Though I in no way consider John Darnielle to be the only artist who negotiates his connection with his fans through sharing his pain, I appreciate the way he has interrogated this dynamic in his recent work, both lyrically and in prose.
The Persian New Year, called Nowruz (“New Day”), is the first day of spring—Thursday March 20, 2017, in the United States. It is calculated to the second, according to the moment that the sun crosses the equator. This non-Islamic holiday, which is shared by many countries, including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, is based on the seasons and agricultural tradition, going back 3,000 years to Zoroastrian rituals.
“Virginia Woolf’s amazing essay ‘On Being Ill’—where she interrogates literature’s lack of focus on illness, the collective obsession with the drama of romance over the drama of often inseparable physical and mental ailments—has been a jumping off point. So, I’m writing though some of my own experiences via Woolf and also some other artists and writers.”
Francesca Woodman was a photographer who is well known for her surreal, black and white photography of which she is often the subject. The daughter of a family of artists, Francesca studied photography at RISD and in Italy, ultimately settling in New York City, where she had a studio. She died in 1982 at age twenty-two by suicide, jumping out of the Barbizon building.
“It seems to me that there are only two essential things we bring to our creative work: our tools–language or fabric or paper–and the truth of our own experience, our own psychic realities. For years, I tried to write in traditional narrative forms, but I struggled with moving a plot forward in time. As much as I wanted a kind of cohesive linearity, it was not something I could do. Both the truth of my experience–which is living between places and with rupture–and what I am interested in aesthetically is about resisting boundaries and creating some kind of meaning out of chaos, from fragments.”