On reanimating the inanimate.

Just a little while ago, I had a friend give me a belated birthday gift in the form of a sock monkey. Understanding the history of the famed sock monkey only just slightly, I put him on the mantle of my desk, let him straddle my camera and, collect dust. A piece of nostalgic Americana, he adds a little bit of personality now, maybe a little bit of history to the desk, he likes the camera to lean on, etc. but, he doesn’t do anything.

Now, looking at the culture from which he originally came from, what was he created for, and what was his role in the past?

When I was a little kid, I used to have a menagerie of stuffed animals that I took everywhere to watch me do everything. Whatever. I like an audience. When I ate? They were on the table. Brushed my teeth? Organized on the counter by height like they were taking a class photo. Took a bath? Lined up on the tub. I was their god. I loved them, and they love to watch me do menial shit. Until, one of the animals, a specific brown teddy bear that I had became a certain favorite. Maybe it was that I got him at birth when he was larger than I was and found his undying loyalty since especially endearing..or maybe that I could sleep with him, and crush his nose in on one side and he would never complain, regardless, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that we were very much in communion with each other.

In both of these instances, they were all, the furthest thing from static entities; there was a life imbued in all of them. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that I had to a certain degree, a relationship with them. If even it was created in my mind, they were constantly in motion, both literally and cognitively. My interaction with them had a dynamism that, in whatever way, enhanced my life then because of it.

To a certain degree, I think this is the role of these sort of things universally. They are created in the likeness of something, created even formally, in a certain way to encourage this. The sock monkey is no different. The constraints of an era, and the ingenuity of the material use about their origin separates him, but his purpose is completely outside of the life on the shelf. He is created for dynamism. What happens when Calvin puts Hobbes up on the shelf? Why did I “fossilize” him, and what about his significance changes? How is that contrary to the only purpose to which he was conceived or formed?

Now I think, at the ripe age of twenty, that it’s to a great degree, an impossibility to achieve the same relational dynamics with these things that were then maybe a product of the vibrance of youth. To expect this is, to a certain degree, unrealistic. But I wonder to what extent we are called to remember, to reactivate in whatever way possible, those elements, those things, or entities, or people of our past that we invested in, took a piece of, placed inside of us, and grew around and inside of. Maybe they haven’t changed; maybe their “spirit” is ours to give back to them. If I sound sentimental, it’s only out of a respect, even a reverence maybe, for a brown bear that was part of me, got me through a lot, an especially animate-inanimate object to whom I owe a great deal. One that I don’t believe is entirely outside of the realm of re-activation, should only I let him be.


~ by crossmd on April 8, 2010.

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