By Kris Brandenburger, writer, mechanic, and faculty member in the Department of Writing, Consciousness and Creative Inquiry and the Bachelor of Arts Completion Program
There is something about seeing the works of places and things that seems revealing, inviting, as if I am seeing the emotional, not just the structural, truth of things, the “lineaments of desire” as Durrell put it. As if seeing the tendons of place will hold me there. I elide showing and revealing, so that I have the sense of the living structure revealing its innards to me. I feel this. Because I have helped build houses, I know their resistance to “finish work”. It is as if the structural elements want to be seen for their ability to hold everything still, to be appreciated for their sturdiness of purpose. When I see how wood joints are made, I imagine that there is a similar bond possible between people, and I remember to hold it as at least possible, if not obvious. I imagine that if I can just understand those joints, then I will understand how to be a bonded person, that I will be recognizable as a girl or a woman or a human being, or...fill in the blank. When I see the tubular frame of a racecar and know that some of the tubes are used to duct the water and oil, the life-fluids of the car, I believe that I know without confusion what makes that car able to function as itself, as its integrated and unique self. Whether this is literally true isn’t nearly as important as the truth I imagine.
I wonder how much of my own liking for the industrial arts and the architecture of exposure also has to do with being an incubator baby--was my very mechanical/medical environment so early my formative notion of home, and did it somehow couple with the watery and fluid womb, so that in me a houseboat--perhaps made of metal--became my preferred, my ideal, home? I think so. I have not gone back to look at an incubator, but I have retained a sense of compact personal space and expression that is not at odds with the little box I started in.
And last night I dreamt about electrical windings, 1931 Alfa Romeo 8C 2500 starter field windings to be exact. The dream consisted of seeing the windings in relation to one another, in place. It is not that the specific solution to a current problem at work showed itself, but the necessity of place itself was what was important. I know that the solution is right there, there where those windings live, in their housing. In the dream for the first time in all these years of working with these things the language of place became so clear. So I will work with that sense, try to be at home with where those windings live. At any rate, my dream was like a cave drawing of me at my workbench loving the windings and my tactile relationship with them. There is definitely something to Whitman’s singing the body electric.