ray, i feel the need to spontaneously reply.

please tell me about you. do you have your poetry around you? what colors do you resonate with? what direction is the one which speaks the most to you right now? is food always in the sacred spot of your heart?

Ray, how are you?

claude


le 17 mars 2021

de la part de Ray

Regarding building a new life: you can build it anywhere, at anytime and with complete and utter freedom.
It is good that you are recovering from your infection. Are you eating well? food is essential not evil. Any thing can become evil or dangerous if not treated with respect, including food.
How is your social and spiritual nutrition? Loneliness can be a soul killer.
Your environment is key too. Is it filled with your poetry? That is your poetic objects, images and creations. Is there colour? If not it is a good idea to have your exterior surroundings align with your new internal vitality.
Your last post sounds like you are heading in the right direction.
Keep on keeping on – with respect and affection – ray

le 13 mars 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

i am almost back to my pre-infection « normal » with the teaching that well, i have to commit to life if i want to continue to live. maybe i have to abandon my project to build a chosen family around me? do i?

today is new moon and i want you to know that you have a power of spirit that travels distance. the « you are not alone » in your last post resonated very loud when i read it and it still does when i look at the post again. it is like the words jump at me. the post is printed on paper and it is around me all the time.

these words of yours make me feel i am in an old massive beautiful building that echoes human voices just like when you sit on top of a mountain and every shout echoes from the mountains around. massive masses of granit chanting with you.

maybe it is because you anchor every of your words at the very deep level my soul can automatically trust. it is rare.

i am grateful.

yes, i would like to visit Sudbury but it feels like i won’t be able for long and then it might be « too late ».

you are there, in Sudbury. it is Saturday morning. my phone tells me your sky is cloudy. i wonder what you are doing and where your mind and hearts are. i wonder what is the direction that teaches you the most today. i wonder whether you can feel my heart and compassion for us human beings this morning.

i wonder how food appears to you this morning. is it

life

pure matter

atoms and molecules to digest

potential for hurt

a dark hole of distraction

an endless isolator

a suitcase of sensations

a dark cloud of overstimulation

a dangerous link to spirit

an enemy

a weapon

a taboo?

 

i send love to you and my gratitude,

claude


le 10 mars 2021

de la part de Ray

Pain can make you forget what you know claude, your last report was difficult news. Are your spirits strong? I pray and smudge that they be enlivened. In your words, the phrase of: « the place of can’t is a glorious place to start. Start exactly where you are and just be. You are brilliant, so I imagine you feel deeply frustrated and disappointed.

Claude: go into that feeling of frustration and see it for what it is  – an aspect of fear.  seeit for the illusion that it is. You have your experience, intelligence and awareness to call on,
with all these setbacks, are you finding any delight or moments of calm?
as an artist you thrive on colour, pattern and intelligent design; and loving kindness and social nutrition – like that kind and respectful doctor and nurse.
In all your current hardship please know: You are not alone.
Yes, our spirits, hearts, minds and bodies resonate with each communication. Thank you for  your openness, directness and honesty.
it is time to remember that you are enough and that you are resilient. Once you were strong. Ibelieve you can love yourself back into life. Again.
all the best – amitie – ray

le 3 mars 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

you ability to hear me and respond on the same wavelength is tangible and i want to express my felt gratitude. thank you Ray.

thank you also for sharing more of your vulnerability. you allow me to step closer and let my heart, body, mind, spirit resonate with your words, hopefully with you.

and before i go into more of a reply to your words, i need to preface with this: over here, i am near unable, weak, with urinary tract infection and symptoms of burn out and the universe keeps sending me bad news or information i can’t handle in that state. so, i am learning a lot too. and, yesterday i learnt that going to the doctor and being taken care of felt like the « social nourishment » you were talking about: the nurse touched my arm (nobody touched me since august last year);  i was heard by my very nice doctor body/mind together; my friend Simlâ came to the clinic to pick me up.

