Collecting Carbon, Part 5

April 4, 2010

After several days of collecting carbon, I dismantled the carbon trap. A fine layer of carbon had adhered to the wire mesh. The finest carbon (called qingyan 清煙) in Chinese carbon traps is said to have been collected with a feather.  So, in keeping with this tradition, I used a pheasant feather. The pheasant feather seemed appropriate as it is a metaphor for fine literary writing. Further, I delighted in the idea of using the feathery part of the feather to collect the carbon, where as the quill end would ultimately be used to apply the carbon ink to paper.

I will admit that this photograph is rather posed. I don't usually stand like this when I collect carbon. But as I photographed the trap, it occurred to me that it rather resembled Geoffrey Sonnabend's Cone of Obliscence. This led to a short but intense reverie regarding the relationship of amorphous carbon and illusive memory, or perhaps the illusion of memory. So I set up the cone such that it was being intersected by my head.  I/Eye became the Plane of Experience.



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