February 15th, 2004

Disorderly Order

Skylar's playing with her My Little Pony castle. On the floor in front of it, she has arrayed a series of items pulled from diverse periods of her childhood. The shiny metal egg on the right has been a favorite since our first year in Arizona. The candle on the left testifies to her obsessed-with-candles-and-soap phase -- didn't the same person used to make them in the era of guilds? -- as does the toy vaccum cleaner next to it, for it was also her fear-of-loud-noises phase. The pony paraphernalia -- "paraphernalia" is another one of those words related to "bear" and "ferry" BTW -- on top of the castle is brand new.

I'm always amazed how much Skylar's play qualifies as "an experiment in integrating past and present, perhaps with a little redemption along the way."

In his Passagenwerk Walter Benjamin argues that the distinction we make between the allegorist -- who makes everything mean something else -- and the collector -- who sorts according to abstract principles of likeness -- conceals an underlying similarity. Both remake the world of things in their own image. And the redemption they bring about -- rescuing things from the prison of their mute materiality -- is always already subjective.

I'm glad Skylar understands this at such a young age. The mind outstrips its capacity for expression. But it catches up sooner in the mediations of allegory. Play on.

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    The Smiths' The World Won't Listen in other room
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