Our phone is ringing! And it's The Network. In these times, the most profound of concepts is the network. And thanks to our network, the phone is ringing.

I've just read "Netherlands" by Joseph O'Neill, which for my money is one of the most finely wrought novels of the year. Not just because it paints a richly layered portrait of the cultures I know and love best - England, Holland and New York. But because the story is told like a matrix. With these incredible yet diverse cities along the bottom axis, and every meaningful character profile along the side. The man, the woman, the family, the enigmatic friend. The portrait is of how each interacts and gets tangled up in their network, these cities, and how they survive.

Without the entanglements with people, we have no way out of the mire.

In the beginning, I arranged every minute into a social event putting John on stage. I invited, opened up, cooked for, laundered for, phoned, suggested, enticed and manipulated. I dumped my results on a desk and expected the opportunities to rise like gumbies and dance around John with exciting opportunities, offers of a hand, the answer. I did that for about a month. Until I crumbled in an exhausted heap for the weight of delivery. The truth is, this is not my search, it is not my job. And the more I work to deliver the gumbies I'm taking away from doing my own job, from raising my children, from caring for John and definitely from caring for myself.

The City, the notion of the City, was built on this concept of network. Cities were not haphazard, nor were they Utopian - they were architected out of "the belief in the real possibility of creating worlds of peace, order, beauty and well being. (That) people can, at times, all get along and build something bigger than themselves."

I'm quoting from a New York Times review of an exhibit in Washington DC's National Gallery of Art (1/30/09) called "Pride of Place: Dutch Cityscapes of the Golden Age". Washington couldn't seem farther away right now as our travel budget has been slashed to local driving and at-home entertainment, but if I could, I'd airlift to see this installation. Not only is it Holland, not only have I just read this amazing novel, but it is an examination in art and cartography of the City, as a living organism, a thought-out way of shoring up and ensuring the network. And it's not "the village" (as much as I respond to Hillary Clinton's expose' about what it takes), it's THE CITY. It's infinite in its possibility, and in the end, it'll be the City that provides the opportunity for all of us, to grow, and not to die trying.

Some resources for networking: http://www.womenatwork.com/, http://www.momcorps.com/

1 comment:

sboyd said...

Just started this book - he is coming to JAI on March 13! Good for you to recognize that you need to nourish yourself (no matter how hard this seems) before you can nourish those around you!