Thursday, February 7, 2008

Communities and Granfalloons

Nothing visual to show as yet. Just some thoughts about "community." My first thought was our cyber community, which most bloggers cite as a benefit of blogging. But short of the visual of a hand on a mouse or mysterious "waves" jetting around the earth, I was stumped and lost interest. Then I went back to one of my guiding premises of this 12 x 12 project. "Small quilt, small idea." Focus on a detail. I started to think about kinds of communities. Bees. Ants. Ecosystems. Families. Friendships.

I also have a personal challenge this time, to express the theme in a more abstract, symbolic way. That is making me think more about how communites work. There is usually a focus, a center, around which the community operates. Some members of the community are strictly bound to that center, others circle in and out.

And finally, as I was musing on community tonight I remembered "Cat's Cradle", a favorite Kurt Vonnegut book. He invented the concept of the granfalloon—an imagined community—something that a group of people hold in common, which is actually meaningless in terms of having anything really substantive in common. Granfalloons are things like graduating from the same school, being born in the same city, etc. We are surrounded by granfalloons and all belong to them. I have always found the idea so amusing and so recognizable. How could I begin to think about a granfalloon in visual terms?

5 comments:

Brenda said...

Well Terry, you have just extended my vocabulary - I've never heard of a granfalloon before!

Kristin L said...

That's a great word. I don't know how it could be expressed visually, but I like it as a word. It sounds good.

Deborah said...

I will be very interested to see you work in an abstract way, but I'll miss your fantastic realistic fabric images!

I was just thinking about a quilt you did recently that was mostly abstract... the stone one. With the red border, I think? I remember loving it.

Helen Conway said...

You mean like all being people whose blogs Diane reads?! Now that word is a challenge word all by itself!

Diane said...

That's so funny that you posted this, Terry -- my husband has often quoted Vonnegut's "granfalloon" word to talk about the people around us, just the way you describe. Maybe it's because Caroline is working on this at school, but I keep thinking of "ven diagrams" -- those intersecting circle diagrams where you show what things the two circles have in common, where they overlap...