Letter 12

Plain text version of this blog post appears below the photographic version.letter1

letter2letter3letter4letter5letter6letter7letter8letter9letter10letter11letter12letter13letter14Dear Alanna,

It’s interesting that you began your art therapy course with the self-box project. Last year, I bought a book of art therapy exercises, and that project – make a box to represent your inner and outer self – was the first exercise in the book.

My attempt at the exercise ended up being the expression of a single idea, rather than a complex collection of elements. I constructed a wooden box with mirrors covering four of the inside walls. One of the other walls was made of paper, and the sixth wall was made of sticky-tape. One of the wooden walls had a circle cut into the middle of it. You can create various shadow and refraction effects by turning the box so that its different walls are in a different relationship to the external light source. You can also breathe through the hole to fog up the mirrors, or look through it at different angles to make different parts of the environment appear on the interior. The images on the mirrors are dependent upon the box’s surroundings, but the form of the box – its shape, its materials and their placement within the whole, etc. – is just as important in determining those internal reflections.

I suppose I was fixated on the inconsistency of my sense of being – I felt in thrall to my surroundings, but at the same time free from them. My inner world felt fragile and unstable, but at the same time, my body felt tangibly and unequivocally present.

I didn’t get any farther with that book – perhaps I should go back and try the next exercise, or try the same one over again. I think this time I’d probably make more than one box – I would metaphorise the inconsistency of my sense of being not as images flickering on an interior screen, but as many different screens/interiors.

^^^^^

There are a lot of apparently ordinary social tasks that still don’t come to me intuitively. If it were up to me, nobody would care whether or not I looked them in the eye, and nobody would mind if I took half an hour to hear, consider and respond to a simple question. Alas, the construction of society is mostly not my decision, so I’ve spent a lot of my life doing the imaginative work of remembering others’ worlds. By inwardly performing the worlds of others, I can figure out how to respond to them.

As a younger person, this was necessary for my survival – “poor social skills” are typically frowned upon and pathologised, especially in children and young adults. It’s still a useful practice, even though I’m now less inclined to just go along with what is expected of me.

What began as the work of interpersonal survival has gradually morphed into a wider creative interest. The project of mine you mentioned, itsadamjones.tumblr.com, is an example of this. When Adam decided to spend a couple of weeks back in Melbourne, I decided to treat what might otherwise be a lonely and difficult period into an opportunity for creative investigation. I wrote a flowchart which outlined my general ways of perceiving and interacting with the world, and I asked Adam to do the same. He took my flowchart back to Melbourne, and I kept his here. I used his flowchart to help me pretend I was seeing the world through his eyes, and he did the same with my flowchart. Adam tried to retell “my” experiences in Melbourne to me so that I could “really” be there, and vice versa. Thus, we could imagine that we were both in two places at once.

The aim was not only to experiment with internal performances of being, but also to insert a survival tactic – a way of keeping myself focused and connected during a disruption to my ordinary existence – into a framework of production, outcomes, accountability, etc. By making the blog, I turned something I was going to do anyway into “productivity.”

I have neglected the blog lately – Adam’s back here in the US now, so I have less incentive to continue with it – but I imagine I’ll draw on it at some point, for some future activity.

As you know, I’ve had a long-term interest in finding creative means for subverting our society’s current ideas about work and productivity. That’s why, for the last 5 months or so, I’ve been decorating all my emails before I send them. I make drawings, collages, or photographs onto which I can write or paste the text of the email. I then attach the finished image as a jpeg to the ordinary plain text version.

I have a lot less time for making other artwork now that I’ve started doing this – nearly everything I make ends up being funnelled into the process of email production. It has also become much easier for me to tell when I really don’t want to talk to someone – the extra work involved in making the email makes it very obvious when I’m writing to someone because I really want to connect with them, and when I’m only doing it out of a feeling of obligation.

Although I have less time available for other activities, I also feel like I have a lot more space when I work this way. Emails are no longer a social or occupational chore, abstracted from the work I’d prefer to be doing. They’re part of a ritual of creative production; likewise, the ritual of creative production is now part of the ritual of mundane, day-to-day necessity. It’s an odd sense of freedom that comes from collapsing my life towards a single point.

