It’s been a week. I’ve just spoken to Chris in Perth, who knows my history (more than nearly anyone), and I feel clearer now about what needs to be done.
Following my post from yesterday, where I expressed concern that I was not “feeling the freshness” – that I was going through the motions a bit – that it all felt like a bit of “a job” (heaven forbid!) – I received several encouraging emails and comments, urging me to keep “powering along” with it. To all who wrote, thanks. It helps. At least I know what I’ve done so far hasn’t been entirely tedious, tepid, or turgid. However, I still think a change is called for.
Up ’til now, I have been (unconsciously) hoping that folks in the ‘sham will spontaneously come and talk to me, that the project will evolve effortlessly from some kind of delightful cosmic chance procedure. How lovely would that be, eh?
But its clear that this is not happening. And why should it? I am just an ordinary guy in the ‘sham, and nobody knows that I’m in the throes of an (agonisingly self-reflective) art project. This is exactly the problem. I think it’s an interesting one.
You see, I’ve had a bit of a crisis of strategy. In Kellerberrin, things flowed because of the existing structural situation – outsider in a small town, invited artist-in residence from the big city, naturally curious, dashingly good looking (ahem, sorry).
What I mean is, I didn’t really have to do much to make it flow. I was lucky, and my “skill” (if you can call it that) was having a gregarious nature, recognising that the communicative flow was happening, and harnessing it.
Here, of course, things are not the same. There is no framework which might shift the relationships I have with my neighbours. There is no local host to introduce me around. Six months ago, two weeks ago, today, things are the same – I’m just a local guy toolin around the ‘hood, buying bread and a paper, having coffee on the balcony, planting some vegies in the garden. To imagine that juicy conversations will naturally evolve, just because I would like them to, is tantamount to claiming the apparent ease of Bilateral Kellerberrin as a result of some sort of ineffable internal social instinct I possess but only barely recognise.
Sorry, getting a bit wordy here. What I mean is this – when things work, one rarely asks why. When they don’t work so well, it’s a good opportunity to find something out.
There’s a connection staring me right in the face. It’s between my neighbourly relationships, and the more personal kind. Here’s a caricature: if a relationship is working out the way you want it to, fine. No need to do anything, right? If it’s not going fine, you can dump it, ignore the problem, or try to change things.
To attempt to change something is to take an active step in the direction of “how I would prefer things to be”. There is no point hanging around in a half-baked relationship for the purposes of “observing” it. Or, maybe it will have some academic value, but I don’t imagine its something I would consciously choose to repeat (er, if I could help it, that is).
What I’m saying is this: it’s time to be clear about what I want, and not snoop around hoping that I’ll just get it by chance.
I’ve been holding back a bit from a public declaration of my project, partly because I really wanted to do it from the point of view of a “normal” neighbour. And a normal neighbour wouldn’t go around handing out flyers or dressing up in funny costumes to attract attention and generate conversations. I didn’t want to have to take on a role.
Then again, it’s probably time to acknowledge that I’m no “normal” neighbour. In fact, is there any such thing? In pretending to be “normal,” I’m acting just as much as I would be if I were to (say) drag a telegraph pole down the main street dressed in a cowboy outfit (apologies to Lone Twin, you know I love your work). So the question remains: if I don’t want take on a theatrical role, what should I do? “What would Lucas Ihlein do in this situation?”
Besides, haven’t I an obligation to let the locals “in on it”? After all, YOU (dear reader) know what I’m doing, don’t you? Is my unethical behaviour merely feeding your voyeuristic pleasure?
Speaking of voyeuristic pleasure, I’ll just let you in on something else. I mentioned last Wednesday that it’s hard to concentrate. It aint easy to clear space in my mind when I’m still surrounded by all my shit, when I still have work commitments, and so on. But, in light of the above, I need to acknowledge that this IS the scenario I find myself in. This is the territory of “home.”
There have been heaps of things going on this week that haven’t made their way into the blog. Visits from friends, dinners with interstate travellers, worrying news from my dad, not to mention work on a long paper for uni that I should have handed in two weeks ago.
For some reason, I’ve compartmentalised my mind and declared certain things “Petersham-specific” and others not. I’m not sure if this is the best idea.
On the other hand, if I wrote about absolutely everything that happened in the course twentyfour hours, I would have no time to do anything the next day (and neither would you, if you tried to read it).
Good grief. It’s after midnight. Time for bed, eh?