A Fish You Have Already Caught: Proposal for Kite 6

Etched lines of text will be attached to the bottom of the kite. When air borne, they will trail and lick in the wind:

like a thought half formulated/ or a fragmented poem /as if quoted in an essay/ unhinged from the main textual flow/

The words I have chosen have been modified from The Presentation of Technical Information by Reginald O. Kapp (1948), a book I picked up - admiring the faded green cover and pleasing letter pressed spine - from the ‘please take’ table in the library.

The fragments of text describe the value of metaphor, and its power to convey information clearly and vividly by painting a picture in the mind’s eye. Yet they also, somewhat ironically via metaphor itself, warn of the dangers of distorting fact through poetic digression, and lament the impossibility of translating the real into the virtual without loosing information. The text will read:

in an unguarded moment a metaphorical turn of phrase slips from our pens / a root, a suffix, a prefix / like the dead bodies of coral insects that form the atoll in the pacific ocean / they are built upon each other as ancient towns / only recognizable to the trained eye / they serve as raw material like lumps of chalk / imagination clothes our thoughts in lustrous garments / adorn yourself with beautifying language / yet we must be quite clear / fear the extremes of commonplace and vulgarity / for they will reveal mediocre and barren minds / and confuse our store-house for memories / they will tempt us to sloppy thought and careless speech / but take heart / the purest of them will convey from mind to mind / where one hundred words confuse / one plain one can clarify

The value of metaphor and its place in our language posses heightened relevance during these lockdown days, where politicians wax lyrical across the airwaves with daily assurances of ‘flattening the curve’, and fighting the ‘physical assailant’ or ‘invisible mugger’. As Daniel Kahnman, the Nobel Prize-winning expert on human behavior, recently said in the New Yorker, the real threat of the pandemic defies human comprehension: we can never really understand its true scope in real time. Our antidote to this gap in comprehension has become metaphor: the trusty image-maker that paints us a picture, and for better or worse, the powers that be wield the brush.

Each ribbon will measure 600mm x 25 mm. The attached Illustrator file is to scale (measuring 600 x 800 mm). Once etched, cut between each line of text to get each ribbon. Attach each ribbon to the inner bottom rim, so the text reads away from the kite.

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