Book Six


Hardcover Sketchbook. Given to me by a close friend in the spring of 1992 and recovered three times. As each of the paper covers wore out and fell away, the centre portion of the front was pasted into the book. The final cover was made from cutting up a poster for the Vancouver Opera and a Knopff book catalogue. Another friend once criticized it for being "too romantic - too emotional."

During this time I was reading a lot of Milorad Pavic and became fascinated by Derrida's The Post Card. And so the book contains several short lines very much in the style of Pavic:

She is a very delicate woman. The sound of a plate breaking could kill her.

While the derridian influence played out in other ways: I had a short relationship with a woman where I sent her a post card after each time we met. In the years when this book was written you could go into a drug store and purchase a colour photocopy for 49 cents. This was unprecedented. Photocopies were by definition designed to obliterate subtlety and detail thus reducing the world to a washed-out, yet high-contrast version of itself. With the colour photocopy all that changed. The technology has such implications for artists that the Western Front Gallery ran a show with the Xerox machine itself installed in the gallery. The saturated colours entranced us. It was tempting to put everything onto the platen: autumn leaves, fabric, old photographs, younger versions of ourselves.


Here is a page that interests me. On the right, a photocopy of a photograph of Georgian Bay, on the left the text reads:

Poem to the hands of a dead uncle 

Unpack your hands 

Joint by joint unhinge the fingers. The bones of a bamboo kite lacking paper, built of torn string and knots. Your hands are the ribs and skeleton of a crow. 

It is important to realize that, just as there are fields that dogs will not walk through because of scent, because of noise, because of dust; there are some things these hands will never do. They will not spill tar on rooftops or gather salmon. As if it would be easier with a felt-tip pen to darken squares on ariel photographs, or wade through supermarkets. 

If I could help you I would. Tighten or loosen the skin stretched over you palms with a key placed in your wrist. Lengthen your lifeline to improve fortune. But I see from the state of your body it is too late for mechanics. 

Later travelling the bus through Vancouver winter: the branches more like hands here. The long black fingers of a woman extended to catch rain.

Here is a list of books.

Tim McLaughlin

Photographer and writer based in Vancouver, Canada