Sunday, October 15, 2017


How in reading one thing, then another, a word, a particular word that speaks to a "momentary or partial view" -- a glimpse.

A kitchen table busy with books and papers. I sit down, make room for my coffee, then pull towards me something to read. At one point Anne Low's text from her Artspeak exhibition, Witch With Comb, which riffs on Muriel Spark's 1960 short story "The Ormolu Clock":

At one point in the story the narrator catches a momentary glimpse into a room through a door, that up until that moment, had remained locked.

I twig on the word. Where have I just seen it?

I read further:

The narrator’s description of the magnificence of the room revealed a canopied bed, stacked with plush pillows, highly adorned quilts and Turkish carpets all in hues of deep crimson, dark wood and flashes of gilded gold, a glistening tiled stove and an elaborately decorated clock.

A passage from Huysman's À rebours? (The copy in the bathroom?) Roussel's Locus Solus? (The copy in the glove compartment?)


The narrator is struck by the opulence of the bedroom, seemingly the antithesis to the rest of the establishment with its humble scrubbed and polished wooden interior. 

Of course! Right there in front of me! The opening of Mark Fisher's 2009 Capitalist Realism:

In one of the key scenes in Alfonso Cuarón's 2006 film Children of Men, Clive Owen's character, Theo, visits a friend at Battersea Power Station, which is now some combination of government building and private collection. Cultural treasures -- Michelangelo's David, Picasso's Guernica, Pink Floyd's inflatable pig -- are preserved in a building that is itself a refurbished cultural artifact. This is our only glimpse into the lives of the elite, holed up against the effects of a catastrophe which has caused mass sterility: no children have been born for a generation. 

The sterility of human beings (the film refers only to women's sterility) implies a shift in utility. While human beings can continue to produce things, they can no longer reproduce their species. This, too, is operative in Anne's exhibition, and is expressed not through a literal recreation of a functioning bed or stove (as glimpsed through a door or, in this case, through shutters or drapery) but through an aestheticization of these furnishings as forms crafted from -- memory?

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