a few days one of my professors said something in the approximate shape of "anthropology recognizes that we are social beings, that we cannot survive without the structure and support that communication gives us. and for those who can't communicate, that is the definition of mental illness. nobody understands them, and they can't understand us." yes. he said us. "they understand each other, the voices they hear and the things they see."
I'll keep this short:
front row: can't see the rows and rows of people behind me, but I can see the glow all around me, cell phone screens are getting bigger with the passing days and shoved around the spaces at the side of my face in order to get a better view. In line before, there's group pictures, let me get a picture of you and your friend, no they aren't my girlfriend. more pictures of us at the barrier in the dark; the look of washed-out flash is the goal, as if to capture the way that we feel like ghosts above our bodies in a crowded theater. by coming here, I also gave up my freedom to walk, freedom to pace, even when all I've been given is time to wait. 'I aim to avoid loud crowds, being touched by people, and sweating as much as possible' I say as I go to another GA concert.
oh are you together, no we just ended up at the front together, two souls with nothing better to do. there were so many gay guys here, always trying to offer me water, we'll make a tunnel to bar and make a barricade to keep ourselves from getting shoved around, thanks for looking out, that's so kind of you.
I'm here, I'm sober, the people outside are the ones with the problem. after hearing a string of bizarre insults thrown like paper from the window of a SUV and petting every dog in a half-mile radius, I wonder what it would be like to walk the length of Congress Street high out of my mind.
but I'm here and for the first time, I'm not thinking about time passing, how the mechanics of the universe will persist in a way that will allow me to come out at the other side of this and then crawl home, bleary-eyed. maybe it's because my bed is a safe twenty blocks away, but here time passes and I realize I have so much more patience than these people around me. This is my third show in my first life alone.
(if we're lucky, I'll rememeber to develop that film before the new year.)
everything about ethnography is about listening, about paying attention, all wrapped up in a subtle warning about falling for what has already been thought of. we only think of something to say because it's obvious. and then we don't speak at all.
I wanted to dig deeper than the place where we've been resting but I look out over the horizon and zone out; to see anything other than right through what is in front of me is exhausting. I doubt I'll ever be able to do this well, but that's just some catching up I'll have to do if I'll ever be enough even for my own standards-- lower than most while simultaneously sky-high.
I shouldn't talk in terms of seeing expectations, only in terms of feeling around them like rubble of the wall that has been coming down on one end only to be reconstructed on the other--for quite some time. five years now. substance over aesthetics. that's what I've heard once, and that's what I've been thinking lately. ethnography is about listening, but it's about listening because conversation is truly at the core of ethnography. I'll write on the bathroom mirror and send a picture to you: aesthetics don't save lives. this is the way things will get better. one late night conversation after another, ones that you'll love and others you'll regret, we're building the library and the oral history that will save the collapsing world when these recordings are discovered millennia from now.
we planned to take pictures to document the chemical absorption spectrum of a sky only we see; pictures, pictures, pictures, but eventually we'll forget how to speak coherently. maybe before it's too late I'll put my thoughts in order. things beautifully stated with clarity and resonance have a sensation all their own, the thick mist of myth and someone trusting you enough to tell you what words in what order saved their life. aesthetics will not save my life.
given life. new hair, dirty clothes. more later though.