 

you say you can’t sort out emotions right now.

i say i can’t either and i am learning how much work that usually is.

is this place of « can’t » the best spot for us to learn what our path is?

does it force us to accept the current process?

is the sorting out of emotions (ours and that of others probably) part of the self-punishing?

with love,

claude


le 3 mars 2021

de la part de Ray

food – pain – feelings

dear Claude

At this time, sorting out emotions is difficult for me. Your stories about pain and suffering are arriving at the same time that I am struggling with similar themes that I am delving into with the Overeaters Anonymous program. I am being re-introduced to old stories of abuse, abandonment and rejection from my family of origin. I am learning so much and I am trying too hard to understand and communicate. Trying too hard is a habit I learned as a child from living in a pressure cooker run by one demanding, punishing parent and an emotionally unavailable one. It is one of the root causes of my anxiety. You wonder what life is in Sudbury?

It is a friendly place, you should visit some time.
This project of discovering new relationships is causing me  to think about our respective situations. Thank you for your storie of your struggles with underlying pain, feelings and food.
claude, You come into my life at a wonderful intersection of three new people: Suzanne from Overeaters Anonymous who brings stories from family of origin that are brave, wise and courageous,  Jamie, who is making a new home, brings stories of adventure and perseverance. And you,
It is a very rich, complex yet difficult time. I am learning so much.
Regarding artwork: i do some journaling. And some of these themes are showing up in my family portraits project.
I  leave you with a quote from a meditation audio i am currently listening to:  « It is time to stop punishing yourself for the patterns that are the result of a spiritual starvation ».
all the best
amitié, Ray

le 27 février 2021

de la part de Ray

Letter – Claude your last post is very rich. I think i could communicate my thoughts better in a letter – so I shall write

amitie

Ray

le 22 février 2021

de la part de claude

dear Ray,

it is snowing, snowing, snowing here and i sit here with this computer and i imagine being over there in Sudbury, closer to your energy, your poetry, your vulnerability, your art. i am so glad to hear that your friend has found a place! this is great and it was suddenly fast. well, i hope it is still all good since you wrote about this a few days ago and, at least here, sometimes good places just suddenly fall apart.

i am also grateful for your honest sharing of how your motivation, mood, food and physiology intertwine.

what if that sharing were a poem you shared with the world? what if it were « art », the only art possible when we are down to the line between spirit and matter?

i have struggled a lot with food in my life. when i was close to 16, my grand-mother was dying and i think i felt drawn to be spirit more than matter. inadvertently, i discovered that eating only the very minimum would kick my brain on a source of energy that a lot of anorexic brains kind of get a high on. i had incredible clarity and, as suprising as this might be, that made me appreciate food even more: only the minimum, so every bite was precious and had to be good.

then, i will jump to a time in my life where food felt like my biggest enemy. i had psychosomatic body pain that was so intense i could not cut vegetables anymore and food would hurt after eating and go through me like liquid most of the time. i was loosing weight, becoming unable. the repressed emotions that had blocked my throat during the last years of my PhD, which were the beginning of dark times with food, were now lower in the body, blocking digestion at the chemical level. doctors were clueless and disrespectful. a very ridiculous time in retrospect.

it is the smoked whitefish of First Nations’ fisher family Andrew Akiwenzie from the west coast of Georgian Bay which saved my life. literally. i bought a piece from Andrew directly, at a farmers’ market in Toronto and from the first bite on, the fish felt like life. the fish felt like it had died differently than the fish you find on the market. the marinade that his wife used to smoke the fish was deliciously nutritious. my body/mind, sensitive at the extreme at the time, « decided » that this could be digested.

now, food is kind of sacred, but i am also super super repetitive with what i eat and i am shy about it.

please do not worry about technology. we can have a phone call about the cellphone and see how to start it together.

then, about our recording: do you have what you need on your computer to listen to it?

how are you Ray?

