The thing about seeing is that we see more than is possible to understand.
I was once asked to be a part of a conversation that involved looking at a mesh garbage can as a piece of art.
I was sitting in a semi-circle across from the artist that was sitting next to the smallish mesh garbage can. He didn’t make the garbage can, but I estimated that he crumpled up the three pieces of typing paper that I could see clearly, through the dark gray mesh, from about 15 feet away, where I was sitting and staring in disbelief.
The garbage can was his final project for our first year of undergrad. We talked about it for 15 minutes, and I almost didn’t try to understand that it was art. I didn’t say very many things aloud. I was busy thinking about all the ways it wasn’t art.
Turns out it was art, but it took me 15 years to piece the message of those three crumpled pieces of typing paper together. At the time though, I just didn’t get it. We finished talking about the garbage can, and the next day, the artist sitting next to it dropped out of school.
Art is a reflection of a particular time and place. Not understanding it may just mean that I don’t see the same reflection of that particular time and place. The awesome thing is that by looking at art that I don’t understand I might somehow see part of a place and time that I didn’t realize was there.
Beyond popular belief, next to Enfield tennis academy, there is a guy sitting in front of a garbage can in his seminary dorm room. He is launching playing cards into the can. This is the only thing he is doing. Across from him, sits his brother.
…he managed to engage the brother in some rather heated and high-level debates on spirituality and the soul’s potential…
At Enfield, at a particular time and place, Hal is also sitting in front of a garbage can attempting to launch his toenail clippings into it. Across states, his brother Orin is with him on the phone.
Like the guy in my freshman class, Wallace has a lot to say about brothers sitting with garbage cans between them.
Dorm garbage cans are sometimes cylindrical like glasses or…
The last room we are in in Infinite Jest transforms into both an enormous garbage can of humans, entertainment, and one explosively colorful lens centered around Gately’s changing point of view.
Orin is elsewhere surrounded by a cylindrical green glass, magnified to his scale, not unlike the small suffocating scale of the clear drinking glasses that he uses to trap and discard the cockroaches in his bathroom. Green being solipsism. Like Green (the person) being the sounding board for…Lenz.
And we are back with Gately.
The A.M. sun hung in the window, up and past the tree, yellowing.
Days go by.
Everything came at too many frames per second.
it was dawn outside, a glowing gray
If colors themselves could catch fire.
The air in the room got overclear, a glycerine shine, colors brightening terribly.
Seeing colors, as the most readily available form of coping.