Near Window 23: Far Window

Today’s near window is a photo essay from Eliza Cox.

Eliza Cox is from Adelaide, and can currently be found in Paris. She takes a million photos but hasn’t posted anything on Instagram since 2017. She also has stacks of undeveloped film.

Near Window 11

… an interesting question.

This time last year I was resurfacing from a pretty deep depression. I know this because I remember, but I was reminded of it because my Instagram archive decided to display some choice pieces of last spring for me to look at. Most of my content last year was me waxing lyrical about birds or trees or light. Here’s one:

——— imagine here a brief hiatus in which I went deep on my insta and sent my friends photos of us from 2015 with captions like « omg so long ago » and other such vibes. I won’t bore u by including them here, but I can assure u that they’re good pics of me with varying lengths of hair and at varying degrees of sobriety ✌️it’ll probably be charged about in another vidéo -Apéro that I’ll have with my best pal sometime again this week (that’s drink wine & face time to u)

Anyway I spent an inordinate about of time looking at last spring today. Looking at the sun drenched, green robed fields of home. A ghost spring of recovery, silver streamed into my retinas whilst the depopulated spring outside my window battles the war for us. Paris occupied again. Here, there are two springs existing at once. One in my phone, one outside my window, and neither of which I am actually IN. The one in my phone is huge, i walked about ten miles a day with the dogs, over hill and down dale and across streams and through woods. I was documenting the wild magic of becoming. The one in reality small, one room, two windows, a courtyard, a corner of sky.

So many shots of chubby knees and heavy docs striding through fields growing progressively greener. Shots of the dogs running, begging, smiling, tongues lolling. shots of brickwork, of country pavements, of pub signage, or birdsong, or birds, or blossom, or blooms or new leaves. Where I’d been I’ll I’d posted relatively little. In coming back to myself in recovery I posted more and more. A minds eye view of both the return if the spring, and my return to myself. An almost « real-time » video essay: what does it mean to become in the season if becoming? An interesting question. One I have no answers for, except the list of shots I mentioned above. One which is still being answered as we never cease to become. Either way it is spring on my phone, and it is spring outside, and even though I am inside in my flat in Paris, in my phone I am running through fields in England. I am both. I am all.

In reality though this compulsive Instagram documentation is not a video essay, in that I have not consciously created it to have structure and form like an essay is supposed to have. More accurately you could call it a video notebook, like the stacks of notebooks at my mums and the two I have here that have every single thing I’ve ever written in them in pen and paper form. A video sketchbook: some light, some birds, some sky, a song I like.

I read a paper by Simon O’Sullivan called « Fictioning Landscape » (it’s on his website) about the relationship between landscape and fictioning in the form of video-essays. He particularly focuses on weird examples, that unpick the fabric of reality and posit weird fictions of the past and future within them. The examples he examines present a « porous border between fact and fiction » and insinuate a foreground of temporal shift; futures that won’t happen, pasts that didn’t quite. The notion of the then-spring encroaching on the now-spring implies a layered temporality, too: now-spring is all-spring.

O’Sullivan discusses some brilliant examples of audio-visual essays including Justin Barton and Mark Fisher’s On Vanishing Land and Victoria Halford and Steve Beard’s Voodoo Science Park. J would highly recommend looking them up – the book of voodoo science park is brilliant – highly recommend.

My friend, Josh Vyrtz, makes video-essays – you can look at them here. They each possess a kind of fictioned surreality, whether theyre about painting a landscape as toilet graffiti or sitting on a bench from 9-5. There’s a joyous kind of whimsy to them, that’s tinged with a melancholia, and a hunt that there’s some kind of Magic going on, links to external spaces, spaces outside of the frame.

Thé above photo is a still from my favourite of josh’s performance/video essays. It was about his dad, who died. About his own self discovery, and about learning about Switzerland where his dad is from. It was also not about this at all, but about vulnerability, and masculinity. In the film josh was himself and his dad and a plastic gnome. In the performance he was himself a cab driver, and a whirling dervish of emotion. It was a performance, an essay, a film, and a thing of beauty. To my mind josh was create a fictional past in which his dad had shown him Switzerland, and a future in which he had been shown. Fragile, vulnérable, wishful. It made me cry.

