Giving you a longing look; or, On Making Things

As I mentioned last week, I created some monoprints from which I made a handmade book. I’ve made other little books. The making of them pleased me, and as I look at them on my desk, I’m pleased by the having-made.

But if Marie Kondo has named the zeitgeist: “throw it away,” should I really be making objects? I ask myself what is the point. Shouldn’t I be un-making? Dis-making? Should I burn all these little books? If I do it as some offering to some gods does it make that un-making sacred, and therefore worth doing more than just chucking them in the recycling bin?

I live in a dusty house. Or, perhaps, it could be argued, I never dust, so there is dust. Dust on my things, and on my little books. Dust on me, and I will be dust. And someone else will have to decide what to do with my books. Who will be left to dust me? Will all my making be recycled? Ashes to ashes.

I’ve been reading about the human species. We despair of what we’ve done to Earth, but what we should really despair about is what we’ve done to us and our fellow denizens. The Earth can take a lot of abuse and will roil along with our without us until its own destiny is played out. Dust to dust.

I don’t believe in gods, nor even really in life, I mean, I don’t believe that life has a purpose except to sustain itself. Living being that I am I did not reproduce myself, but my body has fed some strange beasts: bacterias and protists, spiders and mites. My books are probably doing their part too, paper that they are and likely highly digestible.

A word, however, is an ephemeral thing. A poem fleeting in the air. Unless I write it down, either on paper or in my laptop, in which case suddenly it takes up space. And if it’s printed in a magazine or a book, and it sits on a shelf, well, I’m profligate. And if you buy it? If you read it, find it pleasing, however briefly? How lovely. And if you then recycle the book someday during your own existential — that is, how can I have such a preponderance of things that exist — crisis? Well, that strikes me as a good thing. Sort of. (It’s lucky that books of poetry are usually paperback.)

I have a box of my own books, unsold, that I’m about to take to the attic, where it will sit until I hit the attic with a frenzy and decide no one will ever buy one and chuck ’em. But these handmade books, the largest one only a bit bigger than my hand? Well. I’ll keep them a little while longer. A bit of me for those booklice to read over, digest.

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