Amitié,

claude


le 20 février 2021

de la part de Ray

Overeaters Anonymous OA I have realized that I am powerless to control my addiction to food and compulsive overeating. High glucose sets off a bipolar respnse

depression. Therefore I joined OA. Overeating has been a pattern for my entire life. It has led to several hospitalizations. This is literally a life or death decision. I don’t want to live at this survival level of existence. There is still poetry that I want to experience and poetry (artwork) that I have yet to paint.

I am not obese -only 20 pounds over my ideal weight.  At any rate I now have a structured program to help me get my physiology back in balance. and with that, a better mood and a good life.

I still have not got my training with the cell phone. And I don’t know how to select the sound-bytes from our conversation. One thing at a time.

Not believing the fear mongering mind is a critical step toward sanity.  The Eastern gate leads into the land of new beginnings . When looking to the south you decided to let go of anger – when I forgive I find more space in my mind,and heart.

l like your ‘allowance’ for the flow of stories from your relieved head

I also like your intention to live in a stable complex world. To me this sounds like there are better days ahead. And there are.

I did a little bit of artwork a few days ago – that’s a good sign. to change successfully is to make small changes incrementally. an old friend once to me:  « Life by the inch is a cinch – Life by the yard is hard »

You are in my thoughts.

amitié -ray


le 18 février 2021

de la part de claude

Je pense à toi Ray.

Tonight East reminded me that i do not have to believe the fear monger on my left side, South let me meet and release a big chunk of anger in my head, West let me poor stories out of my relieved head and North put me in the middle of a world way more complex and stable than i am used to experience. I am grateful.

I am thinking of you, in my heart.

claude


le 16 février 2021

de la part de Ray

State of being – This depression – although caused by diabetes is still a depression. It inhibits my determination, initiative and ability to communicate

My artwork is at a standstill – when the moment comes to start to paint or collage – i find no interest. I have misplaced the confidence and courage that I began this project with – to be really open at this moment (and to risk vulnerability).I respect your openness and willingness to be vulnerable. Knowing myself – it will take more time to have that kind of trust.

I do appreciate your offer to be helpful in some way  – yours is a generous heart.

I am seeing my family doctor next week. Iam also working on controlling my snacking.

Other news: My guest has found an apartment. He will be set up on or before March 1. i will have my space again

Wishing you all the best

Ray

 


le 11 février 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

i hear you. i hear you tell me that you are in a state of mild depression. i hear your words in my heart.

i do not know enough about you to intuit what texture of me could be good to you right now. if it feels right, please teach me what you need.

with love,

claude


le 11 février 2021

de la part de Ray

Dealing with a down Dear Claude, sorry for the delay, but i have sipped into mild depression – motivation and initiative are impaired. I received the camera and the beautiful drawing.

I will need some instruction on how to use it. I thought our conversation went well. i will listen to it again to make my selections.

amitie ray


le 10 février 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

thank you again for the phone conversation we had last tuesday. it is with me quite a bit and often at the end of the day, tired from doing background work for housing or ODSP advocacy, full of anger against my City and our Province, betrayed by reports with hypocritical language that promises a better time but clearly is just about austerity agenda, i think of how, in the end, we only have each other and then, i feel the need to write to you and tonight i do. other days, i spiral into the dark truth of our aloneness and there, the aloneness turns into shame and loneliness and fear.

 

i am listening to our conversation right now, trying to choose my 2 little segments to suggest to you as something we could publish. i cherish our words.

how are you? are you chosen your little 2 segments?

with care,

claude


le 1 février 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

thank you for your words.

i have read your post carefully and i am glad we will speak on the phone probably tomorrow.

at this point, i really do not know what life you think i have, but i hear you, and my perception is that you need reassurance that we are communicating, understanding each other in the mind and in the heart.

maybe my post of january 16th was not clear. it was my truth, but more like a highly needed poetic burst from different sources and seams, intertwining the individual and the systemic over time. i did not have time and energy to explain, only to verbalize, share, open questions. it seems i was rooting my fear of becoming homeless from March to August 2020 with my constant relentless but apparently vain search for « home », for a community and my current behind-the-doors activism to try to participate in changing something for others in this quite hostile and pandemic-hit city of Toronto.

