Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Two adjacent pairs of telegraph poles

21 June 2010.

Telegraph poles stride across the land in seven-league boots, the wires they carry plunging towards the horizon along perspective lines. They hum and hiss when one approaches too close. Seen out of train windows they can be malevolent:

The door of the compartment was open and I could see the corridor window, where the wires – six thin black wires – were doing their best to slant up, to ascend skywards, despite the lightning blows dealt them by one telegraph pole after another; but just as all six, in a triumphant swoop of pathetic elation, were about to reach the top of the window, a particularly vicious blow would bring them down, as low as they had ever been, and they would have to start all over again.
-- Nabokov, Speak, Memory, 1951

In their geometry of straight(ish) lines – as the crow flies – they represent our idealization of space (Euclidean geometry, perspective). They map out the physical expanse of the land but on the other hand they make possible that near-instantaneous traversal of distance that has been instrumental in causing spatial perplexity. In their vague air of menace, or their uncanny giant reach, or their consorting with the birds, flying or perching, they are agents of that psychical space in which we try to situate ourselves.

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