Inspired by Olive’s brilliant piece on urban beachcombing, I’ve decided to make this a semi-regular installment. We’ve both been working through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way — a book which I can’t recommend highly enough to artists of any and all types, and all those who simply want to bring a bit more joy and sanity into their lives, for that matter — and one activity she recommends for feeding your inner artist is to collect and enjoy whatever found objects you find enchanting or intriguing. It’s a way of letting all the natural wealth and beauty of life soak in and become real to you, she says — or so I’ve paraphrased. So when my eye caught the above in the grime of an alley on the way in to work, hurried though I was, I decided I needed to stop and collect it.
What is it? That’s what I wondered at first. Just a bit of trash, came back the knee jerk response. Well, sure it is — or it can be, if you let it. It looks like a leaf, I thought. But it can’t be … Not here, trodden underfoot, still retaining so much rich color. But what else could it be? It’s so perfectly symmetrical — and what with the line down the center, like a leaf’s central vein. Could it be a bit of foil, from a bottle cap? Flattened perfectly, to look like a leaf? It seems so … improbable! So of course, I had to go back and find out for myself.
As I began to get closer, I became concerned to notice that it also resembled a two dimensional representation of a football. What a sad disappointment that would be, I thought. A symbolic representation of an object which is itself the symbolic center of value, the fetish or totem, if you will, of a struggle which interests me not even the slightest bit. Should I flip it over? There’s no pang quite as piquant as that of crashing through a magical possibility to an utterly banal reality.
I decided to play the odds. I flipped it over, and sure enough, it was the foil cap from a bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon, flattened by unknown forces into a perfectly symmetrical shape. This, plus it’s dark shade of green, transformed it into a leaf: synthetic trash, reborn by accidental artifice into verdance, life. It is the perfect example of a transmorphic object.
Well, that’s mine. How about yours? Do you have an object, a stone or scrap of metal, something which somehow seems to be more than itself? Maybe you’ve been carrying it around in your breast pocket, worrying it occasionally for good luck. If so, and if you’d be willing to photograph and share it in reply, I’d be grateful. Stories are welcome, but not required.
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