Sense of community

Unable to wait til Miranda July’s latest film, The Future, arrives in the UK in DVD form, I’d asked for her new book, It Chooses You, for Christmas. I got it – hurrah! Three baths later I’d got it read – it’s not long, just deeply intruguing, upsetting, and full of things that will make you a less judgemental and happier person for the knowing of them.

Brief synopsis – July is struggling to complete the screenplay for The Future, so she starts answering ads in the free ad-mag, the PennySaver. She interviews the sellers of hairdryers, Care Bears, strangers’ photo albums and baby lepoards and then presents us with the uniqueness of their lives, their likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, beginnings and endings.

There are a number of lovely revelations in the book, such as the realisation that, owing to their not being online, most of these people could only be found ‘by accident’ – they couldn’t be googled, they didn’t keep blogs. And July doesn’t sentimentalise anyone, she’s not patronising and she doesn’t try to make herself seem understanding or some kind of ‘everywoman’. In some chapters I think she comes across as downright rude, actually.

Most moving, to me, was an early paragraph about isolation, about how our enviroment isolates us from each other:

But the moment I got back in my car, I knew I would never see him again, ever. It suddenly seemed obious to me that the whole world, and especially Los Angeles, was designed to protect me from these people I was meeting. There was no law against my knowing them, but it wouldn’t happen. LA isn’t a walking city, or a subway city, so if someone isn’t in my house or my car we’ll never be together, not even for a moment. And just to be absolutely sure of that, when I leave my car my iPhone escorts me, letting everyone else in the post office know that I’m not really with them, I’m with my own people, who are so hilarious that I can’t help smiling to myself as I text them back.

It gave me such a sad feeling, to realise how, not only does a drivers’ city such as LA isolate its inhabitants from each other, but we do this to ourselves. That image of someone texting in the post office (especially thinking of lovely, lovely Todmorden Post Office, where everyone is so very funny and lovely and friendly…) rang so shamefully true.

So coming back to tarot, I wanted to find the cards that act as antidote to this isolation, encouraging us to reach out and connect with the people around us.

There’s The World, of course, which I always fondly imagine as the card for the moment when you find your place in the world. This is likely to involve relationships with others and contact with a community. There’s The Sun – approaching the world with a childlike innocence, open arms to embrace those around us with love and happiness.

There’s the Six of Cups, sentimental as it may be, reminding us to do ‘one good deed’, to help a neighbour, reach out, perform acts of kindness. And there’s the Six of Swords, which on the one hand shows a person being borne away to pastures new… but who’s that carrying her?

The Two of Cups is surely the ultimate card, though, as it’s all about making connections. But the Two of Cups is romantic, it’s love, it’s partnership. It’s not quite what I’m after…

It’s got to be a three, hasn’t it? Looking back through my blog I found community, over and over.

You can read ‘community’ blog posts here.

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