Benjamin Gardner  /  writer and artist

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Benjamin Gardner / author and artist

The Fog ︎︎︎ I’ve spent most of my life reading, drawing, and writing but things still haunt me.


The Stars Spell Trouble (Adorcist Books, 2022)
ed. of 25. Digital litho


A short, illustrated story about the convergence of old soothsaying traditions and the very real climate disasters of the Anthropocene. 

The Knot Would Round Your Finger (Intermission)
I’m pleased to have “The Preteritions” included in The Knot Would Round Your Finger: An Anthology of Memory, History & Inheritance, edited by Devon Field and published by Bell Press Books. There are a lot of great writers included in the anthology, please check it out! It’s availalbe for purachase at the Bell Press Books website. 

“The Preteritions” occurs during an endless war. Prisoners and guards alike are tired of the war and three captives dedicate their time imprisoned translating an obscure text titled The Preteritions to pass the time. 

Devon and Angela Caravan, who edited the anthology Futures that will also be released this month, have been great to work with. Please support small presses! 


In the first episode of the second season of the Nice Try! Podcast the host talks to Robert who has a collection of over 500 different doorbells and chimes. Near the end of the podcast, Robert talks about the dwell, a space in between sounds of a two-chime doorbell that is a function of the person using the doorbell. When the user pushes the button (in an analogue doorbell) triggers the first note and when the button is released, it triggers a recoil in the door chime and hits the second note.

I’d never thought about the word dwell in this way. One of the definitions is something like “to remain for a period of time.” I think I’ve always defaulted to it being a part of the world dwelling. Another definition is to “live as a resident,” or, in a more simplistic form of this meaning is “exist, lie.” It is an intransitive verb, meaning that it is an action without movement.

I wonder, then, if the dwell might be a good concept for a non-Judeo-Christian purgatory, an in-between state. I’m sure there are already examples of this in other worldviews, but the closest that I can think of is the concept of samsara, except that samsara is very much transitory. It is the idea of being stuck in the same cycle.
I’ve started making notes for a longer (novel-ish) project based on this idea. Other related concepts are things like zones—particularly the types of zones that Tarkovsky invoked in Stalker—and words like “interstition” and “interval” seem relevant.

I’ve got my receptors and antenna open to receiving further instructions from whatever may come to understand where this is leading to.

I have this tape that was given to me by a roommate in college. It’s labeled with the word ‘message’.

My roommate and friend got the tape when she was a counselor somewhere far away from Decatur, the town we went to college. I want to say that she was in Maine, and I want to also say that it was an art camp, but I can’t recall for certain.

The tape was from a person that she had sort of been seeing. The basis for the tape was that he just wanted to know that she was all right. It wasn’t all that he was saying in the tape, though. It was a testament to a complicated relationship, I always realized, and a recording of emotions that happen after a complicated relationship has ended.

I don’t know entirely why I have kept the tape for this long. I’ve always wanted to use it for some sort of creative project but known that I couldn’t possibly do it.

My friend and roommate gave me the tape because she didn’t want it. I don’t believe that I’ve ever brought it up again after she gave it to me. The person who recorded the tape is not an easy person to track down. Some folks have not embraced the methods that most of use to keep in touch.

The tape went to another artist at some point during graduate school. This person had no qualms using it; he didn’t know the people that were involved. He thought he could use it, but he couldn’t.

I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of the tape. I’ve used parts of it in some audio tracks, but they are heavily distorted, recorded from old tape decks through a microphone so the voice is obscured. I think I recorded it that way because I feel bad about using it, someone else’s recorded emotions.

I feel like the tape’s guardian. I’ve played it for people, described it to many more. It’s a mythology in the sense that it exists and was a part of several lives, but I would imagine that most have forgotten about it.

I remember reading a review on A*m*z*n that I wrote in college and feeling cosmic dread worse than anything I’d ever read in books with the realization of just how many traces of life we leave, tendrils reaching for recognition that fossilize, hopefully unnoticed.
benjamin gardner