Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Gallery at the End of the World: Phantom Scribblings and Shiny Objects from the Thrift Underground


Whether you frequent swap meets, estate sales, rummage sales or thrift stores (and we’ll get to the classification of each later in the week), people always ask, “What are you looking for?” Well, for me, that’s a complex question. Everything and nothing. My mind is blank and brimming with encyclopedic wish lists at the same time. I’m looking for a copy of “The Vegetarian Epicure” and also any pre-1965 size 8.5 suede pumps that might be left in the world. I may not want any more, but a sense of fan-obligation to the movie Mulholland Dr. compels me to buy those brown curvy coffee mugs whenever I see them, so now I have like 20. On the whole, you’ll have a better time if you keep an open mind and just let the shit enchant you. If you’re hellbent on finding, say, a Wiccan’s dream journal or a vernacular photograph of a 1920s bedroom, you will be constantly frustrated, not to mention missing the point. Just keep digging till something clicks.

That said, if I had to narrow it down to a couple categories, I’d say I look for small shiny objects and phantom scribblings. “Shiny objects” play into that simple, soothing kind of bird habit of raking through objects that are colorful and clanky, reassuring in their sensory fullness. And then there are scribblings, conveying the allure of antique secrets, the privilege of holding a small container full of a phantom individual’s interior thoughts -- put down in their own hand. Maybe one of the last remaining traces of a person’s time on earth. At any rate, the singularity of a letter, a snapshot, a diary, is not to be taken lightly.

Here we have doodles...


codes...


records kept...



and one person's pre-xerox style of copying helpful articles...



Who were these people who lived so long ago?

2 comments:

Francis said...

Love the Golden West, l9 cent, I still use spiral notebooks, college ruled, one subject, three hole jobs, but there is someting sublime about the detritus you have unearthed, reminds me Empire of the Sun, when the protagonist wanders through the remains of the colonial world from which he's now and exile. Your post also reminds me of Tintern Abbey in some way. Eagerly await yr novel.

Sam Black said...

I'm basically looking for mesh baseball caps, Salinas Rodeo buttondowns, "photobooks," cassette tapes, dogeared books, vendors selling tube-tvs and a wholelotmore, globes, maps, VHS, TEACs, projectors, felt, nipping pets, brand new tank tops, Bon Ami cleaning products, mops, scrub brushes, and tank tops. I can't wait to read the complete OEC!!