Monday, January 16, 2012

Blank slates don’t exist. Only canvases with lots of contours, places where colors can hide, where bits of sand and grit and cast-off fragments of skin can accumulate and cause allergic reactions. Be careful, then, when examining why you do what you do, your hidden motives and hobbyhorses. They just might turn out to be treacherous, but not in the way steep hillsides are treacherous or the way wild servals are treacherous when you keep them in a cage. Instead they can cause respiratory distress months and even years after the event. They can bring you to your knees and leave you there as if they had struck you with a blunt object. Our capacity to endure pain is trebled in the process but this still leaves it far below the crucial threshold and causes a great deal of amusement among the other life forms that share our planet with us, the round worms and the amoeboids, in particular, who you wouldn’t ordinarily consider the sorts of beings capable of mirth. But here again, we have been undone by our own nearsightedness, our tendency to ask questions only after they have become obvious, after the answers to them become as crucial to our survival as does a canteen of water should we find ourselves afoot in the wastes east of Cathedral City. I admire the sharp edges, the desire to make everything within the work seem related to everything else if only by virtue of the fact that all parts of it are similar in appearance and possess angles of more than forty degrees. The work itself seems to float about three feet off the ground, but this, of course, is an illusion, something those charged with its installation had to figure out how to do for themselves because the work did not – so the rumor goes – come with any instructions. In fact, no one ordered it, no one had any idea it was on its way. Its arrival caught the entire staff off guard. As a consequence, its creator is not credited on the wall legend that accompanies the work, no one knowing who its creator might be. The museum’s curator doesn’t seem to have been comfortable with the designation of “anonymous” either for reasons that may have something to do with the curator’s scholarly background, the procedures he learned and adopted while studying overseas, or it may simply be a matter of not wishing to offend anyone by making assumptions about the creator of the work’s intentions, his or her desire to remain out of the picture, on the sidelines, as it were, when the whole world has decided in the meantime to come gawking, has decided the work is the very emblem of everything they have ever found wanting at the center of their barely tolerable existences, everything they have ever wanted so strongly they could taste that wanting, that longing, at the backs of their mouths like a sprig of parsley (or maybe spearmint, even cilantro) wedged between the teeth. 

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