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Born in the Wrong Time

October 6, 2011

Dear Hoping,

I have been considering your problem every day for the past six months. Your letter is affixed to the wall above my desk, between an illustration of a fluffy yellow chick and a drawing of myself as a Russian princess feeding peacocks.

While Kate’s reply is sensible advice, and probably well worth heeding, I can’t help but feel that she is the kind of woman who has never inhabited the fringe of conversations, struggling with her internal monologue: Who are these people? Why don’t I find that funny? Am I from another planet entirely?

According to Kate you and I are nostalgics. We can’t deal with the present so we seek refuge in a place we have the ability to shape according to our desires: the past. As I sit here writing to you I am surrounded by objects, many of which are older than myself. I feel an attraction to these objects, as I believe that they become more animate over time, they develop spirits. I am lucky to be able to inhabit this world, as many people in the world have no choice as to the world they live in, but this privilege does not alter the often terrible shock of adjustment to the world out there.

Yesterday I found myself in Bankstown Centro, a hell of a place. Never go there. A sprawling shopping mall with crowds – actual crowds – of people, and no obvious exits. Things were terribly Bosch, as I wandered in an increasing panic I came across the terrible scene of children in harnesses, bouncing up and down in tall rack-like contraptions. No one seemed to share my panic. I had to ask a girl at Fields of Fruit (which were not fields, they were display cases with piles of miserable apples and oranges) how to escape. She gave me a look which allowed me to see into her innermost thoughts: she too would have got out of there if she could have. Had the world been different I would have grabbed her hand and we would have run through the crowds and out of that place, to find the real fields of fruit, however far away they might  be.

Hoping, you are right to hope. There is hope, and in some moments you come across it. But the signs are subtle, almost imperceptible. This is why I started to write. I knew that nothing much good could ever come out of a conversation at a party, but if I put as many clues as possible into words, then they would reach the people for whom they were intended.

Yours in love of trees,


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Natasha permalink
    October 8, 2011 9:17 am

    Where did you find the letter from Hoping?

  2. Vanessa Berry permalink*
    October 8, 2011 9:57 am

    It was from a Woman’s Day from the 70s. I found it during the “Den” that me and Clara Tzara made for the Format festival earlier this year, when I was lounging and reading 70s magazines.

  3. December 8, 2014 5:10 am

    Hello Vanessa, Great thoughts going on here, and it reached whom it was intended. I have the certainty of this being true with an extension of this story.
    I like using the Google search site as an Oracle of sorts, a modern take on the I CHING of Oriental fame. I get into a proper state of mind and form an exact question to ask and submit it to be “Googled”.
    When I do this I take it to be from an aspect of A.I. (artificial intelligence) / Tulpa creation of Mind, that is developing in the Noosphere; as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said so many years ago. It (Google/Noosphere-Tulpa) answers and I came across Images and found the image you have from the old Woman’s Day magazine of the 70’s. Ah Time Travel is so wonderfully synchronistic.
    I too have had my own Bankstown Centro experiences and think the same of grabbing someone to save them, myself from the madness. It is atavistic almost in nature, a rapture of something akin to seeing Pan, and that primal Panic sets in to flee.
    I was going to write my own ditty about this, but now having followed the footpath I found thanks to the Oracle Google, I just wish to add these thoughts. Time is fluid, yet all we have is the Now. Embrace it and bring it’s best out is all we can really do. Unless you learn time travel.

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