Monday, July 16, 2007

one pot + detroit I

here is the confirmation that was foisted upon folks who signed up for a vaguely described one pot at the hideout (in seattle) - people were a bit surprised - a few canceled, rather indignant that detroit would be the topic of the evening - but everything turned out rather brilliantly - we will continue to finger through detroit from a great distance removed…
the confirmation:
attn folks: we have travel plans…
you see, one pot has settled into this nice rut of asking a few rhetorical questions,questions like: how can we use a table? what is possible with these long boardsand warm bodies? and now we are going to use the hideout (and our eventsthere) to ask a few ancillary questions – like little tributaries…we are headed to Detroit.
I am obsessed with Detroit – and I have never been there. I want to move thereso badly – but I am not ready – first I want to know its contours - I want to see ifwe can use a table – like khubla khan used a table (see excerpt from invisiblecities below) – to see if we can collect data, both poetic and hard, fictional andhistoric about this strange land called Detroit – it has been called the first postamericancity, it is held up as a cautionary tale - some parts of the downtownhave apparently fallen so fallow that people now graze cattle next toskyscrapers – fields of wheat, burned out houses, resplendent mansions, anddying industrial dragons heave and sputter – and I want to see if this very NOWAMERICANcity of Seattle can act as a long telescope, a petri dish, a strangeportal for all things DETROIT.
I will set the table – and I will bring food and music and occasionally drink fromthis foreign land. but you. diners. will bring me Detroit. I mean – I hope you will.we are going to start cautiously – not push the issue – but I ask that everyonecoming to dinner (on Sunday july 29th) bring with them some artifact, sometoken, book, scar, drawing, something that evokes Detroit in some way. and wewill have a very lighthearted show and tell at dinner. not everyone will be forcedto talk and share – but I hope people are so overjoyed by the opportunity – socompletely thrilled – that the night goes late and the stories go deep…
here is the foreword to Italo Calvino’s 1972 masterpiece Invisible Cities (pleaseread):
Kublai Khan does not necessarily believe everything Marco Polo says when hedescribes the cities visited on his expeditions, but the emperor of the Tartars doescontinue listening to the young Venetian with greater attention and curiosity thanhe shows any other messenger or explorer of his. In the lives of emperors there is amoment which follows pride in the boundless extensions of the territories we haveconquered and the melancholy and relief of knowing we shall soon give up anythought of knowing and understanding them. There is a sense of emptiness thatcomes over us at evenings, with the odor of the elephants after the rain and thesandalwood ashes growing cold in the braziers, a dizziness that makes rivers andmountains tremble on the fallow curves of planispheres where they are portrayed,and rolls up, one after the other, the dispatches announcing to us the collapse of theenemy troops, from defeat to defeat, and flakes the wax of the seals of obscurekings who beseech our armies’ protection, offering in exchange annual tributes ofprecious metals, tanned hides, and tortoise shell. It is the desperate moment whenwe discover that this empire, which had seemed to us the sum of all wonders, is anendless, formless ruin, that corruption’s gangrene has spread too far to be healedby our scepter, that the triumph over enemy sovereigns has made us the heirs oftheir long undoing. Only in Marco Polo’s accounts was Kublai Khan able todiscern, through the walls and towers destined to crumble, the tracery of a patternso sublte it escape the termites’ that you know the score – please confirm you will still be there “with bellson” – and I will send the other less interesting details your way… - MH

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