70 Comments
Mar 4Liked by Taegan MacLean

For some reason, I read your words before watching the video. It was pure magic seeing them spring to life within the images and contours of your life, and seeing how they mirrored the imagery already created in my own mind. And the soundtrack - mmm -

haunting and immediate and wistful. Thank you for this

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Sometimes I wonder if I should publish the written version along with the visual but when I hear something like this it makes me think it’s worth having both. What do you think?

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Mar 6Liked by Taegan MacLean

I like the option of either or both. Although the words themselves do stand on their own. I’m fairly new on Substack, but the video/prose combo is something I’ve rarely seen. Lots of excellent writers here but not many who are combining quality prose with creative video like this. @kimber s prewit commented something similar - that it was a beautiful read and was going to come back for the video.

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Yeah I’ve noticed a few people will read it first since they’re in that mode when on the platform and then come back when they’re at their computer or tablet to watch. I don’t really know anyone else that also does this particular written/video format. But if you ever find anyone let me know because I’d love to connect with them

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Mar 8Liked by Taegan MacLean

You actually helped inspire me to include a short video montage for my post this week, which is a new form of media for me. Thanks!

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I’m very much looking forward to checking it out!

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Thank you for this beauty. I too crave nothing.

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Thanks Marlena - I think nothing desires time with us, too

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finding a few moments each day to be fully present would be enough.

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This was a beautiful read, Taegan, and I will come back and watch the video!

This brought back a memory: Back in my hometown, when leaving to go north, within the city limit on the way out of town there was a blank grassy field that on one side stretched for miles, with ocassional oil field rigs once past the city limits. Now, sadly, it’s been built up as housing and apartment complexes, but anytime I go back home and I enter that space, in my minds eye I still see that blank field with tall grasses swaying in the wind.

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I can picture this place you mention - it feels so pastoral. Where was it?

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In Midland, TX, before its 2009 oil boom and a deluge of new people moved in that jumped started the need for more developement, although the grassy area that I described managed to not get built up until about 2015

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For some reason your description reminded me of Texas. Do you no longer live there?

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I just watched the video, and found it to be nothing but lovely💞That is a beautiful field and it makes me sad that the cyotes will lose their home/playground. Has construction started yet?

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Thanks Kimber. They’ve started some preliminary stuff but once the ground thaws I think it’ll start ramping up

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I do still live in Texas, just not in Midland. I moved a few hours away to go to school

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Mar 4Liked by Taegan MacLean

I too grew up with Nothing in my backyard. It was our never ending playground. I cannot imagine the person I would have grown up to be without Nothing behind us

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That’s a powerful idea. How much this Nothing can alter us, especially as children. Having all that emptiness guiding us from childhood to adulthood.

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Mar 8Liked by Taegan MacLean

The consciousness of ‘nothing’ is so interesting to ponder, and Atlas calling back to the voices of the nothing was the sweetest thing. I think there’s an evergreen grief to this prospect, to the replacement of space with things, the animate with the inanimate. Sometimes things only reveal their truest nature to us when their existence is threatened, and even then it’s largely ignored. I suppose this is so painful to witness because it’s micro example of the macro devastation. I’m sorry this is happening, Taegan.

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Hey Chloe

You’re right - there is an evergreen grief in the replacement of space with things. There also seems to be a deeper relationship. One that I can only see the edges of, but the inanimate has more agency than I’ve given it in my life until now. If I stare at a field and come up with an idea in my daydream, I’ll say it’s my idea. But maybe it was the field that gave it to me. Maybe nothing offers more help than the many somethings I rely on to find inspiration, you know?

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I do, and it’s something I give a lot of thought to myself. It’s an interesting exercise, to assume that empty space has personhood, because then you have to start really thinking about what it is that you’re bringing in (or projecting on) to that space. Whatever the validity, I think that daydreaming is best viewed as co-creative act, with what exactly I don’t know, and maybe it changes, but the daydreams seem to get far more interesting when I let go of the ideas of the ideas being ‘mine’.

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Mar 7Liked by Taegan MacLean

Tegan, that was beautiful. You have such a way with words -- the trees like the receding hairline or the streetlights that only turn off when broken were a couple of my favorite lines. After having a baby, the moments of nothing late at night when it's finally calm and quiet have been some of the most important to me. Thanks for such a great piece.

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Hey A.H. - Don’t tell anyone but I really enjoyed writing both of those lines more than I’d like to admit. Really appreciate you taking the time to watch.

Hope the kiddo is doing well!

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Mar 7Liked by Taegan MacLean

So, two things.

1) Yours is the one Substack where, when I see there's a new entry, I set it aside and wait until the moment is right. I drink it in. You're doing something different here.