Ray, i suggest that we are experiencing something now that this blog was probably going to make visible, i.e. that creating a new relationship through written words, from two different cities, from souls and hearts who have never met, with different stories and pains, individual and systemic is not easy.

i am grateful that we are doing that. thank you for being in it with me.

with love,

claude

me, yesterday on the left, today on the right.


le 1 février 2021

de la part de Ray

Dear Claude,

I was surprised and embarrassed that I so misunderstood that you were not homeless. I  wondered if  my responses to your blog posts were off the mark were missing the points that you are making. In short, i wonder if i am out of my depth in my efforts to respond to your experience of life.  I guess i am looking for some kind of reassurance that i am  near the same wavelength that you are sending.

with concern and with all the best  – ray


le 22 janvier 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

merci.

j’écrirai plus plus tard de nouveau, mais, pour le moment, je veux juste te dire que je suis content à l’idée d’un téléphone bientôt et te rassurer que je ne suis pas sans-abri en ce moment. excuse-moi si mes mots ont apporté de la confusion à ce sujet.

amitié,

claude


le 22 janvier 2021

de la part de Ray

I have been struggling with my response to your last blog. You are facing a monumental struggle – a lonely struggle. What can I say to deflect some of that pain? I was left stunned by the enormity of the homelessness situation and so many deaf ears incapable or unwilling to listen. Currently I am helping someone to transition from hospital to a home – a decent one i hope. and still on that idea , i miss my solitude.-my space. You said you were not an emerging personality.

You said in your blog that you were not an emerging personality, nor a young personality. Do you mean by this that you are an old soul having wisdom beyond the years of life lived. Or do you mean that you are on the road to realizing your true self?

It’s good that you hear ‘her’ voice – sounds like one of the internal voices of compassion. that i believe is a voice that comes from your seat of awareness -from the depths of your consciousness – you loving yourself – a good thing

Yes we can talk on the phone and it can be recorded for workability.

the turtle is of rock and steel wire construction. Been making them for about 5 years I send you warm feelings and encouragement

– All the best -Ray

 


le 16 janvier 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

thank you for checking in and for your good thoughts. they are appreciated. i have had a very strange week. right now, different sources in my body bubble words and my mind does not know which one to observe and let flow. if i let them all flow more or less simultaneously, this is what comes out….

gratitude for tenderness or principle of mediocrity. sound, light. clouds. my or your molecules, here or there, or their molecules, floating or grabbing, onto and towards, tree, water, moon, wind. if and when. 17 Paton Road expropriation by the City? you are loosing you time he said. there has never been a community anyway. Chief Building: « i am very happy with the situation ». building empty. homeless people in tents. one eviction every 3 min. poverty reduction strategy: a strategy to reduce the poverty of the state, not ours. pathologization of poverty and homelessness. this is how homosexuals and trans people have been pathologized after being criminalized. systemic oppression is dark. hospitals ICU full, disabled people triaged, end of the line. where is « home »? what do you want? material. blood, breathing. hands. skin. roof, food, bicycle, yes. now. her voice. her pace. her gentleness. i heard her on the phone. my cells are nourished. still, fears? winds between my fascia layers, sticking to the deep incarnated shame. that deep layer that i can’t exhale. feel it. face it gently. take it. shake. below. wait. she is a ghost that follows and stops you. is it bad? maybe what she thinks is exactly what will happen. principe of mediocrity. can we be afraid together? Ray, i am not an emerging personality. i am not a growing personality. sharing vulnerability is my practice as a human being. or it is me, as transparent as can be. maybe.

 

i send love to you Ray.

i am looking forward to when you will get the cellphone i have now ready in my hands for you. maybe you will agree to send voice recordings of some posts rather than a written version. i like hearing the voice of people.

what is your turtle commission?

claude


le 16 janvier 2021

de la part de Ray

checking in -claude – its been a couple of days since i have heard from you – i hope things are okay – sending you good thoughts – ray


le 12 janvier 2021

de la part de Ray

Sorry to hear that relationships within your family are distressing for you. Christmas time is a danger zone where the politics of original relationships fall into a kind of play where people can become trapped into continuing to play out a role created many years in the past. for an emerging or growing personality it can be quite punishing.

