The Slipstream

A degree of the surreal,

The not-entirely-real,

And the markedly anti-real.

The Last Word

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I have always wanted to have the last word only I am not the sort of person who comes up with it on the spur of the moment. For me, to write is to think so the last word usually occurs to me well after the conversation is over. But because the eVolution debate happened online and I have some control it, being one of the creators, I have been able to give myself time to reflect and reread essays and comments, and finally to hone what I want to say.

I would like to begin by digressing.

There is a form of book not yet mentioned in these debates, called samizdat, and I feel that it might be mentioned aptly in this last post, because of what it is and what it signifies about writers and books and readers.

For those who do not know, samizdat was originally a Russian neologism meaning, literally, self-published. It does not mean self-published in the sense that we mostly use and understand it, as a process undertaken by a person unable or unwilling to go the traditional route to publication, via a publisher, who print their own book and makes it available by whatever means they can, also known as vanity publishing. The slur implied by the latter expression is unfair because while much that is self-published is indulgent and badly edited at best, unedited at worst, self publishing has also been a back door in for many great and competent writers who simply could not interest a publisher in their work. Some very big authors started out as self publishers and then found success with traditional publishers, while many a smaller self published author has found ways to sell and promote their work, though it may not be a volume that would satisfy a traditional publisher.

But it is the Russian form of samizdat [səmɨzˈdat] that I want to talk about in this essay. This form of self publishing was not simply a way for a writer to find an audience, but the key form of dissident activity across the Soviet Bloc. Individuals would type out censored publications or those that were unable to be published because the author was proscribed, and pass the book from trusted reader to trusted reader, or, more commonly, the manuscript was farmed out a few pages at a time to a pool of willing typists who would do their part swiftly, using carbon, so that there would be a number of copies that could be bound and circulated.

This practice enabled the evasion of officially imposed censorship but it was fraught with danger as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials. The texts published were not only forbidden material published outside the Soviet, and forbidden within it, but also work by Russian authors proscribed and therefore unable to get their work published. The practice of samizdat, was very far from being motivated by vanity. Indeed many people involved in it were harassed or gaoled. Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivargo and Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s famous work detailing the horrors of the gulag system, Gulg Archipeligo, were both at one time samizdat publications.

My own knowledge of samizdat is not a matter of research but of family. My partner is a Czech writer and musician called Jan Stolba. He has been well published as a poet and critic since communism fell, (in 2007, he received the 2006 FX Salda prize for his book of essays), but during the years when the then Czechoslovakia was occupied and controlled by Russia, his writing was published in samizdat. He told me this quite casually, when he came across a samizdat copy of a book he had written one day when we were cleaning the book shelves. I held the slim little volume, awed because when he explained what it was, I understood it as a symbol of the length to which people will go to in order to write or to read what they choose. It seemed then and still seems to me to be a precious and wonderful thing.

Jan told me in Czechoslovakia, samizdat books were less dangerous to produce than in earlier times in Russia and that samizdat simply took advantage of a loophole. Printing books that were proscribed was not legal and in any case, a private person could have got access to a printer, there being strict regulations governing their operation. But typing was legal, and so books were typed in the ways I have described above, and circulated. Of course the regime was aware of the loophole and was working to close it by trying to criminalise people creating and spreading them, based either on the content of the books, or on the authors, if they were regarded as enemies of the regime. This varied from case to case. Writer Jiri Grusa was jailed for simply writing a novel, while nobel prize winner, poet Jaroslav Seifert, had his new book published both in samizdat, and after some pressure, by an official regime publisher.

When Jan’s mother, Eva Stolbova, received a medal recently, honouring her for, among other things, hiding the library of a major dissident during communism, I remembered what I had been told of samizdat books and had in mind that I would write about them in my final essay for the evolution debate. And reading through the essays this month, and the comments that followed, I was enchanted by the richness and variety and tenderness of the stories people told about what books and stories have meant to them, and sitting down to write my essay about stories told in samizdat, it struck me forcefully how much we need and are shaped by our stories.

And I thought about how writing and reading are inevitably regarded by totalitarian regimes as dangerous and potentially subversive activities, which might undermine the ideals underpinning the abiding power structures. These activities have therefore been ruthlessly controlled to ensure they promote and glorify that power. Anything that did not do this was repressed or stamped out. It is impossible to imagine that any writer, working under these constraints, should not be aware of the potential power of his or her pen to oppose or support the regime. I doubt any writer in Australia or the UK or England ever experienced this dark and heady sense of dangerous potency when they sit down to write, unless they are refugees from countries where writers are routinely harassed and imprisoned for what they write.

