Rendered Fat Content


"The Good Shepherd" mosaic in Galla Placidia mausoleum.
UNESCO World heritage site. Ravenna, Italy. 5th century A.D.

" … one blank space which allowed shifting those tiles into any order."

We refurbish a mosaic featuring movable tiles. We shift our possessions, which serve as our mosaic's tiles, from place to place, room to room, as we prepare each space for what will have to pass for transformation this time around. We emptied the entry hall first, a modest push even with the piano. Everything easily shifted stage right into the front portion of the living room, the once and future music room, currently storage only frequented by the cats, who've found nests among the warren of boxes. That room's along the only remaining passage through the house, a narrow bridge between kitchen and front door. It might soon be easier to just go around the house outside.

The upstairs hall went next, stripped of carpet and baseboards, light fixtures dropped, doors removed from frames, then each room in turn, five in all up there, four of which have been repurposed into either fallow space awaiting baseboard removal or storage space holding everything from other rooms.
The Muse fled to the basement two weeks ago, just ahead of the latest onslaught. We've been relentless, each day advancing a little further, compacting tiles into ever more constricted space. I expect only the narrowest of passages to remain through the living room for at least the next two weeks. I've hired goons to come in and move the heavier pieces. I will, of course, have to invite them back to move them again once the flooring and painting's done, if that time ever comes to pass.

I try to leave the tiles accessible, as if each fresh mosaic were semi-permanent, because sure as shootin', The Muse will approach me like she did yesterday to ask where her office printer had gotten to. "I suppose it's inaccessible," she speculated. I was able to disappoint her expectations and point out its present location, easily accessed for its inventory control number, which I figured would be needed before Humpty Dumpty would ever make it back together again, if ever.

I've, after unrelenting weeks of Tiling, adopted a semi-cynical stance. I'm uncertain if I believe that we'll one day manage to settle in here. We might become semi-permanent migrants, forever moving ourselves and our possessions, reconfiguring our space with relentless grace. I sense, though, that limits inhibit our reach, that we will not be able to infinitely re-divide and re-distribute this same old stuff to produce space we can still inhabit. Eventually, our universe will perhaps collapse into its black hole form where stuff become so densely packed that it can't ever come back into any usable form. It will become as melted crayon, disturbingly indivisible, no longer chair or table, but just dimension, height, width, depth without any further function.

For now, I remain an artist working within his medium. I'm plotting where to slip the dining table top while we empty the dining room. The liquor cabinet must remain accessible. The living room will by day's end become just another storage medium. I intend to leave The Muse's throne accessible, though it might seem like sitting in the bottom of a great pit with so much stuff surrounding it. We're looking at at least three weeks before we can reasonably expect to see any respite from this.

Long ago, preparing for an offsite meeting with the founders of one of the most successful high tech corporations, I tried to imagine a visual metaphor which might physically encapsulate the situation they faced. I fell upon the humble tile puzzle, a three by four matrix of numbered tiles featuring one blank space which allowed shifting those tiles into any order. I instructed our admin to pry those tiles apart and insert a tile into the blank space of each puzzle. These, I presented at the point in the proceedings when I suspected it might have made an impactful point. Their dilemma looked like mine. The difficulty might seem like too much stuff, but too much's relative to slack. If I had a couple of more rooms out back, I could keep on Tiling. I'm near the capacity of the system to absorb any additional compression. Next week, we start flooring. After that, we can finally start unpacking.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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