I find myself looking back through eight years.
This is a lot like my recent experience of standing inside Yayoi Kusama’s infinity mirrors. There is no floor, no boundary, no anchor point, nothing concrete, just a feeling of wonder, rising into awe.
As I scan and assess these eight years passed through the lens of now, it is like that. Everything I had thought to be firmly rooted in permanence is changed. This includes me. It includes how and what I remember.
I think of Stephen Hawking, who died on the same day I visited Kusama’s rooms. Who spent his life exploring the phenomenon of time, and published a book in 1988 which translated mathematical code for us. In it he wrote, “You cannot predict the future.”.
He also wrote this: “The increase of disorder or entropy is what distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time.”. This I have more trouble wrapping my head around. Perhaps Kusama offers clues in those infinity rooms. Maybe all that I no longer recognize after eight years of life is a form of living proof?
In this house, where I have lived these past four years is a collection of things from two family ‘anchor’ homes which were dismantled and dispersed, in 2013 and 2015. Also here is one lamp, two plants, books, a piano, a chair and a bed which come from another house I built (with my now-ex husband) from 2006 until 2013. In the room above me are art supplies and equipment from my factory building studio which I opened in 2009 and closed in 2017 – another home dismantled and dispersed.
On the walls here are paintings I’ve made from five solo art shows dating from 1998 through to 2014. Three of them are directional paintings, West, East and North, that describe summers I spent in a ‘hut’ studio at the farm my parents gifted to my estranged sister and I in 2004 as Tennants-in-common. After a prolonged and emotional struggle, my sister and I agreed to dissolve the joint arrangement in 2017. As a result I no longer own any interest in the farm. Some of the trees I planted there are now twenty-five feet tall – they live their own complex story now, and will far outlive our little manouverings.
The paintings on my walls resonate differently than they did when I made them, as I gaze from this place of me, now. My sense of ownership is radically different than it was when things seemed more concrete, more permanent.
Who was that woman who painted these things, I wonder? The way I might wonder about a woman reading a book on the subway.
I find this liberating.
Here’s what Oxford English Dictionary has to say about entropy:
A thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.‘the second law of thermodynamics says that entropy always increases with time’count noun ‘the sum of the entropies of all the bodies taking part in the process’
2: Lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.‘a marketplace where entropy reigns supreme’
3: (in information theory) a logarithmic measure of the rate of transfer of information in a particular message or language.
I find I can relate more directly to the original.
Mid 19th century: from en- ‘inside’ + Greek tropē ‘transformation’.