Declarative Sentences Induce Orderly Delirium, Or Please Set The Alert On Repeat To Remind Us To Notice
6 Instruction Pieces Sparked by Lines from Alan Gilbert’s Late in the Antenna Fields
Soon there will be no need of artists, since people will start to write their own instructions or exchange them and paint.
—Yoko Ono, Grapefruit
1. Instructions: I still want to make things and change things.
No, thank you.
2. Instructions: What’s an errand, anyway?
Wear a costume to the supermarket. (Note: costumes may include the everyday wear of the urban poet, and/or the work clothes you wear to occupational performances at universities, office buildings, restaurants, and other places of employment.)
Choose an aisle containing packaged food you might regularly purchase.
Align the edges of cans, boxes, bags, or other containers as tidily as you are able.
Note discrepancies of height, color, texture, material.
Make a meal utilizing these discrepancies as a primary ingredient.
Eat picnic-style in a public place, with at least one person you don’t know.
3. Instructions: For better and for worse, bodies are permeable structures, but what gets in cells has trouble getting out.
Hand to hand, but not combat.
Consider the skeleton that forms a face you love.
Cheek to cheek, but not dancing.
Consider the skin as an organ, not a category or covering.
Neck and neck, but not racing.
Consider joints and ligaments as forms of punctuation.
Nose to nose without confrontation. Breathing. Gently.
4. Instructions: Before the photojournalists arrived, the craters were bombed to make bigger craters breaking every narrative into messy topographies and fault lines.
For one month, carry fruit with you at all times.
If you see someone asking for money on the street, soliciting work in a public place, or otherwise requesting aid from the community-at-large, offer that person fruit.
Endeavor to converse.
Share as much information as you solicit.
Offer your name to the person, and ask them their name.
Greet the person by name in any future encounters.
5. Instructions: Narrative tucks information in.
Arrange the books on the shelf according to gradations of color.
Every day for at least seven days, make a poem, paragraph, painting, performance, sculpture, stitched piece, instruction piece, or dessert, taking inspiration from a suite of three books from the same color-field.
Send documentation of the results to email@example.com.
6. Instructions: I too once dreamed of saving the world; now I’m trying to prepare it for my daughter and other imagined communities, while the rules for writing change all the time—trading in an opaque currency.
Stop writing; start exploring.
Find yourself in a place you visit frequently—your home, your place of work, a good friend’s house, a public transit hub you use often, your local grocery or bookstore or café or bar, etc.
Radiate from that place, ambulating in whatever way you normally move through the world (e.g. walking, biking, wheeling in a chair, taking the bus, etc.).
Create spokes, loops, vectors, or triangles using that place as a hub—whatever shape of foray and return makes sense given your local context.
Be thorough, yet not overly ponderous.
With each radiation, notice at least 6 familiar things and at least 6 unfamiliar things.
Do not document those things, other than to notice them.