Lines for crossing, points of discussion

by Yule Heibel on September 16, 2006

My wiki finally benefitted from a modicum of attention, albeit administered in such sporadic bursts as to go almost unnoticed. As I haphazardly noted on September 9, I added an entry called Addendum to Victoria History in a Nutshell: Victoria’s Future?, which was a response to a prior essay (Victoria History in a nutshell, by one of my extremely rare, and therefore highly valued, co-contributors). In this “response” I attempt to flesh out some thoughts on how Victoria could benefit from web-based economies, but I also reiterate that if you don’t have the people, the man- (and woman-) power, the sheer density to grow the necessary networks and webs, …well, then everything is much trickier. Right now, Victoria has one of Canada’s lowest unemployment rates, and every sector (whether construction, retail, or high tech) is affected by how thinly talent is spread. It disappoints me a bit that this essay has generated no feedback whatsoever, but then again, it is terribly out of character for what most people around here think about, focussed as they are on resource exploitation and tourism (the latest resource being, of course, the tourists themselves: get ’em into town, get ’em to spend their money pronto!)…

While it seemingly has little to do with Victoria, I also posted an entry called Caracas, which was triggered by a photo of that city, as seen on one of the webpages for the 10th Architecture Biennale in Venice, currently underway. This picture fascinated me because it shows a sprawling lowrise slum sliced surgically “free” of the upward reach of “capitalist” skyscrapers. Talk about metaphor and social form being cast in actual built form…. In addition, I was surprised to see who/what is representing Canada at this Biennale. Read the Caracas piece (it’s blissfully brief) for more information.

I also decided that my Langham Court Theatre History article needed to go on the wiki — this is a piece I wrote months ago for my neighbourhood association’s newsletter, but which actually missed publication in the newsletter and instead ended up as the May feature article in another local magazine, The Moss Rock Review. I felt that putting the article on the wiki might give greater exposure to one of Victoria’s early artistic entrepreneurs, the Countess Laura de Gozdawa Turczynowicz, who was born Laura Blackwell in St. Catharines, Ontario, in or around 1877, and who was quite a character. Furthermore, I appreciated the comments this piece generated, since it got me thinking about some other aspects of this particular neighbourhood.

Somewhat prior to all this, I started a page that has more or less fizzled, unfortunately: Overheard in Victoria, which was inspired by Overheard in New York. I thought it would be fun if we could have an “overheard in Victoria” page, but you know what? I never seem to be hanging around anywhere long enough actually to overhear anything resembling more than a syllable or so… It disturbed me quite a bit to notice this, let me tell you — and I found it equally disturbing to discover that I don’t have enough friends who hang out and overhear stuff and would be willing to tell me so that I could post it on the wiki page…. To overhear people actually having a conversation means you have to be standing or sitting still somewhere long enough to do so: a cafe, a library even!, a bus or train, or a bookstore. If, however, your outside time consists of travelling (in my case pulling or being pulled by my dog), eavesdropping isn’t much of an option. I also noticed that I spend way more time looking at people than listening to what they’re saying, but obviously “Overseen in Victoria” somehow doesn’t have the same “ring,” pun intended. Currently, there are three entries on Overheard in Victoria — perhaps eventually there’ll be more.

What else? Well, I finally put the Letters to the editor(s) page up properly. It used to be called “Letter(s) to the editor,” and consisted of just one letter, written July 15 and published July 28. But now that letter is a subpage on the main Letters page, along with eleven other letters (some published, some not) that I wrote between Jan.27-Sept.11, 2006. The last one (Sept.11) is unpublished, and I rather hope it will remain so. It might seem paradoxical (or hypocritical) to say so, given that I’ve published it myself on my wiki and am pointing to it here. But it’s simply a fact that whatever I publish on this blog or on my wiki, while totally and absolutely accessible and transparent to one and all, is seen by very few people because I’m not popular/ well known/ widely read online/ an A-lister in any circle. But if this letter gets published by the local magazine I sent it to (namely Focus Magazine), many local people will see it, and they will undoubtedly conclude that I am irredeemably out of line. I verbally assault not just one but two Victoria architectural sacred cows, in particular lobbing an offensive at the Victoria Conference Centre which insults my aesthetic standards every single time I walk past it. It’s a total waste of space, but it seems to be well-liked by the local cognescenti. Go figure.

In a way, I suppose I’m trying to figure out whether I care if people think I’m out of line or whether I don’t. I suspect that I don’t. And anyway, lines are for blurring or jumping over, unless, that is, they’re lines in art or architecture, in which case they’re points of discussion.

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