I googled butoh. it seems quite rigorous. It looks like something one would have to be quite dedicated to learn its ways.

I have been a little bit lazy regarding my turtle commission. I’d rather have the freedom of paint. I do want to complete it before month’s end. I wish you peace on your journey – ray


le 11 janvier 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

i just looked at the blog on the GNO’s website and discovered that somehow all the spaces between paragraphs have been omitted! i do not know why and how this happened. i will look into it and try to change that.

thank you for sharing the teachings of the Medicine Wheel. they have been with me and also they have not, out of respect for you and for them, out of concern about appropriation and also out of commitment to my own practice, which is possibly rooted in my regular meditation and in the butoh teachings i got between 2000 and 2005.

butoh is now seen as a form of dance (and it has been very unfortunately appropriated by Western dancers), but it originated in Japan in the 1960’s as a post-war new and complex philosophy of personal and social identity, and of movement. in the teachings i received, there was a commitment to gravity and the body as teachers, a certain kind of common sense type of materialism and i can attest that it is when i try to « sense » the directions, in my present materiality moment, that i feel i can walk life.

in your post, you suggest a phone call to discuss, as you beautifully say, « our various understandings on matters of the spirit ». do you envision this as a recorded phone call which we would post here or as a private phone call?

now, what will i say next?

it seems that there is a need to drop into « materiality », to share that my past week has been full of gestures towards housing and ODSP activism. i worked a lot, too much actually and with depressing material and news, which led to diarrhea when i was for too long on the computer. all this was and is an escape to recoil from revisiting the « family » hurt around christmas, an attempt to live with unresolved questions i thought i could find a beginning of solution to, and a renewed commitment to work towards systemic change.

we need capital funds for social housing, not only (modular) « supportive » housing that coerces people to accept services that might not work for them.

we need a Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services that increases social assistance rates, rather than hypocritically fill its coffers with income, CERB and CRB clawbacks, and balance budgets by sending disabled people to work.

we need solidarity.

we need interdependence.

we need chosen families.

with warmth to you Ray,

claude


le 5 janvier 2021

de la part de Ray

Each Direction has a colour, spirit animal, a medicine, represents an element and has a teaching regarding a specific value or characteristic.

so it follows that:
East is yellow
the Spirit Animal is the Eagle
it’s medicine is Tobacco
It represents the element Air
it’s teaching is about Respect, Honesty and Trust
Also because it is the Eastern gate, where we enter the Medicine wheel, it is known as the Land of New Beginnings

We turn left, once we have considered the teachings of the Grandfathers of the East and enter the southern door or gate:
South is red
the Spirit Animal is the Deer
it’s medicine is Cedar
It represents the element of Mother Earth
It’s teachings are about Loving-Kindness

Continuing to the Western door we enter the
Land whose symbolic colour is black
the Spirit animal is The Thunderbird
It’s medicine is Sage
I represents the element of Water
It’s teachings are about Generosity, Gratitude and Sharing

To the north we enter the land
whose colour is White
whose Spirit Animal is the Bear
that represents the element of Fire
and it’s teachings are about Courage, Bravery and Strength
i was not taught about the strength to understand and the strength to forgive but I have come to believe that their place in the wheel is here.

when i pray, it is for these values on behalf of myself and for others in my life. I ask for strength in all my domains: spirit, heart, mind and body. i also have come to believe that my ancestors and friends and family that have departed to the western gate, guide me along with the Creator.

i also deepen my understanding of loving-kindess in my reading of Buddhism and in the knowledge of Christ that i am learning at my united church.

