Sunday, November 21, 2004

analysis and art are all about making too much of something until it becomes sovereign and not a part of our world

There's a store at the ground floor of "my building," my building being the place were I rent a room to sleep and eat and write and think in from some nice guys down the street from my building. Anyway, this store is an antique store. The definition of "antique, from my perspective, seems to have expanded in scope. There is plenty of stuff in there from my parents' childhood, not all of it of exemplary craftsmanship or original character. According to the shows on PBS, historical character is the primary quality of an antique, so given this critereon I suppose everything in there is equal in antique-ness.

Antiques, then, are a physical embodiment of the power of nostalgic memory. They are a self-organising entity that is valued and moved according to the collective needs of people from bygone generations. As a child I loved chemistry sets and books on weather, so I can't help but think of aggregate activity as a simple application of physics, a placement of energy to create turbulence above. This energy, nostalgia, is like heat applied to the bottom of a pot that makes eddies and bubbles, bringing the contents of everyones attics and closets and junk drawers to a boil, forcing dusty items out of storage and across state lines to be sold again and again and again, because this stuff has no worth except in its aggregate possession and its sale. The item itself, cherished beyond any worth at the time of purchase and documented to ludicrous detail, a swarm of information in itself, yet having a center of gravity that, despite its internal forces, moves in a predictable parabolic path onto a shelf blue-white with halogen illumination from track lighting delicate and powerful. This worldlike item, driven by nostalgia, moves in a chaotic path from hand to hand, but once again the aggregate motion of thousands of these items is self-contained and shaped, like a thunderhead or the motion of milk dropped into hot tea.

This is like a blackboard sketch, however, in that the source energy- nostalgia- has been oversimplified, purified into a single symbol, the subject surpressed so the object can be the center of attention. The precise attachment of value to these scattered items is in itself the distillation of thousands of types of attention, a simple operation in itself: take the collected thoughts of every person on the globe looking at this object, average them, and price that thought. And this happens. It happens without anyone in charge. The heat of nostalgia creates its own valuation, because these objects are moved by and for their value. Nostalgia and value are inseperable, the same as energy and heat. From a digrammatic point of view nostalgic memory exists then to create motion, not to freeze things at a single point in time. It exists to uproot, to re-contextualize, to constantly reevaluate, devolves into hawking and haggling, and dissipates into apathy. These items of collective affection are passed around, the lifeblood of this organism, until the vibration and heat of their motion turns them into the dust that coats closets and attics.

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