I’m thinking of borders and permeability in relation to art and writing, in relation to making and to being in the world and I also find myself looking at nature, looking at what the various sciences also tell us about how nature and the universe works.
Related to this, I have to think about various conversations I’ve had with friends and journey mates. One thing I wanted to share was this thought that the borders between practices are permeable and as beings whose strength lies in our ability to imagine, there are or should be no borders.
Glissant, writing about borders advocates for permeability–for moving past seeing borders as a means of defending or preventing, but rather as a way to mark that one is crossing from one country to another.
Translating that into the practice of making, it makes me think of how I am not bound to only one form or genre of practice. It also means that the doors to various genres and forms of making need to be permeable and to my mind, we also need to make the threshold less imposing and more inviting. (Open the door, break down the barriers or walls and say welcome.)
I’ve often had people tell me that they’re not really writers because they’ve never been published or because they’re just starting to express themselves in writing. I’ve also spoken with people who practice art but don’t dare call themselves artists because ‘well, there’s a study you have to do for that’ and also ‘my work isn’t as good as’ or my work isn’t worth it because I don’t have the right background’. (Did the first cave painter have the right background, I wonder.)
As humans, we tend to be fond of creating labels. We say: you are a writer, you are a visual artist, you are a painter, you are this, you are that. Even when it comes to being in the world, we like to employ these definitive and concrete labels and breaking away from those definitive and concrete labels is often viewed as strange or weird. (Actually, it’s often brushed aside or denied because it doesn’t fit into how people like to see things.)
But we can’t put limits or borders around the creative mind and we can’t put borders or limits around being in the world.
I articulated some of my thoughts in this message to the guerilla writers. I wrote: I feel that as beings we are fluid by nature–maybe born with certain body parts, but that doesn’t mean we are limited to those parts. Those parts don’t define us or speak of who we really are and to my mind remembering that fluidity, remembering that freedom to just be–while it can be scary at first, it is most certainly a source of joy and hopefulness.
One of the writers asked me if I could share my experience of this and so I talked about how I slowly came to recognise and embrace this fluidity for myself as well as my thinking on it. It was for me, the first time I was able to say to someone that I was born in a body that I’ve often felt awkward in, but which I embrace as being part of me. To put to words that feeling that the self that lives inside the body, that pure self is one that’s not bound to societal parameters or social constructs, it was scary but also freeing. Having done that, I found myself better able to say that I am simply as I am–a being in the world. Unbound, undefined, but very much joyful for having embraced this knowledge.
To you who are on the journey, I wish you love and the joyful embrace of self and work that isn’t constrained by borders.