Notes from Richard Wentworth
Questions or prompts for thoughts
... the difference between or perhaps the relationship between knowing and interest -- as in seeking knowledge or pursuing an interest. Terri
That expression ’know how’ has got caught on my mind screen since you asked me ‘the question’, it all seems to hover in the gap between how we are compelled and propelled.
I like co incidents, and I’m certainly attracted to them as much as they are to me. We have a fertile conversation.
I heard a popular programme about a Hannah Arendt this week, how we live ‘in language’.
I guess I am amazed by the accidents of perception, the speed with which we think we see what we see, the swiftness with which things are named and actions are credited. Assumptions.
The world chatters at me.
Stuart Morgan said I ‘have a nose for it’.
Whatever ‘it’ might be, I think it’s quite argumentative, clever at escaping categorization, resisting becoming ‘knowledge’.
It’s untidy stuff.
I’m not tidy... Richard
I’m not tidy... Richard
email note from July 9
From: Richard Wentworth
Date: July 9, 2020 at 2:46:57 AM CDT
To: cameron schoepp, Terri ThorntonSubject: Must Blind Alley...always appear in the middle ground of all my thoughts?
Questions and prompts for thoughts
July 4, 2020
I am truly delighted to be back to our exchange. But I have to say, there is so much to address at the moment that I was, paradoxically, drawing a blank for a while. Finally, in seeking focus, I've landed on the concept of attention.
Thinking back, you've talked a good bit throughout this project about the importance of intention, and how we see it in each other. I believe the quote is "intention, humans recognize it in each other." With that, I am struck by your capacity to perceive this human behavior/connection. Like so much else you seem to notice, I think it is due to the attention you give the world. This might in fact be your superpower. You see and engage at a higher frequency than most. In turn, your work requires attention and even challenges our attention. You use the familiar as an element of surprise in terms of the how and what of your work which peaks attention, balancing it on its heels. Sometimes it feels like you just pointed at something, but that that seemingly simple act changed everything.
For this postcard, can you address the role and significance of attention in art and elsewhere? Or perhaps dispute my stated observations and assumptions...
Thank you for humoring me with these thought prompts. You are a very good sport. That said, there is always the option of declining participation. No hard feelings, I promise. xo, t
July 4, 2020
Down to make sure Miumiu the cat is on the right side of the door...
...to find your tenderness.
My intuit (typo for intention) is to attend to sleeping now and awake w a fresh cerebellum for
your fine inquisitive enquiry....
July 16, 2020
Perhaps the most demanding ‘personal’ question I recall being asked...
I think I have about two thirds of a reply. Will check in the morning and add a final third.
Have been thinking about the circular postcard aspect of our exchange and whether we should consider a small publication . Not a vain thought, more a sense of reportage of such a strange historical episode/ coincity...
July 26, 2020
via Jane Wentworth
...long, long ago I once met Christopher Hitchens.
I’m reminded of this because of a remark by a cleverer boy at school talking about another pupil…’He has such a good mind’.
We are programmed to recall such things because they inform us about who we might (or might not) be.
When I was a father of young children, I remember being an anxious part of an assessment.
Eldest son as primary client, wise South African dyslexic specialist, my wife and me.
“Stand to attention, face me, put out your hands, put your two thumbs together extended, stand on one leg.” I did. “Yes, you’re dyslexic”
Thirty years after meeting Christopher Hitchens, I happened to hear a BBC radio interview with his brother Peter. There was an emphasis on their childhood and Peter described 1950s English boys’ education as being no different from that which was performed in the 1930s.
I burst into tears.
If you ask me a question, I will probably give a discursive reply.
When a ball point doesn’t function, we often move it around vigorously, skater style, on the paper to see if we can wake up the ink. The figure this leaves, a sort of progressive looping where half of each loop is running backwards, but the whole figure is processive, is probably a two-dimensional schema of how I ‘think,’ how I give attention to things.
We say ‘pay attention’ as if it were a formal transaction, when I think that for most of us it’s much more fragile, shifty, strangely incremental.
I realize that I have an abiding interest in how things are wrought, as much how a tree grows as the politics of how and where it enjoys the freedom to develop itself.
Some long words will have come to me quite late- etymology, anthropology, demography. Recently I was comforted to meet somebody of my generation who reads more than a dozen books simultaneously. We haven’t yet discussed this variety of self-distraction, but I recognize this mental flightiness, the feeling that everything is fugitive, prone to reconvening unexpectedly. Where wonder meets wander.
In French there is the wonderful ‘meninges’ for the workings of the mind, the piece of kit we are each given which we then have to employ to understand our own mentality. We have fine words for the acts of considering things- mulling, ruminating, ’brown study’ was something my father would say. You might say that ‘ambition’ in its proper sense, a cousin of ‘amble,’ the act of walking around something considerately, is the daily hymn of sentient beings. becoming a good sailor, so to speak, where the ‘port’ in opportunity is exactly that – the place you hope to sail towards. Twenty-five years-ago I was briefly friendly with the experimental psychologist Richard Gregory. Richard had a great sense of fun to match his intellect and had been recruited by the US Airforce to pick suitable sites for a moon landing. Armed with binoculars he had spent optimistic months in the American south west, scanning the heavens. Knowledgeable looking. One day last century, very much the junior on a board of grant givers, we sat together interviewing teams of hopefuls. Following some passing remark of mine, Richard turned to me and said, “you have the most remarkable instinct, I can feel it coming off you.”
July 26, 2020