Things bound with waxed sail thread and resin

drawing of mountains, riversMy subconscious has been working on a thesis for me lately; broadcasting things which on the surface (flattened and simplified by my waking mind) appear disparate, but on closer inspection are stitched together by a continuous thread.

Its thesis is about crafting sensible (or at least legible, recognizable) solutions, guides, codes to amorphous and unformed problems. Striving to find concrete solutions to riddles or puzzles only hinted at. Trying to map a place whose geography and even location is ever-shifting.

A reminder that, sometimes, the answers one wants or needs are unattainable because one is asking the wrong questions. It’s telegraphing this to me visually; that’s how I best understand the world. And the message coming through: I must widen my frame of reference, my view, in order to ask the right questions.

‘Maps for cephalopods’ is perhaps the most obvious— my subconscious’ version of hitting me over the head; a wry attempt at a movie-montage or voice-over exposition— and its point at least two-fold;

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On drawing maps for cephalopods

Jellyfishes in Brooklyn Aquarium by Elizabeth DaggarWe were making aquariums out of materials that, while they looked appropriate, were perhaps not sturdy enough. There were three or four parts comprising each coffin-sized plexiglas case, but occasionally the filtration system was sending surges of too much water upwards at times, and we were concerned about leaving them in a room, filter on, alone. About malfunctions, accidental flooding.

Then there was one in which I was somehow creating maps or sets of directions for sea creatures; jellyfishes, crustaceans, cephalopods. There was something like a computer through which they could request help finding one another in the ocean, and my job was to fashion a map or drawing or set of instructions for each. My waking mind cannot conceive how this would be done, nor recall how I did it in that place.

Cartography of the subconscious

When I woke I discovered my heart cast shadows longer than dreams in places where we moved as children, cured of fear, and never looked back.

Sometimes when I wake I write down my dreams, or the bits I can remember. If I wake with the territory intact, I map it. The drawings are invariably simple, as the tools of consciousness are ill-suited to convey that kind of shifting complexity*, but it’s fun.

I found some bits of writing from several years ago; notes for a project I never quite started:

The terrain of the interior is known only in the abstract. The places there are monumental and organic– even cities seem not altogether manmade.

I’ve never seen boundaries, or approached an edge of it. Unlike a world in the round, the interior has a precipice beyond which lies a void. Or it may be a sphere, inversed— the center of which now lies at the edges of everywhere, for the laws of physics apply only as far as they are known and believed true.

dream map

The map is drawn as each footfall hits the ground; comes into existence ceaselessly. It’s fluid. Stars by which to navigate wink into existence with every step— constellations formed against losing one’s way in the darkness (but are soon forgotten).

The interior is never in focus all at once. Places obscured for a time will likely be redrawn, subtly or altogether, by the next time (or if) they come back into view.

dream blueprint

  • Edited to add: This is absolutely untrue; it’s what all of art is for, ultimately, but when time is of the essence, it can be true. Depends on one’s mindset, and one’s intention in the moment. These things percolate and eventually can at least come close to expressing the under-explored territories; that’s the goal, difficult as it can be.