Friday, August 2, 2013

the birth of eccentricity

How can I describe to you an impression of something that I still don't understand 50 years later?

Maybe 10 years of age is too young to be taken on a class field trip to an old, several-stories-tall bank in El Dorado, Arkansas in 1962. Or maybe the teacher and shadowy "officials" should have conducted tests beforehand, to winnow out from participation youngsters with peculiar predispositions.

I remember we were taken past heavy diamond-mesh sliding doors, into what must have been the vault or a pre-vault. There inside display cases were specimens of large-denomination US bills -- $500, $1000, $5000, $10,000.

Something happened to me while staring at those bills. Their auras interfused with my aura. Those bills were not only the most hypnotically beautiful things I'd ever seen, they were also charged with a dark metaphysical power. 

Maybe I was absorbing pure joules of reification -- the mysterious relation of exchange value among human beings almost audible as the siren call of tangible substance (engraved bills). 

"Engraved." The word suggests a clue. Staring at those wondrous large-denomination bills was like falling into an ecstatic numinous tomb. Especially the $5000 bill. It was abyssal. Its infinite allurement was partly of the aesthetic, partly of the macabre.  

I wanted that bill so badly!

If I had known how, I would have stolen it in a heartbeat and never experienced a twinge of remorse.

Afterwards and for weeks, I was in a cottony state of dementia. I daydreamed about having that $5000 bill for my very own. Not because it was worth $5000. Who wants to buy that much stuff? But because it was beautiful, because looking at it made me feel peculiar, because it called to me with a symbolism of things beyond my ken. 

1 comment:

  1. This has happened to me so many times--do you remember your first fountain? I think mine was at age 3--but most memorably at age 8, the first time I heard Russian choral music in a museum.