01 August 2012

Book du jour - back to over-writing

On the shelf directly above the desk at which I sit to type is Rebecca Solnit's "A field guide to getting lost", a collection of essays. Opening it at random:

"We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Somewhere in this is the mystery of why tragedies are more beautiful than comedies and why we take a huge pleasure in the sadness of certain songs and stories. Something is always far away." 

I loved typing that, both for the attention paid to the words and for the sensation of typing - and these same pleasures apply to handwriting when copying "good words". One component of my show is to be the over-writing, either pages or the book of sonnets - perhaps the pages lit from behind, or the sonnets made into a concertina with a typed version on the back - vague plans...

Yes time is running out, but it would be such a pleasure to write out those words about the blue of distance, the entire essay perhaps, imbibing through eye and hand, ex-bibing(?) through pen and ink. I fantasise using beautiful paper, sitting contentedly in a quiet room... There will be blue ink in my fountain pen, and the paper will be transparent so that "there's always something far away" and the next or previous page is almost visible - which ties neatly in to the Seepage book. This book of over-writing will encompass something that has been, and something that could be, but turns out to have already been also; something that was once clear and was skillful and meaningful in the moment of doing, but has become illegible to the doer and the observer both. (Not being able to read it doesn't matter - in fact, that's the whole point.)

That's the fantasy, now for the reality. Blue ink must be found, and the fountain pen -- not this one in its coffin, which from the start didn't write 
but the one I've had for about 30 years, and haven't used for the past couple of years...where is it now, I'd hate to lose it...

A format for the book must be decided - concertina? codex? tall and thin? short and wide? - as well as extent (something manageable, a dozen pages as they'll be written at least twice). And covers must be thought about too.

As someone (Picasso? Goethe? Einstein? - doesn't matter) once said, "If you can imagine it, you can do it". After sleeping on the idea I went to the local stationery/art supply store (Fish&Cook) and brought home some blue-ink pens. Then sorted through my paper drawers to find tracing paper, hoping to use some that I kept after an early version of my foundation course final project didn't work out. Found it, but most was too crinkled to use.
Which took us to lunchtime, and the search for a suitable, simple structure in a number of book-making books. Followed by the need to print the title and the quote before starting the writing.
 Ready to try out the pens and spacing -
But really I should do the dishes first...


wholly jeanne said...

I, too, find satisfying satisfaction in copying words, phrases, paragraphs that speak to me, and I will be writing this in my journal, too. Blue of distance; blue of longing; blue that can never be possessed. Seems you've found some kindling. Looking forward to checking back in for updates.

magsramsay said...

Did you see the programme on 'Blue' on BBC4 last night? Worth catching on iplayer if you didn't