The Listserve is an email lottery– the only rule is, every day, someone from the list is chosen to send an email to everyone else on the list. It’s usually an interesting slice of someone’s life from somewhere in the world, and at present, there are 21,632 people on the list.
I decided to use it to make art.
With several days suddenly free and everyone huddled indoors to make turkey and mashed potatoes, I started brainstorming with friends over how to convince twenty-one thousand people to make art with me.
There are a few rules to the Listserve. The main one being you can’t include links of any kind.
I decided two things:
1. I wanted people to tell me stories.
2. I would set up a phone number where they could call me, and tell me those stories.
I wrote an email with a love letter nested inside of it, and an invitation to play a game with me. I wrote: here is a phone number. When you call it you will be asked a question. Answer it.
The letter is below:
On November 30th, it got sent, and within minutes I was racking up Google Voicemail messages.
They were heart-breaking. And beautiful. And all sorts of things, but ultimately, each was a tiny short story and a window into someone’s secret closet.
There’s a quote by a woman named Susan Gregg, that goes, “Life is and then we tell ourselves a story.”
I love this idea. A thing happens, and you record your own personal internal memoir of events, you TELL your life back to yourself, and this is what you remember.
Secretly, LAMP is about this. I even made stickers that say “We’re All Stories.” The idea that you are walking around with a personal history inside of you, edited and framed by however you decided to render events, is kind of magical.
It means you can write your life however you see fit.
Listening to these memories is like wading through people’s dreams. Full of the things they sometimes can’t admit to themselves.
I spent the weekend collecting them. My friend Kat Howard said today on Twitter, ” I think the thing I love most is that I truly believe we are all made of stories. What you’re doing makes that so clear.”
You can listen to them here: