Art: Eve Ventrue
“If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph:
THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
— Kurt Vonnegut
“My witness is the empty sky.”
— Jack Kerouac
Location: Mansfield, Victoria, Australia
“Do not wait for the last judgment. It comes every day.”
― Albert Camus
Location: Jules Verne’s gravestone in Amiens, France.
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow
And soonest our best men with thee do go
Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppies or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swellst thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!
-John Donne, Holy Sonnet X
Location: Motorcycling in Ladakh
“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”
— Jack Kerouac (On the Road)
Location: The sky from Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii
(Boast of Quietness)
Writings of light assault the darkness, more prodigious than meteors.
The tall unknowable city takes over the countryside.
Sure of my life and death, I observe the ambitious and would like to
Their day is greedy as a lariat in the air.
Their night is a rest from the rage within steel, quick to attack.
They speak of humanity.
My humanity is in feeling we are all voices of that same poverty.
They speak of homeland.
My homeland is the rhythm of a guitar, a few portraits, an old sword,
the willow grove’s visible prayer as evening falls.
Time is living me.
More silent than my shadow, I pass through the loftily covetous multitude.
They are indispensable, singular, worthy of tomorrow.
My name is someone and anyone.
I walk slowly, like one who comes from so far away he doesn’t expect to arrive”
-Jorge Luis Borges
Location: Rakotz Brücke, Germany
(Orkney / This Life)
It is big sky and its changes,
the sea all round and the waters within.
It is the way sea and sky
work off each other constantly,
like people meeting in Alfred Street,
each face coming away with a hint
of the other’s face pressed in it.
It is the way a week-long gale
ends and folk emerge to hear
a single bird cry way high up.
It is the way you lean to me
and the way I lean to you, as if
we are each other’s prevailing;
how we connect along our shores,
the way we are tidal islands
joined for hours then inaccessible,
I’ll go for that, and smile when I
pick sand off myself in the shower.
The way I am an inland loch to you
when a clatter of white whoops and rises…
It is the way Scotland looks to the South,
the way we enter friends’ houses
to leave what we came with, or flick
the kettle’s switch and wait.
This is where I want to live,
close to where the heart gives out,
ruined, perfected, an empty arch against the sky
where birds fly through instead of prayers
while in Hoy Sound the ferry’s engines thrum
this life this life this life.
Artist: Adrian Borda
War is no longer declared,
only continued. The monstrous
has become everyday. The hero
stays away from battle. The weak
have gone to the front.
The uniform of the day is patience,
its medal the pitiful star of hope above the heart.
The medal is awarded
when nothing more happens,
when the artillery falls silent,
when the enemy has grown invisible
and the shadow of eternal armament
covers the sky.
It is awarded
for desertion of the flag,
for bravery in the face of friends,
for the betrayal of unworthy secrets
and the disregard
of every command.
walking around the block just before dawn. I threw a red silk scarf
around my shoulders and then I began reciting in my sleep why I write:
I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to
create fabric in a world that often appears black and white. I write to
discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin
a dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things
differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I
write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation.
I write because it creates my composure. I write against power
and for democracy. I write myself out of my nightmares and into my
dreams. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the
questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me
complacent. I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to the music
that opens my heart. I write to quell the pain. I write to migrating
birds with the hubris of language. I write as a form of translation. I
write with the patience of melancholy in winter. I write because it
allows me to confront that which I do not know. I write as an act of
faith. I write as an act of slowness. I write to record what I love in the
face of loss. I write because it makes me less fearful of death. I write
as an exercise in pure joy. I write as one who walks on the surface of
a frozen river beginning to melt. I write out of my anger and into
my passion. I write from the stillness of night anticipating-always
anticipating. I write to listen. I write out of silence. I write to soothe
the voices shouting inside me, outside me, all around. I write because
of the humor of our condition as humans. I write because I believe in
words. I write because I do not believe in words. I write because it is
a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like
a child left alone in sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the
moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take longwalks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can
create a path in darkness. I write because as a child I spoke a different
language. I write with a knife carving each word through the generosity
of trees. I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I
write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to
speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what
I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine. I write by grace
and grit. I write out of indigestion. I write when I am starving. I write
when I am full. I write to the dead. I write out of the body. I write to
put food on the table. I write on the other side of procrastination. I
write for the children we never had. I write for the love of ideas. I
write for the surprise of a sentence. I write with the belief of alchemists.
I write knowing I will always fail. I write knowing words always fall
short. I write knowing I can be killed by my own words, stabbed by
syntax, crucified by both understanding and misunderstanding. I write
out of ignorance. I write by accident. I write past the embarrassment
of exposure. I keep writing and suddenly, I am overcome by the sheer
indulgence, (the madness,) the meaninglessness, the ridiculousness of
this list. I trust nothing especially myself and slide head first into the
familiar abyss of doubt and humiliation and threaten to push the delete
button on my way down, or madly erase each line, pick up the paper
and rip it into shreds-and then I realize, it doesn’t matter, words are
always a gamble, words are splinters from cut glass. I write because
it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the
words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable
we are, how transient.
I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love. “-Terry Tempest Williams, Why I Write
Art Installation: Rebecca Louise
Location: Mullaghmore Head, Sligo Ireland
(Try to Praise the Mutilated World)
They suffer, and I catch only the surface.
The rest is inexpressible, beyond
What can be recorded. You can’t be them.
If they’d talk to you, you might guess
What pain is like though they might spit on you.
Film is just a reflection
Of the matchless despair of the century.
There have been twenty centuries since charity began.
Indignation is day-to-day stuff;
It keeps us off the streets, it keeps us watching.
Film has no words of its own.
It is a silent waste of things happening
Without us, when it is too late to help.
What of the dignity of those caught suffering?
It hurts me. I robbed them of privacy.
My young friends think Film will be all of Art.
It will be revolutionary proof
Their films will not guess wrongly and will not lie.
They’ll film what is happening behind barbed wire.
They’ll always know the truth and be famous.
Politics softens everything.
Truth is known only to its victims.
All else is photographs—a documentary
The starving and playboys perish in.
Life disguises itself with professionalism.
Life tells the biggest lies of all,
And draws wages from itself.
Truth is a landscape the saintly tribes live on,
And all the lenses of Japan and Germany
Wouldn’t know how to focus on it.
Life flickers on the frame like beautiful hummingbirds.
That is the film that always comes out blank.
The painting the artist can’t get shapes to fit.
The poem that shrugs off every word you try.
The music no one has ever heard.