basement basement
A branch of a birchleaf pear tree, part of what was blown off during a hurricane, came from a tree that was the only one in a nearby park. It has been dissipating fragrance for over a year. The estimation of the date whereon it will stop its dissipation is possibly the most meaningful problem of metaphysics one who lives in the room could be engaged in. And the only method of testing the ending is to smell. Observing the outside through ears only, I realized how distracting a window normally was. I started imagining what was going on on the other side of the walls. Only having one side, the walls in a basement are pure and mathematical. The room is not enclosed air, but excavated land.
01. Lying Down  
02. Lola and Her Cairn  
03. Gravesend Mob's Love  
04. Party  
05. Drown in a Lake   (02'01")  
06. Coney Island Amusement Park  
07. Sunday Afternoon  
The Bug and the Porcelain Fish
Behind me, the air purifier starts making sound again, the QUADRA Ionic Breeze – Silent Air Purifer. It is a polyphonic drone of three layers. One is the breathing in and out of air. The second is the trembling, that's incessant - the vibration of the plastic body of the purifier, that's not constant. And the third, which is only audible occasionally, sounds like swallowing and throwing up air, as liquid.
       There is a porcelain fish, floating in a porcelain bowl on my desk. The fish floats in the water, which separates the porcelain fish from the porcelain bowl. Usually over the course of a month or shorter, the water in the bowl gradually dries out, so the fish sinks with the level of the water. While the bowl stays in the same spot, from where I am sitting at the desk it seems as though the fish is gradually dropping down, below the horizon. Also, there is always a little bug, like a fly or a mosquito, that has become stuck in the water and is floating, just like a tiny fish, comparing to the porcelain one. It's very strange there is always a bug, dying or dead in the little pool, and there is only one bug, in the pool. I believe this is not a coincidence, but is determined. Voluntarily or not, the little bug was attracted, or determined in proceeding toward the water. Proceeding toward the water, and die there. However this can only have happened once, because there is always only one bug, the body of one bug, floating on top the water. This means other bugs will not be attracted, or determined, to venture into the water once there is already a dead body that's in it. This temporal sequence could signify a race, a competition, for death, or for self-devotion, into something like glue that will surround you and once surrounded then unable to escape from. I believe this is different from the story of, moths throwing themselves at a lamp fire, which is a metaphor for sacrificing for ideals with bravery. Nonetheless, the situation in this case where only one dead body that is fixed in the pool, defies the metaphor. Then I thought of an experiment. The porcelain fish has a fatty balloony body, a hollow body to cause it to float. And it has orange and yellow patterns on its back, and a white belly beneath. Is it the existence of the porcelain fish that attracted the flying bugs to throw themselves into the same pool? Therefore, I took the fish out, leaving the bowl with the water inside. It's been 11 days, and the pool has become a lake, due to the lack of referentiality. There has been no bug trapped inside the water. This might mean it was indeed the existing porcelain fish that lured the bugs into the same body of water. But I also couldn't say this means that, since it's only been 11 days, and I've only performed the experiment once. Another hypothesis is, thinking of the flying bug as an airplane, which does occasionally get disoriented, when flying above the ocean. When that happens, the plane merely crashes into the ocean, let's rephrase, the body of water to be more generic, when the pilot can't tell where the water is and where the sky is. The third hypothesis is narcissism. When the flying bug gets too close to the surface of the water, it sees the image, the reflection of itself. And the closer it gets, the better, the mirroring image is. And as it gets to the point when the size of the image, the representation of the living body, is equal to that of the actual, the fatal encounter happens, at that moment of total satisfaction of seeing the other self coming at the same time. Nonetheless this only happens once, maybe it's because of the dead body in the water reminds all the other bugs in the air not to come down. Or, it's because the single tiny body can occupy the whole body of water, as long as it's embedded into it or floating on it. However, these hypotheses are based on an immoral assumption, which groups these little bugs into one kind, that it is a specific character they share leads to their death. More likely, they are different. And it is peremptory to assume their death as accidents instead of deliberate incidents. It can be a simple choice of suicide, which is less simple. Besides, the disregarding of the existence of the observer – myself – is indifferent, as the presence or the absence of the observer can affect the situation. If my being present has any impact on the bugs, what specifically does my presence comprise? Am I their spectator, their intended observer, their message receiver, or even their accomplice? The death of the bugs could be a heroic act in gaining attention, and there could be messages they tried to deliver through or before the act. Indeed, I haven't caught sight of a single bug coming into contact with the water. That moment is never perceived. So I can hardly speculate the bugs got into the water themselves. My being absent from the scene could be a prerequisite for the incidents to happen. Then what are the secrets that have to be hidden from me, and whose secret are they? If it's coincidental these incidents only happen when I am away and my presence is of no concern to them, other than me, a human being, there could be other forms of intended observer, receiver, or none. Here rises another problem of purpose and rationality. There could be no message and thus no intended receiver; the behavior of the bugs could be irrational or regardless of others, and my attempt of any rationalization is excess. With all these hypotheses and theories, the floating balloony porcelain fish sinks more under the rim of the white porcelain bowl. Its being neglected can be provoking. Its huge body destroys the fantasy of seeing the pool of water in the bowl as a lake, but rather a miniature of the habitat of a real fish. Yet, this is not important, because the dead bug and its shadow cast on the bottom of the white bowl, still shows, still resembles that of a flying plane, with its shadow cast on the surface of the sea.
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