September 4: a mirror in the park

The other day I saw a man carrying a full-length mirror in the park. It made me think of the line by Stendhal where he compared the novel to a mirror you carry down a road. It was an allusion played on by Nabokov at the start of one of his novels (The Gift, I think), which starts with some removal men carrying a mirror across a street. Objects (household or other) are interesting when pulled out of their usual context. I suppose that was one of the things about Marcel Duchamp’s urinal when it was placed in an art gallery. The context resets our viewing of an object, makes us view it emblematically or mundanely. On the bus this morning a little boy was hammering a kind of plastic soldier on the back of my seat. When he dropped it the mother went to pick it up and I saw it was a figurine of Jesus Christ in the pose where he is holding his hands out to us and his heart, his so-called sacred heart, is revealed to us with the chest bone stripped away. Out of context you are forced to look at objects in a different way. That is why places are sacred. You should not be sexting in a church. One of the last football matches I went to was Fulham v Man Utd at Craven Cottage (this was when United were good) and while the match was going on I was talking about Wagner’s Ring with one of my friends. After United scored their fouth goal (Tevez scored a hat-trick I think) a steward came over and threatened to expel us as trouble-makers. We were bringing unsacred material into a sacred place. We were talking filth in the Holy Tabernacle.

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