Friday, May 1, 2015


It’s true. I won’t deny it. I own a hammer. I have access to a hammer. It reposes on the upper shelf of my toolbox. I know it’s a hammer because it has all the requisite qualities belonging to a hammer. Weight, volume, density, shape of a hammer. The face, eye, cheek, and claw of a hammer. I failed to specify that detail. Yes. It’s a claw hammer. These are the traits of the hammer. This particular hammer. The hammer that I own. The hammer that I occasionally use. This substantive, this text, this article of wood and iron. This claw hammer. Which is to be distinguished from other hammers. The ball-peen hammer, for instance, or the framing hammer or stonemason’s hammer or joiner’s hammer, which is a small hammer with a square face and cross pein and a hickory shaft. No. This is a claw hammer. The claw is pivotal to the description of this hammer. The actuality of this hammer. Action, adage, and entelechy of this hammer.
Are the things of this world but shadows of a higher reality? The hammer does not provide an answer. It’s only a tool, a dumb shape which could smash my glasses if I brought it down heavily on them. But why would I want to smash my glasses? No reason at all. But if the need arose, I could smash them. The hammer is subject to my will. This is the destiny of all tools. Their shapes and qualities emerge from a vein of function. They’re designed by use. Like fingers. Which are vagaries of bone employed in the dexterous operations of holding, gripping, scratching, squeezing, touching, fondling, shaking, writing, and pounding a hammer.
The hammer is like no other thing in this world. Comparison eludes it. It’s not a meatball. It’s not a memory or a runway. It has nothing in common with a cello. I cannot hang a picture with a cello. I cannot build a birdhouse with a cello. Comparison only dilutes the hammer. The adequacy, adaptability, and tangibility of the hammer.
If I say “I am hammering this point home” the meaning of my import should be grasped in the spirit with which it is given. If I tarry, if I’m tedious, if I delay too long in my meditation of the hammer, that is not the fault of the hammer.
If I say “I am hammered” it might be assumed that I’ve consumed a great deal of alcohol and my coordination, articulation, and cognitive abilities have been noticeably altered. That, in fact, I may have the appearance of someone who has experienced a sharp blow to the head and whose spinning eyes and dispersal of stars might indicate a less than ideal apprehension of the world. But let me be among the first to say, in my defense, that I am not hammered. No. Not in the least. Screwed, maybe, flummoxed, most likely, but not hammered, not non compos mentis.
If I had a purpose for the hammer I would demonstrate the various uses of this hammer. I might pull a nail from a two-by-four, a bent, rusted nail, that would require sufficient effort that the effectiveness of the claw on the hammer could be illustrated. But there is no nail calling out to be tugged, like Ariel, from the narrow crevice of a tree. Nothing bent. Nothing rusted. Somewhere in the future, yes. Certainly. At some point in the future I will go to my toolbox and open it and lift the hammer out of it and go to my destination to fulfill the destiny of the hammer. And that will be a good thing. A fulfilling, achieving, and pounding thing. The hammer awakened, at last, from its sleep.  

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