“‘Failure is the family business,’ the Duck Man said on our first day out, flashing a broad salesman’s smile. But he didn’t need to tell us. Milt had already heard of him from men he knows in Omaha. The Duck Man has a reputation: like the smell of a slaughterhouse, it carries distances. He is known for buying scrap metal that was once the basis of a productive business. He has made a fortune in scrap, in destroying what others built.”
Today marks the anniversary of Arthur Conan Doyle’s birth. While his creation, Sherlock Holmes, has inspired hundreds of adaptations in many media (in several of which, no one finds it weird that a modern man is named Sherlock Holmes) I think we can all agree that these tributes found their apex in the following theme song.
Warning: this is strangely catchy, oddly stirring, and will stay in your head for the rest of your life.
“The impulse may ‘fall’ into the same family as the one that drives us, as toddlers, to touch a hot stove. Driven by a basic instinct for discovery and, ironically, survival—a need to methodically taste-test the environment in which we are to go on living.”
The two of us are young enough to dream we’ll make it out alive, somehow escape the burden of our genes and history to start again, unstained. From the rotting corpose of a lion he’d killed, Samson took honey, ate, and found it sweet, but then slew thirty men because of it. Like him, we crave the taste of something drawn from death, but can’t be sure if fingers drip with syrup or with gore. Or both. Nothing we touch is innocent.
Dawn Clements doesn’t necessarily intend her drawings to become panoramic in scale. She begins with small pieces of paper and draws in ballpoint pen, or paints in black ink, a slice of what she sees; in particular, her own domestic environment, or interiors and characters from film and melodrama. But sometimes these small works don’t seem complete, so she glues another section of paper to the drawing and continues. This can go on for weeks, months, or years, resulting in drawings ranging in size from eleven feet in diameter to seventy-two feet in length.
Clements drew, over the course of one year, those two rooms of her Brooklyn railroad apartment, from wall to wall, floor to ceiling. As the drawing grew in scale she continued folding it into a manageable size, the process of folding and unfolding adding wear and tear. To get every angle she found herself in awkward positions, such as sitting in the tub or crouched in a corner. The finished twenty-six-foot drawing is a flattened-out version of her kitchen and bathroom as seen from multiple viewpoints that result in odd distortions of perspective. —Susan J. Swenson