I really *should* post an update on our loft flooring “research”, copper flashing (aka drip edge) installation, east elevation gable window framing, revised drawings from Tiho that address a few outstanding items like column, stairway, railing, and other trim details (plus lighting, electric, and mechanicals),… But I’m going to postpone these already postponed updates a little longer to talk instead about a recurring subplot in recent months.
Okay, maybe it’s unfair to dub it a subplot since so far it’s defied definition. At heart it’s a grappling with mission. And permission. As I pour over sixteen years’ worth of memories and plans and artifacts and notes and photos and stories and poems and intertwined lives and ephemera there’s an inner struggle at work. Am I simply gathering the strings of a vast collection, curating its diverse snippets into a sort of chronicle, a history, a retrospective map? Or am I creating from these fragments something new and unique? Am I more of an historian or a mosaic maker? Am I chronicler or artist?
“He chooses; he synthesizes; in short, he has ceased to be the chronicler; he has become an artist.” — Virginia Woolf (Source: The Art of Biography)
There’s an inevitable tensions between the duty of stewardship and the affinity for storytelling and poetic truth. Between the responsibility to document important details for future Rosslyn homeowners and the creative freedom to explore textures and layers, melodies and harmonies, whimsical what-ifs and errant adventures.
But it’s more than this. It’s verisimilitude. Veracity…
I believe that there are different kinds of accuracy. I am a storyteller, not an historian, and though I strive for verisimilitude, some truths are more effectively preserved and conveyed through stories than history or vaults. (Source: Remembering and Recounting)
And so I pendulum between two muses, each jealous of the other, both second guessing, both casting aspersions.
Some days I toil like an archeologist amidst a midden heap of artifacts, rewinding time’s mysteries, deciphering the prior summer’s garden vegetables from this season’s rich, dark compost. Other days I seduce and charm and coerce the artifacts to share longer forgotten truths. (Source: Remembering and Recounting)
And there’s the not too subtle complication of recollection. My memory muddles — more of the composting variety than the austere archival variety — appreciating the possibilities of parallax, and grafting whimsical paisley’s onto sturdier scions to ensure that they survive the tempestuous toils of time.
I am startled to discover that these precise, unambiguous reference points frequently contradict my recollection. Dramatic events indelibly etched into my brain at the time have already blurred despite the brief lapse of time. I curse my mischievous mind and then accept that 100% accuracy will inevitably elude me. My mind’s imperfect cataloging at once humbles and liberates me. Though an unreliable historian, I am a chronicler and curator of stories, not facts. (Source: Remembering and Recounting)
So there it is. I’ve flirted with this truth before, and I double down today. Caveat emptor. Ask not of me the court stenographer’s unblinking authority. And I’ll not ask of you the jury’s verdict or the judges conviction.
According to Garcia Marquez life is not only the experiences, the moments lived. Life is also the rendering of those experiences into stories, the recollecting, the filtering, the imagining, the sharing. (Source: Remembering and Recounting)
Recollecting, filtering, imagining, choosing, curating, synthesizing, sharing,… This is the map I use. Chronicler or artist? Yes, but mostly the latter.
Perhaps even with history we become overconfident that the facts are irrefutable… Absent an omnipresent video camera that documents my life as I bump along, capturing every minute detail precisely, permanently, Garcia Marquez’s perspective offers reassuring guidance. Though I frequently daydream about a collaborative memoir comprised of the recollections of everyone who participated in the rebirth of Rosslyn, my story is an eclectic nexus of personal experiences, filtered, aggregated and cobbled into narrative cohesion by me. (Source: Remembering and Recounting)
And yet the challenge of a dual mission permeates this 16-year exercise. There’s an inevitable tendency, a responsibility even, to document. To archive. To showcase. And there’s the omnipresent siren song of wonder and whimsy. While I still endeavor to provide a responsible accounting of our life, love, and toil at/with Rosslyn, I’m succumbing to the beguiling song of the sirens.
My quest for permission needn’t require such wayward roving. It is first and foremost my own consent I’m questing after. And part of accepting this is granting myself permission to embrace art above chronicle. I’ve suspected this. Dithered. Wondered. Worried. But this morning a confident confluence is flowing. And I’m ready… (Source: Quest for Permission)
Fair warning, then, while I dive into the reflective waters simultaneously mirroring the misty morning and revealing the pebbly depths. I’ll be back. Soon.
What do you think?