Yoko Ono is returning to her roots. In June, the 80-year-old avant-garde icon (and widow of John Lennon) will publish a follow-up to her 1964 book "Grapefruit": "Acorn," a collection of 100 conceptual instructions which function as Zen-like incantations for how to live a mindful life.
"Grapefruit" is one of the great books of the 1960s, a work of subtlety and elegance that frames the world itself as a canvas for art. It was this sensibility that first drew Lennon to Ono when they met at London's Indica Gallery in 1966.
Two years later, the couple did their first conceptual piece together, planting two acorns for peace at England's Coventry Cathedral. In 1969, they sent acorns to a variety of world leaders, with a letter reading, "Enclosed in this package we are sending you two living sculptures -- which are acorns -- in the hope that you will plant them in your garden and grow two oak-trees for world peace."
Lennon referenced the project in the closing verse of "The Ballad of John & Yoko": “Caught the early plane back to London / Fifty acorns tied in a sack / The men from the press said, 'We wish you success / It’s good to have the both of you back.'"
"Acorn" has its roots in this peace effort, which Ono reprised four years ago. But more to the point, it's the culmination of "100 Acorns," a writing project Ono undertook in the summer of 1996 and later posted on the Internet, a post a day for 100 days, in 2008.
"For 100 days, every day," Ono was quoted in the Guardian, "a different instruction was communicated. Now it's being published in book form. I'm riding a time machine that's going back to the old ways! Great! I added my dot drawings to give you further brainwork."
As always with Ono, the playfulness disguises a deeper purpose, which has to do being present, with seeing things in a different way.
Or, as she suggests in "City Piece II," one of "Acorn"'s 100 instructions:
Walk from where you live to where your friend lives.
Be aware of the turns and the views while you walk.
Walk back the same way.
Be aware of the turns and the views your friend experiences
when he or she visits you.