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Lions Roar : Nov 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2007 29 Every generation needs an artist who is insightful and multitalented, quirky and brave. For thirtysomethings, it's Miranda July. July is now writing her second feature film, a story based on the fear of nothingness. This is not the subject of most feature films, but it is vintage July. Her career is one long string of surefooted surprises, from performance art to groundbreaking web July's debut feature film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, won a major prize at Cannes, and this year critics are praising her first book of short stories, Nobody Belongs Here More than You. Talking to July is like experiencing her work; she is both innocent and knowing, certain and insecure. Her faith an fears are laid out for all to see. It is as if her surefootedness r in transparent vulnerability. ---DAVID SWICK I think of you as this wonderful democrat, saying to pe one can make art and live an artful life." What holds people back from doing that? MIRANDA JULY: There's not a lot of positive feedback, espe- cially early on. You need people around you saying, "What hap- pened to you today that was interesting?" You have to genuinely believe that there is something interesting and special about dai- ly life and your experience of it. I think people feel this innately, because life is pretty amazing. But the idea that this feeling might be correct and natural and worth sharing---you're quickly told it's self-indulgent or selfish or just so off topic. And everything reinforces that as you get older. A lot of articles refer to you as a workaholic. Is this still true? I do have a feeling that I'm never doing enough. It's a struggle for me to feel happy, or that things are OK, if I'm not working or haven't just made something. It's like an addiction to having expressed myself. I don't have any other addictions; I've got to figure this out. I have to remember the things that make me feel good that aren't about that. Going to yoga, for example. I'm the worst in the class, which is one reason why it's really good. Do you have any other practices that might be considered spiritual? e involved in meditation a few years ago. le of [Goenka] Vipassana retreats which re a little hard core for my temperament, endency to be pretty extreme. Around the time the movie was coming out, I was looking for some kind of balance and started going occasionally to Green Gulch, the Zen center near San Francisco. I used to try to meditate on my own, but I don't do that now, except in little ways. I do little breathing things throughout the day. I'll just sit and be aware of my breath- ing, and breathe it all out for a long time, then breathe it all in and hold it, then breathe it all out. When I'm performing live, if I have any nervousness or stage fright, breathing takes all that away. Is there an overriding spiritual philosophy or values that inform all of your work? Not in an educated sense, in that it's all very intuitive. But yeah, everything comes back to and comes out of my internal world. My sense of the world is a spiritual one, and a kind of magical one. My biggest relationship to the unknown that is still known on some level is my work. In order to make work, I have to trust other levels besides the mental ones. And I have to make work in order to stay, if not happy, feeling like the world is the right place for me. What do you mean by the world being spiritual and magical? I often make work about things I don't know what they're about, and I have to trust that. Often I'm going off of different signs and Q&A Artist of the Unknown MIRANDA JULY PHOTO BY TODD COLE surefoote d sites. nd rests eople, "Every- ds people back I was mor I did a coupl I think ultimately we which already has a t time the movie was co