Of his video essays « what would be the soundtrack to my life? An interesting question » is my fave on YouTube – I’d urge u to watch it. It’s only about 5 minutes long.

I’ve written a lot about music over the last few days; being inside all the time, it’s one of the few things I can always do without getting bored of doing it. This video essay of Josh’s starts very close to his face, like the moment at the end of a party when your smashed and on a sofa chatting shit:

« there are some songs which, when I listen to them, make me feel like the lead in a movie »

Cut to josh blue lit, by fountain, gazing around , telling us, conversationally, and in response to the obvious question « which songs? » the top five songs on the soundtrack of his life.

Cut to josh silhouetted against a pink dusk, London skyline rising jagged on the horizon, and josh freewheeling in his bike, bare arms conducting the symphony of a London bike ride: wheels ticking, bike creaking, wind blasting, river rushing. We don’t hear the songs he mentions, just the sound of the city, and of the weather. It’s joyful in its release, melancholy in its près back sonic element. It makes me ache for London, and ache for the outside, and for riding my bike. I don’t know why the lack of music makes it feel melancholy, like a dream. What do you hear in dreams? Music? Real life noise? Quiet?

Josh’s video essay turns the wind and the river and the bike into the soundtrack of his life, they become the music; that actual music may change that’s playing through his headphones, but the sound we hear never will. It makes a temporal shift. Josh will hear these sounds on every bike ride he goes on, and for someone who rides his bike almost every day pre confinement, that seems to me to be the true soundtrack of his life, if he ever manages to hear it. In the film josh makes the city an orchestra, the weather the symphony: himself riding no-hands-on-the-handlebars conducting the sky. The fiction here, though an aesthetic one – (re)making a conversation we’ve had before – enacting a freedom and joy of riding through the city in fine weather – creates a performance journey. One that exits real time and creates a « music-time » or a « film-time » as much is I created a « spring-time » within my phone. The film is saturated with residual emotion, and by not providing the music, Josh allows that emotion to speak for itself in the box of film time we can all dip into with an internet connection.

Both of Josh’s films that I’ve mentioned here are hugely emotionally charged. They both alter space-time and allow something to speak « not to us but to something within us » which is how fictioning works: creating a space-time in which the truth is made not true, and by which we can pro rated ourself on the plane of now. Whilst they don’t engage with the weird in the same way as O’Sullivans examples, they engage with a melancholia that seems ever present (I would call this grief-space)

like listening to a song u thought was happy but is really sad. Like Dancing Queen, or Boys of Summer, or Loaded by Primal Scream. Joy and melancholia: two sides of the same thing.

In these uncertain and tumultuous times, where the news is often based on « post-truths » it becomes « crucial to produce other and better » fictions than created by the state or the media « by which to orientate ourselves within our world.

Near Window 7

Divine moments of friendship

Just now I accidentally barged in on a friends meet up in the Houseparty app. She’d sent me a link to be her friend on it and like some fucking boomer I was fidgeting around clicking buttons and SUDDENLY there I was in their little hangout. Embarrassing. I wanted the digital world to swallow me whole like a slightly too hot sprout at Christmas. Weird metaphor… moving on.

Poor girls – all they had was an image of me sat on my bed like Gollum looking at a new app. What a shock to see this face pop up whilst you’re talking about ur secrets (genuinely no idea what they were talking about – heard nothing just popped up like so:

Hello, police? Why r my lashes so smol?

It’s weird being in confinement. It’s a week since confinement proper. Last Monday, Macron “nous sommes en guerre”’d us all and we’ve been inside for seven days. In that time I’ve had more FaceTimes than I think I’ve ever had. The first one was a 6 way google hangout with my oldest friends from uni. I lived with them for a year, and they’re among the people I feel most comfortable with. It was strange to be tuning in remotely – like some weird Marty McFly moment, chatting to my pals on a huge TV. Except it was my old iPad Cos my computer is dead.

