Deactivated West 100 is Don McKay’s latest set of variations on a poetics of place. Armed with lunch and relevant reading material, McKay invites us to join him on Vancouver Island for a series of explorations that depend on first losing our way. In the spirit of Vis à Vis (Gaspereau Press, 2001), McKay embarks on a project to locate a human understanding of place in the mDeactivated West 100 is Don McKay’s latest set of variations on a poetics of place. Armed with lunch and relevant reading material, McKay invites us to join him on Vancouver Island for a series of explorations that depend on first losing our way. In the spirit of Vis à Vis (Gaspereau Press, 2001), McKay embarks on a project to locate a human understanding of place in the midst of wilderness and in the scheme of infinite time. In six movements of prose and poetry, questions are clarified and answers begun. Home is a series of habits, McKay suggests, as he recounts a personal tradition that involves selecting a stone from a local beach, familiarizing himself with it over the years, and then returning it from his pocket to the same beach and selecting a new one. Picking up the discussion of place and wilderness that began in Vis à Vis, McKay launches it in a new direction, headlong into the geologic/geopoetic time scale where crystals, magma, terranes and Xenophanes affirm an understanding of how we inhabit space and time. At the centre of the collection is a series of poems dedicated to the Shay locomotive, which powered Vancouver Island’s logging industry in the 1920s. Here the natural and the built coexist, mental and geographical locations intersect, and wilderness and creativity border. These poems are followed by a set of journeys made for the purpose of losing the way and a treatise on natural clearings. On the ground, McKay is both precise and imaginative, pursuing the specific interstices where abstractions leak into the forest, and walks follow creeks into wilder, less habitable areas of thought. “The background for Deactivated West 100 is a particular fault line on southern Vancouver Island known as the Loss Creek-Leech River fault,” says McKay. “It is very eloquent because it is marked on the surface by a deep canyon – at least at its western end, in which Loss Creek, the Leech River and a couple of reservoirs lie. I decided, as part of my apprenticeship to west coast landscapes, to walk the fault line from end to end and take note of whatever it presented to me in terms of rocks, plants, animals, birds (of course) and human history. A lot of that walking was done on the old deactivated bush road which follows Loss Creek and gives the book its title. Since the area has been very aggressively logged, this also led me into the history and politics of forestry hereabouts – including technological advances like the Shay locomotive and the Stihl chainsaw, both of whom make appearances in the book.” Deactivated West 100 proceeds with the same mix of humour, humility and determined authenticity that have characterized McKay’s previous works. At a pace that falls somewhere between stroll and clamber, McKay introduces a potent set of ideas with which to situate ourselves in the woods. This book is a smyth-sewn paperback bound in card stock with a letterpress-printed jacket. The text was typeset by Andrew Steeves in Electra and printed offset on laid paper....
|Title||:||Deactivated West 100|
|Number of Pages||:||112 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Deactivated West 100 Reviews
Don McKay's collection of creative essays begins with a question about the exchange between humans and their places. "Place" is where humans pour out their stories and histories, yes, but it is also the place where land gets inside us. We know what the land is to us, but what are we to the land? asks McKay of the reader. What happens when we consider place from the other side of things: the land itself. The remainder of the essays are an attempt to answer this question.But the question can't be answered so straightforwardly, and so the remainder of the book becomes a creative exploration of place, and not traditional essays. Like the clearing in the woods that McKay finds later in the book, the answer can't be approached directly; instead, it's necessary to be lost first: in this case, we need to lose our usual methods of approaching a philosophical question. The suggestion, I think, is that there are ways of knowing that our rationality (so used to being in the leading role) can't grasp. Because, of course, the answer our rational minds would give is that land is empty, neutral, nothing but resource for human ends. We'll need some different approaches if we are to explore McKay's question honestly.Anyone who's read McKay before will be familiar with some of the themes that get explored here, including the interaction between human language and a wilderness that cannot be truly named by that language. What results is a reverence for the world that is so much greater than the small part we play on it. When we recognize this allegiance that we owe the land, it keeps our ideas of power and entitlement in check.This is one of my favourite collections from Don McKay. It's philosophically challenging, yet accessible; and he makes me laugh a lot in this book. It also makes a good companion with his book of poetry "Strike/Slip", which has a similar focus.
Anything McKay touches turns to gold. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in poetry, nature writing, philosophy, and/or lit. theory.