2) I spent a lot of foundational, growing-up years in Brampton, and in high school, my best friend and I would sometimes go for long drives in Caledon, precisely because of this nothing. Even though I've moved on and away, a part of me is sad to learn that something is coming.

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Thanks Jayson. It really means a lot to hear you say that.

You’d be surprised (or maybe not) how much Caledon has built up since those days. There’s still plenty of land but that Brampton-type big box complex pops up more and more north of King Road.

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Mar 12Liked by Taegan MacLean

Which, I suppose, means that people keep buying and moving into those homes. I wonder what stories they and their children will tell, say 30 years from now.

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Very true. My dad was from Rexdale and his stories of growing up involved farm fields and ravines. Now that area is dense city. Kids living there now are considered inner city. Totally different stories

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Mar 6Liked by Taegan MacLean

Stunning opening, Taegan. Nailed the drone shot with the music. Then I was sucked into the content and what this was about.

I'm with you.

My parents live in a beautiful spot in the countryside in England and they have a large field opposite them. Several years ago they decided (and were fortunate enough to be able to) to purchase the field to stop anyone from ever building anything on it. They wanted to protect their view and the nothing.

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That’s incredible. Do they still have the place?

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Mar 12Liked by Taegan MacLean

Yeah! Can't see them leaving any time soon. It's been a bit prone to near-flooding of late (it's along a small river), but it's my dad's pride and joy.

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Mar 5Liked by Taegan MacLean

As a lover of fields and empty "nothing" spaces, this made me cry. I'm so sorry you're losing that vast openness. Perhaps it remains within... but still, I'm sorry.

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Thanks Al. Been enjoying your photography and words, so you taking the time to watch and feel is meaningful to me. I’m hopeful I’ll find this nothing again, later in my journey though life.

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Mar 7Liked by Taegan MacLean

I hope that for you, too.

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Mar 4Liked by Taegan MacLean

These aerial shots tho 🙆‍♀️🙆‍♀️🙆‍♀️

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I spend waaay too much time flying and choosing drone shots so the call out (esp from you) is real nice

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Mar 4Liked by Taegan MacLean

That’s so beautiful

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Thank you Lucy

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As always, you have captured the essence and spirit of the word! Beautifully done! ... And I love having the text as well as the video.

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Thanks Celia! I think I’ll keep the text - I’m glad you like having it. I do, too. It keeps me honest and attentive with the way I write for these videos.

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What a great read!

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Thanks Pete. When you get a few minutes, please give it a watch as well. The last year I’ve been mostly focused on writing for the visual.

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Wow! This one knocked me out. It begins as a thoughtful and beautifully written reflection, with what I would call "philosophical description" but what distinguishes it is the cool leap you make with the paragraph that begins, "On the edges of the field . . .," which itself sets us up for the mother and her pup. The the sound and the image of them singing, along with the image of you listening to them with your daughter, really elevates the piece. Ezra Pound wrote that the "image is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time,” adding that “it is better to present one Image in a lifetime than to produce voluminous work.” You certainly proved him right with this piece.

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I’m really glad you brought up the leap. That was the starting point to this short. My daughter would howl at the coyotes in the morning and I kept thinking it’d make a great transition moment. The rest of the story I built around her little howls. Took me forever to capture audio of the coyotes howling - I didn’t want to use stock sounds it’s just not the same.

And that Pound quote… damn. I’ll be thinking about it all day. Werner Herzog said something similar. That he’s searching for a true image. That most images we have are not true. And I meditate on that idea all the time, trying to discern what it means to me. That Pound quote was like peeling a layer back on the mystery. Very much appreciate you spending the time to tell me about it

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We all need to stop and pause more often and think... nothing. Very Zen. I listened to Alan Watts recently, talking in his Eco Zen series about a student wanting to learn from a Zen master but the Zen master has "nothing" to teach.

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Oh man, Alan Watts is the perfect thinker to bring up in the discussion of nothing. He had so much to say about it. I still go back to some of his talks all these years later. And he was a Jungian to boot! Thanks Alexander

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Mar 5Liked by Taegan MacLean

I grew up in an apartment next to a field that had nothing in it. If I remember right, maybe it was farmed as I have some memory of wheat growing there. When I was in 2nd or 3rd grade it was turned into a golf course. It was a sad transition to lose that spot to roam. The fence that was built was so offensive…

Nice work Taegan!

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For a child, a golf course is its own unique tragedy, too. Perfectly manicured and still pleasant to look at but at the same time fenced off and permitted entry to only grown ups with silly metal sticks.

Thanks Brian. I’ll email you with an update tonight

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