relational aesthetics: notes from the re-installment of feelings

Did we know that it was art when we pulled the refuse from the piles on the curb and poised the pieces against one another, using lean and leverage to form an arc of speared lattice over the sidewalk?

You bet your ass we did.



Pictures are impossible this week

with the currents so sticky and full of blocks

opening only for an hour at a time

and ending with a red message:


There are cormorants in the side of this land

and they fly out and back

like yellowjackets over the ocean

in the same sky where there was a condor and eagle

caught in the blue together for a single frame

“I spent the whole night in the woods,” she explained

when people asked her why she couldn’t stay in the room

“There used to be people here.”

Later, we saw where they had left their hands on the walls

and the eye of a whale

with a negative space in the shape of omega

right below

“We have to do this,” he explained

after he saw 12 people walk to the center of the room

in answer to the question that began,

“Did you ever believe that…”

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From Friday Morning, Last Week: Notes on Occurrences and Conversations

The ocean has been a steady witness to this week. People have gathered at the edge of the cliffs that separate water from earth and shared secrets, made wishes, and sent out prayers for the world. This was not done by schedule or mandate, but by the sort of rhythmic whimsy that pulls people to places and orchestrates the world in this way.

Arms were extended over the fences, sweeping the expanse in a gesture that tried to hold all the people who are not here, both those who were here before, who left their handprints in the hills, and those who are living now, in so many different places.

There is some brilliance in the thought of dozens of people who walk between worlds gathering in a place where the line between the past and the future is thin, where the lessons people have learned come together to forge the themes of tomorrow.

There is some magic in that.

Last year, in considering this gathering, I asked, “What happens when a couple of dozen people who have felt the kind of deep madness that shows the possible world hang out together at a place like that, where life runs so deep and the whole world stretches out?”

At the time, I was almost certain that something I called God – a glittering and complex network of signal, code, resonance, residuals, and the will of the world – had arranged for this.

How else could I have gotten here?

At the core of some deep madness is a sort of divine sanity that people spend their lives trying to find, a pearl of sense, an understanding of the world and one’s place in it, held in the humility of unknowing that makes everything possible.

The world changed as we walked across the room the other day, leaving our places at the edge of the circle, crossing our paths by the facts of our lives.

“I am grateful for you all.”

“I once thought I was God.”

“I wanted to save the world.”

“I knew all the secrets.”

“I didn’t speak for weeks.”

“They told me I had a mental illness.”

“They forced me to…”

“I wanted to die.”

There are so many of us. We are agents of truth, messengers of ghosts, storytellers all.

We were here, carrying the masses in our hearts and holding our minds to embrace all the different ways of being human.

At a picnic table in the dark, we spoke about networks and spaces, ways to let people know that they are not alone, to unbind their hands and give them microphones, a hundred billion words to speak the truth and to share their gifts, to recover them, to take them back in a series of small reclamations and seizures of what was ours, this heart of the world within us and the maps that form our minds.

“We are all geniuses.”

“To hold the entire past and present and possible future in your mind and heart…to be able to think that big, all the way down to the dust of the dinosaurs and into the dark of every possible future…to be able to walk in many worlds and to…”

“There are so many amazing people, people whose lives and visions are vital to the world. They are being destroyed by their lives. They are not allowed to believe or to know their gifts.”

“When they weep for the world, they are told they are ill.”

That is why we are here.