We Think Alone

How can a simple email, filled with other people’s emails, be art? Does an email I am forwarded inviting me to a happy hour next week count as art? What about an automated monthly statement email from Chase?

But maybe those are the wrong questions to ask. After poring through Monday’s installment, the better question may be, what does our digital imprint say about who we are? 

Miranda July on we think alone

Here’s the project description from the website –

I’m always trying to get my friends to forward me emails they’ve sent to other people — to their mom, their boyfriend, their agent — the more mundane the better. How they comport themselves in email is so intimate, almost obscene — a glimpse of them from their own point of view. WE THINK ALONE has given me the excuse to read my friends’ emails and the emails of some people I wish I was friends with and for better or worse it’s changed the way I see all of them. I think I really know them now. But our inner life is not actually the same thing as our life on the computer — a quiet person might !!!! a lot. A person with a busy mind might write almost nothing. And of course while none of these emails were originally intended to be read by me (much less you*)  they were all carefully selected by their authors in response to my list of email genres — so self-portraiture is quietly at work here.  Privacy, the art of it, is evolving. Radical self-exposure and classically manicured discretion can both be powerful, both be elegant. And email itself is changing, none of us use it exactly the same way we did ten years ago; in another ten years we might not use it at all. Thank you to Kareem, Kirsten, Sheila, Danh, Lee, Etgar, Kate, Laura, Lena and Catherine for their daring and diligence.

– Miranda July

An excerpt from an email

loving someone means loving their ugliness. if you do not love also what’s worst in them, you do not really love them. it’s hard in a new relationship because every bit of ugliness is a surprise; but these are the parts that must be loved. or else it’s not love. it’s icon-worship or something like that. – Sheila Heti 

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