disembodied (with apologies to Emily Dickinson)

Nobody was here but then they are everywhere, only not right now.  Everybody knows who they are not, but nobody knows who they are.  We—everybody and nobody, that is—are always asking who?  We also ask how when and why but never listen to the answer.  We hear it, but ignore it, thinking it belongs to somebody else.

If only I were somebody else; then I wouldn’t be nobody.  They have it better, those somebodies, they can come and go as they please.  Somebody is always present and sometimes so is somebody else.  I’m not somebody else, but am I anybody or nobody?

And then I’m wondering if there’s just me or if there’s also a you.  Are you everybody, anybody–or maybe–nobody too?

I haven’t felt an affinity for the last few NaPoWriMo prompts, but luckily there’s Muri’s Scavenger Hunt to take up the slack. This time I chose to write an American Paragraph, which is a collection of American Sentences, invented by David Bogomolny, an aficionado of the American Sentence.

If you can figure out what it means, let me know.

I recently rediscovered these collages when I started archiving my art. I do actually remember doing them 40 years ago–I had a book from the library that contained photos of famous artists with their work. Of course I neither wrote down the name of the book or the names of the artists, though they all seem to have been male. And I could not find anything on the internet that resembled such a book, so it must be long out of print.

Another mystery. Life is full of them.

53 thoughts on “disembodied (with apologies to Emily Dickinson)

    1. Thanks Jade. I can’t imagine even attempting a project like that now. My older daughter was born shortly after, and my non-textile work lost it focus and then mostly disappeared for a long time.

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  1. Begs the question, not what was that book, but rather who-were-you forty years ago? How much do we know ourselves, our whole selves? I don’t have THAT memory – however, somehow, I still feel “like me”, like nothing changed at root. All oddities.

    BYW poem & pictures are incredible. Especially the poem, and, especially the pictures. Second collage especially. 40 yearsss, I’m impressed.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head Neil. I am not that person now, nor could I now create those collages. Am I the same at root? I don’t think I can answer that.


  2. I enjoyed this, Kerfe. And I think I know what it means, though I can’t say it any better than you. Identity is certainly fluid and something we seek (and change) throughout life – hopefully getting closer to the answer.

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            1. I can understand that. As for myself, I’m tired of changes, and would be content to stay somewhere for more than a year or two (or a few months, even) for a change. I do have an urge to purge though.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the collages. The colors are so subtle, and the “drawing” is marvelous. The poem-paragraph is also wonderful. This reference to “American sentences” reminds me of a poet I used to know via the internet (sadly deceased) who wrote sometimes about “Australian sentences,” and I felt such affinity because I love the sentence form (mine, of course, are American — but I was unaware of a movement or trend). Anyway, I am here! How that categorizes me — I’m going for Somebody. Definitely a distinct Somebody! Mark this Somebody, “present.”

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        1. You both have a very sharp intellect. Did you know she really admired Sherwood Anderson? I read this book long ago, but I’m seeing it a whole different way now. What a full life they had!

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  4. I will play the contrarian (authentically) in saying that I suspect you could do collage like that now. That element of your life and personality is still there. But perhaps you enjoy your different direction now. And yet, the skills are still active (in new roles) and the color awareness, the drawing, the spatial sensitivity — all still present — and I’d liken it to a tree that shoots up a new tree from the roots. Sometimes we just have so many things that we want to do that there simply isn’t time to return to an earlier thread, even when we love it. If something of these earlier collages beckons to you now, ask yourself what aspect … that element that beckons perhaps wants to participate in the collages that you do now. Perhaps not the whole, but maybe some part …. just my two cents.

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    1. I’m not sure. I’ve tried to reproduce ideas from the past, and they are always unsuccessful. I can’t replicate myself, even from year to year. My drawings are very similar over time, but nothing else is.

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      1. This subject really intrigues me because I have been finding earlier pictures, and I want to return to something I was doing in the past. I may begin writing about the topic. Not sure. Just would just point out that unsuccessful artwork based on trying to revisit previous ideas isn’t radically different from unsuccessful artwork that follows current ideas. Maybe just the thought that you’re seeing the version that works marvelously leads you to suppose you cannot go there again, but do you ever apply that same thinking to what you do now? Or do you just go forward with current ideas because you know that the only way to fix “mistakes” is to go through and past them. Different expectations.


        1. You are such a deep thinker–I’m not like that at all. I don’t really think that much about what I do, at least not in any analytical way. I hesitate to even call it thinking. I may have a vague idea to start with, but then I just start going and see what happens. Sometimes it works, and sometimes not. I agree, you get just as much out of what doesn’t work, but I never even try to articulate what it is in words. I feel like it will just show up in what happens next. My entire life is one big trial and error. I never had plans or goals. Even my desires are vague. I’m always surprised at the result of what I start.

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          1. Thank you for the kind words, Kerfe. I am analytical by nature — sometimes annoyingly so (judging by peoples’ reactions). I hope I have a poetic side somewhere in my head as well. If it’s there I’m less aware of its presence. Analyzing things, though, it’s just the way my brain works.

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            1. Well most people never think about things, and don’t want to. As to me, my verbal articulation is not that good–I have thoughts, but no way to put them into words that actually say what I mean in a rational way. So poetry, where things are hinted at but not spelled out, is one way to try to communicate that sometimes works. Luckily, we’re all different, it would be boring otherwise.


                  1. I persist in believing that we can only ever know what it’s like to be ‘me’. It’s impossible to even know what it’s like to one of our children. I don’t know what it’s like to be ‘a woman’, only what it’s like to be this particular woman now this minute. Even then…

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    1. That’s an interesting observation. I think the faces could be anyone really, but they were done in the 1970s, so I certainly would never have made the connection. (K)


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