28 February 2009

Whimsy to Cure the Soul

I don't know where to begin. Not so long ago, I wrote a post about letterboxing, where you go out in the woods on a sort of treasure hunt. But there's not any real treasure at the end, just sort of virtual treasure in that you found the hidden thing and put it back where you found it, but since you know you found it that's your reward.

In response, YourFireAnt commented that "There's a book, filled with lots of things like this, published in '79, called 'Water In The Lake' by Kenneth Maue". So, because I always check out suggestions, I looked it up, and was intrigued enough to buy one from Alibris, because it's out of print.

And it is one of the most peculiarly wonderful things I've encountered in a long time. I read a good chunk of it the other afternoon, curled up in the living room with a glass of wine. Then I wandered into the kitchen and read bits aloud to my husband. I thought about buying a copy for countless different friends.

The exercise titled "Remedies for Minor Nonspecific Ailments of the Soul" was where he got his hooks into me. One frequently needs to remedy a minor nonspecific ailment of the soul; here are some of Maue's suggestions:

  • Go to a department store and buy the smallest item they sell.
  • Find out how blimps got to be called blimps.
  • Make a list of every vegetable you can think of. Tear the paper into tiny shreds. Put the shreds in a pan of water and boil for ten minutes.
  • Play the piano with the back of your head only.
  • Tie together two parked cars with some thread.
  • Read a weekly news magazine. When you finish, cut out one article that especially interests you and tape it to the backside of a picture hanging on your wall.
  • Put a book in your freezer and leave it there.

Some of the book is "exercises" meant for an individual; some of it is odd and ephemeral things to do as a group; and most of it is whimsy made tangible, if impractical.

6. Music
Buy a share of stock on the New York Stock Exchange. ON the days when the price goes up, eat beets, radishes, and turnips. On the days when the price goes down, eat toast, rolls, and marmalade. Continue for three months. Then go to a laboratory and have your blood tested. Send the results to the president of the company in which you own stock.

All in all, it's kind of mind-opening in an offbeat, acid-casualty way. Continue until you are finished, then end.

26 comments:

Kyddryn said...

I think I would very much like to have a copy of this book!

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

catnip said...

What a strangely interesting book! I bet the bits of paper taste better than vegetables. ;)

Harriet M. Welsch said...

I think I must own this book. Also, thanks for your comment. I had already seen your mention of Tidying Up Art and went off to see if I could track one down for AJ's upcoming birthday, because I'm sure he would love it. I didn't at the time click through to your site because I thought I knew you already. But, in fact, you are a different magpie, and I'm glad to find you. And of course, I am always happy to meet another ethnomusicologist, particularly one who's had the good sense to find something else to do. As for Julia Child, I love her subrecipes too. Cooking from one of her recipes is like opening a present -- you never know what you'll find as you go. But I've learned the hard way to read very carefully before I go shopping!

Kyddryn said...

I ordered a used copy from Amazon - there are two left. I decided I needed it to live. Yeah.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

alejna said...

I'm going to have to track this down, too. I think I regularly suffer from Minor Nonspecific Ailments of the Soul.

(Thanks also for sharing about the letterboxing, too. I don't remember whether I ever managed to write a comment for that post, but I'm intrigued by the idea.)

de said...

as an acid-casualty, I don't think I need to rush to get the last copy left. I'll just continue on...

kathy a. said...

these were the kinds of suggestions that made me laugh and feel hope, in 1979 and thereafter. still aren't too bad today, although all your readers could just google blimp and discover that one.

i am very mary said...

Guess who's buying this? Thanks!

flutter said...

thank you for my flutter sticker :)

fluttery goodness on the way, babe. Sorry I am such a slacker

Pinky said...

I want a copy, too. You've started a movement!

Gwen said...

Or you could just save us all some money and/or some unseemly fighting in the book aisles of Amazon by posting one suggestion every week. Then we could report back on our experience with the suggestions.

Just a .... suggestion.

:)

Anonymous said...

Good idea to post a suggestion a week - but but Maggie may I borrow that book pls??

phd in yogurtry said...

In this economy we wouldn't need to look up blimps, we would be blimps : )

Rima said...

I think I would really enjoy reading that book, but probably would never actually do any of the soul curing exercises. They seem almost too regimented to be soul curing to me!

And now I shall go put a casserole in the oven, leave it for twenty minutes, then take it out and eat it.

Mental P Mama said...

They may have to do a second printing!

freshhell said...

Boy, that's my kind of book. Looks like it's going to be hard to find a copy now! Maybe I'll steal it from a library.

freshhell said...

Boy, that's my kind of book. Looks like it's going to be hard to find a copy now! Maybe I'll steal it from a library.

San Diego Momma said...

I adore deliciously enigmatic stuff like this.

I do believe they remedy my non-specific soul ailments.

(I found you somehow...followed a link that led to a link, that led to a comment, then another link, etc.) :)

Kyla said...

That is very interesting!

the mama bird diaries said...

Wait.. what?! Sounds fascinating...

Mayberry said...

I am DYING to know what the thing about the radishes and the marmalade and the share of stock has to do with "6. Music."

becky @ misspriss said...

Have you tried "Wreck This Journal"? It sounds like something you'd like, then. It's a bit quirky, too.

Maggie May said...

how wonderful! i can't wait to browse the link. the book sounds magic.

Woman in a Window said...

I would love this. My husband would love this.

I have a bat in my freezer. I think this is the second time I've been reminded of it here and yet I keep forgetting...

painted maypole said...

oohhh... fun!

Anonymous said...

Kenneth is one of my dearest friends... I'm sending him this link. I'm sure he'll be thrilled by your post and comments.