Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

on our common property

I rarely played marbles as a boy. Marbles had their uses, of course, in the way that, in childhood, everything has its use and its purpose in an elaborate story one plays out each day. A cloud bank provides a motion picture show. Lego blocks proved to be immense navies in blue and red. A cold winter night provided background for examining nebulae through a cheap plastic reflecting telescope. Broomsticks held minnow nets for improbable mosquito fish capture.

Marbles never mattered much asmarbles, but instead were rolling things that had a grace and beauty all their own, independent of shooter games. I always think, parenthetically, that in life there should be fewer shooters and more things that just exist ineffably in their beauty, rolling right along.

I love the phrase "cat's eye marble". It's but one of a myriad of marble styles, which are the kind of thing that collectors and hobbyists track, in the same way that such folks hold world championships of tiddlywinks and pay premium prices for things constructed with lesser technologies in past centuries. Yet the phrase has a wistful power all its own--a mantra for a ceaseless meditation on mystery.

The science fiction novel "Forbidden Planet", proved not to be a novel of the book, but instead an elaborate space opera mystery based on a rather obvious chess metaphor. I think in chess metaphors, and in legal metaphors, and in the imagery of science fiction novels of the 1950s. I am more apt to quote "Waterloo Sunset" to myself than William Faulkner. I would rather know the common names of wildflowers than their genus and species.

I like about the cat's eye that it is "past technology". I am all about "last year's technology". I love that an mp3 player 95% as cool as a 300 dollar mp3 player costs about 25 dollars on eBay. I love that one can find in freeware and shareware things that one could not find for 300 dollars a decade ago.

I read once that the Lego people had a problem in Europe--so many kids played with them in some countries that an oversupply of used Lego blocks clogged the market. I like the idea that marbles and Lego and board games and folk songs could someday cost virtually nothing, and yet set people free.

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