This isn’t an email, but it is a letter that is available via the internet, so as such I have illustrated it just as I would have had I sent it to your email address. This means I need to stop writing soon, otherwise it will be too long, and too tiring to art-ify.

I would love to hear more about your art therapy exploits.

Best,

Kit.

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Letter 11.

Dear Katherine,

There’s a temptation in life when one is confronted with an event that is ego shattering (cracking, hurting or smudging) to transmute that smudge to all the other parts of your life and thus be blind to all that is valuable around you, to be ungrateful when there remains much of light and colour in your world. This human difficulty or even inability to see the world with computer eyes, that is only what is there and not what is projected, is I think, one of our more interesting qualities and well obviously creates this whole subjective vs objective situation. This is a dichotomy I find endlessly interesting, especially when considering how to make sense of oneself  both as an individual and within the field of human interrelations, where what you’re dealing with is a whole constellation of subjectivity not just your own modestly burning star. Alternately when confronted with painful feelings you could take the approach of attempting to amputate them from yourself because they hurt so and you think that if you could only cut them off or out of you, you would be rid of them. Unfortunately in my experience there isn’t a simple method of amputation available and if you take this strategy all you end up doing is denying your own experience whilst it remains smouldering beneath the rug you hid it under.

Jung describes in his memoir ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections,’ that when he was growing up he came to conceive of two different him-selves. No. 1 had dealings with the outside world and thus held all his flaws, pettiness and fear. And No.2 was the him he experienced when alone or in nature and contained his feelings of vastness and peace. No.2 was also assured in his own innate ‘rightness’. Jung writes something to the effect that ‘No.2 knew he was worthy of himself’. I was impressed how Jung at a young age had conceived so clearly these two aspects of himself, not only conceived them as distinct different identities but had even visualised them (No.2 was a man from the 15th century wearing a frock coat). No.2 was echoed in the second personality he felt emanating from his Mother. He describes it in this (I think rather lovely) passage about her;

…She was somehow rooted in deep, invisible ground, though it never appeared to me as confidence in her Christian faith. For me it was somehow connected with animals, trees, mountains, meadows and running water, all of which contrasted so strangely with her Christian surface and her conventional assertions of faith. This background corresponded so well to my own attitude that it caused me no uneasiness; on the contrary, it gave me a sense of security and the conviction that here was solid ground on which one could stand.

As you know I started studying art therapy this year. One of our first assignments was to make a box that represented our inner and outer self that we would later present to class. A box being anything really that inferred an inside and an outside. Seeing as I have a strong introspective bent and a tendency to over-share my first thought was,

‘Wonderful, I could do this assignment in my sleep!’

‘I’ve been practising for this assignment my whole life! 

My bravado did not prepare me for how difficult I actually found it. Imagine sitting down at your studio desk and asking yourself:

Hmmm what out of this general creative detritus (paint, glitter, glue, scraps of paper) in my studio most represents me?

But what is ‘me’ anyway?

There are all the things I think about myself, are they true? I’ll probably embarrass myself with mis-interpretation.

What about those things that I do know about myself but do not want to share with a group of 30 near strangers?

And so on…Making this box made me a great deal more agitated than I had expected and it opened up a whole new box of emotional worms so to speak, which just lead me to start drinking some cans of gin and tonic that I found in the studio fridge. This was an attempt to de-wire the over thinking part of my brain that was paralysing my attempted creativity. After relating this story to a friend of mine she joked that I should’ve brought the can of G&T into class and told people that the slightly crushed can was my outer self and the half drunk luke-warm gin was my inner self…  So like many things in my life the process was plagued with self doubt and like many things in life ended up just fine.

To represent my outer self I made this sculpture out of rocks and tape and twine.  This is my awkward yet cheerful outer self that is imperfect, yet taped together and carrying on.

