the joy for things

I've been bogged down. I've been thinking about what it is, exactly, I want to say about collecting. Rather, about living with, and amongst, clutter, stuff, things. Historically, I have not been a collector so much as a diffuse acquirer– flea market paintings? of course, 19th century paper ephemera?, yes! pottery? green please, antique shoe lasts, why not, mysterious wooden tools, pieces of bone and horn, hotel silver... and on and on. Each item, at time of purchase or discovery, feeling like an imperative. Each item inspiring a sense, too, of self-important grandiosity: This must come home with someone who understands the significance! someone who appreciates the singular peculiarity! This, this, is the possession of someone who rejects decor from a catalog!

Yet lately I've had to confront increasingly ambivalent feelings about these acquisitions and my life amongst them. What do these things say about me? What does it mean to live in... a display?

Meanwhile, I had a wonderful visit from my friend Robert, collage artist, Master Printer at Bowne & Co., and quasi-magical personage (that's R, above, who came calling armed with scissors, a bone folder and a large bag). "Oh, your apartment! It's like a Joseph Cornell box!" he exclaimed and part of me was overjoyed. Robert, I should explain, is the King of Things. He has a hidden studio in the West Village where he works, amidst piles of oddments, on his collages. A stop there, as described in a previous post:

A highlight of the evening was a chance to see Robert Warner's basement workshop in the Village. Though there was a little hesitation on his part-- too many people? delicate sensibilities likely to be offended? embarrassing things left in view? rat poison? -- we prevailed. Down the stairs, through a door, along a narrow dilapidated corridor, right, through another door, out into a small rear courtyard and to the left, by the wooden stairs. We all crowded into the workshop past jars of lamp black and springs, boxes marked "marbles" or "better photographs", piles of papers, Howdy Doody heads, books, toy eyeglasses, drawers open and quietly exploding, and an ample sprinkling of glitter.
During his visit with me Robert extracted from his bag, one by one, some of his recent works-in-progress and we proceeded to discuss:
"Oh, chandelier crystals?"
"Yes, glitter is perfect there."
"Perhaps a postcard, instead?"
"I'm not sure about Myopia"
He pointed to virtually every detail of my apartment, obvious and not so, that had thrilled me when back I first saw it (way too many) years ago. He picked out, without prompt, each of the prized objets that I had framed, hung, piled, leaned or fussed over. Then he brought out a box for me filled with antique bits, collage pieces and inspiration. Right then, and for a while after, I felt an unequivocal joy for things.


Anonymous said...

You're not bogged down, you're blogged down, and little wonder. I, who am bloody RETIRED, can't keep up with just READING you! Never in my loooong experience has one person produced such a quantity of QUALITY! If it's the result of selling your soul to the devil, I think you -- and we -- got more than your soul's worth. And yes, I'm completely sober.

Flor said...

i hit upon your musings on the tyranny of things this morning and was led to the joy of things. i was thinking about the tyranny of things, and i loved your suggestive remarks. http://redridinghoodandthewolf.blogspot.com/2007/11/tyranny-of-broken-water-filter.html
i was so glad also to be led to your iceland photos.


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