Do anything and you’re doing something with something. Even the most rarified little cogito can’t help but manipulate the substances it has at its disposal with every act of will, which is to say, with each pressing of the second hand of the clock. The world everywhere and always presents itself as a massively complex, byzantine and baroque, material: a tattered tapestry, or intricate thing-a-ma-jig of countless components, and with each act we reconfigure its structures. But we can’t will a world into being. We are always related to the texture of a material that we find in waiting. The material always has its inner torque, its secret traps and tragedies…
Perhaps most tragic of all is our realization that we are not encumbered by it, in the manner of someone lost under a pile of coats, but, rather, that we are coextensive with it. That our skin is woven in to the front and reverse sides of the tapestry, and our endless labor of reconfiguration is also just another mechanism chiming with the others – ringing out its own strange note, and proliferating its own novel circulations. This tragedy we share, it echoes out across all the threads, and we mourn a rock, or grow suspicious of sand – we even transform ourselves into a raw material with its own inner valence, to be summarized and quantified in a spreadsheet for the end of year reports.
But, like all good tragedies, there’s a moment of revelation – as one continuous Möbius tapestry, our fates comingle with the dull din of the past, and the static noise beyond the mountains over there in the depths of those woods, with the rocks and the rats, the glass and the commutes. Streets and fields and nooks and crannies, all folding into a reversible lattice. The raw material of the stuffs, and the heavy, threaded immanence of the matters at hand.
Cover illustration: “The Unicorn Rests in a Garden” (Detail), (1495–1505).