2004-09-09 - 3:33 p.m.
So, I bought an antique. I hope this by no means makes me an antiquer, or that I went antiquing, or that my apartment will now be antiquirific, or any other such suffix, because the purchase was nearly accidental and I’ve never been a fan of the word antique. Just saying the word aloud makes you sound like a field mouse having an orgasm. Read this paragraph aloud and you have a fair approximation of an extremely sucessfull rodent gang bang.
While I have no idea what a Tudor is, and the craftsmanship of fine woodwork is utterly lost on me, I’ve always happily wandered through antique stores, looking over the myriad of whacked out knick knacks the fringe elements of this fucked up society have cobbled together; on separate occations picking up an empty artillery shell from world war two, a desk-top lighter that I played with in my pyromaniac pre-cigarette days, and finally a strange silver ring that resembled a snake curled up around one’s finger. (Note: When getting a ring for one’s girlfriend, determing that it will be a perfect fit on her if it fits your pinky is a theory rife with erroneous notions. Also handing off a small snake ring is really only appropriate if your girlfriend is a roadie for Alice Cooper, or for some reason into role playing with fig leaves and an apple.)
For the same reason that I enjoy my used clothes with a little life and weirdness mixed in, I like the contents of my hypothetical fireplace mantle to rock with the same brambly beat. So while I wasn’t exactly walking around discussing the possibility that the rusted corners had been recently refurbrished, and thus wasn’t truly representive of its time period (actual overheard comment.) I wasn’t in any form of pain wandering the curios surround me on those aisles.
The piece itself…I call it a piece because when one is self-importantly referring to an antique it is not a thing but a piece, an artifact, an art in fact. I bought a page from a book bound in the eighteenth century. The page depicts four male profiles, and in jilted old English, describes the defining points of those profiles, and the personality traits they exemplify.
I suppose this could just be a book describing how to sketch characters to draw out their character traits, but everything in the text seems to point out the opposite process, i.e. seeing someone’s profile and determining their personality from that. Imagine a world drawn by Disney, where anyone without a positive view and a good moral center is drawn in long angular lines, constantly sneering. Telling the villans from the good guys…pretty damn easy, especially if you keep your eyes peeled for two wise cracking sidekicks, generally anthropomorphic cutlery or statues. This was the world many believed they lived in.
Call it breeding. But say it as if your jaw has been wrapped in metal, possibly with the tenor of a villan from an eighties movie. The rich and powerful of past generations were so eager to provide evidence for their taken authority that they called upon the artists and scientists of the world to throw together a world of false data to prove a caucasion man had the greatest intellect of any speieces on earth. Consider the goiter: an inflammation of the glands in the neck resulting in a large, sometimes breast like protuberance, often resulting from low iodine intake, and most often incurred by lords and ladies whose diets infrequently included seafood, a dish often considered merely for the lowly peasants fishing off the pier along side merchants, vagrants and whores. This throbbing mound of flesh became considered a fashionable accessory, despite being a red light of waning health, and possible in-breeding.
This was the time of character; a time before personality. Character is set. You are born with it. Personality is more in flux, and can change given internal or external impetus. The son born to a king is destined to rule, and rule with grace; that is how he was built, this is his destiny, Simba, no matter what might befall him. Call me cynical, but any theory that sets out to prove that a person cannot achieve higher than their caste, or fall from it seems a little top-heavy.
Halthorne, for all his wisdom, throws a lot of this on the page. A teacher of mine summarized all this pretty well while we read over the Scarlet Letter:
“Reality is a physical manifestation of a metaphysical condition.”
Translation: Things in this world physically reflect the contents of their inner being. Good person look pretty. Bad person look like Nixon.
I’m thinking of printing up these words in a panoramic frame and hanging it just below the page.
The whole idea seems infantile now. We’ve all seen Shrek, so we know that so long as someone traditionally ugly is voiced by a popular comedian and makes his entrance to the strains of Smash Mouth he might have a few positive characteristics.
We know the message and what we’re supposed to think, but how much slack to we generally give the people who look like they’ve walked off the set of a show on the WB versus someone from public access. With New York in the throws of fashion week, where someone is to be sneered at for not realizing black is out, (I read it in the Post.) how far have we really come from Hawthorne.
The idea in practice now, seems to be divided into two camps: those that lavish themselves on the font of beauty, and those that hold that someone beautiful must be terribly flawed. I know I’ve gone about judging those who dress, look, and act so good, as being empty shells who have obviously put so much time primping their outer appearance that they must be inwardly decayed.
Reality is a physical manifestation of the inverse of a metaphysical condition.
I doubt that’s any better. It does make me feel better about getting pimple though. To have earned such a pock must mean I’ve come to some inner enlightenment. I expect should I ever discover the true meaning of the universe, I’ll break out in hives all over my body. Look at Einstein’s hair.
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