Djerassi: Operating Instructions (fragments thereof) | Leonardo/ISASTwith Arizona State University

Djerassi: Operating Instructions (fragments thereof)

By Ken Eklund

Wherein the operating instructions for the Djerassi artist-scientist residency come to you one random sentence at a time

If Bat appears inside the Barn, open a door.

The path is the path. Walk it.

Horripilation after a tick encounter is entirely normal.

It’s down in the Barn – or – it’s up in the House, depending on where you are now.

You can borrow the view for a time, but soon you will give it back.


Artists admiring a foggy sunset


The bluebirds of happiness are not elusive! They are the Swallows in the shop in the Barn, and they sing to the people who Make Things.

The Fog’s name is Karl. He’s from San Francisco.

In time the dishwashers too will forget who they are and why they are here. Use the same procedure we use for Residents: hold down their Start button for three seconds, then turn them off and back on.

Things make themselves, if you help.

This is your time.

Tell those people that the Internet here is even more hopeless than you expected: those emails will have to wait.


Residents on the balcony at the Artist's House


Not finishing something is a decision that you make, and unmake.

Back at home, you can be a lonely tortured artist without much effort. Here, it’s a harder state to achieve and maintain.

In this world, there are three sounds that travel far: laughter, music, and the quiet yet insistent siren song of the cookies in the kitchen.

That thing you used to know.

If you are a gentle soul, deeply committed to your art, and possibly from a faraway land such as France, Bat may come to your studio and lovingly clear it of mosquitoes.

That thing you are feeling is pronoia, the dawning realization that the universe is trying to help you.

Science is working instructions. You limp along with them, hoping that better instructions come along soon.

Whether you see them or not, the Ravens are here, applying the old logic.


Dancer performing outside the Old Barn


A story can be as sharp as a knife.

People come and go, Redwood remains.

The game is a dance, and the dance a game.

Let the thoughts go the same way they came: effortlessly.

The wine cabinet thinks it is a jar (it yielded to whim).

Get up and move.

Here. Not. Here. Not.

The music of the table(s).

Artists do not know how to load a dishwasher.


A raven stands close to a waveform sculpture


You and Snake will peacefully go your separate ways.

Now would be a very good time to text Anza or Rewa about that.

It means that Night has thrown its heels at your door.

The distance from home, and the human touch.

When the first jet takes off, it’s six o’clock in the morning.

Hawk has business elsewhere.

A book is a thing you finish.

Do not grow too attached to the berries in the fridge.

Unclench. Now unclench some more. Keep unclenching… 

You climbed the hill! Good for you! Climb it again.

When you reach the top of the mountain, keep going.

Busboy. Captain Kitchen. Dishwasher A. These are identities you will carry with you for the rest of your life.

Coyotes, sing me to sleep.

Art is a world made by hand.


A handmade sign that reads: "The Artist is In"