What I’ve been thinking about lately is how I have this towel, that I bought a few years ago in Santa Fe, that cost $60. For the life of me I can’t remember or understand why it was $60, or what possessed me to buy a towel that cost this much. It’s a nice towel, but it’s not THAT nice. It’s dark brown, a decent size, and it is made up of these little loops of thread (thread that is spun from very rare sphinx moths bred specifically to make dark brown luxury towel thread, only on the third new moon of every year?) that catch on things and gets stretched out. Every time this happens I curse the towel gods and I think about how I want a refund. It’s an issue of worth, right? Of value. And perception of value. And how much money you have to burn on things like overpriced towels. So you can feel pumped up about yourself, secretly, as you emerge from the shower, a new person, and the towel, as it dries you, comforts you, affirms this, your special-ness.
I had a friend visiting recently from the East Coast. We went to the Hammer Museum. The Hammer is run in partnership with UCLA and it is free. I love when this kind of thing is free, I love it so much. There were “Frottages and Rubbings from 1860 to now.” I had never heard of these things as art forms. Basically drawings made by placing paper over three dimensional objects and rubbing over it with graphite or crayon. There were rubbings of an old camera, an old coat, gravestones, naked bodies. We also saw the Heatherwick Studio exhibit: Wow. Architecture and design by British designer Thomas Heatherwick. There was a small display of the mail art that they sent as Christmas greetings over the years. Super wow. I have not been thinking about art a lot lately and this reminded of my long ago days when I exchanged a lot of snail mail with artists and poets and I used to MAKE things, out of paper mainly, for people. Sigh. But anyway, my point in mentioning these things is just to lead in to this. That on the way out we stopped in the museum gift store. Near the door there was this candle. The candle is called “Dans l’Atelier of Cezanne.” It comes in some mysterious packaging. A yellowish padded envelope. Somewhere in the display for this candle – a white wax poured into a short, glass vessel – are these words:
“Nothing has changed in this ancient studio since Paul Cézanne passed away and his paintings were removed. Time has laid a veil of fine dust over it, as the Provençal heat has almost mineralized the wood of the furniture, of his easel and of the floorboards, long stained with colours, oil paints and turpentine.”
And then you smell the candle and presumably this is what you smell. Wood. Heat. Age. France. The spirit of Cezanne.
They almost got me!!! This is the kind of sales presentation that works especially well on a poet. And all this could be mine for a mere $60!!