The Worthwhile Flux, a new collection of texts by Montreal performance artist Corey Frost, takes us well beyond the city limits. Travel is a recurring theme, supported by the author’s photography. Images of trains, highways, and airplanes amplify the reader’s sense of embarking on a voyage, a trip on which one can almost hear the wheels of “progress” turning as Frost confronts some of the absurdities of globalization. In “It’s Bits World,” tourists find that no matter where they go, “the souvenirs [have] been made somewhere else.” And in “Summer Plum (Winter Version),” Frost addresses the theme of transgenic foods with dark humour. Describing a plum “that is nearly as big as my fist and as purple as heck,” he adeptly evokes the ludicrous consequences of our technological “advancement.” Here the seemingly innocent act of eating a piece of fruit is fraught. “Is eating this piece of fruit morally comparable to eating another piece of fruit?” asks the narrator. “And what about… plastics? Should I use the hot-air dryer or the paper towels?” Frost compares the Franken-fruit to the human heart with frightening effect. “Plump plum,” he repeats, imitating a heartbeat, giving the impression that we are mutating at the very core of our beings.
Frost’s words lend themselves well to the page. His “stories” defy convention, inviting the reader to ponder multiple interpretations. “Sometimes, people will think someone is naïve or deluded,” he writes in “A few Advanced Yo-yo tricks,” his opening piece, “when really that person is simply nurturing a healthy love of contradiction.”
Indeed, the author’s strange juxtapositions jar and provoke, cracking open the reader’s mind. Reading Frost is a bit like stepping through the looking glass. His propensity to randomly switch points of view within a story has a distinctly destabilizing effect, as does his tendency to tease us with open-ended plot lines. “Ten miles out of the city, they saw the most amazing sight they had ever seen,” he writes in “It’s Bits World,” and then jumps to another topic, leaving it up to the reader to fill in the blanks. This is where the line between writer and reader blurs, and the reader is bumped out of a state of complacency, into the role of co-creator. Reading becomes an interactive process, a state of flux, in which you are no longer permitted to consume meanings passively. “Everyone is conditioned to expect meanings,” writes Frost wryly, “even though everyone knows they’re worthless because there are already too many on the market.” mRb