We spoke with Marisa Anderson about the illusion of time, learning guitar intuitively as a child, feeling close to her late father through using his cookware and her attraction to the hymns of the 20th century.
I’m interested in quantum theories of time and physics and how what we think of as empirical reality doesn’t exist in the absence of an observer.
I think I’m a fairly intuitive guitar player as an adult, but I remember really struggling when I first learned to play. It was like I strummed too hard, sang too loud and could barely perform both actions at the same time. At what age did you learn to play? Was the learning process rocky or did it come naturally for you?
I learned to play guitar when I was 11. My first instrument was recorder, which I started to play when I was seven, so I could already read music when I came to the guitar. I remember the learning process as very intuitive, something about the fretboard made sense to me very quickly. Learning rhythm and strumming took more work. Like many musicians who are classically trained, learning to improvise and make up my own music was much more difficult.
Really quickly, can you grab the nearest book you see, open it to a page and read a passage to me? Can you relate it to your current experiences or life in general, and how so?
“I had not the slightest idea of what I was looking for, but only that I was suddenly aware of my age, and that it seemed cruel that time should pass so gently and leave behind long swathes of unremembered years,” from Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra.
Life is short and long and unknown and we wander around in it. Every day is a day, and they add up to weeks and months and years and what was once important is forgotten. Our plans drift into dreams or memories. There is more mystery than knowledge, the future is unknown, the past is gone. I’m interested in quantum theories of time and physics and how what we think of as empirical reality doesn’t exist in the absence of an observer.
I have a lazy tendency towards clutter. It’s very difficult for me to get rid of things, so I tend to not collect them.
Can you describe your philosophy as to decorating or adorning your room, house or living space? Are you a minimalist or maximalist, and why did you arrive at either approach?
I’m utilitarian by nature, and I like objects made of metal and wood and leather, fabrics made of wool and cotton. I like well designed objects that have functional beauty. I’m more of a minimalist, but I have a lazy tendency towards clutter. It’s very difficult for me to get rid of things, so I tend to not collect them.
What’s the oldest or most sentimentally valuable item you own? Can you describe it to me?
I have a lot of things which were passed down through my family that I use or interact with regularly. My dad passed away a few years ago and since then I find it very comforting to use his tools and utensils. Most of my cookware and silverware comes from him, and he got it from his aunt who was a restaurateur in Chicago in the 1950s. My dad loved to cook and we shared many memorable meals together. When I use his cookware I feel connected to him, and to my family history.
Current world events have really frazzled me these days. More specifically, I get pretty confused while viewing social media and wondering how anyone could be taking a beach day or getting pumped for Halloween as we probably inch toward World War III. How do you process the current woes of Western civilization?
That’s a tough question! Certain days are filled with dread and media consumption, and others are bike rides and cooking and playing guitar. When I can manage to stay off of my devices and away from the internet it is easy to find joy and meaning all around me. At the same time it’s important to me that I have a grasp on global and national and local events in order to have an informed opinion and some sort of contextual analysis. The trick, I guess, is balance.
I move through the world in a very local way, even when I am away from home. These relationships are grounding and contextualizing for me and help me to not feel too overwhelmed.
I’m extremely interested in early 20th century jazz, folk and blues to the expense of modern music. I’m super-fascinated by the primordial soup of American art it created. Are there any turn-of-the-century paintings, songs or other artistic forms that you find yourself attracted to?
I love early 20th century hymns, especially the real rousing shouters with stomping and clapping. I grew up singing those in church. I also really love marching band and brass band music.
Can you describe the last object you accidentally lost? How did it happen? Do you miss the item or is it a forgettable loss?
The last object I lost and missed was a T-shirt I really liked. It got left behind on accident somewhere I stayed overnight. It was a shirt with a picture of Moby Dick with Captain Ahab strapped to him, but Moby Dick was a guitar and the harpoon lines were guitar strings. It’s from an actual guitar that exists in the world. A woman I met in Providence, RI, commissioned this guitar to educate and raise awareness about ocean conservation.
Finally, can you describe your relationships with these three forms of life: animal life, plant life and past life? How do those three affect your existence today?
Mainly with my cat Joey and the observations of crows and hawks and other birds from my backyard.
All around me in the big trees of the Pacific Northwest and the herbs and vegetables and flowers I grow in my garden.
This relationship is carried on through the music I source to make my own compositions and through my everyday interactions with the objects in my home that have been handed down. I move through the world in a very local way, even when I am away from home. These relationships are grounding and contextualizing for me and help me to not feel too overwhelmed by what could seem like a vast, impersonal world.
Curated by: Morgan Enos
Conducted by: Email
Published: November 2, 2017
Total questions: 8
Word count: 1978
Reading time: Four minutes
church, clutter, consumption, context, dread, empirical, fretboard, functional, future, garden, guitar, herb, hymn, illusion, impersonal, intuition, lazy, long, Love and Longing in Bombay, marching band, Marisa Anderson, media, Moby Dick, past, personal, quantum, theory, time, unknown, vegetable, Vikram Chandra
About the curator
Morgan Enos is a songwriter and journalist originally from California. His curatorial work for North of the Internet aims to strike a deeper place in his conversation subjects — the dreamy subtext to the linear everyday. Morgan also frequently writes power pop records as Other Houses about joy, outer space, frustration, chess and spiritual light. He resides in New York, where he continues to creatively fire on all cylinders.
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