Monday, November 3, 2008

Reconstructed Narratives

This last project was a demonstration of a hobby of mine. When reading, I have a habit of fixating on simple sentences that are beautifully written. I often underline and make notes about these and come back to them later. Here I presented 5 books that I have enjoyed reading in the past. I went through each book and looked at stuff I had underlined, notes I had made, and skimmed pages to find stuff I may have missed. With these I constructed new narratives for each book. The lines were taken from various points within each book, and organized in a way that told a similar story the book did, but with a different focus. In some I focused on a character and used lines to describe them, others I took sentences that related to a strong emotion or common theme in the book to retell the story. I really enjoy this practice and what comes out of it. I have even more appreciation for the books after doing this.

Heres a view of the installation:

Here are the 5 books and the reconstructed narratives that they were paired with:

Sylvie was about thirty-five, tall, and narrowly built.

Her raincoat was so shapeless and oversized that she must have found it on a bench.

Sylvie always walked with her head down, to one side, with an abstracted and considering expression, as if someone were speaking to her in a soft voice.

“It was nice with the lights off,” she suggested.

 [Evening was her special time of day.]

Sylvie had no awareness of time.

I was content with Sylvie.

Such habits (she always slept clothed, at first with her shoes on, and then, after a month or two, with her shoes under her pillow) were clearly the habits of a transient.

Watching her seemed very much like dreaming, because the motion was always the same, and was necessary , and arduous, and without issue, and repeated.

…why do our thoughts turn to some gesture of a hand, a fall of a sleeve, some corner of a room on a particular anonymous afternoon, even when we are asleep, and even when we are so old that our thoughts have abandoned other business?

…what are all these fragments for, if not to be knit up finally?

Sylvie smiled and nodded. “Now you’re in on my secret…”

She had left without a word, or a sound. 

Dear Friend,

I am writing to you because she said you would listen and understand and didn’t try to sleep with that person at that party even though you could have.

This is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.

I don’t know the significance of this but I find it very interesting.

It happens very fast, and things start to slip away.

I just open my eyes, and I see nothing. Then I start to breathe really hard trying to see something, but I can’t.

It makes me think too much.

I just want it all to stop spinning.

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. That you wanted to not be aware that you exist.

I guess what I’m saying is that this all feels very familiar.

I was suddenly aware of the fact that it was me standing up in that tunnel with the wind over my face.

I was really there. And that was enough to make me feel infinite.

The policemen found me pale blue and asleep.

Not thinking anything. Not feeling anything. Not hearing the record. For hours.

So if this does end up being my last letter, please believe that things are good with me, and even when they’re not, they will be soon enough.

I will believe the same about you.

Let the truth seep out, that’s what I’ll do.

I was young and had so much more orientation and could talk with nervous intelligence.

Work was my dominant thought – not love. Not the pain, which impels me to write this even while I don’t want to, the pain which won’t be eased by the writing of this but heightened, but which will be redeemed, and if only it were a dignified pain and could be placed somewhere other than in this black gutter of shame.

[Quick to plunge, bite, put the light out, hide my face in shame.]

Rise, do some typing and coffee drinking in the kitchen.

[It was enough to drive anybody crazy.]

Something is sick in me, lost, fears –

Suddenly someone had come up and was standing in the stairwell.

Well, I thought, this is the end…

And I go home, having lost her love.

[You threw away a little woman’s love because you wanted another drink with a rowdy friend from the other side of your insanity]

Fortune will not necessarily turn out in the way we want but in the way it must. It is a modern heresy to think that if we do right always, we will avoid situations for which there is no earthly solution.

You can live as a particle crashing about and colliding in a welter of materials with God, or you can live as a particle crashing about and colliding in a welter of materials without God. But you cannot live outside the welter of colliding materials.

The Mahabharata says, “Of all the world’s wonders, which is the most wonderful?”

“That no man, though he sees others dying all around him, believes that he himself will die.”

There’s nothing makes us feel so much alive as to see other dies. That’s the sensation of life – the sensation that we remain.

It really doesn’t matter if it is I who die or another. What matters is that we are all marked men.

How can an individual count? Do individuals count only to us other suckers, who love and grieve like elephants, bless their hearts.

Although we are here today, tomorrow cannot be guaranteed. Keep this in mind! Keep this in mind!

Someone is getting excited. 

This person is laughing out loud…

-- This person is not who they thought this person was

[She’s blasé. She doesn’t give a shit.]

For a moment, this person is almost creeped out by the scene, but it would be so like this person to become depressed on the happiest day ever.

This person’s heart was broken.

This person hardly knows what to think.

[Some may say that such a girl is not ready for a relationship with a man.]

How strong this person was.

-- This person is not who they thought this person was.

[She’s grown a lot since you last saw her.]

[I think she’s going to become a terrific woman one day.]

This person sighs. This persons eyes begin to close, this person sleeps. 

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