Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Made Things

Indoor days mean mind wandering and wondering. Not about ideas or literature or art, topics about which I might know something -- sometimes a little or a lot; not about politics or current affairs -- topics about which I read little or much; and not about memories or emotions or family. But about ordinary objects, most of which I don't understand even one tiny bit

Like this: a rectangular metal cover on a utility pole up the hill and across the street. Just above eye level, it covers something electric (I think), but I don't know what. Clamped closed, locked, tagged, and rusting. What its purpose is -- that's one wonder. Another is its manufacture.

Once, several years ago, in Chattanooga, I had something copied as gifts for my brothers -- a wooden profile of Robin Hood that my father had created decades earlier. A sculptor friend sent me to a stamping and fabrication plant in Chattanooga, and the then-owner, a woman, toured me through the plant. At various stations, I watched men control loud machines precision-cutting metal, stamping out tiny bits and large pieces, plain and complicated. The machines ground and whined and clattered; the pieces spat out into large holding bins. I also met a fellow sitting at the controls of a computerized laser cutting machine on the other side of what I assumed was a shatter-proof window. He would trace my archer, program the machine, and make my copies to order.

I suppose this metal cover, with its beautiful circular design (serving no purpose or some hidden one; I don't know which) must have come from one such shop. So many objects, machine-and-man-made, practical and beautiful, populate the made landscape. I am determined to seek them out.

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