Thursday, January 19, 2012

My favourite clothespin v: a stepping out in pieces

Possibly one of our most widely rec-
ognised gestures, the freeing of one's
foot from confinement, is not available
for our discussion here, except in
pieces. Fragments do suffice, how-
ever, for the character of the page
If you'll give me a moment, I'll 
gather them from their folder.
They come to us as readily assembled blocks. There is no cause for alarm because they are, after all, so familiar. 
You will naturally have to compose 
them as you like, but if you follow 
the traditional pattern, all will 
take care of itself. Don't be con-
cerned about the absence of clothes;
this will have a happy ending.

The awkwardness which we associate with the already completed portrait, is its possession of elements beyond what is sufficient for this page, as its betters see it. Thus, our allotment of fragments, to amuse us with that distinction. Perhaps we may turn to that, if the residual coherency of the image has begun to emerge?

We have a running subject, as you know, called my favourite clothespin, where a human quality or act has been inferred from a figure's posture. People have enjoyed these speculations, whether about gazing out of a window, in the first instance, or conferring with one's mother in the next; and the general interest in the freeing of one's foot has long called for assigning it a clothespin, here.

Objection has already been anticipated, to the image's failure to show a foot. It is upon this complaint that the whole principle of the clothes-pin could be ridiculed as one of fantasy. I shudder to count incompleteness of affect as a bar to comprehension, however, when the weight of cir-cumstances bears so heavily upon a single probability. We could not vote to convict him of unsnagging a foot, but we could allow this portrait to show it, beyond doubt.

What's telling about this portrait, is that avoidance of completeness only gives rise to several misconceptions at once. The first block shows a gesture which may be directed toward the right foot, but it is not. The portrait of the ankles is all but meaningless, but crucial. The portrait of the left side leads only to the emptiest conjectures. And the torso offers the same hazards. At last, we come to that feature of which everything else is a projection of a false incoherency. We are seeing an expression of calm bemusement, at stability, detained.

At St Anselm's College and often since, we have heard the now presumptive Republican nominee extolling the virtue of smashing people to bits, not for the untidy motives of the unfeeling, but as an immaculately unquestionable mandate of God. Yet beneath his delectation of the resulting image, there was such a contentment with the rightness of its incompleteness that it does not go too far to define it as a pleasure of withholding, and one he could believe he was extending to his listeners. He would propose to daub the resulting icon with a bit of vitriol here, a veil of ignominy  there; and as he warmed to his subject it was plain that he was admiring his creation. It could not hold, but that was its charm.


  1. Stability detained: this is very good.

  2. My golly you are assiduous! You've hit upon my own favourite pair of words in the whole exercise.