Lost & Found Reflections

My lost book in particular ended up going deeper than I had originally intended it too. My first thought, because I only had words to work with and no images, was to concentrate on the physical form of the book itself to convey my exploration of lost-ness. Burning, tearing, and water smearing struck me as visceral examples of loss, so the destruction of each page was how I envisioned the book. As I was working, I didn’t feel right just destroying the word “LOST” over and over; I wanted the reader to actually lose something. If the reader could guess what the word had been on every page, then there would be no loss at all. So I started writing bits and pieces and then refusing to let the reader all the way in. The process inevitably got more personal, so that I ended up delving into lost relationships, lost knowledge, lost connection to a country… The book both ends and begins with the word “LOST,” cut into windows in the beginning and burned away in the end, so I suppose the book is both an insight into loss and an experience of loss to the reader.

Because my lost book had taken both a physical and a personal turn, I really wanted to carry those qualities into the image-based “found” book as well. Because my lost book was more of a meditation of exploration than a text with a real narrative structure, I decided not to pressure myself to give the found book a narrative, either. I did want there to be some form of progression from randomness and triviality to deeper meaning and completeness. It was trickier to decide how to convey this without words, and I have to admit I’m not sure how well it carries without me there to introduce it, as I did in class. I loved picking out the materials, though–coins, a map, stamps, and of course the fabric, taken from excess material from my mother’s wedding dress. The inclusion of that alone makes the book intensely personal and precious to me, and the stamps from letters my fiance sent me when he was away adds to that emotional value. With the lost book, since I was making some of the material up on the spot (I don’t actually know the recipe I included, so I just jotted down whatever I remembered seeing my mother do), I could be more careless with the final pages. With the found book, because I had to make a conscious choice to sacrifice some materials, the physical book matters more. I would be sadder if I lost it.

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