Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Best Foot Forward

Kathryn True went on architect Paul Crowther's tour at the Central Public Libary in Seattle. A week later the Seattle Times photographer Dean Rutz followed me around while I presented my tour. He took pictures of my shoes and black pant legs, on conceptual artist Ann Hamilton's 7200 square feet of computer routed maple wooden floor.

Question: Who's got the copy right on my feet when they appear in the newspaper?

I look at my feet in the newspaper's photograph, and think, "Here we have 556 first sentences, in 11 languages, from books in the library's world collection. They're inverted in reference to the letter press." I tell visitors that the artist took great care not to use sentences which contain words that we don't want to put our feet on. No blasphemy underfoot, so to speak.

This makes me think of something I was told in the summer of 1993, back in Amsterdam. Something about saving snippets of paper. I even remembered the location where I heard the information (an alley off the Nieuwe Zijdsvoorburgwal), but what the exact gist of the story was, I couldn't recall.

Author Jan-Willem van de Wetering said to me, "If you haven't written it down, it didn't happen." But that was in 1994, when I went to say "Hé, hoe gaat het met je?" at Seattle's Mystery Bookstore. So, I looked through my datebook of 1993, and low and behold, there was a note about "Jineze" and "Islamic Institute".

After some Google-ing I found what I was looking for at Wikipedia: "It is against Jewish law to destroy anything that contains God's name. All deteriorating or no-longer-usable ritual documents, therefore, had to be either buried or stored in a special room called a geniza. There were time periods when it was also a tradition to bury religious texts with scholars."

Put your message in a bottle, put your hope in a jar, make a wish upon a star.

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