I’m a bit of an expert dumpster diver, so I was pretty thrilled to find this really cool box on the street a month or two ago. I think it was a box for an expensive brand of whiskey or cognac, not sure, but it has a nice weight to it and a heavy-duty clasp that makes an impressive clicking noise when you close it… very nicely constructed.
I decided to make it into a cabin, cabins and forests being one of my favorite themes:
Pretty straightforward – I think making houses out of boxes has to be one of the most beloved craft projects of kids everywhere (I know I made dozens if not more of them as I was growing up).
Onto this cabin, I added a false bottom so that there is room for some storage drawers:
The drawer slides out and in it are a bunch of little parts. This relates back to the ideas I’ve been working on with books where, in order to have the story revealed, the book needs the interaction of the viewer to complete different tasks and assemble things. But anyway, here are the parts:
It’s what you need to make, essentially, a front lawn for the cabin – a tree that is assembled by putting together little slots and tabs, and a grassy patch with slits cut into it so that the tree fits snugly.
You add, to the branches of the trees, a banner with text on it. (Note: I had to do a bit of a cheat here in this one and use the tiniest little spot of glue to get the banner to stay, but I’m going to go back and add another little slot to the back of the banner so that it doesn’t need glue for future set-ups.)
As I was putting together this project, I started thinking about the idea of heaven and my very mixed feelings about it. I’ll get to that some more in a minute, but for the time being it should be noted that the text in the trees reads: At first, I saw it as a place of comfort, of refuge – away from the harshness of this world.
The landscape, as it gets assembled around the rest of this cabin is, actually, pretty harsh. This isn’t some kind of luxury cabin for vacationing yuppies, rather it’s the kind where you have to go out and chop your own wood and work hard to keep it going:
Above is the left hand side and this is the right hand side:
As I mentioned, there’s a really nice clasp, so let’s open it…
…and then open the box…
This is what it looks like from up top:
The inside of the box is divided into two regions, the sky and the ground. Looking up at the sky, we see the text that addresses some of my thinking about heaven:
It reads: But the more I thought about it, the less I trusted it – heaven seemed set up like a reward for people I wasn’t sure needed rewarding while all around me were people who so needed that refuge and yet weren’t bound for it. Given the rules of heaven, I thought of people I loved who were driven to do desperate things in their lives – didn’t they deserve peace most of all? What about people whose lives are motivated by love and kindness? Shouldn’t that trump all the rules that govern who gets in and who doesn’t? I knew all the arguments to the contrary and I still couldn’t accept it. I also knew I was never bound for heaven myself – or that if I was, it wouldn’t be heaven as intended. Sitting up there, watching the people I love toil and suffer while I sat in abundance – I couldn’t take it. Heaven in that way was like hell for me and I knew there was only one thing I could see as important, one way in which I wanted to spend all eternity.
Ok, basically – I have had friends in my life who have done things that would keep them out of heaven (everything from being in love with someone of the “wrong” gender to committing suicide to not being baptized)… and here I am, I’ve been baptized, I lead a pretty “clean” life by religious folks’ standards (although by no means perfect, but still – I’ve been married forever, stuff like that) and, so…. wait. Does that mean I will get to spend all of eternity surrounded by the annoying, holier-than-thou types that I hate while all my friends get tortured in hell?
It’s a bit of a sarcastic question, but it is something I often think about and this is one of the things that has kept me away from organized religion forever; this idea that religion is really this little insiders club, meant to close yourself off from the kind of people you don’t want to associate. That pains me greatly – it’s not what I want religion or spirituality to be. And I think it’s this total distortion of this thing that could be a great catalyst for love and understanding into something of rejection and hate.
Anyway. On the ground, there are two girls carrying a bucket:
And to the left of them is a well:
This becomes another one of those points where the piece needs the interaction of the viewer to complete the story. The well “works” (sort of – it draws a bucket up, at least):
The viewer is now doing work or labor – like someone trapped on earth or in hell (or otherwise “not in heaven”). The final text is revealed when you look at the water in the bucket:
It reads: I don’t want to ever be without you.