I am a lucky guy: I have three vacuum cleaners. It took years for this achievement. A story of hope. Each machine promised a dust-free life. Just let the new cleaner run in the house. Sit back, watch and relax. What is dust anyway? I never got a clear answer. All I know is that you can write your name in it wherever it settles. Never makes a sound. A good companion in a way. It doesn’t ask for much except no dusting, please.
Is dust dirty? If you leave it alone it doesn’t move about. If you come with a duster, cruel instrument, then it will fly until it finds another landing patch. I’ve lived with it at times. Then a woman friend comes in, frowns, raises her voice, pulls a broom out of her tiny purse and says, “How can you live like this?” Never try to answer such questions.
The problem with three vacuum cleaners: It raises the issue of choice. Which one to use. A perilous moment. The one with the “long-haired” brush, the one that can climb walls or the cordless that needs recharging just when I want to press on.
Which reminds me: Many years ago I drove in the “Press on Regardless Rallye” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We started early on bumpy roads and I’d like to report that my Renault won top prize. But it’s not true. We did finish in a cloud of dust, one of the last cars on the road.
“Press on Regardless,” when it involves pushing a recalcitrant vacuum machine around the obstacles scattered in the house, is not quite as noble as negotiating treacherous turns on a dirt road. Although in my house I seem to have done a pretty good job at replicating a Michigan road race. I wonder if some new invention, one day, will come along with a gadget that would swallow all the useless things that we manage to settle in our good homes. A machine that would have better intelligence than I to decide what can stay and what has to go. I classify myself as incompetent in this activity.
Perhaps I was born with a built-in incompetence. It seems that my brother Jean came into this world with an active filing system at his side. Where I stumble confused in search of answers he can pull out a file out of his well-organized cabinet and the answers to all questions are within reach. His speed of knowledge gives him authority. In a peaceful way. No need for loud demonstrations.
I’m running. Late again. Last chance one Saturday in New York City. Gavin Brown’s Enterprise gallery. The first re-creation in the United States of Jannis Kounellis’s “Untitled (12 Horses.)” Twelve live horses. A church-like quiet. We don’t speak, we whisper. The horses, tied to walls, stand barely moving. Their magnificent, powerful bodies awaken a sense of peace. So unexpected. An experience of the spirit. At the end of the show, one by one they are taken to a trailer and driven away. The crowd is subdued, in a meditative mood. Not a word spoken. At times the sound of munching or a hoof unsettling the hay covering the floor.
Twelve horses, a work of art. No need for explanations. We just stand and listen to our own silence. So simple. Beautiful. All it takes, a gathering of horses at peace with the world.
Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays. Email: [email protected]