#269 The Handle Is One Of Us

#269 The Handle Is One Of Us

134x64 cm | Filler, oak frame, axe handle

  • About

    This work could, of course, been titled "Ce n'est pas une hache". It instead refers to the old proverb - When the axe came into the forest, the trees said: "The handle is one of us". It can be interpreted as to know your enemy, and don't be fooled by appearance or simple conclusion. In this case, it can mean that you should judge by actions, not by words. Language can't be trusted. Or even that the stuff that has been properly symbolised no longer holds a natural bond to the raw matter of reality, and has lost the connection to everything else within it. Talking about a thing might, in a way, detach it from what it really is. For example, when a corporation sponsors art or sports to improve their public image, it doesn't mean we can trust them. It might still ruin our environment, exploit our work or otherwise hurt us. And by doing so, it contaminates the sincereness of the receivers and pollutes the more profound meaning of these activities. 

    Another association is the old Norwegian folktale "Good Day Axe Handle" collected by Asbjørnsen and Moe. It's about a deaf man trying to predict what people will ask him: a classic non-sequitur, a literary device for comic effect by absurd or non-coherent answers. On a deeper level, the story tells us about how all communication is depending on presumptions. We can never be entirely sure that the outgoing message is the same as the received, or vice versa. To use language is basically like fumbling through the dark.

  • Tablet

    To the mind, a word is always also an image. In that sense, understanding words function no different than normal perception. When we see, images are constructed inside the mind. We never perceive reality objectively or in itself. Perception is an interpretation and thus consist of language, in the same manner as understanding words.
    However, to use language, we have to speak or write it. We have to realize it.