I tried to imagine how it would feel to be a writer in a totalitarian society –to know I possessed a dangerous and subversive potential that might be used as a weapon against tyranny and oppression, but which might also be cowed and bent to the will of Big Brother. Reading books like DM Thomas’s The Flute Player has allowed me to enter into that world as a shadow and to wonder if my books, viewed through that paranoid glass, would have been regarded as failing to tow the line. I am no hero, no warrior. So what would I have done, had I been forbidden to publish? Given that I can more easily imagine giving up breathing than writing, I know I would have written. I hope I would have written what I wanted. I might have resorted to samizdat eventually, though had I known people typing or reading my books might be harassed or gaoled, it is possible I might never have tried to publish what I had written. After all, I wrote for years to begin with, never even thinking of publication.

But I am not a proscribed writer in a totalitarian world. I can write what I want and I do. I do not consider readers or editors or critics when I write. I do not think of undermining the regime. I do not feel called upon by duty to write in a certain way or to cover certain events. For me, as I said at the outset, writing is thinking, a seeking of comfort, a solace, a striving to understand my relationship to the world. I would love to think my books incidentally rattled the cages of ideologies and attitudes I find repellent, but that is not at all in my mind when I write. Indeed I aggressively defend myself from any suggestion that I write in order to affect or teach or preach or instruct. Somehow it is important to me, that my writing is not seen in this light.

It struck me at this point that perhaps the purpose of writing and reading was no more a constant and fixed than the nature of reality. The reasons people have written throughout history, are various and subjective and might even change during the course of a lifetime of a reader or writer. Witness all the many ways and means people in the essays produced and accessed stories. Form was surely just another shifty variable. What mattered most was the story itself. The need we have to make and to consume story. Wasn’t that what the essays and the threads of comments unspooling avowed over and over- the importance of story over form; the fact that stories will be told, one way or another, because we humans seem to need them. None of us could conceive of a world without stories. And what was form ultimately, but a vessel for story, moreover one that has been changing and changing over history. Before writing, there was oral story telling or songs and chants acted out or danced by costumed tellers. In this time, stories were regarded as a kind of magic. Then there were clay tablets and pictures on cave walls. Then illuminated books few could read, then printed books and now we have e books and enhanced books and who knows what the next form will be. And no doubt each time the form changed, there was unease. Think of the disquiet when the first monk read silently to himself rather than aloud, as had previously been traditional.

Isn’t that why so many people of my age and older are alarmed by technology they do not understand, by what it seems to ask of them, by how it reduces their knowledge to irrelevancy and anachronism. (Read the below piece by Min, who had to deal with much of the fear and aggression and (at least on my part) doddering incomprehension during the creation and maintenance of the launch site.)

  1. Min DeanDear writers,
    I am a reader, and a fan of writing. I am not in publishing. I don’t presume to understand the ins and outs of that world.
    Participating in this eBook debate has taught me a great many things about that world, but also related the publishing industry to me in a way I hadn’t seen coming.I don’t understand your world, and I’m sorry. But I certainly do understand what it feels like to have my career threatened and subsequently dismantled, by a digital take-over. So bear with me while I explain myself through a flashback.I never wanted to be in web development, but it is where I now make my money. Music was my life when I was growing up and science was my passion, but a very analogue one, where I did math and physics calculations by hand and studied astronomy through glass lenses.

    When I was about thirteen I discovered my father’s old Minolta camera. It allowed me to be both technical and artistic. Everything about it was manual; focus, zoom, aperture. It had a manual, screw-on flash. I taught myself about that world, through experimentation, and through taking what I could from my dad’s experience with it. I found out what the different ISO films were for, and which were more appropriate for scenery or macro or action photos. I painstakingly set up shots, getting faster and better at setting up for what I wanted. I saved up for a cable release, found a tripod somewhere, and would lie outside in the freezing cold in Stanthorpe, taking long-exposure star-trail shots.
    You had to preserve your film; you had at most, 32 shots, and then you had to set up another roll of film. You were going to pay for each and every photograph to be developed, regardless of quality. You had to accept that for every 32 photos, you might get 3 or 4 good ones.
    As I got better, the number of good shots per roll of film increased.

