The excellent Miranda July’s art, writing and filmmaking has been enchanting people for quite some time. Her seven-year online project Learning to Love You More inspired thousands of visitors to the site to make assignments at home, such as “Make an encouraging banner” or “Take a picture of strangers holding hands.” Her most recent project, We Think Alone sees her forward loosely-themed emails written by 10 collaborators to, well, anyone they might have been talking to, straight to your inbox.
Among her collaborators for this rare insight into the lives of others are retired American basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Rodarte sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy, actress Kirsten Dunst, Girls creator Lena Dunham and writer Etgar Keret, all of whom forwarded Miranda emails they had sent to parents, lovers, friends, students and others at some point or other, based on a variety of themes. While the first week’s theme was Money, unveiling details about Kirsten Dunst’s car salesmanship and Sheila Heti’s moneymaking tips, the second focused on Advice, revealing a flood of caring, kind words of wisdom from the collaborators both to the people closest to them and, in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s case, an admiring student.
What makes this project so fascinating, then? Above and beyond the delicious dose of voyeurism that comes with reading tidbits of mundanity from other people’s emails, it’s a firm reminder of what it means to be human, and the truly universal implications of caring about other people and about one’s self. You can sign up to receive the weekly email every Monday, and the project will run until November. Below are some of the best bits from this week’s Advice chapter…
From: Lena Dunham
Date: Sun, Feb 12, 2012 at 7:42 PM
Subject: Re: facebook
Listen to me. I am a woman who loves and adores and, I believe, understands you. You did nothing wrong. He is NOT NICE. He says not nice things in a nice voice so they seem nice but they are not. He isn’t kind or careful with you, he wants to suck the kindness out of you, and if he’s like this after 10 years of group therapy then G-d help us all. He’s not for you bc he’s not for anyone. Do you hear me? Good.
Date: January 15, 2013 3:03 PM
Subject: Becoming a Pro Basketball Player
You wanted to know the best way to become a professional basketball player. The first part of my advice you’re probably not going to like very much. Ready? Here it comes: Go to college, study really hard, and get good grades. I know the life of a pro looks pretty glamorous with fancy cars and lots of money, but the truth is that money doesn’t make life interesting and neither does just playing basketball. What makes life really fun is interacting with all kinds of people and if all you can do is talk about the shot you made or the ball you stole, you won’t be very interesting to people.
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2011 3:03 PM