Saturday, January 3, 2009

On mattering

I took a nap on our buildings roof this afternoon and thought about the word 'matter' and all its many meanings. Matter, as a noun, is the word for any quantity of physical mass or volume, literally anything one atom or larger. It can also refer to a vaguely specified concern (to have several matters to attend to) or a problem (what's the matter?). Matter, as a verb, means to have weight or importance. So here's an odd tangle of the English language that equates significance with stuffness... interesting. I think about this word a lot, considering what it means for a person to matter and what a person would have to do to not matter. I think it's interesting that I equate mattering with trying, but realized today that a lot of mattering happens without trying and viceversa.

Certainly the fear of not mattering serves as a catalyst for many, especially amongst my MFA peers, to try things. But for such an aggrandized word, it leaves room for interpretation, which is comforting. This non-specificity implies there's more than one way to matter, and that one of those ways may be just right for me. As far as stuffness goes, maybe this can be opened up to interpretation too. Maybe stuffness can include memory, which seems to me a pretty good way to matter in other peoples lives. This is not an original idea, to equate memory with stuff-- the best example is obviously "Mara Baldwin? That girl has got baggage". I spent most of the day nursing my eyes, which have been marinating in smokey bar air the past few nights. I tried drawing this morning but had to give my corneas a rest for the day-- lesson learned: my vision matters. The reason why I've been hanging out in bars is because my good friend Sarah has been in town the past week and drove back to Portland this morning with her girlfriend, Alex. Sarah Lipkin matters. Here's a picture of some matter.

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