Outer Self

Look she’s smiling, it’s not so bad! She seems to say…

To express something of my inner self I went through the many journals I’ve kept religiously over the last 10 or so years. Language is how I express difficult, painful, intense feelings that cannot be simply struck out of me, as-well as the most memorable significant experiences of my life, so it seemed fitting to include language in the piece. I placed words from my journals in fortune cookies as a small offering to others.This was nice, because upon reflection later I realised that this interactive gesture  showed how at this point in my life I have a strong drive to give/ take/ be and play with others. This came as a surprise for me , I was no longer the lonely thinker in isolation, I was taking that experience and using it to reach out to others. During the presentation I also unfolded the cardboard box I’d carried the objects in so that it was a flat plane. I then used it as a drawing surface and drew a diagram outlining five distinctive emotions that have formed the foundations of my felt experience.

  • Anger, also related to  desire – a positive clear space. (red)
  • Oceanic transcendent space, calm and blue (sometimes experienced and sometimes merely aspirational) this space is coupled with a gold shimmer.
  • The physiological layering of experience (from all those days and years and moments lived) which I visualised as brown layers as though part of the earth. Myself as simply organic matter, a being living in a body-form which is my tool to experience the world
  • A conflicted grey scratchy place with no satisfaction related to doubt, confusion and the mundane (those days when you can’t sit comfortably in a comfy chair.)
  • A deep, dark sad place that looks like a blackish, purplish bruise or the blue grey of storm clouds. This is a melancholic, sensual space that I have often in the past dwelled because there is much creativity and feeling to be found there. This space is clear like the red space because you are full with the feeling of it and there is no confusion.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I find it helpful to envision the self as a contingent combination of temperature, textures and colours, flashing and humming in and out of each other. Carl Rogers one of the founders of the humanist psychology movement through his work came to understand that the ultimate goal of therapy was not to create a static and content state in a person. Rather the goal is to facilitate within the person a closer relationship with the flux of emotion that travels throughout oneself on a daily basis. I reproduce a long passage from him here because reading it helps me feel optimistic and excited about the human condition instead of fearful and concerned. Please excuse the use of the pronoun ‘He’, which personally makes me flinch, but you know this was written in 1961.

Through therapy…

He ceases, or at least decreases, the distortions of experience in awareness. he can be aware of what he is actually experiencing, not simply what he can permit himself to experience after a thorough screening through a conceptual filter. In this sense the person becomes for the first time the full potential of the human organism, with the enriching element of awareness freely added to the basic aspect of sensory and visceral reaction. The person comes to be what he is, as clients so frequently say in therapy. What this seems to mean is that the individual comes to be – in awareness – what he is – in experience. He is, in other words, a complete and fully functioning human organism…..

So the basic discovery of psychotherapy seems to me…that we do not need to be afraid of being “merely” homo sapiens. It is the discovery that if we can add to the sensory and visceral experiencing which is characteristic of the whole animal kingdom, the gift of a free and undistorted awareness…we have an organism which is beautifully and constructively realistic. We have then an organism which is as aware of the demands of the cultures it is of its own physiological demands for food or sex – which is just as aware of its desire for friendly relationships as it is to aggrandise itself – which is just as aware of its delicate and sensitive tenderness towards others, as it is of its hostilities toward others. When man’s unique capacity of awareness is thus functioning freely and fully, we find that we have, not an animal whom we must fear, not a beast who must be controlled, but an organism able to achieve, through remarkable integrative capacity of its central nervous system, a balanced realistic, self-enhancing, other-enhancing behaviour as a resultant of all these elements of awareness. To put it another way, when man is less than fully man – when he denies to awareness various aspects of his experience – then indeed we have all too often reason to fear him and his behaviour…But when he is most fully man, when he is his complete organism, when awareness of experience, that peculiarly human attribute, is most fully operating, then he is to be trusted, then his behaviour is constructive, it is not always conventional. It will not always be conforming. It will be individualised. But it will also be socialized.

I just finished reading Roger’s book “On Becoming a Person” and I’ve been telling friends that I really enjoy the prospect of becoming a person one day. Maybe this art therapy will assist me in becoming more person-like then I was before.