We talked for two hours, each of us pinging about in google hang outs, with dodgy internet connections and weirdly lit rooms. It was like being in a pub where we all had weird cubicles in which we we sat with a different mood lighting. One of us inside a pink synth wave track, another in a spy movie, one with the lamp making it look like heaven, the other bathed in an ambient green, and two in a warm, quite sunny, yellow.

6 of us

I had a beer. Green had two. Yellow had a few. Pink rolled around and showed us his knees, spy movie left early to cook broccoli or some shit, and yellow – well yellow threw a party and one half took their shirt off. What a time to b alive. What a time to cook broccoli and miss out on the true moment of friendship: naked knees and tinny raves and It teacher ponytail jokes. It was like having them in my flat with me. It was like old times and it was the future.

Yesterday my flat mate and I played remote control monopoly with another friend of ours. She lives 1.3km away but cos of the lockdown in Paris she can’t come over; she used to come over almost every day, and I miss having her capering about with her big fringe, huddled by the radiator, cackling cigarette edged nonsense.

What does it mean to be friends at a distance? To close down the arterial routes of connection that previously linked us? I guess I’ve mostly been answering these questions for a year since I went mental and moved home, travelled America, and then moved to Paris.

It means making an effort to communicate; but it also means you’ll still accidentally barge in where ur not wanted and keep urself up all night thinking about how a group of people you hardly know saw your ugly mug pop up in their private conversation (a part of real life I thought was only in the physical realm – turns out not so)

@xenogothic wrote and published a book that, whilst being about Mark Fisher, is really, I think, about friendship. About seeking connection in a lonely world, and about, in the end, finding it.

The book is more obviously focused on a moment of grief than this is, though the unfolding disaster of the surrounding world will result in grief too. But he quotes a line of Bataille around half way through.

“To hold, without elusion, life to the standard of the impossible demands a moment of divine
friendship” – Georges Bataille – the unfinished system of non knowledge

I copied it down in my notebook at the front. What is a divine moment of friendship? I believe it is a pure one, based on love and mutual respect and understanding. It’s also a moment where everyone in the group chat piles on on an inside joke, or the moment you come together to express sorrow, or congratulations, or happiness, or just simply that you’re all there, doing the same stuff.

Each of these moments of connection, from virtually stumbling unwanted into a friends “houseparty”, to trying to play remote monopoly, to having a beer with my friends whilst all being scattered in a 500 mile radius, are all moments of divine friendship. I believe that before I isolated myself by moving to a different country, and then after that having to stay inside every day and not go anywhere, I had underestimated the power of my community, of my friends. I will hold all of my life to the standard of these few moments: of the outpouring of love felt across an ocean, of a friend showing me his rose tinted knee, another winning monopoly from afar, another laughing as I duck out of the chatroom. All divine moments of coming together.

Near Window 6

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over

Do you remember what it felt like to lie down on grass and smell it’s green freshness underneath your face, and feel the slight dampness of spring soil under your palms? Or Better yet, can you remember the dry feeling of tickly grass on your legs and the firm resistance of sun baked earth?

For some reason this makes me think of Lenny Kravitz’s “it ain’t over til it’s over” and I could probably say the same for this quarantine if I’m honest: it ain’t over til it’s over. It’s day 6. It’s Sunday. Last Sunday I was lying in the grass drinking a vedett that I feel really guilty about since Macron got all “nous sommes en guerre” about sitting in the park. I understand why I can’t sit in the park tho, and I do feel bad about propagating the spread of the virus by normalising not social distancing. As Kylie Jenner said: “hey guys – corona virus is a real thing”.

I’ve been having a lot of very vivid dreams, and they’re all about the same sort of thing. I’ve been having them for a little while, probably for about a week and a half, but I just read a really great post by my new pen pal a little while ago. She wrote about dreaming of her ex, in the dreams they’re in various scenarios of relationship, but mostly they’re friends. Mostly the dreams are about the bitter sweetness of endings. I wrote a similar thing about an ex and sent it to her and now we’re penpals. Anyway: you can read her beautiful piece here. It is poignant and touching and it made me want to cry.