Perhaps some time on the phone we can discuss our various understandings on matters of the spirit. It is central for you as it is for me

for now I send you thoughts that gentle your spirit and heart and begin to convey the manifestation of a thriving personal reality – all the best claude – ray


le 4 janvier 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

your words have arrived in me and they have touched me with a very unique and never-experienced-before power. nobody ever told me they were welcoming me in their heart domain. what a gift. right now, i feel i have encountered your spirit and i feel i have been held without the fear of taking your space. thank you.

my being trans today was to wonder if i should book an appointment with Service Ontario to continue my journey of changing my name and my gender on my identity papers. at Service Ontario it would be for my OHIP card (would be good if i end up in hospital because of covid) and my driver’s license. this process of changing my name started on may 4 with a request for a Change of Name sent to the Ontario Registrar. it took 3 back and forth and 3 stamps and signatures from my MPP as commissioner of affidavits for the Registrar to be happy with my application and then, the amazing Registrar’s office sent me a Certificate of Change of Name with a mistake…. so, i sent it back and then it took another few weeks until i got the correct one. what relief when i finally got it. now, i am trying to have my new name (claude) on my identity papers and this is another « interesting » process. maybe you also changed your name and know what this is.

i have meditated outside, with the 4 directions, every day before breakfast for probably 10 years now and more recently before dinner too. my experience tonight:

Eastern direction? yes, let my red thread slightly undo this unknowable story in your head.

Southern direction? yes, listen to the screams.

Western direction? yes, humour.

Northern direction? yes, i am no judge.

Ray, your turn. Please, if it is ok with you, tell me more about your relationship with the 4 directions. And anything else you would like to share today.

Gentleness to you,

claude


le 3 janvier 2021

de la part de Ray

Hey Claude I find your post so open, courageous and vulnerable. it gives me so much more understanding of trans. Thank you. Family of origin difficulties are universal. doubly so in a trans journey

Although it is an ancient dilemma, contemporary society is as stuck in prejudice and lacking in generosity of spirit regarding the realities of the trans experience. You must be summoning courage on an hourly basis. Regarding my own spiritual practice, you are now in my thoughts and prayers and you are very welcome here in my heart domain. I consider this opportunity to get to know and understand you an honour. So I am sending warm feelings and intentions your way. and certainly open to any third party wishing to comment. All the best Claude -Ray


le 2 janvier 2021

de la part de claude

Ray,

thank you for your sharing, your wishes and your curiosity about me. please receive my whispers of good and peaceful wishes for you for the year to come.

i just had a few rough days and i am not out yet, but i can write to you tonight. i will share just a very few things about being trans and will be super happy to share more in my next posts.

for me being trans is having had the best week of my life ever in Montréal in 2017 where i went for top surgery. it was pure bliss. i had prepared my journey quite a bit before and was sure i had made the right choice. i had also honoured my breasts through some rituals, but the clarify of soul when in Montréal carried me unbelievably powerfully and gently. i remember my tears of joy in the elevator to the operation room and i joked with the anesthesiologist right up until she pressed her liquid in and i fell under. and then, i had the best care ever from 2 friends for a full week and also from other people when i came back to Toronto.

being trans is a spiritual journey.

being trans, for me, also comes with quite a bit of social discomfort, partly because i inject T at small dosages and look kind of in-between female and male. and it comes with family pain. the family pain is way more complex than only about my gender, but since end of years over and over force me to face a murky although very volatile darkness more than at other times, here is my poem of today.

 

January 2nd, 2021

food? yes, i am here.

roof? yes, i am here.

bed, i am terrified. do you hear me? no reply

bicycle, do you have a heart? no reply

mom? no reply

dad, que l’année 2021 te soit “bonne” dans tout ce que ceci peut signifier. Que les bonnes choses coulent vers toi. Pour ton coeur, ton corps, ton âme, tes pensées, tes relations avec les autres. Pour mami aussi. Je vous aime.” no reply.

brother? no reply

“family”? no reply

sadness? yes, i am here, hidden because you can’t hold me fully.

shame? yes, i am here and you can see me when your body fades away.

heart? yes. i am so full of learnings i can’t process, i am almost bleeding.

mind? yes, i am looking for home. do you see my nerves extending towards the nowhere i hope is somewhere? do you see me sunk in your heart not understanding anything anymore?

soul? yes, i am here. you are raw like a roadkill. it’s ok.

