Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Morning After

The meaning of what we did, the meaning as it might relate to how books get made or how writers work, or whether you can witness any of this by marking off a territory to watch it—this kind of meaning feels irrelevant. Ideas show up. A bunch of them, and you look at them and say, What can I make of you, what have you got to say to each other? An idea floats out like a net or a smell, and people show up for reasons they can’t name. They look at each other and smell each other and wonder what they have to say to each other. Everything depends on who shows up. Everything depends on everyone showing up.

There are a lot of ways to look at the thing we did. The thing I mean is the whole thing. The three writers as individuals and a group, the three teams of habitat designers and builders as individuals and a group, the members of Flux Factory as individuals and a group, the intellectuals and artists and cooks attached to Flux Factory and the Novel project. That’s about 30 to 50 people, depending on the day, showing up. Publicity and visitors fluffed us and made us aware of ourselves as something being looked at. But the thing we were was also separate from our audience. I didn’t always feel like I fit, like I was understood, like my ideas were welcome. I interpreted. I attached meaning. I told myself to stop it and didn’t. I was happy. I didn’t need more than was there. I thought about death but not my own that much.

Grant, Ranbir, and I called the gallery space we inhabited Outerpodmania. I don’t remember who started calling our houses pods. No one entered Outerpodmania, except at visiting times. At the far end of our gallery was an area with a phone, computers, and couches where, normally, Fluxers conducted business. They quit using it during the project, so we wouldn’t be disturbed. We called that area Innerpodmania, and late at night we sat there laughing and gossiping—often with Sara and Ellen. Artless, not quotable laughter.

I got home late Saturday night, opened mail, slept a couple of hours, and then my sister scooped me up and we visited our mother who was doing pretty well for the moment. Two gigantic genetically engineered geese waltzed up from the river and mingled casually with the people scattered in wheelchairs across the lawn. I drove to my sister’s house in New Jersey, a pod as spotless and orderly as Flux is frizzy. At dinner one night, Ranbir noted that he could not feel cool unless his hair was cool. Unlike meteorological oddities, this wasn’t predictable. “I have to catch my reflection in a store window.”

Ranbir and I talked on the phone yesterday like we were still on the couch. He’d left a message for Grant but hadn’t heard from him yet. We missed his deadpan delivery. I stole lines from him. Where was he?


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