Solstice: through circumstance […] location takes a different meaning
I have listened to this playlist for about an hour so you should probably put it on and just lie down somewhere for a while and listen to it. Ur welcome. It also goes quite nicely with what ur about to read so it comes recommended by me.
Recently, a friend sent me a message about circumstance giving location a different meaning. I’d made a video about a day in the life of my confinement (near window 2) and sent it to him because he’s a film maker (a good one) and you can look at his work here.
He said: while I get a really interesting lens into your space and world, through circumstance then location takes on a different meaning.
I’m confined in one room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. From front door to bath tub(the back of the flat) it is 23 small steps or 16 big ones end to end. It’s five medium sized steps wide. The main room has two big windows that look out into a courtyard. Through it I am treated to a square of sky within which the theatre of spring weather is being enacted. Today is the first day of spring.
My friend, Joe, said that in the film I’d made I’d given him a lens into my world. It’s a small one, but then the world itself is small now, being as how we can have a normally paced conversation an ocean apart. my world in Paris enters into his in Ohio. A splinter in space time, a shard through the earth to layer us: one apartment over another, a Parisian sky playing on a screen in an American house. Playing perhaps on countless screens out there. I dunno, maybe, though most probably not. Most of the content we make goes mostly Unwatched like that guy who made a video of the streets of Tokyo in the rain and all it was was a view of what it might be like to walk in those streets at nightfall in a storm. I watch that video to feel calm. A lens from Paris to Tokyo. Being read by you, wherever you are. Two lenses now. Maybe more. Where you are, where I am now, where the guy in Tokyo was.
In the quite frankly beautiful book And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos by John Berger he says that “the notion of life as lived, is a story being told”. Action is Narrative, everything you do is narrative, it’s just that in order to see the true thread of narrative that runs through the core of your life you forget the minutiae of existence and remember just the big stuff. The film I sent my friend was just the minutiae: a cloud billowing over the neighbours roof, steam billowing from freshly brewed tea, pretending to be in a jungle pushing through my potted fern, my hand in the sun, my right eye.
The narrative doesn’t really exist in the moment though, not until the day is done and you sum up the course of its action. What have I done today, you think, as you slip into bed and close your eyes thrumming with the energy of being and the anticipation of dreaming. Just like characters in novels aren’t themselves aware that they are narrative devices, neither are you. To be aware of your narrative is to see yourself from the outside, to split yourself in two: one you doing, the other observing. One in the lens, and one looking through it.
As I wrote in Near Window 1, what feels like forever ago, but was really only 3 days, I am living my life now at a decelerated pace, like a beautiful but very dull film. Confinement allows you to be outside of yourself in much the same way that a creative practice does (or maybe only if you lend yourself well to a creative practice). except confinement also lets you untether from yourself entirely. Robin Hobb wrote a series of books set in a world where there was a magic called the skill. It allowed you to disentangle yourself from your body and find things in the current, touch minds with others, and listen in the slipstream. The feeling for hobb’s characters was addictive, and she describes it as drifting away from yourself. I feel like this in confinement, looking out the window at the clouds or the windows ranged around me becomes an act of social distancing in itself, except I am distanced not from others but from myself. I unravelled today into thoughts about clouds, that had no structure, and thoughts about time that were pretty juvenile (it’s endless but it’s also finite oooh) and i spent a lot of time thinking about when to make the tortellini I was going to have for dinner (it was good and worth the thought).
Joe said: “through circumstance […] location takes a different meaning”
What is “location”? Where I am right now? Is the location just now, even, and so it is allwheres but only now and not everywhen. Is it space, or place, or something in between? My apartment layered over his at moment of opening the message. One day in the past layered of his in the present, layered over yours in my future when you stray upon this link in the arse end of a google search.
Part of the narrative of the film, near window 2, that I sent to Joe, was the sense of loss I feel at experiencing spring at a distance. Spring is my favourite season. I can feel the becomingness of it in the air, like every morning is Sunday, everything tastes like french orange juice, and smells like grass and muddy knees. I feel a huge disconnect within myself to be separated from it so. I feel like a pressed flower drying out in between the Bs of the Collins dictionary on your grandmothers top living room shelf. Somewhere between Banal and Boring. Of the spring, but separated from it. a bluebell perhaps, like the ones I won’t see at Pinsley Woods this year; or a crocus or a daffodil the likes of which never spring up in Paris, or perhaps a wild orchid like those trampled by workmen last spring by the Quoits. These r v niche references about flowers and places I know so plz put ur references in here – idk what flowers or places u like.
The circumstances mean that my new location is altered, and the relationship between my location and it’s surroundings must be reimagined in order to welcome the spring.
The narrative of spring is different for me now. To return to John Berger: a narrative is “ground anew in every story between the temporal and the timeless.” By putting a lens up to our lives we see it from the outside, and we see the trajectory of our own arrival at ourselves in the current circumstances and location. I am a bundle of 26 springs, wrapped in train journeys and the extended strings of my friendships.
In a way, the current circumstances have rendered location irrelevant, but it has made space and the way we interact with it paramount.
It takes 16 steps to walk the length of my apartment. 23 if I take little ones, yet I managed to make a two minute film of squares of light, green leaves, and linen sheets. The narrative of spring shifts as the lens of its telling changes. These images will be spring now as much as the first blackbird after a March shower, or the first bluebell in the shade.