I’ve been enjoying your new internet-art-escapade itsadamjones.tumblr.com. It’s so sentimental and strange, both things that I enjoy. Perhaps you and not me can elaborate on it your next letter.

Best,

Alanna

Letter 8

Dear Alanna,

I’m not sure where to begin.

I remember studying that Sylvia Plath poem when I was in high school. I identified, at that time, with the lines you quoted:

I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty

I’m reading a book called The Secret Life of Pronouns, which is about how the way we use function words (pronouns, prepositions, etc.) can reveal aspects of our psychology, like how we’re feeling, how much social status we have, and what kind of personality we have. This information is accessible only via computer analysis – no human can count and analyse that many words.

The author writes about one study he conducted in which he analysed the collected works of 18 poets, 9 of whom died by suicide and 9 of whom did not. He found that the subject matter was no different between the two groups – the difference was in the use of pronouns. The poets who died by their own hands, like Plath, used “I” much more than the other group, particularly in poems about more difficult or emotional subjects. Previous studies have shown that when we feel sad or depressed, we tend to use more self-reflexive language – we use the “I” pronoun more – because sadness and depression tend to accompany an inward-looking perspective. The author suggests that the suicidal poets were identifying more closely with their emotions than the non-suicidal poets, whose writing seemed to come from a more distant standpoint.

It doesn’t follow that identification with painful emotions necessarily leads to depression and suicide, but it is still one of the perils of inwardness. I think, in general, we are more afraid of the dangerous within than the dangerous without. Cave diving is ok – a sign of virility, possibly of foolhardiness though not of sickness; self-diving is a problem – a sign of weakness, sometimes without enough agency to even be foolhardy. A perilous identification with the self is not something that can easily be left alone – but I suspect that not leaving it alone is the main contributor to the peril. I think that is the main difference between the two poems you quoted:

I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free

and

Free of who I was, free of presence, free of dangerous fear, hope,
free of mountainous wanting.

I think wanting to be free is probably part of the “mountainous wanting.”

Psychiatric hospitals don’t actually provide one with the opportunity to lie with hands turned up and be utterly empty, as I know to my cost and dismay. Such activity is usually interpreted as a behavioural problem of some kind. Even in “mental” health, the health of the mind is measured according the “appropriateness” of one’s physical and social interactions. Maybe the issue is the need to measure in the first place, rather than its method.

I didn’t know where to begin this letter because I wanted to respond to everything you wrote, but also to do so in a coherent, linear way. I also wanted to not do those things. Although writing can be a difficult exercise, it’s difficult not to be coherent and linear with writing – if you paint something that doesn’t mean anything to anybody, it’s still comprehensible as a thing that exists, but if you type some incoherent gibberish and put it on the internet, it’s not writing, not anything – it just looks like a glitch, only significant to the person who repairs the program.

There was a French theorist, Dominque Laporte, who took issue with linguistic cleanliness. His book, History of Shit, begins by linking efforts to tidy up language and discourse with the evolution of public health and waste management policies. The article you mentioned, We are all Very Anxious, seems to relate well to Laporte’s discussion of 16th century Parisian waste management – “To each his shit.” The edicts of 16th century Paris were about as effective in making people contain their physical shit as contemporary social convention is at making people keep private their psychological shit. Also, Paris at the time had no sewer system to speak of, so ownership of shit was an inconvenient responsibility.

 

Non-productivity takes quite a lot of effort if it’s going to be workable. There’s a book called You Are Here by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, where he talks about loving and accepting all of your mind. He uses the analogy of gardening – a beautiful flower needs compost to grow, and it will become compost itself in the end. All the garbage is just as useful as the produce, but only if you use it – throwing it away won’t do you any good, not least because there isn’t really any “away” to which you can throw things, as we are learning to our cost.

I’m at a point where I’ve lost interest in growing the flowers. I feel like there are too many flowers, and not enough empty places, left fallow and enriched by compost in the knowledge that something will be grown there one day, but that the growing isn’t the whole point of having the field. This is a difficult thought to express in a way that doesn’t seem irresponsible or pathological, that doesn’t provoke attempts to “reassure me” that “I’m wrong.” Such patterns of response are part of the reason I developed such convictions in the first place.

