Books are a common (and ideal) gift, and journals even more so for emotional people such as myself. Recently however, I received a book of a different sort entirely – quite unlike any others I have encountered. As I opened Keri Smith’s revolutionary “journal” and was confronted by her emblazoned “WARNING” that I was about to get dirty, wet, question what I was being asked to do and, worst of all, might end up living more recklessly. Well how bad could that be? At the inscription at the end of the page, I saw the book was inscribed to me (and perhaps to you too?): “Dedicated to perfectionists all over the world.”
Keri says “to create is to destroy” – but the process lead me to believe the inverse to be equally true – to destroy is to create. I found myself writing backwards, scouring the house for substances of specific colors and textures and smearing them all over the pristine pages. I went completely against my better judgement (and sanity) and spat on every rule I have held sacred to the preserving of my beloved books. I quite literally poured, spat and dribbled my coffee, smeared dirt, stapled, cut up, scribbled “with reckless abandon”, and chewed (but did not swallow) pages on command. The journal was thrown at speed, hung in public spaces for all to scrawl, had pages ripped out, others stuck in, was taped shut and put through the South African postal service, and accompanied me into the shower.
Keri offers an entire book of idea and instruction on how to utterly demolish that previously perfect book, creating a truly unique (and even more perfect) artistic experience. If there is anyway she has forgotten to instruct you to do creative damage, she offers a double page for suggestions on “more ways to wreck this journal.” There are a few remaining tasks in my journal, but the fun has been greatly enjoyed and the point has been attained. This perfectionist is convinced, and almost converted. There are no mistakes: to create is to destroy and to destroy is to create.