Some Irrational Reviews of Universalizing Objects

A Green Ceramic Creature signed “Sharon MacDonald, H., 1914”

Price: 1.99

This object seems very good for what it is. On the one hand it is clearly dog, but on the other, it isn’t at all. It is quite smooth and green. When I first glanced it, I assumed it was something more particular. My brain must have filled in the gaps, for unlike most objects, the more I looked at it and handled it, the less I understood what it was, and the more general it became. Perhaps we can tentatively term such rare things as this as Universalizing Objects. Something like a thing, but then it seems to drift from the specific into the ideal. Nonetheless, it tastefully freezes itself before it quite reaches the stage of intellect, and remains matter. There is nothing more cliché these days than a mere “imaginary object”, and so I am glad this thing stuck it out in the concrete. On the bottom it is dated 1914. A harbinger of war? I like its colour. We can only hope there will be more of them forthcoming. Will there be? Time will tell.

 

A Leaky Amulet

Price: Found on the street

This is a medium-range generalizing entity that won’t set you back too much and that will get the job done. Its peculiarity lies in its general bottle shape. Nonetheless, it is a two-dimensional bottle, and most strikingly, has a series of irregular cut outs in its body, reminding one of either geological extraction of fossils or a very abstract game of “Operation”. It certainly grabs the attention of passerby, but you’d be surprised how many people won’t even stop to pick up a shiny gold object when others are watching. The more one considers it, the more one wavers between choosing: is it a functional frame, or an apotropaic amulet? Metallic-gold seems to be the only option available, although some wear along the edges suggest another colour could be drawn out of it if you aren’t afraid of customizing your universalizing object. Is it handsome? Not really. Does it remind you of an eye or a hand? No, perhaps a microbe or a molecule at best. Nonetheless, for what it promises, it certainly delivers. Worth picking up if you get the chance.

 

An Empty Location Device

Price: 2.99

If you don’t already have one, you definitely need to get yourself one of these. In the technological world we live in there are few things which capture the spirit of concrete obsolescence so eloquently and yet are so relatively ubiquitous in junk shops (for the moment, at any rate). The basic mechanism is to select a letter with the golden pointer, and then press the lever. The object will spring open to an empty black zone, revealing ever the same text: PENCILIST, Model “E”, General Binding Corporation etc. etc. (One is especially struck by the idea of a General Binding Corporation, which speaks to a Hegelian progression, but also of the “general binding agent”, in an alchemical sense). Perhaps once it contained names, addresses, secret poems, dream accounts. Certainly it contained area codes and “bates” (The Bates Motel? Or is there some elision in ‘bates?). The most striking feature of this model, missing both its dividers and its pages, is the ability to experience the (shall we say quantum?) differences of so many possible realitiesfrom A to Z, as it were—and yet experience no qualitative change in result. Yet. The mechanism of shutting and opening the lid, hilarious little coffin of the office, leaves a wavering gap in the certainty of the operator. Who knows if certain occult combinations of letters chosen might one day result in the appearance, on the inside, of something else?

-JA

By | 2018-04-07T01:30:46+00:00 April 6th, 2018|Essay, Object, Prose|0 Comments