9.05.2006

Anaïs Nin (Ragtime, 1944)

I wanted to share with you.... Keith Lo Bue read this to his "precious little group" at Artfest 2006, which touched many our our hearts...I noticed a few weepy eyes~

The ragpicker worked in silence among the stains and smells. His bag was swelling.

The city turned slowly on its left side, but the eyes of the house remained closed, and the bridges unclasped. The ragpicker worked in silence and never looked at anything that was whole. His eyes sought the broken, the worn, the faded, the fragmented. A complete object made him sad. What could one do with a complete object? Put it in a museum. Not touch it. But a torn paper, a shoelace without its double, a cup without saucer, that was stirring. They could be transformed, melted into something else. A twisted piece of pipe. Wonderful, this basket without a handle. Wonderful, this bottle without a stopper. Wonderful, the box without a key. Wonderful, half a dress, the ribbon off a hat, a fan with a feather missing. Wonderful, the camera plate without the camera, the lone bicycle wheel, half a phonograph disk. Fragments, in complete worlds, rags, detritus, the end of objects, and the beginning of transmutations...inside the shack rags. Rags for beds. Rags for chairs. Rags for tables. On the rags men, women, brats. Inside the women more brats. Fleas. Elbows resting on an old shoe. Head resting on a stuffed deer whose eyes hung loose on a string...

The brats sitting in the mud are trying to make an old shoe float like a boat. The woman cuts her thread with half a scissor. The ragpicker reads the newspaper with broken specs. The children go to the fountain with leady pails. When they lime back the pails are empty. The ragpickers crouch around the contents of their bags. Nails fall out. A roof tile. A signpost with letters missing...

The ragpickers are sitting around a fire made of broken shutters, window frames, artificial beards, chestnuts, horses tails, last year’s holy palm leaves. The cripple sits on the stump of his torso, with his stilts beside him. Out of the shacks and the gypsy carts come the women and the brats.

Can’t one throw anything away forever? I asked.

The ragpicker laughs out of the corner of his mouth, half a laugh, a fragment of a laugh, and they all begin to sing.

First came the breath of garlic which they hang like little red chinese lanterns in their shacks, the breath of garlic followed by a serpentine song:

Nothing is lost but it changes
Into the new string old string
In the new bag old bag
In the new pan old tin
In the new shoe old leather
In the new silk old hair
In the new hat old straw
In the new man the child
And the new not new
The new not new
The new not new.

Anaïs Nin (Ragtime, 1944

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