Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ok. Utopia. More thoughts.

Begin stream of consciousness:

Utopia is a state of perfection. I don't particularly believe in such a thing. I've been trained by a philosophy course or two to imagine that Utopia is impossible, unreachable, nonexistent. It is nothing, so how can it be? Or something.

But ok. So if there is perfection, what is it? This state of overwhelming bliss? How do I reach it? When do I feel that? It is only moments here and there, isn't it?

I think of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club. The narrator watches Tyler Durden on the beach for hours, pulling heavy logs upright and pushing them into the sand just so. As the sun sets, he sits in what has become the palm of a shadow-hand, until it warps by the movement of the sun. "One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection."

So perfection is brief, fleeting. It is the way your lover's neck smells early in the morning when he is still asleep and you rest your head on his chest. It is the exhilaration at 6 AM in Rome, at Dissonance '07, when Ellen Allien has been playing for an hour and a half and you realize that the reason you can see the intoxicated crowd around you (instead of feeling them blindly coursing around you in a frenzy caused by drugs and beams of light and techno) is that the sun has risen and is gracing the city outside with the first pale light of tomorrow. Perfection is climbing into the very center of a down comforter and pulling the rest around you like a cocoon, a stomach, a womb, a cloud. Perfection is blanket forts and Laffy Taffy and Sundays where you can stay in bed until 1 PM and watch cartoons with someone who loves you. Perfection is silence, or drum and bass, or a cello echoing in the subway. Perfection is charcoal covered hands and feet after three hours of figure-drawing in the summertime. Or footprints crossing a blank field of snow. Or spiral game and jell-o and Blue Drink. Or Tappan Square in October when it is inexplicably 70°. Or 11:15PM, November 4th, 2008 at the bandstand. Or lying in the middle of North Fields, or the fields at Smith College, or Polaski Park, or Tappan Square, or anywhere, and staring at the constellations dancing overhead.

Maybe it's sitting on linoleum in a patch of warm morning sunlight, talking to your mother on the phone about how much you like the boy who is making you pancakes in the next room. Or walking alone in the half-rain on the way home from anywhere. Or realizing you don't care about the mean thing someone said to you, because you love yourself just the way you are. Maybe it's grilled cheese and tomato soup. Or sushi lunch at Osaka in Northampton, MA on a Tuesday afternoon.

Or Mom calling home over the summer when it is just us and asking how I feel about fajitas tonight, and answering my response of, "How do you feel about margaritas tonight?" with "Decadent!"

Or finally kind of completely being head-over-feet for the place where you have found yourself upon waking for the last two years.

Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan is an incredible Graphic Narrative author. He wrote The Arrival—if you can call it writing; the story has a clear plot and character development, but no words, just the beautiful soft images he is known for. It is magnificent and sad and wonderful.

I've been caught up in this short story of his.

sourcebook. things i have been looking at.

In considering our Utopia project, I've been trolling through a lot of the past blogs looking at previous projects. I'm completely enamored with Erika Raberg's project (not her Utopia project, but what appears to be an assignment from last spring).

Her images show an eerie world which intermingles overwhelming solitude and childhood iconography.

I can't actually think about anything else. These images are like utopia for me. Cupcakes and bathtubs and dresses and balloons? That sounds like me. I played alone a lot when I was little and... I don't know. I relate to these images a lot. I guess I'm trying to wrestle with how to do something similar but in my own way, but more likely I'll have to go in an entirely different direction for fear of imitation.

I'm also super amused by her Utopia project, where she photographed mundane activities—underwater. Thereby creating an amusing situation, and changing our perspective about this silly tasks which have been rendered useless by this change in scene.