You know what I like about snails? I like that they don’t tick any of the boxes:

1. They’re not cute
2. They’re not cuddly
3. They won’t be your friend
4. They don’t have a recognizable face
5. They don’t have a voice
6. They steal your lettuces before you have a chance to get at them
7. They are mostly unhelpful to humans
8. They leave a residue everywhere they go and they don’t tidy up after themselves
9. When they get together, they slime all over each other in day-long love-fests where nobody conforms to gender norms because they’re all hermaphrodites and therefore indivisible along gender lines
10. Even if you could get rid of them, you’d do so at your own peril, because their undesirability to humans does nothing to diminish their vital role in the world as a whole

I like snails because they are a reminder that even if I find something unpleasant, or inconvenient, or useless, that does nothing to diminish the worth and rights of that thing. It doesn’t matter how strongly I believe it’s about me.

I like snails because they are a reminder that I don’t necessarily need to be pleasant, or convenient, or useful, not even to myself. It doesn’t matter how strongly I, or anybody else, believes we’re in a position to judge.

This is not a territory, and it requires no defense.

The idea that this is not a territory is also not a territory, but apparently I still feel the need to delineate it somehow. One can’t have everything, I suppose.

I keep trying to conclude this letter, but I can’t. I can only come to a stop. Here is a film about a system:

-K

Letter 5

Dear Katherine,

To quote you: ‘systems and dependable harvest were not our original goals’.

Last week at my yoga class the teacher was talking about the time it takes for something to be achieved or just to happen, a process you have to be patient with. She was using the analogy of pregnancy, standing there as she was with her protruding belly and saying that however impatient she may be to meet her child there were steps her body had to take before she could. Although the foundations of the spine are lain in week 4, the body takes much longer to build it’s little bricks.

The analogy made me think of how frustrated I get with my perceived slowness of my achievements, projects etc.  Although we agreed to write this bog every week I kept on putting off writing this letter, like I was not ready for it and perhaps my mind was building blocks quietly in preparation (or was I just giving into to my semi-permanent internal feeling of un-readiness?)

I – suppose – I – mean – When are you getting things done? When are you rushing the process? When is your seeming unproductiveness generating seedlings beneath your feet?

I’m not sure if this is what you are thinking about in terms of pointlessness and failure. Your description of the word ‘delirious’ makes failure sound more like exploration, adventure.

I really enjoyed the article you mentioned “Against the Rage Machine” . The bit when the writer said after his analysis of the way facebook makes everyone into erratic rage machines;

“We assert our right to not care about stuff, to not say anything, to opt out of debate over things that are silly and also things that are serious—because why pretend to have a strong opinion when we do not? Why are we being asked to participate in some imaginary game of Risk where we have to take a side? We welcome the re-emergence of politics in the wake of the financial crash, the restoration of sincerity as a legitimate adult posture. But already we see this new political sincerity morphing into a set of consumer values, up for easy exploitation.”

I like the idea of having freedom not to care, not to engage, because indecision and indifference (is there another word for indifference that I could use here that doesn’t suggest negligence?)  are as much a part of life as passionate direction. The article reminded me of another one called ‘Slack Time’ (just me linking words to words) about Moyra Davey in Afterall, Markus Verhagen writes about photographs she took of her unkempt home;

“Her images have no use for the immediacy of the photograph, its hold on a ‘slice of time’. In her work, nothing happens. The moment is always already over: the coffee cups are empty, the dust has already settled. The precise interruptive operation of the news photograph or snapshot gives way, in her work, to a slacker time — to a time without tension or striving.”

