Monday, December 13, 2010

Beautiful Fence

What Stands Between Us
A privacy, that is all. A 10' screen, behind which we eat and sleep and work and laugh and talk and organize our lives. And when the wind blows, and when the fence falls, and when we see one another, suddenly, after a wind storm, what is it but a tired fence with greenery and hedges and clapboard promises and trees and horizons and gravel lanes that we see? What is it but multicolored coolers and stacks of blue tarps and honey buckets and plastic tables?

Is it the fault of the fence master, when information leaks? It has been windy, there have been heavy rains, there are only so many rocks in so many milk crates guying out the wooden poles. What can we do? Information is bound to leak in and out, beneath the burlap, where the zip ties tear the screens into teardrops, where the fence scoops down in the mid-sections.

How does understanding form across a fence? What stands between us when the fence is gone? How is it that knowledge is shared? Miroslav Tudjman and Nives Mikelic, in a 2003 paper entitled Misinformation and Disinformation, tell us that "knowledge is shared positively as information and negatively as misinformation." Are we receiving information or misinformation? What do fences breed? And does open space counter that? Where is the antidote to a fence? Besides bringing it down, which we'll leave to the wind and the rain, how might we institute a counter, an information exchange?

Forum de Mille Veritatis
At our last meeting, Stuart showed me a book of etchings by Brodsky & Utkin filled with graphic projections on the theme Man in the Metropolis. He pointed out an etching entitled, Forum of A Thousand Truths, which I read and studied. It is a perfect summary of my own views on the worth of the artist. The artist's job is not to prove their worth, but to live their worth. The artist is of value in that she is, in that she is perceiving. Forum of A Thousand Truths (the etching below) describes a forest of information (immense columns on which news and information is posted) among which you may move and maneuver by rowboat, and in the distance, in the clearing, a table and chairs in which you can sit and discuss, firsthand information.
13. Forum de Mille Veritatis 1987/90. 30 3/8" x 22 1/2"
"The Intelligent Market," Central Glass Co. Competition Japan Architect, Tokyo, Japan, 1987,

Forum of Thousands Truths
The Intelligent Market

Impossible to embrace the immen-
sity. We spend years and years
wandering in a maze of fever-
ish searching of knowledge and
finally understanding that we have
learned nothing. Nothing that
we really needed. The infor-
mation that can be bought for
money is not worth paying. We
can't embrace it at one glimpse.
We can't be sated with it. It al-
ways contains an admixture of
lies[s] because it comes from people,
even being perceived by means of
computer[s]. But [no] computers
would [ever] tell us the very esse-
nce of the matter. The Real Info-
rmation can't be bought. It is
accessib(l)e to those who can wa-
tch, listen, think. It is disperse-
d everywhere--in each spot, cra-
ck, stone, pool. A word in friend-
ly conversation gives more [information] than
all computers in the world. Sai-
ling through the forest, walking
in the field--maybe a visitor of
the Forum will find at last his
own truth--one from thousands.

The Poet's Purpose
I'm still struggling to determine my purpose at Tent City. I had so many plans and ideas about what I would do. Most of them have been flattened by the realities of a cold, wet, dark environment. In trying to manage and limit my time and duties and tendency to overwork and solve extraneous problems,  I am reminded of the worth of simply perceiving. I try to come back to this and move into my senses. Perceiving is enough. Experience is plenty. Stop worrying and come back to this.

Speed Queen - Laundry Duty
There is one industrial washing machine at the Aloha Inn on Aurora Avenue. It runs, nonstop, from noon on Sunday until 6am Monday morning, cleaning the personal and camp blankets of Tent City 3. Tent City 3 residents must turn in their bedding by 10am on Sunday or suffer extra security shifts. Loads of blankets are taken across town to the Aloha Inn by van. And then the washing, washing, goes through the night! Twelve blankets is the maximum and minimum load it will handle. Garbage bags full of wet, mildewed and unpleasant smelling blankets are broken open and stuffed in with full-body force. The work is done in 4 hour shifts, 2 workers per shift. A laundry shift equals 2 securities. The final shift, during which TC3 blankets are washed, is a 6 hour shift. It runs from midnight to 6am and equals three securities. I took the 12-4pm shift this week and will work the 12-6am shift next week.

Laundry duty is popular because you stay warm and dry and can wash a load of personals. You can even take a shower if there's time, but if you are conscientious, the work is nonstop. When a bag is emptied, the owner's name and the bag's contents are catalogued in two places: on a clear, clean bag and in a log book. When multiple bags of blankets come out of the dryer, they can then be properly matched and bagged. Strict systems and careful description are the key to a smooth laundry duty. Summer, the blanket master, and I worked well together so the afternoon passed quickly and pleasantly.

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