Monday, June 25, 2012

as long as someone remembers

i'm reading orhan pamuk's museum of innocence, which is one long pondering as to whether objects can house memory and feelings. in the book füsun says "when we lose people we love, we should never disturb their souls, whether living or dead. instead, we should find consolation in an object that reminds you of them..." my visit to the flea market on saturday rendered a new little collection of objects which feel somehow laden with more or less inaccessible memories, reminders of stories not my own. and yet, i am still drawn to these things.

this old typewriter was there the last time i went to the market, so you might say we already have a history together, or at least that we'd met before. i didn't intend to buy it, but as i was leaving, the guy said 100 kroner and so i went for it. mostly because it still had a little poem in it that must be the last thing that was typed with it.

it's a sweet little poem about a little frog by chief doctor morten scheibel from the hospital in viborg. somehow, such a remnant there in the carriage of the typewriter does give a little bit of access to the stories and the memories it silently holds.

he experimented with the lines...using no spaces initially, then reverting to normal spacing. there's even a word he struck out and changed, offering glimpses of his creative process, left behind in the typewriter. tho' there was a more fetching typewriter there at another stand (and another price), this little poem made this one more appealing.

this camera may have similar secrets to tell, as there's a film still in it and it's on photo #14. it'll need a new battery before i can find out what memories it holds within. and discovering the battery thing makes me think that the other practica i got at a flea market a month or so ago might be ok after all if i just replace the battery.

stoneware plates and bowls keep their secrets more closely guarded. the azur nissen denmark plate is crazed and has a hairline crack, belying tales of long and not always gentle use. i loved the color and the amusing chat i had with the rather crotchety woman who sold it, so already i have laid a thin layer of my own memories onto it. the little bowl is a bit more silent, speaking only through the HAK initials on the bottom, as being a descendent of a long tradition of pottery-making in denmark. i loved the soft colors and the shape and size of it.

this little flat bowl/tray is HAK as well. the simple flower motif reminds me of the flower people sabin drew when she was little, so already i begin to layer my own meaning onto the object. it makes me a little bit sad to think that it found its way to the flea market. it must have once been a present to someone, thoughtfully given and once that person was gone and the story with it, it was packed up and sent off to the flea market. objects only retain their meaning as long as someone remembers.


will said...

Ask yourself this: When you are gone, what of your things will remain and what stories can they, will they tell?

My own feeling is, the furniture I've made, the paintings I've painted are as close to immortality as I can get ... yet the chairs, tables and canvases are mute so the only forward message is, someone named me built these things.

Elizabeth said...

the colors are my favorite and that's why i really, really like your header and the pictures of the stoneware. the idea of finding consolation in an object that reminds us of a person is something to ponder over. all in all, a post i like!!!!

julochka said...

don't you think there's more than that? some trace of loving care and attention which can't be erased and which people will be drawn to instinctively?

julochka said...

you should read the book!

will said...

If you're asking me, "don't you think there's more than that?"

No, I don't think so, mostly because a person's life-event usually doesn't extend very far forward in time.

My grandfather was a terrific guy and I have very fond memories of him ... yet at this moment in time there's only 4 or 5 living people who knew him. In another 20 years or so those people will be gone and he will be just a name on a genealogy chart.

julochka said...

I meant more within the object itself - especially the furniture...the smoothness of the wood, the way it's joined, etc., something of the care YOU took in making it remains even when you are gone.

will said...

Yes, I agree with that. The first time I visited Sam Maloof I was unprepared for emotional impact it had on me. Seeing his home, filled with his furniture ... it was stunning ... it was close to a spiritual moment.

Recently someone asked me if I was a finish carpenter ... I said 'no, I'm more like a violin maker'. Making a good piece of furniture is so much more than the sum of wood, joinery and a finish.

When I look at well designed and constructed furniture ... when I think about my own goals and fussiness ... I get a feeling of timelessness ... I feel a continuity with master craftsman, back to the earliest of times. I feel both exhilaration and humility.

I hope a few of my things survive and silently say, this was made my someone who cared.

julochka said...

exactly! not all objects have this quality, but when one does, i think we recognize it.

Laura Doyle said...

That typewriter is a wonderful find. Once I visited an estate sale at a home that seemed to have an entire family's belongings. I reluctantly brought a few things home from it but ended up throwing them in a dumpster, far from my house. They felt incredibly sad. Other finds seem to glow a happiness all their own. Especially handmade things.

Anonymous said...

wow what wonderful things. I love antiques full of mysterious back stories.