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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Some days forward into the future of the first week of work, which is quickly becoming the past, and the project has gone through a flux of uncertainty back towards an idea that engages directly with something much more familiar – storytelling.  Memory is a story we tell ourselves, but according to Dan Korman, we project our remembered self into the future.  We imagine our future and then it becomes remembered.  He says that a vacation, for instance, is in service of our remembered imagined self.  We imagine what it will be be like, and try to make the vacation as much as that imagined self as possible.  

Deborah Pearson – what are you doing writing a show about time travel?

There are some threads to untangle before I can start to tack anything together.  

Prediction 3:  Tomorrow in Annaghmakkerig, it will be sunny at 4pm.  

 

 

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Until I was 22 years old I had obsessive compulsive disorder.  It started when I was around 14 years old, but maybe earlier – as a ten year old, hopping down the sidewalk, chanting “Don’t step on a crack or…”  This chant made its way into my life and inserted itself as a fixture later on – so that I saw the opportunity to influence big events through the small decisions I made in my daily life.  The impulse would say “You must wear red socks or else you will fail the exam.”  Or “You must not eat the last potato chip or your boyfriend will break up with you.”  As I got older, I found myself challenging myself in this way more and more, as though seeing how far these bets could go.  Writing essays in my fourth year of university, after finding the most articulate sentence I could, I would tell myself, “You must not use that sentence or else you will not get into the National Theatre School” – even though the essay had no connection to the school.  There was no clear cause and effect between these choices.  

A friend and flatmate broke this habit for me when I was 22 by just not letting me do it.  Whereas other close friends, family and partners had been very accommodating of it, she just would not let me leave the cheese in the centre of the fridge because I thought it had some connection to a boy I liked calling.  Once someone took a hard lined stance on it, I stepped back from it and finally understood that this was about control.  I was trying to influence things over which I had no or little control by putting stakes onto small inconsequential choices over which I usually had total control.  So – when the little voice came, I’d identify what the stakes I was imposing were.  I’d ask myself, “Have I done everything in my power to rationally influence that situation in the way I’d like to?”  If I was wearing a pair of socks to influence the result of an exam, I understood that studying would be better than wearing the right socks.  I decided that if I’d done everything I could, I’d just have to trust myself and leave the rest to chance.  

In the initial stages of thinking about a piece about the future, control strongly comes into play.  And of course, responsibility and fragility.  How do we come to terms with what hasn’t happened yet?  And where does that word “Yet” come from – How do we come to terms with what may or may not happen?  We make lists, we make plans, and then we have to abandon ourselves somewhat, to resign ourselves, to do what we can, and then to give ourselves over.  

At the end of War and Peace Tolstoy writes really beautifully about the difference between the past, the present and the future – the cause and effect, the reams of circumstance and context that influence and are fixed in so much of what happens to us – of what we do – and how the past seems predictable or understandable, whereas the future seems unknowable.  

But more on that later.  (Probably.)  

Prediction 2:  There will be a North American mutual work agreement between the United States and Canada by 2020.  Mexico will likely be excluded because U.S.A-Canada are jerks like that.  

This will be a show about the future.  I received some great news a couple of days ago.  This show about the future will be funded in part by the Arts Council of England.  (Once I get a graphic designer on this blog I’ll be able to sort out including their logo somewhere.)  I am setting myself the challenge of making a show where, very simply, I stand in front of a room of people, and tell them about what I think will happen to me (or whoever they think I am) in the future.  I have many worries about having set myself this task.  I’m worried that I’m giving the audience too much.  I don’t like to talk about the future.  My partner will tell you that I only announce something if I have confirmation that it’s happened – particularly to do with applications.  I like to only give news. I don’t like to make predictions about my life or to get mine and someone else’s hopes up by telling people about things I want or that may or may not happen.  Of course this is not a steadfast rule, but in general I try not to count my chickens before they hatch, and especially not to count those chickens in front of other people.

That is nearly exactly what I’m proposing to do with this show – at the moment.  I’m also interested in exploring the larger questions about the future – political questions, philosophical questions, economic questions, but approaching the personal question about the future is more challenging than talking about the future generally.  And might be richer.  Who knows.  Right now the show about the future is still in the future.  As I keep working on it (during a residency in Ireland) I’m going to try and keep a progress blog, which is not something I normally do, and I’d like it if any interested readers contributed comments or ideas.   Maybe we can predict the future together?

As a side project to the Future Show – (which is only its working title, of course) – I think to cap off every post I should make a prediction for the future.  Now, I have to say, this is a difficult task for me.  Plausible predictions frighten me a little.  I’d like to write about Syria, or about the conservative government in Canada, or about something important that I really think may happen.  But something about immortalising it in a medium that is alive and flippant, just, kind of terrifies me.  That said, I’m going to do it.

Prediction 1:  By 2013, Touch screen televisions will be in homes, and by 2016 they will be a domestic fixture in most Western family homes.

It’s out there.  Now we just have to see what happens.