 

East? yes, i am here with small gentle scoops to take you despair.

South? yes, black sky black water.

West? yes, soft whispers.

North? yes, there is future. you have to choose grace.

 

with tenderness towards you,

claude

ps: if anybody reading us would like to communicate with us or comment privately or publicly (i can post your words?), please email us at claudesudbury [at] gmail [dot] com


le 30 décembre 2020

de la part de Ray

Yes, Claude I do have first nations blood. My French grandmother was a Metis. As a young family there was still a lot of shame in identifying as native so there was no knowledge of the culture passed down to us.

Any knowledge i have learned about indigenous ways, I have gathered on my own. I am patchwork quilt of spirituality. I read Buddhism. i go to a Christian church. I celebrate and pray using the four sacred medicines; tobacco, cedar, sage and sweetgrass
What do I wonder about you?
I do not have any trans relationships other than you. so it will be interesting to learn your perspectives on the art of living. I have known a number of gay people. In my younger years i wondered about my sexual orientation and had one short lived affair but came to realize that i was straight. so yes I am curious about how you experience the world, friendship, beauty, philosophy – you know – the whole ball of wax.
How this relationship unfolds  in freeform is up to our discretion, our courage and our humanity.
I do wish you the best of days
Ray

le 28 décembre 2020

de la part de claude

merci Ray.
je me demande si tu as des ancêtres parmi les Premières Nations.
je me demande ce que tu aimerais savoir de moi.

claude


le 27 décembre 2020

de la part de Ray

I have been making small Christmas toys for friends and their children. The feedback is enjoyable. The cards and the bird-sculptures are very loose and light hearted. so the time of advent has that of ease. Our two situations could hardly have more contrast. Although, I’ve had rough christmases it seems age has smoothed out some of the edges. I am a seventy year old contented bachelor. I hope your future holds a similar fortune — that you create a new home, surrounded with your poetry. Home is important. Critical.

Smudging is part of my spiritual practice. I learned about it when I belonged to a mens’ healing circle. One of the traditions we learned was a smudge at the beginning and the passing of the eagle feather. One of the facilitators was Ojibway. He taught a prayer of the four directions, the grandfather teachings and the values of the medicine wheel. I have travelled with that prayer since 1991.

I keep in balance by paying attention to and nurturing my four domains: the domain of my spirit, the domain of my heart, the domain of my mind and the domain of my body. When I lose my balance I ask the Creator to guide me in recovering it.

I wish you comfort and joy in the new year
Ray


le 26 décembre 2020

de la part de claude

hey Ray,

it is the time of year when i can spiral down lost in cracks. i am disciplined at the moment to respect the cracks while not falling. today is a bit hard i admit. the body tends to vanish.

with this awareness, i consider your sacred acknowledgment of our start of a new human relationship. simple. present. there. cracks or not. respect. i pause and i listen. i hear you and i do not. i feel i trust you for a fraction of a second (intellectually, i trust you. period. but emotionally, trusting others paradoxically feels like betraying still others).

sadness.

still, in my core, i feel i have received something. thank you.

and then, i will share something about smudging.

smudging is also in my life and it has been part of my reverence/sacred/safety practice for years now. ironically, since i had to move in august, smudging can trigger the centralized fire alarm and bring fire trucks in the next 5 minutes… and it does so with very little….

as a 1st generation white settler though, i feel very shy to share this practice of mine. i have had conversations with Indigenous artists and been invited by one specifically to smudge a space instead of her doing it, and so, there is a sense that the practice has come to me too, but still, i know i am appropriating.

please tell me more about smudging for you.

claude


le 25 décembre 2020

de la part de Ray

thank you claude – very thoughtful – i thought you might like to know that I am celebrating our new relationship with a smudge of tobacco, cedar, sage and sweetgrass

always

ray


le 23 décembre 2020

nouveau chapitre: claude et Ray

i and artist Ray Laporte from Sudbury are starting a public conversation in this blog.

we spoke on the phone and my perception is that we agreed to do this as gestures of life, from our life experience and as part of our life as two people who are now by default in a human relationship. do you agree Ray?

this is « art » for me even if it might not appear as such. i wonder whether i want to say something else today. yes, this.

