Tuesday, December 14, 2010

when pickaxes are placed in bathtubs




yesterday evening, having after months of to-do listing bought a new handle for my big pickax, i fitted it to the pick head and set it to soak in the bathtub (the head was too large for any basin or pail i have.) the union of pickax and bathtub looked strange enough to suggest a “significance” of the umbrella/ironing board type, and i took a polaroid photograph of it. i had no flash, the film had stayed in the camera since last summer, recently in coldish (3 degrees C) condition - i’m trying to explain the results before describing them, which is a little like getting the dishes washed before dinner. what appeared on the three by three image bore no resemblance to the subject or to anything else. perhaps to a bent glowing tube, or a grooved, swerving edge of a saddle or a butterfly chair, but there clearly exists (as one looks) no tube, saddle, or chair, only shape, colors, shading, which nevertheless look like representations of real objects. it is hard for me to stop staring into this undecipherable image looking for a solution, knowing perfectly well that what i’m staring at can only be a chemical accident. i suggest that this image provides a model for the poem: an object that inspires desire while making clear from the start that it contains nothing to satisfy (only nourish) that desire. - later on, before going to bed, once again considering the pickax in the half filled tub, i found it most sympathetic, like a new pet just brought into the house and obliged to spend a night or two in these special conditions so as to be domesticated. the beast is curious but not utterly foreign. one must understand its shape as the product of epochs of genetic simplification, the body now smoothly elongated into pure, straight shaft, the head subsumed by what were formerly its appurtenances, the black, now asymmetrical horns.

lans 12/14/83

text from harry mathews 20 lines a day, this page written exactly 27 years ago today...
images from a 1998 series of polaroids taken by touching the lens of the camera to various surfaces...

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Blogger ArtSparker said...

Ferric ectoplasm?

8:56 AM  
Blogger Moon River said...


i love this and was hoping you will 2...

8:12 PM  

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