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Things To Help You Practice Isolation:

So in his most recent essay on the movie Contagion, Dan Olson (Folding Ideas) discussed the idea that through art, humans are given the opportunity to ‘practice emotions’. Whilst he argues that this ‘practicing’ normally comes in the form of power fantasies and sexual desires, especially under the male gaze, media can and does allow us the opportunity to practice incredibly complex and intricate emotional experiences. Anyway, here’s a list of things that have helped me practice grief, joy, escapism, isolation, love, and everything else I am experiencing in response to the global trauma we are currently enduring. Ordered by the length of time they take to engage with:

Wild Geese, Mary Oliver (Poem) ~1 min Wild Geese is possible Mary Oliver’s most famous poem, and there’s a good reason. It is a reminder that no matter how bad this all gets, we have been here before, and we have survived. And we will survive again. And again. And again. We are not alone in our loneliness Practice: understanding, connection, quietness, looking into nature, connection Link: http://www.phys.unm.edu/~tw/fas/yits/archive/oliver_wildgeese.html -- got legs?, Mikasacus (Video) 1min 1 second A couple of dogs talk about how it feels to have legs and be sad in a world that doesn’t allow us to feel sadness. Very freeing. Practice: accepting sadness, being believed in Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSsJBO2JUO4 -- got arms?, Mikasacus (Video) 1 min 25 seconds A couple of birds talk about how it feels too have no arms and be powerless in the world. Very reassuring. Practice: admitting lack of control, finding power in what you have Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3y81U-WQDw -- Companionable Silence, John Green (Video) 3 mins Walk through the forest in near silence, enjoy the sound of the ground crunching and friends fording streams. A video to remind you of the greatness of silence when silence can feel so uninvited. Practice: companionship within spaciousness, laughter, contemplation Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgSLML7pqq0 -- Forest Fires, Sarah Kay (Video / Poem) 3 mins 24 seconds Sarah Kay is a genius of perforative poetry. Her voice is rich, her eyes inviting, her body language enticing and evocative. Yet what makes Kay such an incredible poet is, unsurprisingly, her poetry. Kay has such a mastery of emotive language, managing to capture the strange and dispart parts of life and bring them into one beautiful bundle. ‘Forest Fires’ is a work about change, unexpected and unwelcome. It is about the ways we deal with that change, and don’t deal with it. When the place you were just weeks ago no longer exists and the people you love are caught in their suffering, how can we manage. This is a poem to practice extreme temporal shift, to be aware that time is flowing past us at incredible speed and that that is how it has always been. Practice: grief, disassociation, realisation, fear, softness, empathy Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGDB3ZqSTwM -- I’m listening…, Craig Benzine (Video) 5 mins 24 seconds ‘Right Now’ can be a very difficult time to talk. So much is happening, so many people have something to say, some fear or trauma or anger. So here’s a video where Craig sits and listens to you say or do whatever you want. Use it as a space to speak you mind when the walls have ears and the dinner table is silent. Practice: being heard, speaking without interruption, clearing your mind Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rKaLUI4zvc -- Alone in Public - A “No Man’s Sky” Review, Dan Oslon (Video) 10 minutes 48 seconds One of the strangest things about the world we now live in, is how stillness and propulsion seem to be happening all at once. Whilst our daily lives grind to a halt, the new cycle has almost doubled, with ‘breaking news’ erupting in an almost continuous burst that make you thing the that what ever it is ‘breaking’ is well and truly broken. With the closure of many public spaces, the outside world has become a place in which you visit. You go outside for a walk, to exercise, but you are not invited to stay. Maybe you rest on a bench, or relax in a park, but there is not coffee shop to duck into, no shops to meander through, our lives are emptied, and yet we cannot sit and enjoy the outer world in quite the way we used too. We are ‘always displaced, always out of place, just a traveller passing through’ even though we are right at home. Practice: understanding, distance, isolation, travelling, contemplation, unsettled Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ymRN6cCd0I (Unfortunately I can no longer recommend “No Man’s Sky” itself as it went through some large updates since I