I have exercises on writing about things – two in particular that I will post this week (Week 2) are called “The Talisman” and “Garbology.”
On Facebook today, a friend linked to this interesting article in the New York Times Magazine. I offer it as an adjunct to the “Talisman” and “Garbology,” along with some musings to accompany it.
Partly, these exercises are about seeing. When we look at what’s present, we are seeing only a small part of what is really there, and only a small part of what each item in our view really is in itself. Regarding that first statement: we tend to see what we are inclined to see, what we are already familiar with or what fits our general view of the world we are a part of. Our eyes tend to home in on particular things, as well, to the exclusion of other things right there before us. (That’s true of hearing, as well). Regarding the second statement: everything is an emblem of some larger experience -- a history, a family of things, the use or other meaningfulness of the thing, the metonymic realities of the thing (who owns it, made it, was affected by it, among other associations), and countless other contexts we could define.
Many of the exercises are meant truly to “exercise,” that is, train, our perceptions: to see more, to see less at times, and thereby to see with greater focus, greater opportunity for value or meaning.
One thing that interests me about this Times article (about the Internet-based initiatives it discusses, that is) is that the things we own and share are interconnected, and the stories about them are interconnected; the Internet, essentially a vast and dynamic system of interconnections, is therefore a natural medium (or dimension) for exploring the interconnectedness of things and the people who own and share things.
So, to add to ideas surrounding “The Talisman”: these web services, forms of Social Networking, offer technological ways of narrating and sharing stories; how do the Short Story, the Poem, or the Essay (consider them much older forms of technology, and also media, or alternate dimensions!) already do the work of telling, framing, and sharing stories related to things? How are things works of art in themselves; how are they also projections of identity, family, community?