Monday, May 21, 2007

Seeing the thing & also its frame


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Theme from Ice Castles

So read the sheet music on the white upright piano in the gymnasium of the State-owned office building in which our 6th-grade phys. ed. classes convened after our junior high’s own gym, a subterranean former swimming pool cast in uncompromising concrete, was deemed unfit for athletic use, and this title guided the synaesthetic content of my imaginings as Eden, a new girl tagged immediately for social punishment by a peer group whose ethos of cynicism and emotional opacity could not brook her context-independent and dentally perspicuous grin, omnidirectional enthusiasm, hyper-clearly enunciated speech, frequently advertised love of horses, or name, who, in spite of a tall and nimble frame that probably scored <10% on our gym-class’s annual caliper-intensive body-fat exam and a natural gymnastic knack gleefully displayed in cartwheels and flips and a general unceasing kinestheticism and readiness to dance, was athletically speaking a bit of what sidelined youth soccer parents called a “flower-picker,” and who spent as much gym-class time as possible at the piano bench, plucked out the slow-motion backflipping arpeggios of what was actually “Für Elise,” played not from the sheet music but memory, and to these undulating cascades I imagined fly-bys of polar wastes, receding multichambered caves whose icicle stalagmites and –tites lit and pulsed rainbow-spectrally, stacks of cubes recombining sympathetically in translucent, Q-Bert-like geometries, rotating haunted celestial cities, and ice turrets with banners flapping more or less in the same fashion as the banners Eden, who aspired to being class artist and according to our 8th-grade yearbook’s surveys was, had taught us how to represent as a stylized terrace of squares.

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.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Fountain vision extended

Schneetüben's account of the origin of "The Dowser," as quoted in Körner's Gesichtszüge der Genie: Beiträge zu einer Physiognomik der deutschen Romantik, 2.Band :
Embedded in the rear wall of the garden was a fountain. A grotto framed the stone head of a crazed lion, out of whose mouth arced a jet of water set free, in the sculptor’s sole offering to contingency, to glisten according to each moment’s particular composition of sunlight and shadow before gathering again in a greening copper basin. As I watched the stream I found myself increasingly able to parse its flow into particular prismatic twists, to trace the fall of individual droplets and see how each separated pure light into spectra of color. When I turned to look back across the grounds, a vision of water opened before me, and I saw, in a sort of second-sight running parallel to my apprehension of the lawn and the hedges, a complete picture of the movement of water underground, not just hidden streams and springs but sewer ducts, a system of troughs and porcelain cisterns, and the ancient stagnant pools of buried wells. (124)