ch-ai: a whatsapp writing exchange, to answer questions that we have no answers for, from mozambique to san francisco

“Can you give me one question that you don’t have the answer to, anything…”

A writing exercise using an approach that I first experimented with in June 2017, with the aim ‘to answer a question that (various friends) have never found the answer for’ in a fictional narrative, written in 30 minutes. To answer the ‘unanswerable’ through applying fictional contexts.

Through both iterations of this exercise, I was able to identity patterns within my process of story-telling and truth-making.

Finding myself attempting to formulate systems and structures that would support and add depth to the premise and direction of my narratives. The time limitations allowed me also to open up to the possible elements in my sub-conscious and engage creatively with the act of ‘problem-solving’ under pressure.

The original motivations came after an experience that I tried to explain to my friend JS,

“I was reading a book written by an early European settler, reflecting on her experiences in Kenya in the 1800s. She shares many examples of how perspectives contrasted between herself and the Kikuyu in Kenya, with objective, elaborate descriptions. In one example, she told how they would see time as ‘their friend’ and would not see waiting or a delay as ‘killing time’ like the ‘Europeans’, how to them it was not possible to ‘waste’ time, so ‘they would just sit down and live’.”

Admittedly this was written by a an early white coloniser, who holds her own prejudices, biases and without another voice to confirm or authenticate her analyses. But it occurred to me to reflect deeper on the paradigm through which I saw the ‘absolute’ things in this world, how I saw what I thought was the ‘truth’. If I was able to change the way I framed ‘things’ then could I make sense and therefore conjure an alternative truth?”

Below is an excerpt from the second trial in October 2018, with one friend over WhatsApp.

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