From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan by Andy Couturier

From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan" by Andy Couturier

Pages 264-265

“Sooo..” I begin to ask him, a bit apprehensive, not wanting to be insulting, “Gufu-san, why write all this stuff down?”

Unperturbed, he replies simply, “To make a record. If you don’t record things, you start to lose your sense of the place. It’s also interesting when you talk to other people, or when I want to look up something later. But it’s mostly just to make a record, even if I don’t use the information.”

“Yes, but how do you decide which things to write down?”

“Whatever is possible to write down, I write. How much the bus cost. How much the movie was, or how much the hotel was.”

“But why?” I ask.

“I didn’t have any purpose in doing it.”

No purpose? Perhaps I’ve been too attached to all my own actions being done for a reason. Utilitarianism is so deep in my culture I don’t even notice it. Listening to Gufu it occurs to me that it may not be so good to be always reaching ahead in time. Sitting here with my friend in a farmhouse in the mountains of Japan, I find my way of seeing the world start to deepen and change. All these little, unlooked-at details create the fabric of memory. By writing them down, we are refusing to let the experiences of our lives get subsumed in the tsunami of time, the onrush of the next, and the next, and the next. I think of so many travelers (myself included) zipping from one location to the next, taking photos of scenery or a building. Have I been missing the beautiful in the obvious?

Gufu is showing me--not that he’s trying to show me anything--that the whole world can come alive with these tiny details, ephemera, you might call them. But not just a generalized “world,” but a specific world, an India of a particular time, and, as it happens, an India that is disappearing every day.

Monday, October 24, 2016

this is a Canada we never knew of

and we lay our stories down
like stones in the path to nowhere
we say what happened to us
and we are given absolution
for the sins committed against us
and we say that the world is amok
that we have no power
and all we can do is use our words
the leaders are all taken by surprise
and the courtesy of our hires
is a pretence
that is only detected
by contact
we understand the veneer
on the wood of it all
and are dismayed
but what can we do?
we change the tablecloth of government
again and again
at the provincial and federal levels
and yet we are the same
waiting for democracy
to happen

and we lay our stories down
to find out
that there was a Canada
we never knew about
that was hidden from us
we stand aghast
when we find out
that the little children
were betrayed by government
we say their names
and we publish the records
in endless cycles of disbelief
as if we are strangers
to the history
of our own country
what happened here?
where was the rule of law?
and what sort of law allowed
this despicable history?
this is a Canada we never knew of

Watch now: Gord Downie's The Secret Path

In collaboration with Jeff Lemire, the animated film pays tribute to Chanie Wenjack

The Secret Path

Watch The Secret Path film and Road to Reconciliation panel now

On October 22, 1966 near Kenora, Ontario, Chanie Wenjack died when he walking home to the family he was taken from over 400 miles away. Fifty years later, Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie has taken Wenjack's story and turned it into the Secret Path project, which consists of a solo album, a graphic novel and an animated film. The intention for Downie — went public with his diagnosis of terminal brain cancer in May — is to utilize his celebrity to draw attention to Wenjack's story and the legacy of residential schools.

Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada's history – the long-suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system – with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation," the project's website states.
Downie's music and award-winning cartoonist Jeff Lemire's illustrations also came together in an animated film that was broadcast by CBC in an hour-long commercial-free television special this past Sunday — you can still stream it here on CBC Arts.
How can Chanie Wenjack's story make a difference? Immediately following The Secret Path broadcast, CBC live-streamed The Road to Reconciliation, a special one-hour panel conversation with CBC's Jesse Wente, filmmaker Tasha Hubbard, and National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation director Ry Moran, live from CBC's Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. In an engaging discussion, these Indigenous leaders will reflect on how art can help us face the past and work together to change Canada's future. The panel can be streamed in Canada and worldwide at
Read more about Secret Path here.

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