Saturday, July 28, 2018

wonderful, beautiful shoes

Kidskin sandal with layered cork sole and heel covered in suede.
 Designed by Salvatore Ferragamo for Judy Garland, 1938.

Dear Three Paragraphs, Introduction, and Conclusion,

I am often thinking on the Big Answers, that I have been the casual recipient of over time.  There was a man in the ferry waiting room en route to the Isle of Wight that was telling me something very important about what one 'owes' one's parents.  I never could grasp his meaning, but I am still trying to.  And I showed my studio once to another painter, and she looked around and said, "Well, I can see you have a story to tell."  I thought, do I?  I mean, I do? 

If I did have a story to tell, one story that would be the one that counted, the one that made it, the one I'd give to all the world's readers;  I can tell you that everyone in the story would be able to get their foot in the glass slipper, and they'd all get to live happily ever after.  It might at first seem like this would be entirely too much happily ever after, but no, not really, because to happily ever after you have to know what you want, and hardly anyone knows what they want.  There's so much to choose from.  You can't blame people for not wanting to settle for one thing or another.  Mostly, people wouldn't even put their foot into the shoe, because they couldn't be sure that was what they wanted.  So, in my story, the shoe would fit everyone, but only a very few would even try to wear it.

There is an essay that pertains to these issues of narrative, identity, and shoes, in Dave Hickey's new collection, Perfect Wave.  Here is an older version of the piece. 

One of the little and particular changes between the essay published online and the version in the book is the adjective 'wonderful' before the word 'shoes,' in contrast to 'beautiful shoes,' as you will read it online.  This kind of difference is exciting, because it invites us to decide which is a better descriptor in this context:  wonderful or beautiful; and it further requires us to consider why Dave Hickey made the changes.  When he gathered his papers to review and select them for the book, what little sprite whispered to him "'wonderful' is the word you want there, Dave, 'wonderful.'"