|Fork detail courtesy of George Hart |
I have also found myself wondering if some objects are just so "of themselves" that they are harder to liken to anything else, or think of in abstract terms. For example, I have been writing a series of small poems about domestic objects - some of those objects I found relatively easy to write about, but others were really hard to get to grips with. The one I struggled with most was the fork. I found myself asking questions: what is the fork like? Is it like anything else? A comb? (not really) A trident? (a kind of fork) A garden fork? (still a fork) A seed head? (maybe) A claw? (better) A telegraph pole? A tree in a nuclear winter?
Forks can be changed in works of art - I have seen mobiles and sculptures made with them - but they are still immediately recognizable as forks. For some reason it is really hard to disguise a fork, whereas some other objects can be changed more easily. A friend recently showed me a beautiful silver bracelet - after I had looked at it for a minute or so she told me that it was made from silver sugar tongs - I could then immediately see that it was indeed made of sugar tongs, but on first look the sugar tongs presence was not obvious.
Does the problem I have with the fork stem from the fact that it is the most used item of cutlery? (at least in our house). I think that's why I found Padrika Tarrant's book The Knife Drawer so compelling - the idea that something so embedded in our culture and everyday lives as cutlery could come to life and turn on us is profoundly disturbing.