Permanence Lost

By | December 20, 2012

Reading Chris Lott’s poetic comment about loss in response to Jim’s assertion that Nothing is Lost

…there’s not only nothing wrong with writing one’s poem and sending it down the river on fire, it might be a significantly better way to transcend the technical issues and consider what it means to *be*

the idea struck me so much, I decided to do this very thing in a literal sense.

We wrote.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

Set alight.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

And sent the burning boats afloat.

animated gif of borges boat

*Borges Boat

It was quite a lovely little experience in impermanence, shifting the metaphor into a literal act.

As the boat burned and floated, I  ruminated on the analogy, wondering if this is what it is like to release the essence of my creative contributions into the web, into the unknown, allowing it to be freed, destroyed, reshaped or potentially disappear.

I decided that with both the boat and my online presence, it’s not the permanence of the act that is powerful but the agency. Of course, nothing ever stays the same. Everything is shifting and changing. I accept this fully. It’s the agency of the act that I have a difficult time relinquishing.

I made the boat with my paper. It was my decision to burn the boat. Even if natural disaster had caused my boat to capsize and sink, it was my choice to let it float away. The agency of loss is my own.

Parts of me are fragmented in ways that I’ll never know about. @DrGarcia likens this to a social media horcrux, where portions of your soul are splintered across multiple objects (or in this case, websites).

We can still maintain stoicism about impermanence. Disappearing online artifacts can stand tribute to this. But this is happening less and less. It’s not the disappearing that is the problem but the fragmenting. When my artifacts get locked up and these pieces of my soul get shifted behind walls, I am robbed of my agency.

It is the loss of agency that is worthy of concern.

And more importantly, this is the loss of agency that we can actively prevent by keeping our spaces and helping others set up their own spaces. This is a role I see as ever more important for librarians and educators in higher education.

To dramatically mix my metaphors, I’ll pull in D’Arcy’s thoughts. We may be the funky downtown losing business to the giant box stores. I’m okay with that. I like to think every time I blog, release a picture into the creative commons, pingback, comment on my friends’ blogs, help others create open spaces I consider that my contribution to the Funky Downtown Economic Development Office.

*Again another opportunity just #ds106 #GIFest it up.

4 thoughts on “Permanence Lost

  1. GNA Garcia

    I love to read your writing and see your images Giulia. I can only imagine the forward-back-after story of your action. The refraction herein presents us with an excellent question; a call to action: contribute, encourage, and be vigilant on where we reside and who/what we encounter.

    To consider oneself agentic is to act with intention *and* understand our individual actions within a increasingly more MASSIVE ecology of human interactions.

    I cannot maintain control over all the waves that ensue from the paper boats I’ve lit afire and sent into the wind.

    I can act with openly, authentically, and with humility… and I can ride, as gracefully as possible, your waves.

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  3. Jabiz Raisdana

    I once survived a Tsunami. I was shaken up and feeling “spiritual.” The whole “why me?” is there a plan, contemplated god for like 2 seconds. Then the silence brought me back to myself and I saw Haikus everywhere I looked. I decided to write one, then another, then one everyday for a year. I wrote 472 of them. Saved them all on some Dreamweaver site I had painstakingly made.

    At first they were a place where I could be alone and free and the more I wrote the easier they became. I began to think in Haiku. It was great, but suddenly the poems and the act of poetry and the permanence of the collection became heavy and constricting.

    So deleted them. Every single one. No record gone. Like the Mandala Sand paintings of Tibeten monks. Swept into the wind. It felt great.

    Part of the disease of the Internet for me, is the archiving of so much of our content. We hoard and quantify so much of our lives. All of it tagged and ready for retrieval, but really life is fleeting and impermanent. The Buddha says that we suffer when we form attachments, perhaps it is best to sometimes simply set parts of our selves on fire and send them down the river more often.

    Thanks for this./ Great to read first thing in the new year.

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