Excerpt: ‘A Smart Casual Connecting Principle’, by Caroline Anderson


Photo by strollerdos. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Imaginations are just remembering all the things you’ve ever known and mixing them together in a special way that makes sense to you. The more of a variety of experiences you’ve had the more surprises you can pull out of your hat. People love surprises, even if they hate them at first. Sometimes the words don’t accurately convey what you really meant to say straight away, but you can still go about your business on a cloudy day.

That was a quote from a story I wrote about a friend in late 2009. At the time I was in the throes of a radical reordering of consciousness and unleashing of awareness. A major unplanned psychic overhaul and sensational chakratic explosion I dubbed The Party Within, but which could’ve been dubbed all manner of things from the perspective of an outsider looking on at my strange behaviour. Bipolar disorder, a spiritual awakening, losing the plot, discovering a whole new plot. Whether it is deemed lost or found depends on whether the plot is something you want to know about in advance or whether you prefer to intuit your own adventure page by page and invite chance to be a major player in your narrative to be.

Part of that process, which was set off by the idea to write a book about a sonic feminist art rock muse who had played a starring role in my early psychic evolution, involved rapid-fire boundary-blind blogging. Reverent but raw character vignettes about my friends teamed out onto the internet without any revision or permission sought on my part. I felt overwhelmed and electrified as they passed through me. Lyrical portraits were falling out fully formed, surprising me with their contents. I posted them without considering the confrontational nature of revealing my perspective on such personal matters in a public forum.

The intensity of my instinct could not be muzzled; intuition trumped all external cards. This both delighted and outraged members of my community and soon a barrage of other perspectives were in my inbox and being whispered about in my absence. Hushed concerns for my mental health were rife and slowly filtering back to me. Dialogue around the effects and ethics of such a reveal erupted, throwing me into apology and justification mode. Before long I removed the stories from the internet with a new understanding of the importance of consent.

To me, their message was clear. Embedded within the tales was my perspective on the skills and traits of a selection of deeply inspiring characters who had influenced the puzzle of my life in decidedly profound ways. Their combined knowledge and spiritual nous, when observed, heard, tasted, obsessed over, digested, and combined within my full body think-tank, had fused to unleash a mysterious cosmic master’s degree, that nobody recognised as valid yet except me.

I had innately attained the qualifications to speak out loud, which came in the form of an irrepressible impetus to do so. Lots of people inherently feel qualified to say what they reckon with forceful conviction but I have a tendency to whisper in multiple ears until I’m sure about the wording. Openly posting my heartfelt thoughts had stirred a number of emotional pots. In some cases the contents had splashed over the lip, burning others, which in turn burned me. The only salve was through communion. Not in a wafer and wine kind of way, but through deep discussion and sharing of perspectives.

This piece appears in full in The Lifted Brow #28: The Art Issue. Get your copy here.

Caroline Anderson uses art as a front for being really into her friends. She is making a book called The Party Within.