    I loved action photography above all, because there was a skill to it that not many had. Anyone could set a lens to a flower, tweaking the focus for minutes and waiting for the light to be just right before shooting. But with action shots, you needed to pre-empt the shot in order to ready your camera’s settings for it; and have impeccable timing. If you missed that moment, it was gone.

    And people thought I was good at it. My younger brother used to race motorcross. Because I was interested in action-based photography, I would go out to his meets, which were all very casual, so nobody cared if you ran around the track without a hi-vis vest on or anything.
    Armed with my camera, I could run around the dust-bowls, lining up and snapping as the bikes skid around burns or went over jumps. At the general meetings I would take proofs and see if any of the parents wanted to buy them. Many people did, at standard 6×4 size. I was astonished when one day, one of the boy’s parents bought two of my photos – at poster size. I made a whole $60 from that.
    But the biggest reward was that by appreciating my art, they had put value in those hours – months – years – spent training my skill.

    I loved it. I was going to be a photographer.

    Digital cameras emerged and took over. They auto-focused, digitally zoomed, adjusted the light automatically (aperture? What aperture?), had no film…and, perhaps the most painful thing for me, were expensive and required a computer, to load photos onto afterwards. I couldn’t compete with that, and I had no money. People could go out, snap everything and anything, and it didn’t matter that if out of 400 photos you only got 3 good photos; you didn’t have to print them.
    Photoshop became more popular. It didn’t matter if the lighting wasn’t quite right, or you hadn’t framed the shot properly, or if that person had a pimple; you could just fix it in photoshop later.

    All that skill, and patience, that had been essential to the field, was no longer necessary. Anyone could be a photographer. Suddenly everyone was.

    I hated it. I resolved never to own a computer (at age 17). “Computers are killing my passion,” I crowed. Computers debased it; it was no longer about art or skill, it was about who could afford the best equipment.

    My photography career was over, because I couldn’t get over this.

    Does anyone care? No. There was no discussion on the topic, nobody trying to understand it. The consumer didn’t care. They just wanted the end product; the immaculate rendition of a moment. They didn’t care how anyone arrived at that moment. They didn’t care about skill.

    One of my closest friends is a photographer today. I built her website for her last year, where you can see some of her best work: She uses all-digital technology, and post-production software, to create her art. I’ve been on shoots with her around Brisbane, England, Wales and Scotland, and seen how she works. She is very good, and very professional. She adopted the digital evolution that photography underwent, and she has succeeded with it. After seeing what she comes up with, you would not question her skill.
    She makes most of her money in photography through taking photos at miniature horse meets in the USA. At action photography.

    Do I regret my decision to raise that wall in my mind? Yes. I can do it now as a hobby, but not as a career; my time is promised elsewhere.

    The only person you are going to hurt by not attempting to allow some space in your life for a digital revolution is yourself. The world will not mourn your decision; it is not sentimental. The world will instead look at all the amazing things everyone else is doing with the new technology available to them.

    In a world where everyone can now be a published author, regardless of skill, perhaps the thing that I don’t understand the most about those who are skilled who refuse to investigate it is that, many of the online tools are free to use. Tools that will only benefit you, your work, and your brand if you try, and increase the gap between you and the digital crowd if you don’t.

    Please don’t make the same mistake that I did with my passion.

    Love and respect to you all,

But does not the resistance and unease about new forms of story, along with the nostalgia for print book forms, arise from of our profound need for story, and the fear that somehow, the change in form will deny it to us? Technology is changing so fast that the gadget you brought and struggled to master a month ago, is already obsolete, which means buying and figuring out the next and the next and the next new thing. And if you can’t figure it out, will story be denied to you?

I sympathise. But, I, who grew up in a world with no computers or internet or email or iphone or mobile, use all of these things with increasing ease to negotiate the world. It was no simple matter to get my head around them, but bit by dogged bit, I did. And so, mostly, have all of you. And while we feel we have no control, we do. I have ceased to buy new computers. I don’t use my phone for anything but calls and texts, and I have vowed not to buy anything new, just because it is superseded, until I must. I am committed to not letting the world push me around. I will consider these new things and decide what I want and need. I will not allow my needs be dictated to me. This means if you really don’t want books in other forms, you can exercise your choice and buy them as print books. If not in shops new, then in second hand shops, or online from Amazon or Book Depository, or as simple kindle E books, without enhancement. You can borrow books from the library and go there and read them. You can exchange them with friends.

