The anxious Pot
At the risk of sounding like that guy you knew in college, I'm going to quote Infinite Jest:
"Everything I've ever let go of has claw marks on it."
There's anxiety in the impulse to collect, to hoard.
To obsessively keep archives, albums, notebooks.
Joan Didion wrote in 'On Keeping a Notebook' that "keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss."
But the Library of Alexandria can tell you that the archive is ultimately a fool's errand,
and cannot defend against the collectors arch-nemesis: entropy.
As Jenn Shapland concludes in Finders Keepers:
"No apparatus, no matter how meticulous or expensive or careful,
can protect a collection from the inevitable slippages,
losses, thefts, whether the perpetrators be people,
bugs, mould, disintegration, or time.
Acquire it, collect it, steal it, forward it, conserve it, preserve it, store it, house it, box it,
hold it, wear it, but there’s just no keeping it."
I'd like to claim my star sign as a poetic excuse: Aquarius, the water carrier,
often symbolised as a pot.
But I'm just trying to claim further ownership over the very practice of
the very act of claiming,
of trying to pin something down,
to hold an idea or experience,
can become a process of detraction.
Two sides of the same controlled coin.
Like Paisley Rekdal said of language, the act of naming being our most fundamental means of control, it is
"the first site of loss and our first defence against it."
It's a tension that translates to any act of creation.
Jenny Offill asks how we can
"participate in that space between what you’re trying to say and what can land on the page?
Vagueness … is one way you can do that,
but of course it only works if you also show that you can be incredibly particular.
Then you can say something that’s incredibly abstract."
Creation is a relationship that's both symbiotic and adversarial.
A negotiation between my intention and a material's reaction.
As game designer Davey Wreden says of his game The Stanley Parable, its
"a middle finger, where you're on both sides of the finger".
Artwork is at its most exciting when it has its own agency.
Like the dynamic between a horse and its rider, as depicted by Lisa Hanawalt in Coyote Doggirl:
"I am only controlling you in theory. My trusty steed. My friend. You could kill us both, if you wanted to."