The Carrier Bag and Unknown Horizons
What if time was told through the lens of what has helped us share, rather than conquer? What is reshaped if the protagonist of a story is a “we” rather than an “I”?
💌 Newsletter Housekeeping 💌 + I'm trying a new experiment: paid subscribers can now listen to this newsletter in audio form! Scroll all the way down to listen to the recording (along with a list of 10 creative experiments for the week). I'll try the recordings for a while and if folks are into it, I'll continue sending them out! 🌀
hello hello hello,
I hope the end to summer is treating you honey’d. I hope you’ve found yourself curled up lately (in: a body of water / a loved one’s shoulder / a question mark you’ve turned into a boat and are using to sail bravely into the horizon of the unknown).
If summertime blues has occupied your company lately, I feel you. May we blow time a kiss, flip fomo a finger, and continue packing our tote bags with semi-crushed raspberries and prayers for a kinder Fall.
On the topic of tote bags and heading into futures unknown, I recently returned to writer Ursula Le Guin’s essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction.” For those unfamiliar, Le Guin is a speculative fiction writer whose work often explores feminist and anti-capitalist alternative realities. In this piece Le Guin offers an insight by anthropologist Elizabeth Fisher, who notes “the first cultural device was probably a recipient,” such as a bag, rather than a weapon such as the spear. Le Guin riffs off of this observation and asks us: What if time was told through the lens of what has helped us share, rather than conquer? What is reshaped if the protagonist of a story is a “we” rather than an “I”? What would shift if you gave the softness of your heart not only to the steps forward, but also to the parts of yourself that cyclically loop, contract, and expand?
Le Guin offers not only an alternative reading of history, but also a reshaping of western values in storytelling. Western culture is often infatuated by and most lushly awards what she describes as the “the killer story,” daring tales of a hero - most often a white cis straight man - dominating their environment. In the killer story, time moves forward linearly at the behest of an individual hero conquering, whether that be nature, people, or their own self. This lens values hyper-individuality, linearity, domination, and separatism. Most importantly, in the killer story the hero always wins.
Enter an alternative: the carrier bag.
Le Guin offers the carrier bag as a different reading of history and time, and in doing so interrogates questions of gender, labour, care, and nonlinearity. Unlike the spear - a tool fixed on linearity and individual heroism - the carrier bag values gathering and sharing. It is “the tool that brings energy home.” In the seams of the carrier bag, time unfurls cyclically. There is no beginning or end, and instead a jumbled offering of interwoven parts.
Let’s take for example my own bag. When I’m digging through my tote in search of my vanilla lip balm and after a length of searching finally believe I’ve stumbled upon it and fish it out, 9/10 it’s just a squished granola bar that through weeks of tossing has rolled into vanilla-lip-balm-shaped form.
Which is to say: the carrier bag keeps shit unpredictable.
Time in the carrier bag loops and tangles. The carrier bag says “we’re all in this together” and asks us to remember our interconnected nature - that we are more than our individual accomplishments. The lip balm I was digging for was to give my homie in the bar bathroom. In the carrier bag heroes are dethroned and made undistinguishable from squished granola bars. What matters in this basket is cultivating a curiosity and interdependence with your fellow gatherers as you traverse the “unending story” that is life.
The timeline I hope for, that I think Le Guin believes in, is a spiraling ladder built from a series of acts where people choose to love one another better. Where perhaps we don’t reach for the tale of the victorious and solitary hero as often, and instead return to the everwinding story where we learn to better care again and again.
If the carrier bag presents a way to gentle time, it also offers a path to tender our relationship to creativity. So often the focus on creativity is on our individual and finalized output. The value of our creativity becomes whittled down to what it’s conquered or accomplished, and in turn our attention turns towards external validation. What if instead the story of our creativity took more of the shape of a carrier bag? Where we celebrate our creativity’s capacity “to bring energy home,” to alchemize our values, to be a space that generates more questions than answers, more spirals than definitive ends?
What the carrier bag offers is the reminder:
Your creativity slips the grip of definitivity.
The magic of your creativity is in your dedication to process.
Your creativity is in abundance.
Your creativity is nourished by networks of reciprocal support.
Your creativity is unconcerned with “winning” or “losing.” It is curious how you are relating to it as a means to more deeply connect with the truths of your heart.
Shoutout to everyone that walks out the door today with a carrier bag on their shoulder. I hope in these last weeks of summer you gather something that delights you. I hope you share it with someone and hold a moment of collective beaming.
With many young leaves 🌱
🌀 UPCOMING EVENTS 🌀
I’m so excited to be doing another session of my Love Letters Reimagined poetry writing workshop this Wednesday, September 14th from 5:30-6:30pm est with Dame! This will be a v juicy celebration of literary sensuality and pleasure. RSVP here! ASL interpretation will be provided. This session will not be recorded.
This workshop will invite you to:
💌 Explore love letters as self pleasure
💌 Celebrate love from self to platonic
💌 Play & experiment with sensuality
💌 Deepen connection to your creativity
No poetry writing experience necessary! See you there. ❣️
⭐️ Paid Subscriber Content ⭐️ (Experiments & Recording)
10 Experiments for Carrier Bag Holders
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