THE STRING MANUAL
from How We Came to Wear Our Bodies
The early yarn rains quickly saturated. Once fabric evaporated,
clouds formed, filamental precipitation followed. Strings became
ubiquitous and elemental. String is far more durable and versatile
than water, air, and earth (see fig. 1.0). We need only string and
fire. Revision: We need only string. Fire is just strings faster.
Ashes are just strings slower. When string burns, the ashes become
wider, slower strings. We are strings, slower and faster. Your velocity
is what insures that you don't blend into every thing else,
what makes you appear against where the air was, where there are
only strings now. Without string we could not sew ourselves to one
another, we could not sew ourselves to the air or the earth, we
would fall off, or in. Our attachment is functional, our selves
are sewn in, and the out we can sew on top of the self-sewn-in is
a necessity, both protective and cosmetic.
fig. 1.0 – Magnification of a puddle (100,000x).
Shortly after the first yarn rains, microscopic implements were
designed to sew puddles together into long stretches of "water,"
previously called "rivers" and "lakes,"
now called "ropes" and "blankets." This
method of artificial cohesion proved too costly to maintain, and
more efficient glues were developed and became widely used. Puddle
sewing and puddle knitting (often still done in the home for the
amusement of children) became outmoded, kept alive only as a novelty
and artists' concern.
SEWING ONESELF IN
The self may be sewn inside oneself, but first the self must be
sewn into the space that it occupies. Only when the self is sewn
into space can it begin to wear others, or be referred to as wearing
itself. Wearing one's self is a complicated procedure, a daunting
task, but also a fundamental garmental requirement (see fig. 1.1
and 1.1.1). Wearing an other before one wears one's self is
risky, especially when one considers the susceptibility of porous
bodies to assimilation and integration.
fig. 1.1 — Male: How to properly wear one's
self and an other. Note the absence of the lower half; there is
only one proper clothing option for the male legs.
fig. 1.1.1 — Female: How to properly wear
one's self and an other.
Sewing oneself in begins with stay-stitching. Stay stitching eliminates
stretching and slipping of the fabric, or "skin." Once
the skin is secure, seams can be added. Seaming is an intricate
ritual that involves a delicate material balance; functional and
decorative, seaming is among the most influential garment accents.
Contrary to the popular notion that it is a purely superficial endeavor,
self-stitching serves a number of different functions (see fig.
fig. 1.2 — Three-step medical/ cosmetic
self-stitching procedure. First, the "skin" or cloth is
sheared and creased (A). Next, the skin is stay-stitched to avoid
stretching and shifting (B). Finally, the skin is surged (overstitched)
to prevent fraying. Self-stitching is a popular cosmetic pastime
often used to alter the appearance, but it is also an effectual
medical solution for loss of string.
String suspiration, also know as "darting," involves
quickly alternating inhalations and exhalations of floss. The danger
of relaxed breathing is the entanglement of filaments in the lungs;
early suffocations were often referred to as getting "knotted."
Because bodies are string, tangling is a constant problem. Yarn
rain is a serious danger. The most common solution has been the
calculated integration of hair canvas into the garment of the body
(see fig. 1.3). When an area of the body has been super-saturated
with fabric or a weave is too fine, it becomes string-proof, with
the notable exception of purposely-stitched swatches.
fig. 1.3 — An internal rotating hair canvas disk that makes
the upper body rainproof. Note the small cloth gutters for detangling,
Getting the bodies of others to "take" to the self
can be difficult. Hair canvas grafts are used to accelerate assimilation
and interweaving (see fig. 1.4). The self often rejects wearing
the bodies of others, but resistance decreases as the number of
others worn increases. Immunity is blanketed. It is also used extensively
when an impatient self wants to wear an other; we find that we often
cannot wait to be covered.
fig. 1.4 — A small shift dress pattern with integrated hair
canvas stripe. Both fashionable and functional, hair canvas garments
expedite incorporation. Small hair canvas accessories are manufactured
as well, accompanied by directions that recommend duration of wear
or grip that forms a bond.