I think the romance of this article for me rests on this phrase “a time without tension or striving”. I feel little fists of anxiety release their hold  when I read those words, it makes me think of useful afternoons gazing out windows and the fortunate breaks in busy days such as the mindless chewing of lunch sandwiches. The article goes on to describe the presence of dust in the images, relating it to the descriptions of dust in Sebald’s ‘The Emigrants’

“Here, too, dust is a crucial metaphor. In his account of the life and ancestry
of a painter who settled in Manchester, Sebald describes the artist’s constant 
painting and scraping, drawing and erasing, and the dust and grime that carpeted his studio

…the floor was covered with a largely hardened and encrusted deposit of droppings, mixed with coal dust […] This, said Ferber, was the true product of his continuing endeavours and the most palpable proof of his failure. It had always been of the greatest importance to him, Ferber once remarked casually, that nothing should change at his place of work, that everything should remain as it was, as he had arranged it, and that nothing further should be added but the debris generated by painting and the dust that continually fell and which, as he was coming to realise, he loved more than anything else in the world. He felt closer to dust, he said, than to light, air or water. There was nothing he found so unbearable as a well dusted house…”

This passage seduces me to the appeal of a life ineffectually lived, where all you’re left with is a house full of dust. In a BBC doco made about Quentin Crisp, the interviewer remarks;

“Your house is all a bit dusty Quentin.”

and Quentin replies;

“It’s true, unkind friends say that I have the dust sent in from Fortnum and Mason’s, but that’s not true I merely don’t clean the place. And I have a message of hope to offer to the house wives of England, it’s this: don’t lose your nerve because after the first 4 years the dirt won’t get any worse.”

Perhaps I’m not brave enough to be a dust gatherer, because I’m not really like that at all, I’m more a machine of awkward, disorganised production. Such as turning innocent letter writing between friends into a weekly blog/bog exchange.

bogs

Meanwhile, the internet describes a bog as

“An area of wet, muddy ground that is too soft to support a heavy body.”

The bog is clearly one of nature’s many metaphors. It reminds me of something I read in a self-help book  The Happiness Project “It’s easy to be heavy, hard to be light.” and also that I once had a boyfriend that told me that I was too SERIOUS, and another who told me that I was too cheerful. I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to deduce from those conflicting observations. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on failure, and also more of your thoughts in general.

Best,

Alanna

Letter 3

Hi Katherine,

Thanks for your prompt reply. I had an idea for the title of our blog “Serious Talks” – I remembered you suggested a while back that we meet for “serious talks” and I found the phrase amusing. Do you think it would be funny? Or too ironic & self deprecating? Maybe if we wrote SERIOUS TALKS in capitals people would understand that we really do intend to have SERIOUS TALKS.

I feel that our first 2 emails could be the beginning of the blog. I’m happy to play around on wordpress – or if you have ideas you could play around – I was thinking perhaps a super simple layout – although I’d love it if the blog could become a rich archive of thoughts and references (by that I mean it would be good if the layout encouraged search by topic etc) – does that make sense?

It occurred to me also that this (as many of my projects are) is a somewhat hermetic project – a hermetic dialogue between 2 people – the most important thing is what we generate between us & we don’t have to write for anyone else but ourselves – (like the Antarctic adventurer who once lived in an ice cave that had been made from his own frozen breath) the freedom of this, to me, relates to pointlessness & failure in that this blog may or may not have any audience! I too am very interested in the ideas of pointlessness and failure & would love to discuss it further with you.

Mainly I want to say that art & life can become a confusing set of obligations and influences and that it’s important to engage with things and people that help you feel most yourself. You are one of few people I feel I can have SERIOUS and valuable talks with, as I feel that we have a mutually helpful way of thinking about the world – Our discussions will be a very valuable thing for me to extend & elaborate my thinking on a range of topics…

So next step is to make our platform!

Oh and happy birthday!

I will post your artwork

Today in honour!

Best,

A

peter-freuchen_knud-rasmussen

Letter 2

Hi Alanna,

My ideas usually come when I’m on the bus, just dissociated enough that my thoughts can become a whole and coherent world. When the physical momentum changes, often the ideas become confused, or get replaced by whatever thoughts fit in with the new speed and rhythm of my body or senses. I find the perception of futility to be helpful, sometimes. But then, I spent most of my life trying to make no mark on anything, because I could not risk any further markings being made on me.

