28 May 2010
It’s very nice to be here.
It is a national holiday today so it’s my only chance to see the city a bit. The 30th of April though is a very particular day. They call it the ‘Queen’s Day’ and the whole city is out celebrating something that started as the Queen’s birthday celebration many years ago but now looks more like a bizarre bazaar where people are allowed to sell in the streets whatever they can think of: from food, clothes, old discs and toys to weird dancing, singing and acrobat routines; in front of the houses’ doors, from the windows, in the streets, in parks, by the canals; everything’s on sale. I hear stories about families that have been rehearsing for a whole year for this day and have been planning marketing policies to sell their products. Families that today have Michael Jackson for father, Madonna for mother, tiny rock stars for kids and they dance to the music for 50cents. It’s such a weird performative frame, isn’t it? You really don’t know where to look first; so many people, so many offers, so much investment. Certainly the weirdest kind of trade I’ve ever witnessed. I am walking among them and don’t know what to think. A friend here says that such investment is always admirable… maybe… Investment can be such a nice word anyway...
I hear you are in a really beautiful space there. I hear it’s on the top floor and that the light is nice and that things are beautifully silent and calm up there. I hear there are others around from time to time, waiting for their turn or reading the previously written words, now laid on the floor. How is Karen? What does she wear? I remember what I’ve read once, I think it was Wooster Group’s Ron Vawter saying that in performance we are the ‘stand-ins’, people who stand on stage in the place of ‘others’ who cannot be there. I found it such a wonderful thought with great political and philosophical extensions, but I am now thinking of its literality. And what it means in this case. What it does to our voice and presence, yours, Karen’s, mine. Karen is there cause I am here. I am here. You are where you wanted to be (?). Who’s talking (writing) to whom?
I am still walking in this crowded absence of mine trying to imagine what your words are. I know some already. I know ‘I am afraid of letting you down’*. I know ‘Things that look ordinary but become extraordinary when written’**. I know ‘A sentence is that he came in.’***. I know ‘It is best of all to be met and meant for it.’**** They were my way to be with you today. So here we are. The three of us. I (Karen) speak (write) these to you. I (Karen) am looking forward to the rest. You reply. Karen (I) is writing some more. You go on. I imagine you: how you look like, what you think, how you feel. I am absent, I am here. You write. I am longing for your words. And I thank you for them. From this absence, I am sending you some more of mine. Here they are: Thinking of you.
Amsterdam, 30th April 2010
*Cocker, E., 2010, ‘Re: writing, ‘1993-2009, 2000 words’, in Rite, UK: Critical Communities, Open Dialogues, New Work Network.
**Shonagon, S., 2006, The pillow book, London: Penguin books
*** Stein, G., 1975,‘Sentences and Paragraphs’ in Stein, G., How to write, USA: Dover Publications
**** Stein, G., 1975,‘Sentences and Paragraphs’ in Stein, G., How to write, USA: Dover Publications