Friday before heading back the UK I attended Graham Harman’s presentation and question and answer session at Moderna Museum here. I have to confess that I have not read anything of his, nor heard of ‘speculative realism’. His talk was quite something, his passionate, entertaining, and surprisingly comprehensible delivery made wide and varied references to other philosophers whose works I ‘know of’ rather than ‘know’, however this did not prevent me from enjoying his line of reasoning. The title given to his talk by the museum (rather than by himself, which he pointed out) was “What is an object?” I particularly liked his notion that an object can not be reduced – and by reduction he means understood in terms of either it’s particles (reduction down) or effects (reduction up!). It becomes more complex when he explains that everything with physical form is an object but perhaps ideas and thoughts might also be considered to be objects. What then, one might ask, is not an object? During the questions and answers he made reference to businesses succeeding when they understand, and/or return to, their core values and ambitions, citing IBM as taking a massive leap forward when they realised that their core value was information rather than typewriters.
This idea of understanding, and returning to, one’s core values or principles struck a chord with me. Perhaps this is because I find myself wondering about where to live and how to earn money, or perhaps how to live and where to earn money! Applying the idea to myself I realise that for me my ‘core value’ is making art. It feels important to hold on to this when investigating possibilities and making decisions. I know that I can become distracted by other values such as living in the city centre, and having an academic position for example. But do these really help me achieve my core value?
There is a little house coming on the market soon. It is about forty minutes outside of Stockholm. Opposite the house on the other side of a small yard is a barn that might make a studio. Living there would be a huge change, however it seems more achievable than finding anything in the city (to buy or rent). Might living there, and teaching English for example, enable me to take a sizable step towards my artistic ambitions? Could what might at first seem like a ‘move away from’ actually be a ‘move toward’?
In the meantime I am racing to have work finished for the opening of my show in the gallery here at the studios. The week before going to London I made good progress and hope to get back into the swing of it now that I have returned and dealt with some urgent and unavoidable things (my UK tax self assessment return). Though the current puzzle I am working on has two large areas of clear blue sky in it, and I have learnt that I am far better at seeing pattern than I am at seeing tone.
My grandma had her ‘good send off’. I was very tearful and found it a challenge to get through the poem. Service was very good and I was pleased to see so many of her friends there. Perhaps because we only saw each other once or maybe twice a year since I moved here it seems harder to comprehend that she is no longer there. I already know that it will of course be at the anniversaries throughout the coming year that the sense of her absence will heightened, neither sending nor receiving birthday greetings, nor making a mother’s day card for her. After the service there was a wake at her flat, and I enjoyed listening to her friends tell me about their friendships with her. Being in her home without her being there was not as strange as I had thought it would be. The bustle of people and sound of chatter felt good. Some days later I wondered if that is not the meaning of a wake – to make it alright to physically be where the deceased had lived. Like the wake of a boat the wake, though turbulent, passes and the waters calm.