When I was in university I took this course dedicated to the writing of the early explorers of Canada. It was a great course, and one of the things I learned from it is the difficulty of chronicling unfamiliar terrain. For one thing, the writing has to be precise, clear and reduced to its essentials. Maps, charts, and illustrations, all made at the heat of the moment, become crucial later on, when the reader is trying to form a mental picture of a place they have never been. And yet, exploration writing, the kind of writing that appears in Infiltration, must also have a certain panache, it must be infused with a sense of its own importance, so that the technical descriptions and simple reports create a reserve that, by its very nature, brings the reader into an exegesis of the unknown. In its own modest way, this zine “about going places you’re not supposed to go” encompasses the essential tenets of great exploration writing: It tells us about places we will never go, and, in the telling, explores the myth of our own possibility by allowing us to glory in the communal courage of exploration that belies yet informs our own cowardice. So, while I would never wander through the bowels of Toronto’s prestigious Royal York hotel, chronicling everything from the sub-basement to the lavish Upper Canada Room to the attic and roof (don’t forget the secret stairs on level 24) I certainly enjoy and commend my intrepid peer for doing so. His penetration of the Chum/ CityTV/MuchMusic building was equally impressive and commendable – less interesting only because he had a single night to explore, as opposed to the months he must have spent chronicling every nook of one of Toronto’s grandest, posh hotels. Okay, you really have to get this zine. It is, quite simply, an impressive text, a classic of new Canadian exploration writing, and an awesome reflection of the banality of our urban environment. As a tourist of “non-designated areas”, our explorer is daring. But as the reserved writer who can advise us of the free bar on floor 12 of the Royal York and then shyly admit that he’s never had the courage to sample from it, our man is masterful.
zine #1, 24 pages main creator: Ninjalicious $1 PO Box 66069, Town Centre PO, Pickering ON, L1V 6P7