As Montreal falls down around its residents' heads, there is comfort knowing it is safe to drop your pants and bicycle through downtown at midnight.
Motorists forced to use the Ville Marie tunnel for their commute when it re-opened Monday told media tales of terror at the prospect of another massive beam collapsing on their cars.
Bridges are considered unsafe at any speed. Overpasses mimic asteroids, tossing great chunks of debris from above: "Look out! It's coming right at us!"
But insouciance, which only sounds like a French word for idiocy, rolls on. Late Saturday night, it cruised through the heart of Montreal wearing nothing but a superior smile.
While I was safely tucked in my bed far away at the time (my staunch belief is nothing good can ever come of being awake after 10 p.m.), press reports advise that 40 to 50 naked souls rode the streets en masse to make the point that. . . well. . . no one's quite sure. Perhaps their only point was to show they had something to point.
Like everything these days, the nude wheel about was organized entirely on Facebook. There is no word whether organizers recognized this as a golden gift of paradox.
Naturally, police passively stood by as public order was violated. What were they to do? Uphold the law? Arrest someone for brandishing a club in public? Not in Montreal, where failure to look the other way is deemed a dereliction of the duty to be insufferably culturally superior.
Curiously, the one yelp of agitation following the event was on a blog called anarchist dot org. Its auteur managed simultaneously to participate and slag other participants for their bourgeois blindness. The work is worth quoting in full:
In business casual or a bikini, clothing covers not only our bodies, but also our selves; it imposes certain stories, cultural expectations, labels, etc. upon us. Every t-shirt has, woven into it, relationships of production and consumption, relationships of power, flows of information and materials. Every garment (and every commodity) is a thread in the most constricting of uniforms, imposed at gunpoint and at shopping centres: CIVILIZATION. Whether we are naked or in parkas, our bodies remain trapped within the system that issues judgement according to clothing, skin colour, or desire. Whether we are on bikes or in Hummers, the police will enforce the rules of the road: keep to the right, don't torch department stores. As long as the logic of the commodity rules, the power of the well-dressed man in the limousine won't be threatened by the naked queer on the tallbike.
We take off our clothing to celebrate the beauty and diversity of our bodies, but what of the bodies we can't see, locked away in cells, or consigned to stitch American Apparel under fluorescent lights in "not sweatshops"? When will we see the bodies that are actually forbidden? Will we even see each other outside of this carefully controlled space with its set time, its predetermined route, its police escorts?
To begin answering these questions, we have to call into question the entire existing order. We have to stript (sic) away not just the layers that hide our bodies, but the entire apparatus of domination that ensures we'll put our pants back on and go back to work in the morning.
NO PANTS, NO MASTERS means WE MUST DESTROY CIVILIZATI0N.
It would be fish in a barrel to dismiss this as the sophomoric mouth breathing of a political imbecile. Yet there is a savage genius, and eerie prescience given what's happening in England, in the phrase "keep to the right, don't torch department stores." Likewise, in the sentence "imposed at gunpoint or at shopping centres." Or in the maxim "no pants, no masters."
Our anarchist's analysis ingeniously dispenses with civilized distinctions between differences of degree and differences of kind. All things are all things. And all things – pants, bridges—fall down.
Look out. It's coming right at us.