After I got over my nostalgic response to her post, I got to thinking about the fact that recently I’ve been dreaming about all the boys I’ve ever liked. I’m not kidding, I have been dreaming about every boy I’ve ever liked – AND CRUCIALLY mostly about the boys I like/liked that I have not told I like. This has included, but is not limited to, a boy I fancied in year eight and wrote (still fucking terrible) poetry about on bebo and PUBLISHED for the world to see (awful), a friend I had in year 11, a boy I met on the tube,a boy I met on the bus in 2014 who asked me what book I was reading, boy I met in LA: so many boys. So many dreams to be had.

In these dreams, what happens is, I live a whole life with one of these boys. We meet, we date, we get together, we stay together. Sometimes the dream jumps ahead and we’re making dinner on a June evening in the garden with a Chablis talking about the neighbours we hate (boy in LA), sometimes we’re 65 and the dream is us watching it’s a wonderful life at Christmas with a huge extended family (boy I met on the tube), and other times I have a huge lavish wedding with the person (year 8 poem boy – awful, truly awful. I’m cringing. Dream me loved it)

In those dreams I almost invariably feel really happy, like head over heels happy, like first sunshine of the year, vedett in the park, sunning myself with my friends and getting a damp arse cos the ground is still damp from the rain the previous day. And then I wake up and remember nous sommes en guerre and I am just like: “oh. Here we are”

The one with the Chablis was the most interesting, because it was just like I was living my life, except dream me had a nagging drive to check her watch. Dream me knew something was up because dream me knew that I am too much of a wimp to fess up to LA boy that I think he’s a dreamboat and I want to drink Chablis I’m our beautiful garden in high summer and bitch about the neighbours.

What’s a dream? Flo(my new pen pal) wrote about it being brain garbage, a way of processing our thoughts, but she also wrote about dreams maybe being weird little portals to worlds of possibility. Maybe my dreams are time-slips, rips in the fabric of space-time where all the versions of me who weren’t MASSIVE WIMPS managed to actually talk to people they fancied. Except I did admit my feelings about year 8 poem boy in FUCKING POEMS about how the sunlight coming through the tower block window shone on his chestnut hair in the middle of maths, and “what good is long division, when I can’t divide my love for you”. Yes, I know. Fucking cringe. I’m so glad Bebo is dead now.

Anyway back to the Chablis dream. I lived a whole life in that dream, albeit at an accelerated rate inside the 8 hours and 26 minutes of sleep I got from that night (thanks Fitbit). But a whole life: we were like 40odd in that dream scene. I died at the end.

In Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason He puts time as not a thing acting externally from us, like a Newtonian would; or as being entirely based on relation to a system without a physical existence, and only really existing conceptually like the Liebnizians (that’s a mouthful, jesus- the be-Liebniz-ers might be more catchy – tho a bit of a rip off); but as being something in between. For Kant Space and Time aren’t really things in and of themselves (conceptual or physical or otherwise) but rather they form a part of our own sensibility. Space and Time exist as they are experienced by the individual. So time, then, exists as we are experiencing it. Does that mean then, that on some other plane somewhere I have lived a full and joyous life with LA boy in which we wind up drinking our Chablis in June 2039? Does June 2039 already exist in dream-land?

Even though it felt like 30 years in dream-land, I’m not going to lie to u, Kant would not say that means it was real. In Critique of Pure reason Kant spends a long time saying that the experiential nature of space and time do not apply to imaginative play based upon experience. Transcendental idealism, whilst implying that time and space are subjective, doesn’t negate the reality of objects, and therefore kind of negates the reality of the unreal: dreams.