Ray, here is a selfie drawn with both hands and eyes closed and some words.

it is now 4:35pm

my deep shame/fear

is rising

as it does every day

to remind me that

i feel unsafe

in my own home.

i well know this is internalized oppression,

but still,

the deepest

me behind all

meditative

practice is

looking

to know

where home is.

 

 

your turn Ray.

thank you for doing this with me.

claude


le 20 décembre 2020

20 décembre 2020

Sudbury artists, I suggest you sign this letter.

It is to support internationally known and revered artist Tania Bruguera and other Cuban artists in their current fight for their own physical integrity and artistic freedom in Cuba (see press articles below). Writing a letter seems ridiculously ineffective given the threats that these artists are going through, but the friend of Tania who composed the letter tells us that being visible in the media is one of these artists freedom/life-saving tools. So, please sign and share widely. The letter will be posted on Tania’s website.

 

December 19, 2020:

December 7, 2020:

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/tania-bruguera-under-house-arrest-in-cuba-as-anti-government-protests-escalate

December 7, 2020:

https://hyperallergic.com/605948/artist-tania-bruguera-detained-in-havana-for-the-third-time-in-a-week/

December 6, 2020:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/06/havanas-artists-find-their-voice-in-a-call-to-defend-creative-freedom

December 3, 2020:

https://www.npr.org/2020/12/03/941941353/artists-gather-for-rare-act-of-defiance-against-cuban-regime

December 2, 2020:

https://www.e-flux.com/announcements/364681/an-open-letter-to-american-cultural-institutions-arts-professionals-journalists-and-various-cubaphiles/

November 28, 2020:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/after-rare-protest-show-dissent-cuba-artists-say-government-agrees-n1249234


le 13 décembre 2020

13 décembre 2020

peut-être que je finis un chapitre difficile ou suis-je en train d’en commencer un nouveau sans votre consentement? je me sens timide, coupable d’absence et coloniser cet espace encore, de nouveau.

pourquoi vous écris-je? pour vous demander de me mettre en contact avec Raymond Landry, Sudbury’s Homelessness Network coordinator
et un ou plusieurs locataires qui vivent dans des « rent-geared-to-income (RGI) units » à Sudbury.

merci.

claudesudbury [at] gmail [dot] com


le 2 novembre 2020

2 novembre 2020

Who is threatening whose lives at Ledo Hotel?

As you might remember, I recently had to vacate my live/work studio (620 sq feet with 3 huge studio windows for $800) at 17 Paton Road in Toronto, because our Fire Chief and Chief Building decided that my ex-landlords’ progress towards making it Fire Code complying were too slow and not convincing enough (they had installed a whole new interconnected fire alarm – possibly over-complying – and we had sprinklers – yes that too- , but no 2nd exit and that, i am quoting, disturbed the sleep of our Chief Building – who did not think that we would loose speed and mind to be asked to relocate in the middle of a pandemic.).

Well, the story of Ledo hotel, as published on October 27, 2020, in the Sudbury Star, is not unsimilar. In both cases, we end up with displaced low-income tenants and an empty building ready for an exquisite non-affordable or even non-residential development. This is very sad and i can’t help but think that how our City officials apply their rules is participating in gentrification and painful displacement.

If you know anybody who lived at Ledo Hotel however, please let them know that according to the Sudbury’s « local priority rules » of access to social housing, they are (close to be) in a position to qualify for « Urgent Access » to rent-geared-to-income units. This is the good news:

 


le 1 novembre 2020

1er novembre 2020

statistiques de ma recherche de logement après avoir été évacué de mon studio à 17 Paton Road: ridiculement long (mars à fin août 2020), coûteux sur tous les plans…