I like your shared blog idea. I like the idea of a communication where ideas and patterns grow and proliferate into something that is neither of the physical communicators. I have this idea of talking being a person, and when you talk, it is necessary to think about what kind of verbal/non-verbal person is being made by the combined words of the talkers. So that eventually, if everyone is paying attention, it is the talking that is the talker. I’m working on devising a text adventure that will take place via the postal service, to play with these ideas.

I think it would be a good discipline, as you said. I am more willing to mark things now than I used to be. But I’m still a fan of pointlessness and apparent failure. I haven’t been paying as much attention to the news since coming to America. I think the idea that being informed makes me a good/engaged/caring citizen wasn’t helpful, because all I can do about most awful things is feel paralyzingly despairing about them. I read a good article in a magazine called n+1 entitled ‘against the rage machine’. I find if I have a focus for markings before I start with all the content, then I don’t need to pay attention to most of the content until it begins to become relevant to the broadening marks. And if I have the marks, then I have a life raft and I have a hope of not drowning in the vitriol of rich and fearful suit-wearers.

Anyway, I’d like to keep talking about this. I’ve had the flu this week – I spent today sleeping and eating liquorice – so my brain is odder than usual. It’s my birthday tomorrow. I’m sorry to hear about your driving fine.

Best,

Katherine.

Letter 1

Dear Katherine,

“Ideas are easy to come by; reduction to practice is an arduous and inspirationally rewarding matter”- Buckminster Fuller

I have these impulses, these sparks of ideas, the lit up light bulbs that bubble up & for that moment I am like;

‘yes, that’s awesome, what a great idea, it has to happen. Now.’

I have a lot of these, usually they come in the morning & are heavily connected to my coffee consumption. The flip side of this optimistic imagining is the downhill slope of the same feeling – where I think of the potential difficulties of said idea, where I begin to elaborate in my mind upon the futility of life and all my endeavours within it.

Amongst this roller coaster some ideas, due to persistence or obligation do come to fruition. Perhaps there are no good or bad ideas, just the ideas that become things & the ideas that remain ideas. Or perhaps some ideas are more beautiful as notions & thoughts inside the thinkers head. I had a friend who understood deeply the beauty and power of ideas divorced from a physical reality & he would spin stories between us making the world fuller, more colourful, he made shapes with words & pauses.

This morning I woke up strangely early for me at 6:30 – I made the mistake of checking Facebook as my first activity and while scrolling down that page of horrific stories about the behaviour of the government of this country in which I live, I felt as though my throat was being stuffed full of dirty paper, a sort of choking feeling, claustrophobia, anxiety. I thought, perhaps I should be ignoring all these words (that although important colour my waking life with a debilitating cloud of concern), I thought, do I as an attempted ethical human being have to be carrying these problems with me at all times? What about the reality of my day to day experience? The faces I see, the air that moves around me, the graduations of light, the tree. How can I think of battling a government, all their money, their strangled power? I can’t even pay the driving fine I got for a trifling affair, I’ll be paying it in instalments for months.

Buckminster Fuller sought to address issues of resource shortages in our world. Shortages that are not related to the actual abundance & scarcity but instead related to the wrangling for power by those in power & the running of the world’s government  by corporate interest. At 32 he was penniless, but through a frame of custom made self-disciplines, re-approached his life and achieved an extraordinary amount, he visioned practical solutions… Yet still we live in a world run by the principles he abhorred.

One of my ideas this morning was that we should run a blog together. One week I can write a post & the next week you. They could be letters to one another or the world. They can address immediate and not so immediate concerns. They can be a repository for all these feelings of issue. We can create something with our ideas- a conversation. It would be a good way to establish a steady dialogue – it has potential to broaden and bring in new contributors. We can use what we have, our voices, our intuitions, our reflections to create an imprint however small on the world. The project can evolve.

What do you think about such a thing? If nothing else it would be a great way to write on a regular basis and flex those particular mind muscles. Are blogs still current? I’m not even sure… This particular idea could become a flexing thing and inhabit the world.

Best,

Alanna

Bucky Fuller