(A tale of everyday heartbreak, with softly Proustian resonance if you want it.)

Tracking down some inbound links just now (as, uh, one does), I stumbled across this image on a WordPress template. It’s just a grid of light and shadow, thrown by a roughly perforated vessel, and nothing more than that. Nothing more than that, and more than enough to knock me pretty badly off balance.

What’s so very powerful about this otherwise simple and uninflected header? It’s just that it reminds me so very much of a ceramic lamp I had and cherished once upon a time, in the upholstered depths of the Vaguely trapezoidal in mass, with a hexagonal grid of round holes running down its right side, made by a woman whose name is lost to recall. And here’s the thing: I had forgotten about it, entirely, until I saw that picture in the header.

All I remember about it, really, is that it was British, short-run, artisinal, and exquisite, expensive, and that I loved it a lot. It seems very likely that I bought it on an employee discount, with my very first paycheck. And somewhere in the chaos of prying myself from the wreckage of a stormy relationship, moving first to and then back from Japan, selling one house and buying another, it went missing. And maybe I had to forget it, given what it symbolized.

What is that lamp for me, and that particular pattern of light? It’s 1999 and a time before history broke, it’s the first stirrings of my mature design sense, it’s the first time in my life I could afford to buy something so beautiful, it’s the sun and air of the Berkeley Hills, it’s all the love and futile hope we invest in something we know won’t last. And all that was waiting for me, coiled like some fused and patient weapon, to overmaster me the moment I was made to remember it.

It’s OK, now, really, it is. It took me a few breaths, a few long sips of good strong coffee, a spell of sitting and staring out the window, but now I’m totally fine. But I can’t help but wonder what other little landmines are out there, on the Web and in the world, just waiting for me, coiled in force in the heart of something so simple.

(UPDATE: Holy. Crap. Somehow or other, there survives on the Web a listing of some of the things sold, complete with the Test Pilot Collective-penned logo. This page informs me that the lamp was designed by Julie Nelson. And yes, I wrote that copy.

A few milliseconds with Google and I have the rest of the tale. Apparently there really is such a thing as a global mnemotechnical system.)

2 responses to “Latent/lost”

  1. christina says :

    Hi and thanks for both the comment on and the linking to my blog allthough it only is a student blog for the university of Bergen, Norway. I hope the image on the skin wasn’t to upsetting.

    Christina (Dr. Orpheus)

  2. Jamie says :

    Verrry interesting. Is this not a topic too where, as so often happens, A. Galloway, thought about it first and better than any of us could have? I am thinking of her Nietzsche-influenced Forgetting Machine idea.

    Are cities a kind of Forgetting Machine? How do they help us to/make us remember certain things (e.g., Oświęcim)? How does the destruction/tearing down and rebuilding of them help us to/make us forget certain other things (Berlin, Tokyo, New York City)?

    Thus, if the syllabus of Urban Computing H79.2622 might seem to be structured around plot points from the dimension of space (“Wall,” “Window,” “Door,” etc.), I am picturing a phantom syllabus lurking behind, where the class is *really* all about the effects on things in the temporal dimension, in past (memory, mourning, historiography, etc.), future (prophecy, prediction, dreaming, goals) and present (the phenomenology of perception, i.e.: a big recent “aha!” moment with regard to this for me was the caption and comments appended to this photo).

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