My hand grabs one of my work polo shirts resting on top of my chest of drawer. They never go in or hang above with the shirts and trousers. Instead, they rest in a messy pile between the bottom of my shirts and the top of the chest of drawer. In ordinary time, I go through them too fast to bother tidying them properly.
I get off the chair and stretch, looking out of the window into the neighbours garden. The pool is empty. One of the boys, I can never tell who is R. and who is K., is lying next to the baby under a makeshift umbrella. He is making faces at little J. who wriggles his body in delight. They are both naked save for a pair of underwear. I watch them play for a while before returning to my laptop.
I think again of my journey in 2016. Contours, receding, vanishing, lines… words we used with my partner to describe the texts in a failed attempt at finding a title. Receding, vanishing. Now that I think of it, I have written those words, or variations of, often the last few weeks. I am losing, changing.
‘A currant tree,’ I repeat excitedly. I text my entire family, our joined memories of red currant jams, smeared faces, and stolen fruits gathered around this one tree. ‘A currant tree,’ I say one last time looking at it proudly.
I look at the moon, a thin luminous crescent in the darkening sky. Through the window of the study, I watch it stand still in the dark blue sky. Below, trees have lost their colours against a background of waning sunset flames.
Findings - Week 13
Ferdynand Ossendowski and Adeline Rapon
One of my aim for 2020 is to be more conscious of the time I spend reading/listening/watching new (to me) creative projects. I want to actively make time for other people’s work and creativity in my life. One way of achieving this has been to be more focused with my time but as the year gets busier, I am going to to lose that focus. To combat this, I am going to publicly share a list of works I’ve been enjoying on a weekly basis.
Ferdynand Ossendowski – Beasts, Men, and Gods
Beasts, Men, and Gods is a book I picked up over ten years ago and never read. I remember starting it and finding it widely disappointing. It wasn’t the promised adventures in the woods or a fight for survival. Instead, Ferdynand Ossendowski narrates his flight from Russia to Mongolia in a pragmatic way, recording his experiences in a rational almost scientific manner at times.
Older now, I have a different perspective on his writing. I know more about the early days of communist Russia, I have read about Mongolia more widely, and I am more open to different styles of writing. I enjoyed the narration, following events unfold through Mongolia that I never heard about, mixing both historical events and spiritual beliefs. But Ferdynand Ossendowski is not a narrator I trust. Details are often scarce, events reported with an obvious bias but then, the author never claims to bring the truth. It is sometimes even easy to read his journey as a work of fiction.
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Portrait confinement 14. Il arrivait que certain.e.s Antillais.e.s soient amené.e.s en Hexagone par leurs maîtres ou patrons et les raisons ont été multiples. Cependant, ils ne pouvaient (légalement en tout cas) les garder en tant qu'esclaves : beaucoup ont été servant.e.s, ou sont partis pour vivre une vie différente. On retrouve la trace de certain.e.s quand iels ont été modèles, comme Maria, prise ici en photo par Nadar. Leur profil, évidemment atypique sur le sol français où avaient encore lieu les zoos humains, a inspiré et était utilisé par bon nombre d'artistes : Matisse et Baudelaire, notamment. Ce qui ne voulait pas dire que ces Antillais.e.s étaient soudainement devenus libres de tout racisme, bien évidemment. Photo originale : "Maria, l'Antillaise", Felix Nadar, vers 1850. Trouvée sur @gallicabnf. #fanmfoseries
Adeline Rapon- Fanm Fô Series
Alix, from La Lectrice Sérivore, shared this series of portraits from Adeline Rapon, and I am very glad she did.
Adeline Rapon recreated portraits of women from Martinique and Guadeloupe while in lockdown. Her work is writing these women into history as well as writing herself into these histories. For me, it was a revelation, opening my eyes to everything I was never taught at school.
What have you been enjoying this week?
I begin the day writing about Friday, thinking about my anxiety, about work and the changes that have happened. I pause often to consider how I was feeling then, remembering the fear, the doubts, the lurking darkness in me.
I put the phone back on the bedside table and picks up my book. It is easier to lose myself in the turbulent world of Mongolia in 1920 than to consider ours in 2020. I barely have time to read a chapter that my phone rings. Surprised by the sounds, I pick it up, expecting an unknown caller but instead I see my friend’s name on the screen, the very same one I was just chatting with on Twitter.
I scroll through the gallery of photos people are submitting as an answer to this tweet and run my hand through my hair. It’s shorter than it’s ever been but feel ridiculously long in comparison to the images I’m seeing.
I walk past my partner, my hand brushing her neck, and step outside. I pour much needed water into the pots containing lily of the valley, mint, and unknown plant. We picked up the last two from a garden front with a sign for ‘free plants’. We only recognised the mint from its smell.