Thursday, October 29, 2015

the more than bearable lightness of apartment living

This is by no means my new apartment's best view - but that's rather too occupied - or was this morning - with a tangle of coaxial cables, the dismantled feet of a tv, and so on.  I can see my problems with the cables that TW gave me - they lacked the all-important screw-element. Harrumph. The past couple of months have been very instructive - not just about the folly of believing in a handful of photographs and in an owner's loving praise of their property, and taking it without seeing it - but about what I do and don't feel comfortable writing about in this public, albeit small-public, forum.  Because if I'd gone into every detail about the house I'm moving out of - as I might in a one-off email, or in conversation - what if the owner comes upon my prose? (admittedly, you might say that I've said quite enough for this person to feel legitimately distressed, as it is ...)  I was reading, a week or so back, John Collier's book on Visual Anthropology - a terrific manifesto for the importance of recording and studying the everyday, complete with a lot of his photos from the 40s and 50s, especially of the Navajo reservation, showing the complete cultural syncretic jumble to be found on top of a bedroom dresser, for example.  I was very struck by his concept of a "cultural inventory," taking photographs of such personal clutter and then carefully cataloguing and analysing the resonances of the objects on display.  It would have been so tempting to have done that ...
... but something held me back: a sense of reticence in the face of someone's personal life so relentlessly on display (but not explained, of course, in any terms that made sense of how these things bore memories and meaning); or rather, perhaps, reticence when someone is a quasi colleague - that is, on some spectrum of North American collegiality, when leaving quite so much on display is a kind of act of trust (even if it drove me crazy, and made me very uneasy).  Certainly, when FTBL's ten years is up (three years, two months to go ...) and I write the piece I intend to on it as a practice, a project, the tension between revelation and discretion that I've been maintaining for the last couple of months will feature prominently.  I'm just so happy to be in a light, air and light filled space.

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