This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.
In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.
This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.
The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.
No lust, no slam of the door –
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.
No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –
just a twinge every now and then
for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.
But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.
After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.
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3:43pm (2 notes)
In the Orozco Room at the New School, the conversation on Neomaterialism with cultural critic Noam Yuran focused on brands as these things that are actually made of money, and on money as a social relation that is both material and non-material thing, and on TV as the social factory where brands are being made, and on the production of scarcity through advertisements, and on the Ipad as the emblem of our relation to materials in a reality in which everything can be bought only to find its way to the garbage…..
Over the last four decades we have witnessed processes of dematerialization in various fields: money has been dematerialized with the dissolution of the gold standard, commodities have been dematerialized with the ascendance of brand names, and art practices were dematerialized by the emergence of movements such as conceptual art. Taken together, these processes can serve as a starting point for rethinking materialism. Rather than render the concept of materialism obsolete, they force us to ask whether we are finally able to understand what materialism was really about.
The conversation was organized and presented by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, as part of its 2011-2013 curatorial focus theme Thingness, and in conjunction with the center’s New School class Art & the Political.
Anthropocene is the name for our contemporary unit in the division of geological epochs. This is a man-influenced strata of Earth, dating back to the rise of agriculture and enhanced since the industrial revolution.
Significant Objects: 100 Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things is a literary and economic experiment in narrating objects. The back cover asks: “Can a great story transform a worthless trinket into a significant object?” The editors, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn, auctioned off thrift-store objects via eBay; for item descriptions, short stories purpose-written by over 200 contributing writers, including Meg Cabot, William Gibson, Ben Greenman, Sheila Heti, Neil LaBute, Jonathan Lethem, Tom McCarthy, Lydia Millet, Jenny Offill, Bruce Sterling, Scarlett Thomas, and Colson Whitehead were substituted.
The objects, purchased for $1.25 a piece on average, sold for nearly $8,000.00 in total. For Glenn and Walker this demonstrated that the effect of narrative on any given object’s subjective value can be measured objectively via its money value – according to them an “unimpressive menagerie of items” was rescued from thrift stores and yard sales by a “highly impressive crew of creative writers” who invented stories about them and by that salvaged them.
In the book one can see each item’s original price in a thrift store (item no. 1 is a spotted dog figurine priced for $1), together with its final price on eBay (after a short story by Curtis Sittenfeld has been added, the item was sold for $17.50). Kitchenware, promotional items, toys, tools, decorations, figurines and novelty items are organized in the book according to five significance categories: Fossils (Objects that bear witness to a vanished era or way of life, including childhood); Talismans (Objects that have magical power, are lucky, or are alive); Idols (Objects of intense contemplation and/or veneration. May be used in rituals); Totems (Objects from the natural world — animal, vegetable, or mineral — that are tutelary spirits); and Evidence (Objects that played a role in a crime or historical event).
The back cover text ends by saying: “The stories created were astonishing, a cavalcade of surprising responses to the challenge of manufacturing significance. Who would have believed that random junk could inspire so much imagination? The founders of the Significant Objects project, that’s who.” This experiment, as much as it is limited in understanding the potential of sentimental value as being no more than a sales pitch (the book includes an appendix with data on the objects based on their significance value, significance type, the narrative mode of their stories and their authors), provides at the same time a telling example of how under Capitalism, exchange value assumes an objective role. As they raise the question of happiness, these supposedly insignificant objects, that lack any apparent use value, remain the most interesting thing in the project.
Original price: $2.99. Final price: $20.50. Story written by Willy Vlautin.
Heather and Ivan Morison’s Journée des Barricades
Various industrial and domestic items
800 x 2100 x 1000cm
Photo: Stephen Rowe
Thanks to Federica Bueti for this reference