Tag Archives: montreal

Nostalgia in terms of Being and Becoming


(Bad picture of the Coliseum in Rome, “the Eternal City”)

Note: This post is a response to my other post Goodbye Nostalgia

After one month of insouciant summer days in Montreal I came back to Toronto, speeding at 100km/h in the highway by bus to the city I always eventually return to where my feet meet cold hard concrete. Every time I am banished from lofty idylls I feel an incredible nostalgia for days of eternal youth, where the daily rhythms of life set in gently, hinting at the possibility of happiness.

Departure came (speeding at 100km/h in the highway by bus) and exiled from Paradise, I likened memory as being pieces of myself, torn and imprinted externally in cityspaces and friends (people who “demand a greater piece, torn from a deeper place, a slab of vital flesh”). Faced with the eventual loss of memory, I felt “full of holes [feeling] a nostalgia for wholeness.”

What I wanted was to remain eternally in the past, a past outside the tick tocking of time wherein I could exist with fixed, unchanging dimensions. What I wanted was the unchanging state of being, not the dynamic state of becoming.

Nietzsche speaks of this dichotomy in the Gay Science, 370:

“Every art, every philosophy may be viewed as a remedy and an aid in the service of growing and struggling life; they always presuppose suffering and sufferers. But there are two kinds of sufferers: first, those who suffer from the over-fullness of life and then those who suffer from the impoverishment of life … the question whether the desire to fix, to immortalize, the desire for being prompted creation, or the desire for destruction, for change, for future, for becoming.”

While his insights may not have a direct implication to my situation, being a way to analyze romanticism in art, there are parallels that are fruitful and good to think with.

Being and Becoming. By desiring this idyllic past, while disregarding the future, all I did wish was an eternal fixation into these idylls, a product of my imaginations and reimaginations with perhaps no direct basis in reality. All I wanted was to keep dreaming these illusionary reveries repeating ceaselessly, put to a gentle sleep surrounded by white soft beddings and white cotton pillows. Possessed by an unending somnolence, as the boundaries between wake and sleep blur and reality is consumed by twilight, all that would remain is death* a permanent state of Being if there was one.

Life while I am alive is in movement towards Becoming, as the future opens up moment by moment in transformation and destruction before my eyes. While blissful deathly sleep of the past may tempt me in all its romantic sentimentality, standing before an endless blood red poppy field I cannot indulge in its deathly aromas.

As Nietzsche says:

“He that is richest in the fullness of life, the Dionysian god and man, cannot only afford the sight of the terrible and questionable but even the terrible deed and any luxury of destruction, decomposition, and negation. In his case, what is evil, absurd, and ugly seems, as it were, permissible, owing to an an excess of procreating, fertilizing energies that can still turn any desert into lush farmland. Conversely, those who suffer most and are poorest in life would need above all mildness, peacefulness, and goodness in thought as well as deed …”

Narcissus chose to die beautiful and young and in perfection, immortalized in beauty. I would like to explore the future beyond this first innocence with a resounding Yes to life.



*not in the same way I mentioned in the previous post

Short Architectural Comparison of Toronto and Montreal

Toronto is always under construction. The cityspace is in vertical displacement, the tops of skyscrapers reaching higher and higher. Condominiums are always being planned, built and finished in the city, a race to the limitless heavens. With every rise there is a fall. New condominiums dominate an unoccupied space in the open skies for a short time before falling to disgrace, at the knees of a new condominium building that has flown further up into the fresh airs of new skies.

From this new level of height, the horizon stretches out to the point of infinity, and one can gaze all around unobstructed with the eyes of a conqueror. From the old level of height of the defeated, the infinity of the horizons are blocked forever, a constant reminder of impotence. Buildings to not age gracefully in Toronto, age being a reminder of failure. This absurd rise continues ad infinitum, a competition mediated by a morality of quantity.

In Montreal, no structures can rise above Mont-Royal, above the heights of this natural creation that remains a boundary to limitless ambitions. From the tops of Mont-Royal, all have access to the infinity of the horizon, past the skyscrapers of the city, but not with the eyes of a conqueror, not with the lonely joy of one who has vanquished. Instead, one stands as an equal member of the crowd, a crowd mediocre but in communion.

Moving from Toronto to Montreal means a translation into different planes of thought; from verticality to horizontality; from the solitary joy of power to a communitarian acceptance of mediocracy, from a collection of human objects to a collection of human subjects, from a quantitative system of morality to a qualitative system.


Toronto est toujour en construction. Chaque année emporte des condomiums de plus en plus nombreux qui sont de plus en plus hauts, comme s’ils sont tout en concurrence, tout en train d’achever au ciel. Les nouveaux condominiums vieillissent fort vite et deviennent obsolets en raison de leur impotence contre ceux qui sont plus hauts. On ne peut pas voir l’horizon, qui s’étend à l’infini, comme si on regard autour du monde des yeux de conquérant, des fenêtres d’un condominium faible.

À Montréal, Mont-Royal met une limite aux bâtiments et les gratte-ciel, ce qui ne peuvent pas dépasser la hauteur de la montagne. De Mont-Royal, chacun peut voir l’horizon ensemble, mais pas des yeux de conquérant.

Je préfère mieux l’horizontalité en lieu de la verticalité, (d’où on peut sentir l’air frais loin de la foule, comme a dit Nietzsche) mais je peux imaginer la joie qu’on ressent à voir le monde d’une hauteur inaccessible de la foule, le sentiment du potence, une potence si vif qui amène l’homme loin de la lassitude.


Adieu Montreal

(Wrote June 13)

Il y aura bientôt, une mort. Une autre mort de moi- même. Dans une semaine, je vais partir de Montréal, et mon séjour ici finira. On peut dire que ce n’est pas grand-chose, puisque ne suis Torontois, et le voyage de Toronto à Montréal a besoin de peu de temps pour s’y rendre. Cependant il s’agit d’une mort quand même, un adieu éternel à mes expériences, à mes amis, et à toutes les petites et grandes chose auxquelles je m’habituais à Montreal à 24 ans.

La mémoire est quelque chose non-fiable, capricieuse et inconstante. Elle se souvient seulement de ce qui lui plaite, soit c’est des souvenirs heureux soit c’est des souvenirs pénibles. Pourtant même les souvenirs que la mémoire nous raconte ne sont pas fiables. À travers du brouillard d’oubli, ce n’est pas la vérité qui nous affronte, mais un passé difforme qui est toujours en muance. C’est un passé séduisant et infidèle, mais le brouillard s’épaissit et rend le passé introuvable, jusqu’à la disparition complète.

Le présent, si plein, si beau, se glisse doucement en s’éloignant, en se dissipant en morceaux insaisissables, comme le sable fin qui glisse tranquillement des mains.

(Wrote in June 17)

One by one we leave, we vanish, until I remain in a bustling city left only with the reverberations of the past, full of spectres who float around visible only to me. The world outside races on but I am left in the world of my memories, a world disintegrating.

Un adieu, un au revoir. It is a death that awaits the end of these adieus. I wait timidly, uncertain of what to express in the face of an approaching inevitability. What kind of adieu can pay homage to this death?

Every rencontre is a piece of myself left behind. And now the pieces are spread far and wide, a puzzle impossible to fit together and remake whole. I feel within a longing for fullness, a nostalgic cry that goes echoing on unanswered.


Au revoir