the aesthetics of metaphor > the aesthetics of mildew
I set out with the task of cleaning out my closet last week. As with almost everyone, it’s a job I’d rather not do. When you clean out closets or drawers, you almost always end up finding a long lost something that brings back memories. After you finish cleaning, the sense of accomplishment is twofold: you get rid of clutter and you find things you had checked off as gone forever. This cleaning session made me really sad. I noticed that it smelled musty in the closet. I had noticed it before last week, but just tried to ignore the fact that there’s moisture seeping in the basement. I lifted boxes out that were sitting on the floor of the closet. One box was cardboard and held a bunch of art project.It was a box that held my portfolio and sample projects for my art education degree program, and I had decorated it in a cool, funky kid-friendly way. It was a box of stuff to take with me to a job interview at an elementary school for an art teacher position. I never got a job as an art teacher, so the box has just followed me around for years and sat in storage.
I picked up the box, and as I lifted it, the bottom of heavy box full of sketchbooks, art projects, photos, and memories totally broke open. Everything just splayed out all over in a mountain paper heap . The bottom of the box was wet and the cardboard was covered with mildew. Anything that was at the bottom was also covered with mildew, discolored, or rusty. This was a collection of things I put a lot of care into years back. Most of the contents were beyond saving.
One of the items that really took on a new life was a philosophy class term paper. It was from my college days at Iowa State University. At the end of 1986, it was 5 sheets of white typing paper stapled together with double spaced text. For years it laid below a red folder, papers, and some shapes of an art education pattern game. Below the term paper was my tassel from the mortar board I wore at graduation. You can see the outline of the tassel which looks like a loop.The pages of the paper show exactly where it was in the cardboard box!
The damp basement floor transformed the paper into a multicolor print, recording the things that surrounded it for years in that box. It’s still readable despite the artistic mold, so I reread it. (I was pretty impressed by what I wrote 28 years ago, and was disappointed to see a B grade on it.) So my B paper has a new life. Metaphor is a new way of looking at truth. It’s a metaphor for change and shows the reality that, look – things got ruined.