COVID-19 Journal: Day 88

I've had something of a constructivist day. Keeping busy. If you recall, that's the number one tip in How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. Utter distraction.

I've done two main things: attended my first proper online event, as I made Boxes. I've eaten variously - no thought in it. Although I did have a Vegemite sandwich laughing at Boris Johnson.

my desk

box fronts

a Vegemite sandwich

There is a group in Birmingham called Civic Square. They have made an event called the Department of Dreams. Today was the first day. I readily admit I am starved of future thinking. Thus, I relished the voices I heard today, telling me their thoughts about how to improve it. I think today was about dreaming and imagination. The whole day was hosted brilliantly by Civic Square's co-founder Imandeep Kaur. She is a powerhouse.

The midday session was From What Is To What If: Unleashing The Power Of Imagination To Create The Future We Want with Rob Hopkins. I enjoyed that. I like talks where terms like National Imagination Act are tossed in. They're like that candy you can get that crackles on your tongue. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Mr. Hopkins read this quote from Ursula Le Guin:

"I hear voices agreeing with me. “Yes, yes!” they cry. “The creative imagination is a tremendous plus in business! We value creativity, we reward it!” In the marketplace, the word creativity has come to mean the generation of ideas applicable to practical strategies to make larger profits. This reduction has gone on so long that the word creative can hardly be degraded further. I don’t use it any more, yielding it to capitalists and academics to abuse as they like. But they can’t have imagination."

And then I started watching Ursula Le Guin talks amongst the conference sessions. I'm watching a young man in Portland ask her a question now, at the Portland Community College. He's "weak in the knees" in her presence. I enjoyed this conversation: Avenali Chair in the Humanities Ursula K. Le Guin in conversation with Professor Michael Luce. I find her cheeky and brilliant in conversation, and note that I've never read one of her books, and tend at the moment to enjoy listening to conversations rather than reading books.

She read the following poem which brought me to tears:

Initiation Song from the Finders' Lodge 

Please bring strange things. 
Please come bringing new things. 
Let very old things come into your hands. 
Let what you do not know come into your eyes. 
Let desert sand harden your feet. 
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains. 
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps 
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms. 
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing 
and your outbreath be the shining of ice. 
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words. 
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten. 
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel. 
May your soul be at home where there are no houses. 
Walk carefully, well loved one, 
walk mindfully, well loved one, 
walk fearlessly, well loved one. 
Return with us, return to us, 
be always coming home. 

- Ursula LeGuin 

I enjoyed feeling hopeful today, thanks to the Department of Dreams. I like the way the people speaking didn't even have to dismiss the situation we find ourselves in. We are just going to move past it. The other thing I enjoyed was the suggestion from Indra Adnan in her Dreaming As Soft Power session, where she encouraged us to always consider your position in your own story. What's happening to you right now? How are you changing? I'm not sure where I am in the journey at the moment, so it will be good to consider that.

"You always have to defend imagination against idiots," said Le Guin.