|author's rendering of "Laustic"'s end|
Early morning and snow dust has brought white roads, white boughs, and a two hour delay for small children's school. I've left early since I need to be on campus, the house still asleep. No wind, and the snow has brought its quiet even to morning traffic. I'm walking to Metro and "Engine Driver" is playing on my iPod. The world as it is seems a world in which I've never walked before.
I am thinking of my evening class, my first Objects seminar. We introduced ourselves through the things that possess us. I'd brought a small rock, speckled granite, perfect round like an egg, the gift of waves in Maine. How could I resist this offer of earth and water on last summer's beach? Each of us spoke of our object, some with a vulnerability and a love that made me envious, too cherished to story here.
We spoke of Latour, and actants, and Bennett, and her regard for wonder, enchantment, and the naiveté of children, "a perceptual style open to the appearance of thing-power." We thought our limit case: Marie de France, "Laustic," a lai of insufficient passion, of a nightingale murdered to become an empty art. I sketched the dead bird on the board, wrapped in the samite which is its story, enclosed in the box that was supposed to be a reliquary but seems an inert coffin. I asked, what vitality remains in this thing no longer alive, in an emptiness around which beauty but not love is built? We found its movements (into Brittany, into French, into English, into our classroom) and we found the life of objects in the stories they provoke.