So, if the fear and aggression and dislike for new forms and the nostalgia for old, merely confirms the necessity for story, this would seem to lead me to conclude that ultimately, form does not matter.

Except that I think it does.

Think of samizdat books. The form of samizdat does not distinguish itself only by the stories it carries but also by its physical self. Hand typed, often blurred with thin crumpled pages possessing numerous typos, enclosed in covers that are deliberately inconspicuous, a samizdat book differs sharply in appearance from texts published by the state and even Western Literature. Samizdat books were, by their form, making a statement, so much so that in time dissidents in the USSR fetishized them to the extent that the form of samizdat took precedence over the ideas expressed within it. The form itself came to signify the resourcefulness and courage and rebellious spirit of its creators, so that the reading of a samizdat book became a prized and clandestine act.

So forms do matter- sometimes, they matter terribly.

And eBooks and enhanced books are as ‘real’ as print books- certainly I think the preceding essays have shown over and over that the notion of ‘real’ is flexible. And as for new forms being less poetic and beautiful, less intense and lovingly conceived, I doubt anyone could think that after reading some of these essays and posts. Coding is clearly already a passionate form of poetry to its converts, and while I might struggle with the technology, I hunger too much for the stories the new forms might offer, to stop struggling to learn how to access them.

And while I might regret the fading of forms of story that have meant much to me, they have not ceased to exist. Nor do I think they will cease to exist. So I can experience the classics in their original form: as print books, or on my kindle as straight unenhanced text. But I can also feel excitement and curiosity about what stories will be told with new technologies and in new forms that we cannot now conceive. Indeed, it may be that new forms are necessary to allow the tales of their time to be told.

For in the same way that we co evolve with our technology, our stories and the forms they come in, co evolve with us, too.

— Isobelle Carmody

14 Responses

  1. Vauny says:

    I’ve never heard of samizdat before, although the concept seems familiar to me (probably the concept was used in an sf novel/movie) but I think the example of a regime is exactly why we should all embrace our knowledge from as many sources as possible. Think about it, if you have government control of books, tv, news and movies then you come to rely on another form of information as ‘accurate’ what is to stop the government from publishing their content in the same form. This is one of the reasons why I dislike this fetishising of books. We begin to believe that the form is incorruptible and perfect and overall “better” than other forms when it has the same flaws of all the other mediums we spread knowledge and stories by. Ebooks, self publishing and digital distribution negate this factor a bit they are a way for writing and communication to be distributed (mostly) freely. Yes digital forms are in as much danger as traditional forms even now a lot of online “user generated” content is put out by marketing and pr agencies; but the voices of the individual are still out there and to silence them all would be a greater endeavour today than it was during the years of the rise of communism.

    • Min Dean says:

      You’ve reminded me of the comparison between receiving information – specifically news – via TV, via newspaper, and via online sources.
      Television is completely corrupted in my opinion; advertising and to some extent even government is king. I don’t find it a reliable source at all any more.
      Newspapers and magazines aren’t much better. It feels like they exist to sell the advertising spots within.
      And while online news sources can be bombarded with popup ads – if you know where to look, you can get just the facts, or eye-witness accounts, of what is really happening out there. Places such as twitter and facebook, which I don’t solely rely upon, but I certainly trust it more when after facts, not the media’s sensationalisation of what’s happening.

      Regarding the marketing / pr takeover of a lot of content – again, we just need to know where to look, and which user feedback to trust. Using common sense and being able to judge when something’s bogus. For the most part, people can tell when they’re being advertised to now, and when someone’s writing online content for the pure passion and enjoyment of doing so 🙂

  2. Daniel says:

    A wonderful post, and a great way to finish the debate.

    I think the point about the first Monk who read silently to himself instead of reading aloud is a very interesting one. And I really wonder if people had to be told that they could read inside their heads, or if it was just something that was inherent (like it is now). I wonder if that first person was ridiculed or punished for doing something different by his peers and ‘masters’ or did it spread like wildfire. And just like before that people would not think you could read in your head, we cannot possibly imagine the future of books and storytelling. Technology had ‘overrun’ everything else in the world (music, food, entertainment, communication) and ebooks were only naturally going to emerge.

