We are still working out what we are creating, or facilitating with living-language-land. It’s a platform, more than a project. A place where people can share their deep connections with nature in their own languages and own words. But many things lie unresolved – who gets to contribute, and who doesn’t? How can we possibly make a meaningful gesture with 26 words when there are thousands of minority and endangered languages across the world, and more than 800 in India alone? What is it for someone to try and share a worldview and a way of living in just a single word? Could I do that in English? These are the things that I turn over at night when I can’t sleep.
But some things are clear. The gesture of living-language-land is open-handed. We try to say ‘yes’ to what turns up. Can I contribute to your project? Yes. What about this word? Yes. Do you want to talk about living-language-land on this podcast? Yes. Can we work with you? Yes. We’re rolling with what comes, not with a fixed idea of what needs to be. Many questions still remain but the framework aims to be light, the constraints minimal.
And the quality of the project for the audience? I had a memory of seeing Olafur Eliasson’s installation of the sun in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, back in 2003. Although the sun was a monochromatic light – effectively made of street lamps – the effect it had was stunning. People sunbathed and cuddled, played and arranged their bodies into letters and shapes that were reflected in the ceiling. My mum, always a sun-worshipper, sat down against one of the pillars and fell asleep for an hour, completely unselfconscious in that public space. People reacted intuitively, elementally, to the atmosphere Olafur created, despite it being inside a cavernous, concrete, industrial space.
I don’t know how we create a digital space that feels like sitting in the sunshine (and I realise this might also be a very Northern Hemisphere, or even British reaction. We are sun-starved!) But I hope visitors to the project will feel a warmth, a relaxation, an expansion as they read the words shared through living-language-land. We want to take care of you while you are here, and recharge you for the work you do in the world. We also hope to explore your reactions and contributions. If you have ideas, or suggestions, please get in touch. We’d like to say ‘yes’.