When blood became string, the pumping action of the heart became
useless. The cords that course through the sheathes of our veins
resonate quietly beneath our cloth. The yarn vibrato fades as it
unfolds. Each wave loses its own voltage. The heart no longer beats,
it shimmers slightly, vibrating, replenishing the singing flood.
The heart must be helped in order to achieve this unfamiliar task;
shivering jackets and coats have been designed with capillary thread
(see fig. 1.5). Blood passes from the body into these garments and
out again, reverberating with newly charged string. Gently stroking
apparel aids circulation and can produce a slight echo. If enough
bodies are situated closely in a room, the chorus of their blood
can be heard.
fig. 1.5 — Part of an instruction set for an entire coat
unit, including arrows that indicate the path of string circulation
throughout the torso and appendages. String moves from the capillaries
into the body and circulates among the weave, eventually accommodating
the second layer. Clothing of this type aids what used to be the
heart. Note the hair canvas along the neck and shoulder.
Thicker fabric moves more slowly. Finer fabric produces less friction;
correspondingly it is cooler and faster. When the body must move
quickly, fitted braces are attached that increase fabric viscosity
(see fig. 1.6). Speed is a safety measure. We are all strings, but
to ensure that we do not become other kinds of strings, we must
constantly move at different speeds from our surroundings. This
discrepancy in velocity is called being "alive." We
are only alive because we are moving at a different speed from all
the strings around us. Sometimes clothing can keep us from disappearing.
fig. 1.6 — A simple neck and arm facing unit with viscosity
stimulators. Thicker cloth is more viscous, moves slower, and affects
the wearer accordingly. Ultimately, it can cause one to vanish.
Belting has become a popular less-permanent alternative to sewing
others to the body in the years since the string revolution (see
fig. 1.7). We simply do not want things to be a part of us forever.
Semi-permanent proximity vouchers accompany the commercial distribution
of belts, permitting fabric relations of a new kind, and fostering
a black market voucher exchange that enables prohibited body-garment
combinations. Belting for long periods often results in the same
level of integration that sewing or grafting of others to the self
does. You cannot always choose to make something no longer a part
fig. 1.7 — A diagram illustrating early covert belting techniques.
Shortly after the string revolution, belting was illegal. The laws
have since been repealed, and the production of belts has become
a commercial and social success. Note the folding of the skin around
the edge of the garment to be belted, and the trimming of excess
skin in order to effectively hide the secret. Early belters were
fervent advocates of temporary attachment, but often paid the price
with open wounds.
THE SOFT SUIT
The soft suit is a full body covering that obscures
the self. It is a component ensemble sometimes made with pieces
of a single other, but more frequently with pieces of numerous others.
Soft suits are worn over protective layers of slow-moving cloth
so that they do not take. Often part of the suit breaches these
protective layers and the wearer is left partially covered. We try
to be inside someone else, but they get on the outside of us and
start working their way in. We are all clothes, clothed, and close.
Clothes are directional; we move them and they make us move. We
are all moving strings, all of our motion moves other strings. Our
string hands do what other string hands have done and our string
faces do what other string faces have done. We are all soft suits.
We are all wearing someone else's soft suit. We will all be
wearing someone else soon enough and they will be wearing us.
fig. 1.8 — Visual tips on how best to wear a soft suit or
"disguise". The soft suit is a directional garment; "start
here" reminds us that in order to be most effective, clothing
must be worn in a particular direction, so as to move the body accordingly.
How We Came to Wear Our Bodies
began as a small handmade, hand-typed book called Jute. It is
divided into two sections, "The String Witness" and "The
String Manual." " The String Witness" is a sparse poem
that may or may not be the transcript of a man sitting at an empty table
answering an interrogator's questions about a revolution. The revolution
he inadequately describes may or may not be an analogy for the advent
of super string theory. "The String Manual" contains found fragments
of a State issued publication, a handbook for social and physical interaction
in a world where fluid has been supplanted by string.