    I also really agree that we, in the end, can make our own decisions and have our own choices. It may eventually become increasingly difficult to abide by these choices (some sort of fall in printed books) but they can still be made (just like vinyls that were overthrown by CD’s which have been overthrown by MP3’s, but the vinyls still exist today, and are possibly having a regrowth of sales because of the niche market). If you only want to read ebooks, that is your choice, if you don’t want to read any ebooks, you can do that too. And I say, why can’t we have the best of both worlds?

  3. Jo Turner says:

    Another reminder that I am fortunate to live in a time and place where I have the opportunity to read whatever I like and not live in fear of being caught knowing what I know or read or own. I can read what I want, how I want, when I want (well given reason of course).
    I am again astounded by the importance of books, both what they contain and what they are physically, from what you have written Isobelle.
    I am a bit opposite to you Vauny – I idolise books, in their beauty and shape and design (yes I might even call it a fetish), but I think this has come about more so due to the advent of e-books. Many years ago I would not have been as concerned about how my books looked and felt (other than trying to not accidentally ruin them), but now, as I get older I expect I appreciate their different aspects in the physical object. Perhaps too the beauty in the book is becoming more of the marketability of physical books now, an added extra to make us buy the object rather than the e-book.
    Yet I realise you do not just mean it to be the physical object, rather the ideal behind it. Very interesting and appropriate argument for the use of e-books.

    You know Isobelle, if you ever decided to compile all these posts and essays into a book format to purchase – I would purchase it and be most happy to read it all again! – However that’s not the point of this site is it? I shall miss be able to look forward to the next post but like all readers, will no doubt surely find something to read!

  4. * Min – let me assure you that film is still used I still have my Nikon F100 film SLR, Nikon Scanner, plus Nikon DSLR.

    Take a look at:
    to see the range of roll film still available and Fuji do release new film stock of course the processing has fallen to specialist labs where in Australia you pay a premium price. Plus I still shoot all studio digital shots in manual mode and measure the monobloc lighting with a flash meter.

    The move to digital has an interesting comparison in the music biz. For years we strived for distortion less and noise free recordings and equipment. Just as we achieved it people took to mp3 sound loss technology and many electric musicians and studios took to old digital and analogue equipment for its “warmth”.

    Listening to an mp3 is like reading a book where random letters or even words are missing.

    * Isobelle that is a fascinating essay particularly about the samizdat books something that I have not heard of before today. And yes I think a lot of the debate has been about form versus function.

    • Min Dean says:

      I guess the point of what I was getting at was that it was disheartening to see something I had talent in suddenly be everyone else’s talent, due to how much money they could throw at their equipment; but the real point with the look at that bit of history was that because of my discouraged state at the change in the industry, I put up a mental block that didn’t allow me to even delve into the digital revolution my passion was undergoing, and in the end, I was the only one who lost out because of it.
      Film is still used but it’s certainly been overshadowed by the variety of digital photography solutions out there. I can’t remember the last time I went into a photo shop to develop film, and I’m sure I’m not the only one; yet we all share more photos than ever.

  5. Min Dean says:

    What I love about your post Isobelle is that, while we can’t conceive what those who lived through the regime actually went through, without having experienced it, your giving us a glimpse of it reminded me that we’re lucky to even get to make these choices of how we want to receive our information and art.

    Thank you for a beautiful final post. It’s been a wild ride!

  6. Min- The camera is the artefact, the output is art when it is in the right hands. Get reinvigorated in photography whatever the medium, it is the person creating the output that makes the difference not the technology. Digital photography has just increased the amount of plebian images.

    • Min Dean says:

      And therein lies my point, believe it or not 🙂

      “…it is the person creating the output that makes the difference not the technology…”

      Maybe one day I will Peter. I feel like I’m too far behind to make a serious go of it any more, when my time is promised elsewhere now, but I can pursue it as a hobby.

