In a future Montreal, Mademoiselle Manivelle has inherited the archaic title of Inspector of Roads. Under this title, she must see to the harmony of the living beings and surging waters the length of the canal. We find her one fine Sunday, a day of rest that she hoped to spend slipping into the light. She doesn’t yet know that, in the darkness of the sewers, something is being born. A black bulblet is preparing its slow climb from Lachine to the Old Port. Before the day ends, it will seek to meld with the materials in suspension in these storied waters and grow a body. The citizens of the future have given this phenomenon, as scary as a monster in a folk tale, the childish name Gloop, as if this could temper their fear.
A book by Daniel Canty
In complicity with Atelier Mille Mille
and Baptiste Alchourroun
Translated by Käthe Roth
Daniel Canty is a writer, etc. He grew up in Lachine, near the Canal’s oldest mouth. His latest books are L’été opalescent, a speculative novel published as an art book, and Mappemonde, an autofictive essay where he dwells on the suburban origins of universal literature.
“Sundays are days of rest for Inspector Manivelle. There’s nothing she likes better than to spend it strolling, slipping into the light of day. A grilled-cheese sandwich and a glass of milk, and then she takes the long road that will lead her from the heights of the Plateau to the low reaches of Charlhenri, where the river encroaches on the island and twisting winds ripple the water’s surface, distorting the view of the submerged neighbourhoods. The underwater currents are the descendants of the air currents that once whistled through the wide alleys at water level, tousling the faces and reddening the cheeks of the Irish children and other poor Catholics proliferating in this little Boston, a sort of exclusion zone encircled by train tracks, factories, and highways, vibrating to the rumble of the factories, which, at the foot of the city, was prey to the worst surges of the climate and odours of the industrial era.”
Translation: Käthe Roth
“The municipal authorities, alarmed by the debacle in the Arctic, the rising Laurentian waters, and the social housing crisis, undertook a vast project to make the patrimony impermeable to water. Today, at any time of night, citizens walk across the footbridges over the river. They crack open the airlocks and descend the spiral staircases winding over the roofs of the “plexes,” with their hallways and bedrooms enveloped in a sealed maze. Mattresses and bedding, rolled into alcoves, are made available to visitors. Many citizens want to sleep under the water. Every evening, they go down submerged hallways, looking for a free room, a cosy retreat, where they’ll squat in the past, sleeping under the blank gaze of sea basses, perches, and carps aware of neither time nor human sleep. It’s as if the weight of the river shifts the burden of sleep, sending them more effectively to the great depths of dream.
Let’s not idealize the situation. The images under the waters’ reflection are not all happy ones. The Edict of Future Ownership stipulates that prolonged use of public spaces must be justified by operation of their shared function. In other words, to have the right to settle in a place, one must put it to fruitful use.”
Translation : Käthe Roth
“The pavilions of the Cinema of the Waters stand at the site of the second lock. In the basalt of the threshold is inscribed a motto.
Nothing but light and stories.
Que de la lumière et des histoires.
Two asymmetrical volumes, in a mixture of steel, brushed cement, and translucent glass, are projected above the canal in an organically contoured arc. A long passageway connects them to the central block, which separates the two opposing lanes of the lock: blue for what floats toward the ocean, red for that which is turned away. Inspector Manivelle, who is concerned with this type of thing, never fails to think that these very colours indicate whether astronomical objects are moving away (in blue) or approaching (in red) in the lenses of radio-telescopes. These two colours tell us whether the universe continues to expand – yes – or may have begun to contract – no! – to a final point, into which we will all disappear. The canal, like all watercourses, bears within itself a naïve image of time. One might say the same of the art of cinematography, which, still and always, has found a way to survive the announcements of its demise. In fact, the canal’s signage system perfectly matches the programming of the Cinema of the Waters. In the theatre on the left bank are presented films of the last century, in restored silver-bromide copies, whereas the theatre on the right is reserved for images of the present.”
Translation: Käthe Roth
“Seeing as the Canal’s five current locks are numbered westward from one to five, one might be led to believe that the Gloop’s trajectory runs against the grain of time. But its path might better be imagined as a bridge between eras. The Gloop effectively connects the site of the first Canal, in Lachine, home port of the fur trade, to the harbour of the Old Port, original vector of industrial development in Montreal. During the colonial period, furs and hides were sent up the current to be evaluated in the offices of Old Montreal. At the dawn of the industrial era, it was along the banks of this same watery thoroughfare that a string of industrial districts would gradually grow up, later spreading to the West Island. It was the age of canal folly, and currents were everywhere being harnessed to accelerate transportation and produce energy. This era saw the rise and fall of more than six hundred businesses along the Canal, erasing from memory the farmers’ fields and grassy shorelines that had preceded them. From these former hotbeds of activity, opposing movements unfold and superimpose countless layers of temporal possibility, and it is the Gloop that carries them forward. A quantum effect, amplified into visibility, comes into play. Indeed, the factories that bordered the Canal in days of yore have now stood inactive for decades, making way for the immaterial sectors of activity that reign over our contemporary world. Nevertheless, the Gloop continues to absorb the byproducts of these forgotten industries, obstinately boring a tunnel through solid time.”
Translation: Simon Brown