Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ruskin And Rust

John Ruskin would have liked our windshield wiper. The one to the right, on the passenger side. It has begun to rust. There is a patch of rust on the hinge; it is a bright, lucent cinnamon. It catches the eye, and one wonders if it is beautiful or not. If it is something requiring repair. You decide it is beautiful and does not require repair.

Ruskin liked rust. This is what my wife Roberta told me. She showed me the passage in the book she is reading, On Art And Life:

You all probably know that the ochreous stain, which, perhaps, is often thought to spoil the basin of your spring, is iron in a state of rust: and when you see rusty iron in other places you generally think, not only that it spoils the places it stains, but that it is spoiled itself -- that rusty iron is spoiled iron. For most of our uses it generally is so; and because we cannot use a rusty knife or razor so well as a polished one, we suppose it to be a great defect in iron that it is subject to rust. But not at all. On the contrary, the most perfect and useful state of it is that ochreous stain; and therefore it is endowed with so ready a disposition to get itself into that state. It is not a fault in the iron, but a virtue, to be so fond of getting rusted, for in that condition it fulfills its most important functions in the universe, and most kindly duties to mankind. Nay, in a certain sense, and almost a literal one, we may say that iron rusted is Living; but when pure or polished, Dead.

She was right. Ruskin really liked rust. Liked it because it awakened reveries of dissonance and paradox, deviation and irony.

Which brings me to life. What is life? Here is a paragraph swimming with words. Teeming with words. Does this mean the paragraph is alive? Yes, it certainly does. I don't know how television works but I do know how paragraphs work. They boil the mind like water. They open like drawers. They grow into willows at the cemetery. Just as the stars pause before dawn. And French happens to a sumac. And four women bathe in a river in West Africa singing songs to keep the crocodiles at bay.

Is consciousness a product of emotion? Is consciousness rust, or stainless steel?

Consciousness is a personality clinging to one's being. Picasso sitting in a chair. Swimming and silver. And most certainly rust.





Radish King said...

Rust never sleeps.-- Neil Young.

Welcome to BLOGLAND!

Heller Levinson said...

John, What a delight and thrill to discover you now have a blog; this is a major contribution to the blog universe, -- it is the 'sound' of Clifford Brown playing "Delilah" lakeside on an Autumn day.
The sound of a humpback whale belching on the shores of a Bavarian beer garden.

Brandon Downing said...

Hi John

wow, now a blog? Very excited to read from here on out. And to meet you in Seattle...all best, Brandon Downing

Harald Striepe said...

Consciousness is our consciousness telling itself that it is conscious. Is it meaningless recursion? My consciousness cannot tell, but wants to be convinced...

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