3 objects between us responsible for the halted world: an apologia

by | Uncanny Details - Day 2

3 objects between us responsible for the halted world: an apologia

Is it just that I wanted to offer these, the three I gripped while bursting through the doorway from, I don’t know, for your delight? In my right the kewpie doll, in my left a square of chocolate, in the third—the third, yes, the raven’s feather. It’s impossible for you to meet these three objects, so responsible for the world between us, without me, so I am concerned with this moment to the exclusion of all the others, the moments we lived in the ordinary way, letting such a host of objects flow through us without a thought, barely a thought. I frame myself in this moment, a sort of geste, as a way of, in turn, framing the objects that are all of my concern, that induced me, in the first place, to burst in from my

I realize you want to know about the third hand, the one arched over my head like a scorpion’s stinger, that holds this feather. I can see you’re taken aback; you’ve put down the plant you’ve been re-potting, nearly dropping it in the process, but I see this, and so as not to alarm you further I moonwalk back, in an awkward fashion, casting my gaze downward toward the kewpie, the first prize I’d wanted to present.

That’s it, the scope of the moment: the bursting forth, an enthusiastic possessor on the verge of what I’m afraid will constitute a short lecture, the few steps forward holding these, that I’ll get to shortly, your dismay and grappling with my strange configuration, and my partial retreat, if not defeat, of irresponsible joy, until the whole brief moment gels in a sort of breathable wax.
Don’t be alarmed, I say now,(but still encapsulated), it’s just a third hand I’ve brought along for the purpose, as you can see, I required it for explication. It’s not a carapaced tendril, this appendage—think of it as a monkey’s tail, long, soft, and flexible, like a gray Hanuman’s, but at the end of the process, rooted in my coccyx and arching over my head and above my left shoulder, a tiny, fat, pink hand, like a baby’s, perfectly formed.
I’ve assigned the raven’s feather to this hand as it is light, slender, easy to hold, and this hand, which is above all else handy, in the moment, may not remain a hand, may be something else disguised very convincingly as a hand, and seems to me to have a very temporary and provisional status. Nevertheless, seize the opportunity, I say!
The raven’s feather, discarded last season, flushed to the rim of a storm drain, is a feather of flight, jet-black, though its rachis fades to ivory by the quill, and at its tip, neither blunt nor piercing, a near-whiteness. The little hand, new to the world, delights in flexing the feather in the air which becomes, bewitched by the feather, a slow syrup. The feather deflects the hand, a pirate’s sail in an invisible sea. The hand, encouraged, twitches the feather orchestrally and finds itself dragged, tacking left and right above my head.
Oh but I know this feather! If I had a knife to sharpen the calamus, if I’d grabbed it to plunge its point into the center of my palm, it would not draw blood but ink. All of the raven is in this feather; such is the Doctrine of Signatures, and so our fractal souls! Its coal-bead eyes are here, its hunger, its high watchfulness. It is a skeptical bird, this feather, and it is a dark ship!

But what I offer, and retreat from offering, is not just this. If only you could look closer, not shrink back! In my two of palms, on the left and right, two propositions. In my right a kewpie doll, a centuried hefty ancestor of all kewpie dolls, a thing fashioned of dense bisque and three thumbs high. Its belly protrudes grotesquely and has burst through the milky fleshy-flesh enamel, whose color has no other European name; its arms are hammered in at the sides, swinging on the axis of a clinched nail. Its painted boots are ruddy stubborn brown. This unsexed demi-cherub pouts, and blows its cheeks out, not like a love-harbinger but with an expression of distaste, like the mayor of Tinytown in the land of OZ, or a fat diminutive carpenter. Its mantis eyes are the points of a pencil or twinned periods and its eyebrows thin flicks of black, in the place between surprise and disapproval. In my palm it has the weight of an overdue reminder, so I have placed it now (in the now of before) face down. That is a relief, to snub this demon.

Of objects, the last is the square of chocolate, that I have neglected while speaking of the others. While speaking I am losing, while explaining, everything, the last, the most transient, is fading away, spreading into my palm, leaking into the rills of my flesh, but it is that I would have offered first—if not first in the sense of order, then of the heart—if we were not caught in this moment, that does not repeat and does not move forward.
It is a rich brown thing no longer purely sweet, since it is mixed with the salt of my palm, and no longer sharply square, as it has softened to a tumulus, a brown shamed by dirt, a mound of miscellany. I had hoped it would be sweet to you, not lying entombed but leaping bravely, and that your lips would take it, subsume it into the next thing you might be doing, say, setting that plant into fresh soil, moving out into the garden to frame it somewhere among its kin, I do not know.
I don’t know, but that I’ve scratched Borges’ aleph and the flood of everything to come has turned tidal, ebbing into a parenthetical time from which we never escape, a Grassmannian object with the ugly name of amplituhedron. That’s our wax.
Here have these, I should have said. A geometric flexure annuls unscrolling time, I walk back, you pause, we are both astonished. But I never meant to

2 Comments

  1. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Hi John, Sweet congratulations from the halted world of .. and objects three. The kewpie doll shivers in a reader’s eye, the raven feather, a treasure, though held in the scorpion appendage, melting though it is, and as for melting, and thank you for the chocolate! No apologia required because

    And your imagination itself, coils around this equinox morning. I see desert in my neighbors garden, place your gifts there for a clear gaze tomorrow and tomorrow. Sweet mind— greetings!

  2. Alina Stefanescu

    O how I love a good, smacking apologia! What a lovely mode. 🙂

    “3 objects between us responsible for the halted world: an apologia”–and what a fantastic title to set us off, to keep our eyes open for images and objects and connections. It promises so much, and I love how it refuses to give us somehow what it has promised. Like life. Like life. Like life.

    “It’s impossible for you to meet these three objects, so responsible for the world between us, without me, so I am concerned with this moment to the exclusion of all the others, the moments we lived in the ordinary way, letting such a host of objects flow through us without a thought, barely a thought. I frame myself in this moment, a sort of geste, as a way of, in turn,” Gorgeous here. Gorgeous and well done!

    “I’ve assigned the raven’s feather to this hand as it is light, slender, easy to hold, and this hand, which is above all else handy, in the moment, may not remain a hand, may be something else disguised very convincingly as a hand, and seems to me to have a very temporary and provisional status. Nevertheless, seize the opportunity, I say!” Fantastic, again–and the handy, the handines of this feather, the relationship.

    I wonder if playing with something besides “say” would be fun. Why not squawk? Why not disclose? Why not do as the object does, or resurrect the object in the speaker’s way of speaking? A thought. Just a thought. 🙂

    “I had hoped it would be sweet to you, not lying entombed but leaping bravely, and that your lips would take it, subsume it into the next thing you might be doing, say, setting that plant into fresh soil, moving out into the garden to frame it somewhere among its kin, I do not know.” Beautiful entanglement of sweet here! Love it!

    And what fantastic archaic nouns. What weird things you bring to the reader.

    “That’s our wax.
    Here have these, I should have said. A geometric flexure annuls unscrolling time, I walk back, you pause, we are both astonished. But I never meant to.”

    Gorgeous. Wonderful. God, I love your writing. 🙂

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