Date: July 14th, 2004


Location: a staircase from Lamey’s Mill road to the Sea Wall, False Creek South; Vancouver, BC


Duration: 6 hours


Text:  Daybreak by Friedrich Nietzsche


Pages:  excerpts #109, 113, 114, and 149 (click here for the texts )


Lines: 223

more images


   It was either the old man or the gardener… or perhaps it was another… It does not matter who it was since it is always the same person, always one who is near death and joyless, always a life thoroughly unlived that decides it will act in the interest of the greater good and sweep away words that it has never bothered to read, efforts that it must always fail to recognize. 

   Such artworks as Daybreak are public in every sense. They are not monuments but tenuous, ephemeral offerings. It is understood and expected, not only by me but by the majority of people who encounter such work that nature will erase everything… in its own way and in its own time.  All the same, such artworks must appear as an unbearable outbreak of beauty, or at least freedom, for the joyless, for the hate-filled, for those who mistake adopted opinion for thought and who must ceaselessly demonstrate such self-awareness, confusing such activity with living.

   I should not allow the single destroyer to affect me… there were so many others, thoughtful ones, even thankful ones. But such is the problem with destruction… it is boundless and it is constantly spilling over its frail human containers, seeping into everything.

   I can see the negator, with his broom faced with what must have been a paradigmatic case of all that is wrong. It had to be removed. Yet, in attempting to erase the words he was betraying a profound encounter with literature… the most profound possible. He was penetrated, compromised, colonized, by literature. As such he became literally possessed. I can see him wild-eyed, in the midst of words that are not his but that have overtaken him, opened him. I see him with his broom, sweeping away  ‘one can deliberately give oneself over to the wild and unrestrained gratification of a drive in order to generate disgust with it’. I see him madly attempting to remove ‘this final tragedy of the drive for distinction’. And I can hear his broom erasing ‘for once be your own accuser and executioner’. And at last I can hear him exhale, exhausted and empty, content with his discontent, brushing away the last traces of ‘little deviant acts are worth more’.

 - M. S.




One day later (swept clean by hateful hands)


You look up when you wish to be exalted;

and I look down, because I am exalted.


all photographs by MS

special thanks to Joel Snowden who videotaped the performance

and to Kedrick James for phenomenological aid



Poetry is Disaster