Sunday, November 29, 2015

the ether.

Patti Smith's room at the Chelsea Hotel


In her new book, M Train, Patti Smith discusses the loss of a jacket, a friend's jacket that she coveted and was then gifted by said friend. She wore it for a time, ( it most likely became a kind of talisman to her ) and then it was lost, inexplicably.  I felt this loss. As the reader, you 'watch' her searching for it, can relate to the loss of a beloved object, imbued with sentiment, memory, a kind of magic that is synthesized when we wear something close to our skin on a daily basis. ( I feel very much this way about jewels, especially)

Throughout the course of the book, Patti loses many other objects, places and people. She loses an envelope filled with polaroids of Sylvia Plath's grave; we learn that she considers her polaroids to be a kind of 'string of rosaries', evidence that she was somewhere, that she exists. She leaves an olde polaroid camera on a bench. Her beach side bungalow is nearly entirely destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. She loses a Murakami book filled with personal notes. She loses the cafe she sat at daily in her solitary revelry, when the owner decides to close up shop. She loses her friends, her husband, her brother. While each loss may have varying degrees of effect on her, and on us as the reader, ultimately it made me a bit anxious for her. &, for myself, somehow.

In pale comparison, at the same time I was devouring her book, I would go on to ( temporarily) lose a tote bag filled with books, two of which, ironically, were other books of Patti's waiting to be read, and a few other out of prints on Surrealism I had amassed after spending hours in the stacks at Strand books. I also thought I lost a beloved hand knit cardigan. It's vintage and chunky and is falling apart a bit at the neckline, but it's one of the things I live in in the winter. I recovered both things after much searching with near surety that they were lost to the same ether that Patti's jacket is lost within. I am not usually absent minded with objects; I felt spelled by the book. As if I had adopted either her bad luck or her dreamer's carelessness. It was a curious feeling, and thankfully, the spell lifted.


These temporary loses led me to weird tangents of thoughts on objects. I own a lot of 'things', I've spent a life time collecting personal debris that I have knitted and built up around me in my loft. ( I inherited this obsession with collecting from my grandmother, who I also inherited my penchant for winged eyeliner from, & also, perhaps more poignantly, from my father; memories of trash picking with him as a kid late at night are still so vivid ) I've filled up my solitary loft life with books, carefully articulated skeletons and skulls under bell jars that collect veils of dust from living in high-ceilinged rooms, moldering lace dresses with tiny rows of hook buttons, old brass candlestick holders in the shape of cobras smothered in layers of black wax, a flat file drawer filled with ghosts; tin types and cabinet cards lost to the sea of time and ashore within my possession, locks of hair terminated in moth eaten ribbons, . . . this strange list goes on and on. This list, these objects, also make up what I consider to be a connection to the past & I know this is the sort of list that kindreds also may hold folded in an inner pocket. This is how I choose to be seen I think, behind the beauty and grotesque natures of the objects I have gathered up over the course of my 34 years of life. This collecting obsession has caused me trouble; more than one X has practiced a kind of reactionary measured cruelty to my weird needs.

See also: More than one X has complained about my all black ( mismatched blacks at that) wardrobe, my desire for olde couches, my inability to eat vegetables, my obsession with filling every possible bit of wall space with artwork, my vampire hours & so forth. In reaction to their reactions, I enjoy living alone these days.

See also: Symptoms on living with a black hole, ever widening inside your body . . .


Talismans make up much of my daily thoughts, I obsessively sketch in my notebook* ideas for new jewels, micro fictions I hope to one day publish. I imbue scraps of paper with my lover's handwriting on it with intense sentiment, I feel I could write my best work on an antique writing desk from the 1800's that is so tall, it may only ever fit in my loft and that I had to burn sage around for a month once I had it in my possession for fear of antique New Orleans' ghosts being attached to it since it was culled from down south. I run my fingers over the spines of my book when I'm sad.

When Patti's favorite cafe closed down, the owner gifted her the table and chairs she spent countless hours sitting at. He even offered to help her carry them over to her apartment. I like this idea. The transplanted object, both losing and gaining context, but still cradling Patti's books, her pens, her hands. Still a locus of creating, a liminal space she perfumed with her thoughts.

I'm currently living in a kind of transitory life. My lover lives in the Mid-West where the cold strangles you, where birds of prey fly freely, where the color of the ground mirrors the color of the sky when it snows and the line of the horizon is nearly indecipherable. I live on the East Coast where across the street from me, a warehouse is clothed in spray paint, where glass glitters in the streets, where plastic bags get snared in metal fences, where people are endless . . . . Being without my objects, my psychic armor, my own locus of creating and inspiration has caused a kind of displacement, and I try to find my new context. I think of what my own 'string of rosaries' may be; my notebooks, the small collection of books I have on the NoCoast, the pieces of jewelry I made for myself that I wear for protection and luck.

Patti Smith's loft space on 23rd street 

* or, 'lint collecting'

No comments :