“Have you ever, kind friend, experienced anything which completely filled your heart and mind and drove everything else out of them? Which made you bubble and boil and drove the blood glowing hot through your veins, so that your cheeks burned red? Which transfigured your gaze, as if it were seeking out forms and shapes invisible to other eyes, and dissolved your speech into glowing sighing? […] And you wanted to express your inner vision in all its colours and light and shade and wearied yourself to find words with which to even begin. You felt you had, as it were, to compress everything marvellous, glorious, terrible, joyful, harrowing that had happened to you into the very first word, so that it would strike your hearers like an electric shock… [E.T.A. Hoffmann.]
“…and to give the death rattle in the electric shock of Bardo, as in the Bardo of electric shock […] Anyone who has gone through the electric shock of Bardo, and the Bardo of electric shock, never again rise out of its darkness, and his life has been lowered by a notch.” [A. Artaud; Artaud le Momo]
I cannot write this because I cannot bear to look at ornament. But what I count as ornament is not that which ornaments the place where I live. My living room.
Ornament is always someone else’s taste and choice. The colours, shapes and figures of another lose out in the translation. Ornament is always mere decoration, a second rate art if one has not invested personally in it.
Ornament throws itself upon the pyre of the user’s imagination: Here is the place where I try to be alive. My living room. Here I am not acting as a social being, not always. In here I am not always an economic entity. Within reach of ornamental grandeur I am allowed to waste, dissipate, and uselessly expend. I do not work in my living room. Here, most of the time, I am not even playing. Ornament is just the hook and crotchet of being.
These are not ornaments. These are tokens of my existence, markers of my path, and symbols of my soul. Most of the time I do not even notice them.
I have lost and gained televisions, bicycles, and armchairs yet this figurine, for example, is my companion still. The figure may seem to be without value or redeeming artistic merit. Its worth is nothing beyond what we must unfortunately call my sentiment. I invest something of myself into it, it haphazardly carries me as a hidden element of its being. Whoever has the joy of holding it after my demise will be stuck, embroiled in ornamental sentiment, the struggle to express a dissipated spark. Worth nothing, they inherit mystery; the value-less value of somebody’s meaning. The horror of a thing so imbued with my spirit that it would be impossibly callous to simply toss the thing aside.
Ornament carries with it a mute revenge fantasy.
The eyes are black disks hung evocatively in plastic bulbs with white backgrounds, the glue squeezes out from behind in dry mucus-like tears. An intricate surface made up entirely of small sea shells. Sharp spirals all aligned in one direction except for around the chops and the ears where they are artfully reversed to highlight the doggy form. My guardian hound. It scares ghosts from off my threshold. If children visit they do not touch. Their parents later describe their offspring suffering troubled nighttime disturbances and I sympathize blandly.
“I have discovered the following truth and present it to the world: cultural evolution is equivalent to the removal of ornament from the articles in daily use. […] It is possible to estimate a country’s entire culture by the amount of scrawling on lavatory walls.” [Adolf Loos.]