Other Words

Tod spent some time as a freelance writer, both in Europe and in Toronto. It wasn’t a career he pursued for long, but he was a good writer. I remember when we were kids, he received a Canada Council grant to buy an IBM Selectric typewriter–a machine that in those days was state-of-the-art. It had the little ball that rotated as you typed. It was a pretty big deal at the time.

Much of this site is taken up with the text from his book, loitering. This section provides samples of some of his other writing, including a book he wrote and published in an edition of seventeen copies titled Behold, a closer look at what we see and do not see by dreamlight.

A Salutary Message

Years ago I spent a leisurely afternoon at the opening of a small art gallery on Powell Street in Vancouver. It was operated by my friend Roy Kiyooka. He exhibited his own paintings as well as those of other local artists. Roy and I had been friends since art school days in Calgary.

I knew most of the people who drifted in to look at the work and I spent the afternoon talking to them. By a providential chance I found a little table and a chair placed along one wall, and on this table someone had blessedly left half a bottle of scotch and a glass. So I talked to people and sipped and talked and sipped and talked — it was that kind of a day.

At the end of the afternoon I got up to go and found myself, to my astonishment, deeply drunk. I couldn’t drive home because I would have killed someone. So I walked. And it was not so much walking as tacking carefully from one edge of the sidewalk to the other — you have seen drunks in this pitiable state. And as I walked I lacerated myself: “How could you let yourself get yourself into such a state? Look at you! clutching at lamp posts to keep from falling! This is so humiliating. How could you!”

But at this point, I came to my senses:

“Come on! What makes you so goddamned special that you can’t get sozzled like any other sap?”

And that was the final lesson for today.

The fading of the world . . .

I stood in an orchard or a wood, drenched in anguish. The trees were hung with yellow catkins from which an amber pollen drifted down, thick and slow, a vertical blizzard. Turning to look at it backlit by the sun, I saw that the flakes were thinner and whiter, a dance of Brownian movement. I saw all this, I saw the movement, the intricate structure of the falling grains, but I remembered how much more intensely I had seen this same phenomenon when I was a child. At the time the pollen—and by extension all phenomena—had been tumescent, as you might say, with its own existentiality. I tried to understand what we gain as compensation for such a loss. I could not make out.

from Behold, a closer look at what we see and do not see by dreamlight
published May 1991 in a limited edition of seventeen copies