Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ordinary Objects, Ordinary Time

Clay Sculpture featured in the St. Louis Post Dispatch,
mid - 1970's

Back in highschool, maybe even junior high, I cut this clipping of the crayon sculpture out the "everyday" section of the Post - Dispatch and have saved it all these years without even know the name of the artist or the exhibit / museum it was in. I guess I should have saved the article that went with the picture!


I've always liked the way that this little patch of the year between Christmas and Lent is called Ordinary Time. One ordinary day after the next descends upon us, as the fun times recede first into the recent, then into the distant past. We mark the time. The light changes. What will happen next?

My most recent Fortnightly Blog, January: Forward Vision, Backward Glance is about our ever - changing perspective of what is ordinary, as is the featured blog of my friend Ann de Forest -- the timely and time - conscious Obsolescing: watching technologies as they wane.

If you haven't had a chance yet, why not take a moment now to check out Ann's January response and to look at one of my favorite essays from the "Obsolescing" archives, The Kindly Mirrors of Future Times, which includes this passage from Vladimir Nabokov, so applicable to the goal of my Quotidian blogposts:

"I think that here lies the sense of literary creation: to portray ordinary objects as they will be reflected in the kindly mirrors of future times; to find in the objects around us the fragrant tenderness that only posterity will discern and appreciate in far-off times when every trifle of our plain everyday life will become exquisite and festive in its own right: the times when a man who might put on the most ordinary jacket of today will be dressed up for an elegant masquerade."

[Vladimir Nabokov, “A Guide to Berlin”
(first published, in Russian, in 1925;
later translated by Nabokov and his son Dimitri
and included in the 1976 collection,
Details of a Sunset and Other Stories.]

I particularly like Ann's concluding observation: "As a writer, I’m particularly intrigued by what Nabokov seems to be asserting about the writer’s (or any artist’s) task – to be present and alert to the current commonplace, to record it in specific detail, and thus preserve it for a future audience’s enraptured rediscovery."

Her response to Nabokov speaks to my heart as a beautifully succinct summation of the quotations (up above) that I have chosen to govern the Quotidian Kit:

realizing every minute (Wilder)
spreading the big ideas over the daily bread (Duval)
looking for the beautiful in the small (Kant)
finding significance in the commonplace (Woolf).

"Cold Morning Poems by Naomi Shihab"

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