Letter from Glasgow: The Forgotten Music
I think about it inside me, biding its time, resisting my call for it — this song that so delighted me, that returned to me twice, unbidden, yesterday, and then went on its way, went back inside me, perhaps never to return. When it was there I wanted to carry it, be carried by it. I did not think of recording the notes, making a digital imprint by which to catch and hold it. I thought that it was a part of me, that it would last forever. Now I’m waiting, wondering where within me it is hiding.
Just a few days ago I scribbled:
I had to put my hands,
into so many unknown tree-holes all through
Tree-holes may be filled with a variety of things:
used hair band,
ants dividing sugar dutifully amongst themselves,
note that never reached its destination,
squirrel hiding from its companion
to savour the mango on her own,
a single slipper,
a single earring..
This sense of loss keeps happening like waves of the sea. There are some days when I wake up that I do not want to wake up and would rather remain in the dream that I was dreaming. More than the dream, I wake up with a Malayalam film song in my head which occupies and populates my inner being for a week; I never want to lose that loop.
ET N’ÊTRE QUE BRUME
Met en place les conditions d’une expérimentation
Nous sommes plongés dans la brume.
Nos corps, nos affects se délivrent.
AND BE NOTHING BUT MIST
Sets the conditions for experimentation
We are immersed in mist.
Our bodies, our affects are released.
Flags blowing in the wind sewn out of used textiles. Bright and faded and worn and starched work wear, a ubiquitous identifier of blue collar histoire ouvrière en France. Blue collar clad hipsters rocking the moral authority of manual labor in Brooklyn. The sound of street level flags rustling in the the wind and billowed out towards pedestrians on creaking temporary flagpoles. Foisted up near current and former headquarters of labor unions on 14th street (the Italian Labor Center, DC 9, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters), we ask what is the place of labor in the contemporary metropolis? Who decides what we make and how?
When a first day of the week comes:
A headscarf will give birth to an anaconda whose name is Monday. She will bring woman and freedom”
GHOSTING – I met a Ghost, I’m still haunted by the Ghost.
The practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication.
A form of psychological violence that consists of disappearing overnight, ignoring someone, not responding, without giving any explanation.
I am obsessed with the texture of tree bark in the wild. Nooks, crags, and crannies constantly beckon the lens of my camera as I lag behind my family of hikers, documenting every strange shape that catches my eye. I am fascinated by the impulse to mark-making on a living thing. Yesterday, I came upon row upon row of vandalized trees in a State Forest.
The idea of tattooing a person against their will evokes images of slavery and genocide but maybe my metaphor means I am too shocked-sensitive to violence. The ritual scarification of nature is benign for many people. Cutting through cork is a form of proof: a testament of love from Robin Hood to Maid Marian, a memory engraved in a blackboard that will outgrow your body, a permanent way to state ‘I was here.”
Letter from Glasgow: Written on birch
Birch trees seem to like railways, you travel through them as you enter Glasgow, and Berlin and then east to Moscow and Siberia. An endless shuttering of birch trunks through the train window, their verticals marking the space. It isn’t monotonous, it is even reassuring. They accompany my journeys, anticipated and remembered. I look them in the eye.
Recently these tree trunks have begun to people my paintings and drawing. They sit about a dining table. A felled tree between them like a family secret, or a dead man laid out. What do they do with something that is part of them?
Ma chronique du 25 octobre 2022 (Crown Letter week 120) revient sur une visite au cimetière de Darwin en décembre 2018. « Argentinian cemetary / Cementero argentino », indiquait le petit panneau à l’entrée de la piste cailloutée mais aucun drapeau argentin ne flottait sur le quadrillage de croix blanches dominant le vallon de Darwin. Une centaine de tombes anonymes portaient alors l’épitaphe “Soldado argentino solo conocido por Dios“. L’armée argentine avait abandonné à l’ennemi la charge d’inhumer ses morts. Deux fois abandonnés. Deux fois trahis. Ils reposaient dans une steppe glaciale balayée par un vent féroce. Faute de normalisation des relations entre les deux pays, les premières visites venaient seulement d’être autorisées, trente-six ans après la fin de la guerre. Les fleurs et les rosaires en plastique que je photographiais étaient tout neufs. L’épitaphe avait quelque chose d’une prière. Comment ne pas en appeler à la grâce du Seigneur ?
Letter from Glasgow: A bed of lichen, a table of moss.
It’s going to be a Bibiliotheque Imaginaire, she writes, an imaginary library, to wear on her head. Can you send me the title of a book, real or imagined? The first thing that surfaces is moss. My book would be a bed of moss, but I need another syllable. A mattress of moss? No, a mattress feels too awkward and practical, a table then. She likes it. A Table of Moss and Other Stories? Yes, it might include Un Lit de Lichen, I text back.. Something solid and permanent like moss, or lichen. But my predictive text wants to write libido, not lichen. Although it is true my devotion to lichen might have something libidinous in it. And I have long dreamed of beds of lichen and moss, and sometimes trees are asleep in these beds.
As I was day-dreaming titles I had not been thinking of the camps or of the actual, not mossy, but decidedly urban mattresses that are left behind after each clearance, the one thing that people cannot run away with. The mattresses are always the first things to be brought, dragged over pavements, and the things that remain after everyone has been moved on. The beds of moss, or lichen, indicate a world where it is safe to lie down anywhere, where nobody claims possession of the territory and where you can gently dream. A sort of permanence, old as lichen, as libido.
I flew South like a migrating bird, towards the Atlantic Ocean and the petrochemical plants. Between the storied buildings of academia and the strip malls of urban sprawl, there was a carefully curated swamp, complete with do-not-feed alligators and roving turtles.