OCTOBER 31: 10:45 PM, 44 degrees F, clear, Mars and Neptune visible.
Images and text excerpts from NightWriters, a project in progress:
My sleep, always so lively with visits from former boyfriends and formerly living people, my sleep became hour on hour restless and fretful September 21st and the 22nd, the 23rd.
September 24 Whoever you are, DIY carpenter from the past, I call you genius for installing a skylight in the bedroom. That aperture right over my bed, it’s an antidote to insomnia’s dread and anxiety, delivering Saturn and a bit of moon and a star assembly I never took in until now.
(September 26-October 3 dates missing in this excerpt)
October 4 Tonight is all about moving a pen across sheets of translucent paper, making my way around the sky, connecting stars that have become my familiars. People have always done this, drawn random distributions of stars into recognizable figures and shapes – swans and bears and utensils and mythical men. Asterisms they’re called.
October like one long night, two satisfying weeks piloting between the brightest members of my outer space with my pen aimed skyward. My pen is a product of space travel, resisting gravity, the ink flows upward onto paper over my head. A needle inside me plus the axis of the earth plus the pen point make a hybrid instrument, part protractor part compass – a conspiracy of inner and outer magnetics plotting triangles and circles and polygons. Not one animal or mythical person makes an appearance. Order, my sky hosts a notion of order projected onto a flat black plane, also an illusion…
October 26 A 3 a.m. moaning wind blows the skylight clear of leaves and I wonder if twenty-two nights of insomnia-induced concentration, if my singular focus is a dense locatable spot in the extended territory of matter. I wonder because around 4:30 while drawing tonight’s asterism, my pen moving across paper writes of its own accord: Oh Be A Fine Girl Kiss Me.
A tight beginning loop that is small: that is watchfulness speaking. And a lightening fast mind is indicated in needle pointed strokes. Under analysis, subjected to the principles of graphology, the handwriting reveals its author has a keen memory and tremendous patience, a driven and self-reliant person. Indeed, that is how she is remembered, Annie Jump Cannon, astronomer at Harvard’s Observatory, sitting at her viewing station 1896 to 1939 classifying three hundred stars an hour, the numbers accumulating to more stellar bodies than any other person classified. All day at your viewing stations you are scrutinizing glass photographic plates, images of nightskies at the reach of 1920s telescopes and cameras. At some moment, you realize the entire star multitude is composed of seven factors, seven spectral classes of stars summoned in the mnemonic: Oh Be A Fine Girl Kiss Me.
O B A F G K M
…..insomnia continues through November, December….