Saturday, July 24, 2010




1 : perceptible by touch
2 : of, relating to, or being the sense of touch

Words like TACTILE and tangible make pretty frequent appearances in my vernacular. Both derive from the Latin tangere, to touch. There is a definite security wrapped in the idea of TACTILITY, a place where I find a fair amount of comfort—

here it is, the floor underneath my feet, a key unlocking a door, a note scribbled on a scrap of paper crumpled in my pocket.


I've been slowly going through my belongings, trying to purge objects and accept that sentimentality is in my head, not inherent to whatever useless thing that seems to be communicating with me. Here are things I think about in the face of getting rid of stuff:

1) I haven't used/worn/thought about this _______ in a year, but WHAT IF I need it at some point?

2) Aw, this reminds me of ________; if I lose this I will inevitably lose the attached memory.

3) (Rarely) I spent $____ on this and I'm not sure I've yet gotten my money's worth.

4) I don't need this, but someone might want to borrow it at some point. And I want it to be here to lend.

The only objects I ever regret parting with are books, movies, and music—items whose revisitation value holds some intellectual merit. Otherwise, I have sent things on their merry way and never thought twice about their absence, mostly because I have a crappy short term memory and probably forget I even owned them in the first place.

An interesting item I hold onto is a nearly fifteen-year-old xerox copy of a page from a french dictionary. I do not keep it because I can learn something from what is written on the page, and arguably the above reasons don't apply to its value (while #2 comes close, it falls short due to the overwhelming presence of an idea I'm about to explore).

I've been thinking some about objects and the essence they carry (or, rather, that I tell myself they carry). I've read a bit about this idea in various places that I hope to have written down because I'm unable to recall. The idea that an object embodies the essence of a previous owner or a memory or an experience. What is valuable about the xerox is that someone important to me held in his hand. I sense this every time I touch it, as though the now creased and weathered piece of paper is some sort of connecting channel between us. Unlike other objects of sentiment, the xerox does not conjure a memory but a TACTILE feeling, as though by my holding the paper I am somehow holding his hand.

What will happen if I get rid of this object? Where does that essence go? After all, no matter what I do with that paper, it will still exist, in some shape or form. And the idea of the essence is already there, so like the paper it will simply change shape or weight or value, but it will go nowhere.

This is both comforting and disconcerting. Not to mention that it's 90 degrees, it's been some time since I've eaten, and I've just seen Inception at the Cinemagic theatre. Believe it or not, I started writing this before I saw the film.

1 comment:

  1. Honestly I think that piece if paper not only has sentiment, but it's so diverse in speaking specifically about you and your personality. I wonder where Ksana is now.