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Monday, February 10, 2020

Minutiae Minutiae

Episode One Hundred Sixty Five: Minutiae Minutiae.
In which we mote it up.

1 comment:

  1. 'Pick Your Five Favorite Motes' was a satisfying 'pick five' list I invented several years ago when Facebook allowed a 'pick your five favorite' app that could be customized to the poster's liking. "Mote in Absentia" was #5, the punch line for that list. Or the inverse punch line. Or something. The idea of something so small as to be unnoticeable actually being absent struck me as funny. It is also poignant because, of course, we are all so indescribably tiny that none of us even registers as a mote, on the cosmic scale. And yet, our absence surely leaves an undetectable mark. The paradox of our existence.

    I recently read the sermon on the mount and was intrigued to see how much of my own ethos reside in that text. (Of the top: humility, deference, acceptance.) Of course, I’m not surprised. And I’m sure they also persist in other texts in other cultures as well.

    Anyway, I was also surprised to see ‘mote’ cited in the sermon. In this case, a reference to a dirt speck caught in one’s eye, the story being that you shouldn’t criticize someone for a dirt speck in their eye, when you’ve got an enormous beam coming from your own.

    First of all, what kind of carpenter’s shop is this, where everyone is criticizing each other’s appearance over what are evident indications of gross worker safety negligence? This is clearly a capitalist fantasy, in which management grows fat while the workers victimize, cast blame, and fight each other over scraps. Also: a beam in one’s eye? What? I’m guessing their HRA doesn’t cover even basic ophthalmological exams.

    I had never thought of it, but the idea of ‘mote’ obviously has been around for thousands of years. I guess I just wasn’t expecting to find it there, on Jesus’ lips.

    The idea that Minutiae has its own set of minutiae that it minutely worries about is pleasing in its fractal-ness. Of course it's true - everyone is being ground down by something that escapes everyone else's attention.

    Four abstract panels:

    The first is a close up of a smiley face on the cover of one collection of the manga serial collection "Assassination Classroom" (2012?), the halftone pattern shading clustering into what is the right eyeball. That smiley - a bit menacing - peering out at the viewer in what is perhaps a not-apparent gaze.

    The second a plate from Dr. Oliver Sacks' "Migraine" (1970/rev.1990): depictions of computer-generated types of migraine aura. If I ever read that passage, I don't recall what they signify - if they were simply programmed to replicate the appearance of a human’s experience, or if they are generated using specific alterations to a 'normal' processing flow, thereby demonstrating that human migraine aura may be an effect of a similar alteration to brain processing (able to be replicated, and therefore possibly treatable). Anyway, I like the idea of the latter - that computers experience migraines, too. Migraines are awful, lonely experiences, and I'd be comforted to know that my IBM XT is crawling along the carpet beside me.

    Close up of a cover of a 'classic novel' series edition of H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man (originally published 1897). The cover is a bust shot of the protagonists' bandaging unraveling, revealing the void beneath, round shades hiding the absent eyes. It is a watercolor, and the corrugated texture of the bandage satisfyingly evoked. My own replication, zoomed in and scrabbled-at, a failure.

    The final frame is a close up from an image in "Letter Perfect: The Art of Modernist Typography, 1896-1953" by David Ryan, 2001. Pieter (Piet) Zwart, "Homage to a Young Girl', 1925. Quite happy with my attempt, though there was an error (bottom, center) that I meant to fix in post, but forgot. The Still, I love the look of this artist. Uncluttered.

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