• Culpability and sacredness

    Many years ago I worked at a university in Montreal and became friends with an older professor who taught mediaeval philosophy. Before classes began each semester he would give me indecipherable hand-written notes to photocopy and digitize for his students. He became ill and died midway through his lectures on the Scholastics. I was tasked…

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  • Returning to Montreal

    Sometime in the morning dark I awoke to the clanging of a level crossing bell. Out the window of my berth I saw snow falling and heard the pitch of bells decline as the train moved through the black winter.  I had breakfast with an unpleasant Dutch woman in the dining car, and went back…

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  • Mrs. Irish

    Mrs. Irish

    The first time I came to Montreal was midway through my undergraduate degree. A friend of mine from Vancouver was at a university there, and he invited me to live with him. I said yes, and he found a 3 1/2 just across from the old Forum on De Maisonneuve near Atwater. The apartment was…

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  • A ghost in Lijiang

    A ghost in Lijiang

    Late in 1996 I arrived in the village of Lijiang, in the province of Yunnan in western China. Yunnan is famous for its tea, its architecture, and for its mountains that rise up to the Himalayas. I think I came in on Christmas Eve by bus from Szechuan. The bus station was well lit by…

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