“If anything demonstrates that people with mental illnesses are individuals, not their mental illness, Meta Work has arrived to concretize it in the sweaty summer heat of New York’s Central Park with its sidewalks full of aquatic monsters, fire-eyed mannequins and a life-sized compass that will snatch readers along the way as the narrative leads the heroine and the audience to a place we all need, a place called home.” —Gila Green, author of White Zion, Passport Control, No Entry and King of the Class
Meta Work exemplifies the power of personal story to evoke catharsis in a healing journey. A cross between memoir, poetry, and narrative fiction, the new subgenre of autofiction is shown here to be an entry into an individual’s inner world, allowing one the freedom to explore it without the strictures imposed by the aforementioned genres.
I show, by sharing my own journey as a person living in recovery from bipolar disorder, the power of this immersive tool to clarify, magnify, and ultimately transform one’s own relationship with their internal challenges.
Meta Work was released summer 2021 by Planet Dust Enterprises.
https://anastasiawasko.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/awlogoblack.png00anastasiawritingeditinghttps://anastasiawasko.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/awlogoblack.pnganastasiawritingediting2021-05-17 20:20:372021-09-18 00:08:32Autofiction: Meta Work
A dynamic circuit exists between the inner world and outer worlds; identity and modern political consciousness; human activity and Earth systems. Here are some thoughts that I hope encourage reflection on your place in the circuitry–specifically, how climate change is messing with our heads. Literally.
There is a strong relationship between mental well-being and the instability of the world’s weather patterns. Climate change, which is at the root of severe weather (such as the hurricane superstorms), undermines our fundamental stability in our place- or location-based lifestyles. When people are displaced by environmental catastrophes, they are done so in an often haphazard manner. They seek initial shelter in temporary structures as they consider the permanent structures that they must return to/rebuild, or vacate. And the place to which they return, is changed. The people’s association with the place is changed. Climate change doesn’t let our minds rest.
In India, monsoons appear in ancient Sanskrit poetry and Bollywood films. In other words, the monsoon season is part of life and culture in India. Monsoon season governs what people eat because it is part of the cycle of crop cultivation. Infrastructure has been built to handle predictable amounts of rain. But in the past few years, the climate is changing; significant downpours happen during monsoon season and droughts happen outside of the season. The unpredictability of the rain affects food supplies, economies, and the way and quality of life.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina wiped out entire neighborhoods in 2005. The city then changed rapidly through climate gentrification, which happens when people with more monetary means leave areas of climate risk and catalyze a demographic shift through rising property value in areas less at risk of extreme weather. Individuals (often Black people) who grew up in recently gentrified neighborhoods are being treated as outsiders by the new arrivals—often white people.
Glenn Albrecht, an Australian environmental activist, acknowledges the psychological experience of pain when “the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault.” Albrecht calls it “solastalgia.” The term applies to situations of climate change, environmental destruction, and ecological imbalance. It is a reflection that our human psyche is touched by a relationship with Earth, that we yearn for a healthy balance with habitat, that part of our human condition is driven by an “ecological unconscious.”
Consider India, New Orleans, and many places where people live while forces greater than them alter their community landscape.
It is devastating to see that the effects of governments across the globe respond with splintered actions (some mitigating climate science, prioritizing industry and resource consumption, and establishing short-term policies that don’t have long-term goals and live-ability in mind; others acknowledging the enmeshment of human civilization and Earth’s systems). The resulting destabilization of a place-based lifestyle, if that place falls in a high risk zone for the effects of climate change, leaves people hypervigilant. Having an emergency plan, that is, evacuation procedures and resource contingencies, as a fact of life puts us in the mental space in which we are always on edge.
And, consider the place might not be there to return to at all.
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Dillidallier is a mother-daughter team who like skulls, oogly eyes, and brightly colored things. They are Anastasia Wasko and The Mama. Dillidallier explores art-making as a transformative psychological process. Connection, disconnection, and life cycles are recurring themes.
The Mama (Pat Wasko) is based Kingston, NY, where she scavenges thrift stores, tag sales, and curbs for pieces of kitsch to corrupt. Anastasia is based online. The Mama does most of the crafting, and Anastasia does most of the concept drafting, photo- & story-making.
Anastasia: I love bones. I love them because they carry our sacks of goopy organs and blood and shape the body, this wunnerful self-contained life unit. Bones hold up our physical shape, which gives us physical boundaries. I love the way the bones physically look, long or short and knobby and usually white—separate from the body system. I’m intrigued by the visual association of bones with death-things—bones are pieces that say nothing but “life” to me. But my experience of selling bone-themed pieces has only enforced a sense of a gaping hole, you know, a hole that leads to things-we-don’t-talk about. I want people to look at my mom’s skellies, the skeleton-re-painted figures, and be knee-jerked into contemplation about life via a visual of what we usually associate with death.
The Mama: I started making them a few years ago. I woke up one morning and just really needed to paint a gnome as a skeleton.
Anastasia: One warmish afternoon a few months after mom’s artistic super-impulse, I decided to take a long ride. I was in Kingston, in the Hudson Valley, New York. I turned off my GPS and just the car zoom south, zoom along route 52 through Pine Bush. I happened to pass by a large-ish farmhouse with a few concrete garden gnomes out front—they were unpainted and I was feeling daft enough to ask if he would sell me one—so I turned around, parked across the street, and went over to the front door to introduce myself. Turned out, the man who made them—Kentucky Bob, he said his name was—poured the molds his’self. He took me out behind the house, showed me his collection, his gnome séance, or, what he called the permanent arrangement of six gnomes in the garden; he said set them there, together, so they could talk to each other at night. I spent the afternoon listening to Bob’s stories and ideas. He sold me a gnome, too. The Mama was elated when I returned home and showed her. She named him “Darden,” the dead garden gnome.
Anastasia: And then the Mama couldn’t stop. She wanted more and was willing to branch out in forms. Most of the pieces the Mama uses for Dillidallier skellies are cheap, porcelain mass reproductions of mid-century and later kitsch—discarded or unwanted material made by machines, I just love that provenance. Some are full skellies, some are havvies (part bone, part “normal”). I love that Dillidallier skellies are things, new life for dead-to-someone-else stuff. I often say that the skelly finds you, that is, it finds its home when the right person sees it and needs it. That person usually coughs up a very personal story for needing it; I’m fascinated by the ones I’ve heard. In other words, Dillidallier skellies are your friendly reminders to tell your stories.
Fuck yes, bones!
https://anastasiawasko.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/awlogoblack.png00anastasiawritingeditinghttps://anastasiawasko.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/awlogoblack.pnganastasiawritingediting2021-01-30 16:33:352023-03-09 02:39:17Dillidallier: Skellies and Bones