last played, but if you do want to drift through space aimlessly then go ahead!) -- I Can't Stop Watching Contagion | Folding Ideas, Dan Olson (Video) 15 mins 50 seconds The video that started this all. Just watch it, it works. Practice: raw nerve, fear, understanding, clarity, practicing practicing emotions Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsSzrVhdVuw -- The Fall of Hobo Johnson, Hobo Johnson (Album) ~37 mins A slightly niche pick on a long list of niche picks, but this album gave me the space I needed to be angry and heartbroken on a Tuesday night when I finally admitted to myself how scared I really was. Maybe it can help you do the same. Practice: anger, fear, rejection, love, stupidity, introspection, desire Link: https://open.spotify.com/album/3QrkHSj8pBzE1Kwhpnktkw?si=oxqkuPxpQEKZ4bcGz7gOXA -- Blonde, Frank Ocean (Album) ~1 hour This should honestly come as a surprise to nobody. Blonde is the album of isolation for me, it’s the album of getting lost in your own head, walking late at night trying to get your thoughts together, standing for a lifetime in a dark shower letting the water baptist you, whispering every word quietly in your living room until you have to speak up or fall silent. this album is a washed out memory, so faded from every time you pulled it out, that now the world behind it can be glimpsed within in. If you haven’t already, just give it a go. Practice: love, memory, nostalgia. Link: https://open.spotify.com/album/3mH6qwIy9crq0I9YQbOuDf?si=WFfVKsGfQh6PQer8aa4M7Q -- Contagion, Steven Soderbergh (Film) 1 hour 46 mins Cards on the table, I haven’t seen Contagion yet, but after watching that video a couple of times it is now my artist date for this week and so I’ll be indulging myself in it tonight. Practice: being in an epidemic, fear, trauma, death, lose, change, panic Where: Currently Available on Google Play -- Her, Spike Jonez (Film) ~2 hours Her is the strange kind of film that seems both perfectly timely, and incredible ahead of the curve. Starring Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix, the film sets itself apart from most modern cinema by being a look into a future where the world itself is beautiful. With computers that look like picture frames and city streets devoid of cars, Jonez’s vision of the future is one the is incredibly hopeful and inviting. Each set seems light and alive, and it give space to character work that is emotion and grounded. The performances and voice acting are truly stunning, Johansson plays a computer ai born new into the world, connecting with and finding humanity in her relationship with Joaquin Phoenix’s character. It is a truly touching and unexpected work of cinema, especially in a time when physical closeness is impossible. Practice: love without physicality, hope, connection, distance, empathy Where: Currently Available on Amazon or Google Play -- The Habitat, Gimlet Media (Podcasts) ~4 hours (total) / ~30 mins (per episode) Somewhere on a remote island in Hawaii, six volunteers find themselves on a red planet. Imitating the lives of astronauts, the volunteers are there to simulate a year long mars mission. The door is sealed, communication is limited, foods dried or grown. This podcast is an excellent looking into the ways we deal with isolation, the things that can keep us going, and most importantly, the reasons why it’s so hard for us. It is really impossible explain in detail, but if you have the time and the space, this is the thing I would most recommend. Practice: isolation, love, family, trauma, joy, empathy. Link: https://open.spotify.com/show/51zf1djWRn5v5HynVupSlU?si=GhhJ3W14QfSvVkWFk8BW0g -- The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath (Book) 234 pages I wanted to avoid putting too many books on this list, as whilst I think stories can be incredible helpful in times like these, they are often expensive and are not so readily available to us in the current times. However The Bell Jar must remain the exception. Plath’s seminal work is something everybody show read, but especially now when life can so easily feel empty and fruitless. Filled with both despair and hope, Plath’s writing is witty, introspective, and at time sincerely dark, but there is always a light on somewhere, and that is what we need right now. Practice: isolation, trauma, depression, hatred, petty life, loss of ego, fear, hope Where: Amazon or any other online bookseller. I also recommend: going for walks, drinking coffee looking out the window, crying in the shower, drawing badly, drawing very well, writing daily, making todo lists and ignoring them, breathing slowly and calmly, cleaning your kitchen to good music. Stay safe and know that you are loved

Oliver


Photo by Me, Taken In Edinburgh, Spring 2018

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