First post . . . (Living with Matilda)

Blog post
Published: 31.01.2009

First post/ first . . . past . . . the . . . post. . . thing . . . (living with Matilda)

My first foray into the world of blog-writing raises some issues. I am an avid and regular emailer and user of the www and I do much of my writing on my computer, more or less happily disembodied. What’s the difference?

One who both makes and writes skates on thin ice when declaring a preference for the material world, for the stuff of the world, when it comes to seeking, or working towards understanding of . . . of . . . many things, of greater or lesser significance. Strictly speaking words are not things. They lack the essential qualities of thingness: three quantifiable dimensions plus weight, tactility, etc, and in their abstraction could be hypothesised as virtual. However, they have their own presence as things in the world: shape on the page and, crucially, sound, resonance, reverberation; and, as nouns and their often accompanying adjectival qualifications, words are so closely affiliated with the things they call and name they can appear inseparable from them. (Think, or better still, say: apple, cup, diamond-ring, guitar, hammer, repousse-hammer, red-rose, saw, snail, table, xylophone . . . you see or hear what I mean?)

A bias towards the material world (stone, metal, paint, paper, ink) rather than the ether, the ephemera of the internet, does not make one a Luddite. Nothing is broken. (No machines are smashed.) Nothing can be broken. Perhaps this is the frustration: there is no thing to break. As a sculptor and jeweller I can (and do) break things: crack a stone, push a claw-setting until it snaps off, or I may smash a cup or glass in the kitchen. As a writer, I can crumple or rip up a page on which the words refuse to do my bidding, watch them distort and fragment. But here . . . As Marshall Berman put it (in another context): “all that is solid melts (has melted) into air”. It seems that if we are to take advantage of the marvels of transmission on offer, we too must soften. But not melt. However, engaging with the rapidly accelerating developments of any technology consumes time and energy and can be a distraction (so easy . . . so “soft”) from the old and “hard” reality of stone and steel. As can a three month old kitten . . . 
The letters which represent my attempt at cogency, substance, sense (or even nonsense), float before me. Little black marks on a white screen. Little black marks which are accustomed to rest secure in their final destination being the printed “hard copy” page. A fly settles on the screen (It’s summer in Australia) livelier than the cursor. Matilda pounces:
vvvvvvvvvhfopppppppppppppdddggggggggggggjjjjjjjiiiiiiiiiiiiiilll;;’‘’‘’‘’‘’ ddtiinnnstttttttttbjb oeeeeeeeeeeeeggggggggggggggg gggg5333 nnnnnnnnn3333333ssssssssdddfffffffffggbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbnnjjjj. 

Her tiny claws significant in this context. Sharp. To the point >
There will be more of this: the thingness of words and the sharp claws of kittens.
In the meantime, I must return to my studio and make a brooch pin: sharp as a kitten claw. (There is yet no brooch)