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384 pages, Paperback
First published March 25, 2020
The very fact of Druitt being more believable as an invention than a real woman who lived a life is concerning. For as much as Hermia sought to catapult herself into a life of fantasy, her reality is significant, and the inclination of society to find it difficult to picture people of colour in Europe prior to the Windrush, even fantastical individuals like Hermia, is pernicious. It is not an uncommon tendency amongst historians to find the prospect of Black lives outside of familiar narratives implausible.
They were access to, glimpses of, Arcadia: The Grand Ahistorical Mythical Paradise which is the ultimate project of all Arcadian personality types who crave a paradise knit out of visions of the past much like their more illustrious cousins, Utopians, do with the future. (It - paradise - is ultimately to be a collaboration.)
Utopian personality types, as a rule, find old things redolent of decay, and just about put up with new things which are still not the future.
The classic counterpart traits of the Arcadian, like a fondness for old objects and buildings, and an inclination towards historicised figments, were, as far as I was concerned, much easier to inhabit for white people, who continued to cast and curate all the readymade, ready-to-hand visions. Being born in a body that's apparently historically impermissible, however, only meant I was not as prone to those traps that lie in wait for Arcadians - the various and insidious forms of history-worship and past-lust. I would not get thrown off track: I would rove over the past and seek out the lost detail to contribute to the great constitution: exhume a dead beautiful feeling, discover a wisp of radical attitude pickled since antiquity, revive revolutionary but lustrous sensibilities long perished.
Around a decade later, Thought Art developed into something more specific with the Dun residency. The Residency ("-don't tell me you don't know this-") was in one sense an ongoing collective Thought Art performance piece to which each successive year of Residents contributed. This took the form of the White Book Project. The White Book Project culminated in the production of a work of considerable psychological and intellectual effort guided by the principles of Garreauxvian theory including 'Dotage' and 'Markation' - ways of engaging with the world as a Thought Artist.
The Conveyors were participants in this ongoing performance. Through the initial White book Submissions they were the only ones to ever look at the work. This was to make sure the artist was 'siphoning' (exerting themselves) as much as possible, otherwise the Negation would not be satisfied, as well as to guide and push the artist in correspondence with Garreaux's Lesser and Greater Principles.
"I would not get thrown off track: I could rove over the past and seek out that lost detail to contribute to the great constitution: exhume a dead beautiful feeling, discover a wisp of radical attitude pickled since antiquity, revive revolutionary but lustrous sensibilities long perished."
"The idea was that by disappearing from the in-essential elements of one’s own life, whatever they might be, you would inevitably be brought closer to the essential: a sublime self-subtraction."
"Perhaps Lewis had been reading Hegel, who posited adornment as an undesirable primitive urge—and a feminine property of the Other. Hegel, like so many other thinkers from Plato to Adolf Loos, sought to preserve the image of an unholy triumvirate of femininity, adornment and Otherness. To the likes of Lewis, an inheritor of such concepts, Hermia embodied the dreaded intersection so openly that she undoubtedly posed something of a challenge, a threat to the established framework. The striking and intimidating sight she presented had to be demoted through such ideological manoeuvres."
"Even today, Western conceptions of eccentricity very rarely tend to encompass Black personas. This is because eccentricity is tethered to the idea of a rarefied and semi-fragile aristocracy. For it to work, unconventional elements require a foil of idealised social stability, hence why the history of eccentrics is even more populated by the white, privileged and wealthy than other histories. Wealth does not necessarily preclude eccentricity—the impoverished state of nobility is a commonly depicted form. Note that, however, without class, eccentricity loses prestige."
"We are, you know, fundamentally ornamental creatures. Especially the likes of us. And the Lotus Eaters were the arch-decorators of myth. But even the Greeks must at one point have realised the importance of ornament. They called the universe “kosmos”, meaning decoration, surface, ornament: something cosmetic. Like make-up. Like lipstick! Like rouge. The cosmos is fundamentally blusher. But then the Greeks probably got the idea from somewhere else."