Thursday, May 10, 2007

Don’t Forget the DURACELL Batteries

I was walking through an alleyway behind our building this morning, and an image on a Dumpster caught my eye: a battery, the simplest picture that could stand for one, a few lines in C- or D-cell proportions depicting a three-quarter view with the top and nub and on the side the words Don’t Forget the DURACELL Batteries looking like something homemade and screen-printed, the letters of DURACELL roughly in the right shape—the science fiction non-connecting R and the horseshoe magnet C—but each speaking as an individual, some independent substance pressed into service and only accidentally a letter, the whole thing a vision from the old world of image, where logo-makers might have used stencils and French curves and transfer letters at a tilted table and gone home and lain in bed and seen afterimages of gridded paper, where even the original of the logo was a sculpture in decaying matter, a temporary trash-picture, a freedom zone of lines dreamed in stuff condemned to rust, rot, and grow away from whatever form it was asked to imagine. The battery was one of those flexible magnets, and greed compelled me to peel it off. A corner crumbled and fell but the rest came off intact, revealing a same-shaped space of greener Dumpster blocked off from stain and sun since the moment of the magnet’s placement. I recognized at once the destructive and irreversible character of my action, maybe the first intentional modification of the magnet in 20 or 30 years, the first interruption of the long non-event of the thing’s just being there, the cancellation of a gesture begun in another world and allowed by miraculous non-action to reach into our own, and I returned it, knowing shamefully that I had destroyed not so much a portal to another time as its actual continuation.


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