I discovered quite some time ago that the admirable proprietress of a photography blog I enjoy very much, inte fan gör det det (I’ll let you look up the translation, you non-Swedish-speakers, for your own amusement) shares my affection for many things that escape attention from lots of others. Among those oft-overlooked everyday objects are the steel caps that separate cars and pedestrians and the like from whatever dwells in the underground infrastructure: manhole covers.
Some of these utilitarian items are made without much regard for their aesthetic potential but even so, manage to become rather special and interesting by virtue of the patina of age and use. On top (no pun intended) of that, there are many manhole covers deliberately designed to be special and interesting and aesthetically pleasing. I don’t much care what the original intent of a manhole cover’s design happens to have been, as long as part of the purpose was to keep me from falling into the sewer.
But it does beg the question, for me, of why, outside of emergencies, one shouldn’t make every single thing one makes as beautiful as it can be. Maybe I should simply be content that so many things, like manhole covers, can become beautiful through use and time. After all, that’s what I would like to be able to do, myself. Ah, perhaps that is precisely what is at play in the manufacture of a manhole cover; it is made expressly to become beautiful through use and years. Perhaps, indeed, I’ve stumbled onto a cosmic truth, and we mortals are also designed with that in mind. I suppose I’d better get busy!
When I’m out and about, I find my little brain spinning around and fiddling with every inspiration that appears before me. Since I’m such a visually oriented person, that often means that any random object appearing before me might suddenly spur a train of thought that is tangential to the previous one–sometimes to an extreme. Sometimes that simply gives me some screwy ideas in a general way, good for a laugh but soon swatted away like a loose bit so I can return to my more purposeful track. Sometimes it just plain sends me off a mental cliff into worlds of frivolous, unrelated thoughts. After my many years of this, I’ve fully embraced the process: it’s entertaining in and of itself, as long as it’s not horridly disruptive of important stuff, and occasionally, it brings truly useful things into play and finally into focus.
Mostly, I don’t let this wackiness out fully in public. Ordinary sane people might be quite bemused by it, if not frightened. But in good company (y’all), it can be fun to share the wordplay that, often, becomes invention. Lately I’ve found myself seeing a lot of things that inspired me to wonder at the meanings of words one might ordinarily attach to them.Is a person who brings constant frivolous lawsuits a suer? Or is that person a suitor, because he loves to sue? Or is a person who sews suits for the wearing: is that a suitor? Maybe a suitor instead would be a person who has romantic feelings about clothing (you clotheshorses know who you are). What, then, is a sewer? Is it a person who sews? Is it a place where excrement flows? Maybe it’s both: a person who sews crappy stuff?What is an iron maiden? Is it a person who irons, or is it a tough woman? Is it a strong lady who wields an iron? Or is it, in fact, a powerful female who uses an iron to smooth out the spiny coffin wherein she resides? Perhaps it is, ironically, a superwoman who (despite being both strong and pure) is a rotten seamstress who only comes out of her spike-lined residential case occasionally to iron her handiwork.I suppose it’s just possible that all of this is silly and convoluted speculation. That would be true, but you have to admit that those objects I saw did invite some sort of speculation. And hey: pointless ridiculousness is my gift. You’re welcome.