  7. Virginia Lowe says:

    Yes it would be wonderful if someone felt strong enough to put all of this into an anthology – either as an e-book, or paper. But I guess having the site archived will also serve the purpose. There ha’ve been some fascinating posts, and yes, story rules, okay! Whatever form it comes in..It never ceases to fascinate me how, given the same topic, people can come up wiht so many different angles on it.
    And thanks for the final post Isobelle. It reminds us of the power of the word and the wonder of language, and being able to use it to write and to read – and to communicate in all ways…

  8. Danel Olson says:

    Hidden books that patiently wait for us are the most arresting things to me. What a treasure you found the day you were cleaning a bookshelf, Isobelle! And what a chance to learn more of family, of Jan’s and his Mother’s connection to samizdat (I would love one day to see a whole exhibit of such books), and to those days when a prose sentence mattered more than a prison sentence.

    Recently I had the same awe when I looked at Tibetan Buddhist sutras written in the monk’s reddish-brown blood.

    Isobelle, thank you so much for involving all of us in these reflections. A hundred thanks to everyone else’s illuminating ideas in the posts, to those that managed the technology, and to all the commentators.

  9. Emily Craven says:

    It’s funny, in the end, your post made me think about stories. Not in an academic, or discussion sense but your post lead to a blossoming of ideas; ideas that I wanted to incorporate into a short story,or as a real world project. That’s what I love about you Isobelle, you say things and do things and ideas just seem to manifest themselves before my eyes. The first line of the story that bubbled up from me as I read your post was: “This book is not meant to stay with you.” The unconscious line intrigued my conscious mind. The books I buy are something I feel must always stay with me, shuffled from house to house, lent but never given. I have a possessiveness over the books I read. Would I feel a sense of relief knowing that the book I was about the read was not meant to stay with me? Then I immediately wanted to put together a small book, something heart felt, insightful, surreal, beautiful, thought provoking and moving. Something people would cherish but be willing to let go because they must, because it couldn’t be contained. Everything I think of when I read your work Isobelle. Then I wondered if I had the ability to create what I envisaged. How wonderful would it be to put the book together, a hundred copies, scattered across continents in the bookshelves of backpackers, the line “this book is not meant to stay with you” emblazoned on the first page? How wonderful would it be to have it passed from person to person like a samizdat, travelling with the world travellers? How wonderful would it be to then have each individual copy numbered, and a web address at the back, where each person who picks up that copy can go to that site, put in their name, where they found the book, how it made them feel, a little bit about who they are, what they hope for and where they left it for the next traveller to find? What a marvellous experiment. What a wonderful way to bring joy. A reverse samizdat if you will.

    Above, people are talking about media and news sources and their unreliability, and also about how horrible it must have been to have your work and creative suppressed by the government at the time. Yet there does not seem to be any mention of how even today, publishers will reject a work that seems too risqué, too controversial. Or they will want to contract the work but only if the author changes it to be more PC, less confronting. I have spoken to one man to whom this happened, and the work is even of a nature where he will not put his real name to his own piece. Stories are still being suppressed and altered to suit the socially acceptable, the presence of democracy has not altered that. In truth that is why I love e-books. I love what e-books can do for these types of stories. The story from my friend above was given a public viewing because it is self-published as an ebook. I would argue that perhaps the self-published ebook is a kind of Samizdat. Though it is not secret, there is a burning need to have the story out in the world, though some of the people of the world may damn you for it or ridicule your story, punish you with their negativity, their bullying. Like my self-publishing friend, who hides his true identity because of fears of being shunned for the story he HAD to write.

    I wanted to finish my final post on this site with one of my most vivid memories of the Czech Republic (in honour of the samizdat noted above), and it was of the colours worn by the older generation in the streets of Prague. Brilliant, vibrant colours. Shades of clothing worn without any regard for whether those colours matched with any of the others they wore, just as long as they were alive. It is my lasting impression of the Czech people: “once we were suppressed, now we are alive!”

    • Remember Lucy, reading the book in Narnia, in the magician’s house, where the pages vanished as soon as she had read them, and her sorrow at knowing she would never be able to read them again… I am always enchanted by fragile beauty that will not, cannot last. Sand paintings and ice sculptures and temporary installations, a play I once say that I can never revisit in exactly that form again, beautiful moments in life … and in a way, for me, this site it like that as well … a beautiful complex transient thing…

    • Emily Craven says:

      Of course, how could I have forgotten? Sometimes I manage to pull myself away from the future and the past and just be. I try to do it every time I catch myself thinking, “I want to be right here, right now, forever”.

      Live for now, live for joy, be content to be.