Kant would tel me to wake the fuck up and stop mooning about over a boy (or boys, keep up Immanuel, I fall in love multiple times a day! Shout out to the boy I saw on Rue Montorgeuil whose beautiful blonde hair will stay with me forever – wish I’d said something 2 u before the quarantine – alas now u r gone forever)

I’ve stil got “baby it ain’t over til it’s over” in my head. It sounds like summer in the distance. Lenny, what you doing to me? The dream is that over but is my dream happy life over? the answer is like most definitely yes, but the question still remains why am I dreaming about it?

in an essay called “What is the creative Act?”, Deleuze writes that a dream is a dangerous thing, both to be the dreamer, and the dreamed. It’s a really cool essay that you can read for urself here. “The dream of those who are dreaming concerns those who are not dreaming” – which is interesting,m: it seems Kant would tell me the dream is all in my head, and Deleuze would (using Minnelli – not Liza ) tell me that it’s not about me at all, but about them. (this is both very Deleuze, but also really validating, so thanks Gilles) “beware of the dreams of others” he says, “ because if you’re caught in their dream you’re done for” – Hi boys 👋

This particular essay is really good, and it will be revisited in other posts soon, but these lines have been revolving in my head since reading Flo’s post so I’m knitting Deleuze into my banal dreams of Chablis drinking mediocrity with a boy I met in LA, talk to occasionally, and who almost deffo doesn’t fancy me back.

The dreams make me feel like I’m lying in the sun after a long winter. On slightly damp grass, with a beer in my hand. God that’s pathetic, man. I’m gonna cringe so hard when I read this later- I think this might be worse than my Bebo Poems. RIPme. Maybe I’m dreaming about them bc it is rlly hard to date in the apocalypse? Maybe I’m dreaming about them Cos I’m in love with them. Maybe it’s a rip in space-time.

Tune in for Near Window 7 to find out about what I think about something else exciting like maybe potatoes or Matisse’s use of blue. Or maybe I’ll write about the neighbours. Or maybe rear window… W h O KN o w 5

PS. LA boy, if you’re reading this and you’ve figured out that it’s about u, I am available for a Chablis en terrasse (or another beverage, I don’t mind) as soon as confinement is over if we’re not dead.

Here’s a pic of my Vedett in the park last Sunday, the guilty Vedett that Macron is angry at me about, and the visual representation of the way that these dreams made me feel. I did not break curfew for this picture tho so ✌️ don’t @me

Near Window 1

A square of gold on crumpled white linen. A warm left knee catching the first few days of March sunshine. A sky clean as kitchen walls, and air the colour of breakfast, if breakfast has a colour at all.

I look at my palm for maybe fifteen minutes. The criss-cross of the future etched on pink flesh. The world is in your hands, the future of the world is entre nos mains, who knows.

Do you remember that bit in Before Sunrise when Julie Delpy gets her palm read in some Viennese square? I don’t know why I’m bringing it up because I’ve never seen the whole of Before Sunrise and I think I got tired of its pacing, but the shots are singularly quite beautiful.

I’m living my life now like it’s a series of shots in a very boring but very beautiful film.

The sun splintered between two chimney pots spotted across the courtyard.

A baby blue bike leaning against one of the yellow walls in the middle of the courtyard below.

A couple passing fitfully behind their windows as evening draws itself up to us like the tide coming in. They’re like fish in an aquarium, or penguins, or maybe sharks. I can’t tell, though they move with such flitting grace It’s like they’re under water.

Me with my eyes shut, framed in a square of gold upon the wall.

My flat mate dancing to some tune on french radio.

A radio 2 jingle drifting up from a nearby flat – so there must be other English people nearby.

Snippets of conversation had between neighbouring windows, a small child saying j’aimerais que tu sois chez nous which means I wish you were here before he runs around screaming with what I think are brothers and then shouts quack quack out the window to which I reply quack quack and he then gets told off by his mother and I think I might be in trouble too.

My feet in the air either side of the window. Lying on the ground to get a better view.

Watching the sunshine bounce off the other side of the courtyard in its rosy splendour before sinking out of sight entirely.

And an empty coffee mug in partial shadow.