jack valentine

03.30.17 / / the rituals of self

In Still Life with Woodpecker and then again in Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins proposes that objects have a life of their own – personalities and preferences besides. Furthermore, we define the relationship we have with them.

When you have the freedom to choose what objects you surround yourself with, I think those things can and do define both who you are and how you treat yourself. I agree that what we own hold us in turn – the invisible tendrils of time, habit, and touch. I’m fine with that. I want a pleasant relationship with my belongings, appreciative and joyfully surprised they’re still there, still with me, still solid and beautiful.

I like the mysterious aspect to some things – an Irish 5p piece I’ve carried in my wallet since I was a child, an urn carved from red acrylic and ebony wood, a book my dad used to hit me with.

Oh yes. I don’t leave those out. Just like me, the circumstances of something entered the world aren’t always by its choice or mine, and control of an object can make it a symbol for the control I lacked with its initiator. The book and I became friends – now bound in duct tape, read again and again while it sheds brittle dog ears. Today, it sits snuggled next to newer versions of itself. (Objects lack jealousy and that book will, like me, one day die.)

Above all, I’m prepared for them to leave me, to mourn a broken teacup, to toss a quilt tattered beyond repair. Even for sound things, I hold regular, aggressive evaluations of what I have and if it’s too tied to a discarded version of myself. A hoarder tomb of history is not in my cards despite anthropomorphizing a spoon or ten.