New Fiction Review: ‘Acorn’ by Yoko Ono

12 Aug

Frankie just finished reading ‘Acorn’, a book of instructional pieces by conceptual art extraordinaire Yoko Ono. S/he thought this:

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Yoko’s great. Really, she knows what she’s doing. Her ideas are interesting, she’s clearly quite well read and well informed, she’s an intense and acute observationist, and she’s as much a presence on paper as she is in person. She’s an extraordinary artist, and no one needs reminding. But she’s not my artist. She doesn’t speak to me, she doesn’t resonate, she barely inspires a ripple in my imagination.

And that’s not to say that I don’t have imagination; I make songs, I make collages, I have an investment in art-making and conceptual thinking. But I’m also a pretty standard young person: barely any money, still unsure what I’m willing to do as a real job, concerned about the way I look and how others perceive me, inspired by various Westernisms and very much an urbanite. I’ve been toughened by the city, toughened by a fairly working-class upbringing, toughened by having to deal with assholes on a near-daily basis, toughened by being an unsigned, unloved musician, toughened by club and drug culture, toughened toughened toughened, made bitter, twisted, cynical, unbearable, and pissed off to the max (and yes, that’s everyone else’s fault, actually).

When I read ‘Acorn’, the first thing that struck me was how detached it was from my experience, how detached, indeed, from anybody’s experiences I knew. It sounded, honestly, like the pure, unadulterated mind of a celebrity, someone protected, idolised, sheltered, able to think about things other than how to pay the gas bill and what went wrong on all those job applications last month.

wish piece

‘Acorn’ is for luxurious people with cosy lives who shop at Whole Foods, drink cocktails and plan to retire to the country. It’s for people who are successful, accomplished, hard-working, and positive, and who are able and willing to play the game and talk the talk. Generally speaking, of course (that’s all a review is at the end of the day, just the general observations of one, right?).

To conclude, Yoko’s a darling, she’s perfect at being her, and she’s always transparent, but we’re on two different planes. Everyone wants art that speaks to them, and this barely says a word to me. I can imagine an argument could be that the book is an escapist venture, and that’s a fair point; what can you say to that? If it helps you escape the stress and the humdrum, that’s nothing to shake a stick at. Personally, it was out of reach, serving as a reminder that I hadn’t achieved enough to deserve to think about things like the fire at the centre of the earth and how beautiful the sky was. It was like playing a computer game where you speed off to level 10 and it’s pitch black because you haven’t completed level 2 and received the torch you need, you know? It may be sad, but there you go; I can’t imagine I’d be the only one who felt that way.

So there. Read it, and perhaps you’re in a position to enjoy it and it’ll be amazing and you’ll complete all the pieces in the book and have a zillion epiphanies. I really, really hope you do. But be a doll, don’t rub it in.

— Frankie Reeves

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