Uncreative writing, the Derive and minutiae of life.


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I was about to start re-watching Enterprise (I’m one of the few who actually liked the series), when I remembered my friend reminding me to mute the theme song. Now I didn’t mind the theme song, but it did tend to take me out of the Star Trek feel. “It’s been a long road. Getting from there to here.” It got me thinking about journeys. As I wrote earlier, my cat died a few days ago. The past three years has been dealing with a death or two and coming to terms with life as a finite being. “What’s it for?” I ask myself.

Well, I’m at that point in my life where I don’t really give a shit about what we’re here for or why I’m still here. Looking at my kids’ faces every day is enough for me to stay, so I’m left with that despair. To deal with it I think about all the milli-seconds that got me to where I am now: Here, typing a rambling post at this desk when I should be deciding whether I’m going to start my review on Jacques Demy’s Bay of Angels or…..Redemption with Jason Statham.

Earlier this week I had the privilege of attending an uncreative writing workshop by Kenneth Goldsmith at The Power Plant in Toronto. He invited me to speak about Getting Inside James Joyce’s Head and some of the other projects that have spawned off of it. It was an enlightening experience and I’m forever grateful to Mr. Goldsmith and Christian Bök for letting me pick their brains. Anyways, in the workshop we used Against Expression and in it I found Georges Perec’s Attempt At An Inventory Of The Liquid And Solid Foodstuffs Ingurgitated By Me In The Course Of The Year Nineteen Hundred and Seventy Four. I read somewhere about it, but I suddenly had it in front me (I had to immediately order a hardcopy of it even though we were given it in class.). Perec does exactly that, writes down what he ate and drank for that year. Now there’s really no way to be sure about the veracity of his log book, but either way, there’s a bunch of hoarded information in there. It’s not unlike what we do with Facebook, Instagram (with pictures and videos), and on Twitter. Most of the updates I see or post myself, are of what we do each day or what we ate or who we saw. Imagine if you had all that information and could compile it in hardcopy form. It becomes a book, an odd narrative of what you did or what you ate or who you saw. You could flip through pages of this stuff, or even just read it online to scroll, copy and paste and distribute at your convenience. It’s a compilation of a journey of everything you did before you got to this moment in your finite life.

You might think it ridiculous, but there’s meaning in information. If Georges Perec had two snails for dinner one night, I wonder who he had them with. Did he throw away the shells or does he keep them like little trophies? Who knows, but some of us find that information fascinating. It doesn’t even have to mean anything. We throw so much information away on Facebook and on twitter, it’s ridiculous. But the connections we make through them shouldn’t be discounted; for those connections saw you through the two snails you might have eaten for dinner. Somebody might have liked that status and commented, “I really like snails too.”

I like journeys. It’s probably why I loved marathoning so much. The training regimen is a log book of what you have to do to get to run 42 kilometres. I logged everything, even the inconsequential stuff because it gave me an idea whether I had prepared myself for the long sojourn. Every meal, every stretch, every bit of everything meant something on the day of the actual marathon. It’s the same thing with life and each year, each month, each week, each day and each hour. This minute I’m contemplating walking to the kitchen and putting the kettle on for some tea. After I do all the steps that get me to drink my tea, I will sit and feel a bit more relaxed because tea just does that for me.

Guy Debord’s Theory of the Dérive is something I go back to a lot, mostly because if you’re an artist, it’s best to explore the mundane around you. We’re at a segment in time, ladies and gentlemen, where the walls and the dust bunnies are logged in to glowing boxes for the masses to read about. Some of us hide those stories or skim passed them. Some of us, like me, are intrigued by your seemingly humdrum agenda to write down where your cat is at any given moment. It’s the little things I miss about my cat. Right now I’m feeling achey. I’ve been fighting something in my system for weeks now and when I wasn’t feeling well, Asha would take the opportunity to place a big patch of her fur in my face. I’d be left with a mouth full of cat hair, but hey, it was enough for me to think she was giving me comfort. So yeah, your feline minutiae is appreciated.

I digress. My point is that there is no point. I find uncreative ventures to be invigorating and inspiring. They spark me to do more and more beyond what I thought I was capable of doing. I find reward in the meditative tasks of re-typing, rewriting, and reassembling language. There’s something intangible about reading Kafka’s Metamorphosis backwards and typing up sound poems that I’ve just started to analyse the data and it kind of blows my mind. It’s all about the solitary journey of it.

The uncreative logbook has power. I’ll even go as far as saying that it’s nuclear in strength.

I’m serious about my work and I’m happy to have found others who understand where I’m coming from with it. I’m not moving mountains here, but there are days I feel like I’m moving the internal walls that I’d often capitulate to. Something so punk rock about it. It’s like we all occlude this world that passes before our eyes. The subway poster reads, the poles we hold onto on the bus, the bums on the street….and I could go on, but we shut ourselves away all the while typing up to the world at large that we’ve had a bad day and we’re having some comfort food this evening.

I’m having a bourbon, biting into an apple, and thinking about taking a walk before deciding on what movie to review as my other cat, K2, winds herself around my legs. I might just sink into another Chris Marker cat movie instead.

P.S. Every book should have a white cover. My white covered books have grey fingerprints and as such, is unique to my shelf.

P.S.S. And now I have the Enterprise theme song stuck in my head.

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2 thoughts on “Uncreative writing, the Derive and minutiae of life.

  1. It’s a compilation of a journey of everything you did before you got to this moment in your finite life.

    That’s a beautiful phrase. Great article, thanks for sharing!

  2. Pingback: On the Defence of Conceptualism | jacqueline valencia

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