On the prospect of sitting

Christian Jil Benitez

Lesley-Anne Cao, Gemini (installation view), 2017. (Image courtesy of the artist)

A Prospect
On the prospect of sitting on Gemini (2017): the steel grid as its seat, its fairly thick bars able to support weight, one might also imagine the temporary imprints these will easily leave on their behind, as if their cheeks have been sleeping too soundly to be even bothered to move—that is, unless one is too uncomfortable to not move, that certain restlessness which would only make the bells underneath ring, ring, ring.

Body
In movement, entirely a hand: that which makes a sound.

Chair
A chair is typically an object of rest: the seat is a space upon which one can place their behind, test its stability (or not, depending on degree of recklessness), and finally permit one’s full weight to fall. Provided one’s bodily technique, they can either hold their spine upright, or let it lean on the splat, slouching perhaps until one eventually slides down from the seat. Regardless, a chair is where one can finally concur with inertia: one might not only think that they are indeed there sitting—one in fact might also not think about such thing; one might not even think, which means one might as well think about everything.

Gemini
Gemini (2017) is a steel rocking chair, whose underside is affixed with several handbells. Each end of its rockers rests upon a debris, all presumably contingent to the site, preventing the chair from moving to and fro. The bell tongues, although still likely to move, are then unlikely to strike the lips. With such stillness, Gemini, therefore, is a steel chair.

Gemini
Co—Star defines: “[T]hey are fundamentally dynamic, quick-witted, eclectic, and curious. Fascinated by everything, their childlike energy is often scattered in a million directions. On a social level, this may come off as gossipy or flaky.”

Handbell
As much as an object as any other, it can thus be accessorized with a chair, by simply attaching the latter to the former’s handle—easy!

Hands
“It’s also the hands and arms because when you study something, and when you explore, you forage with your hands: you pick up things to examine them, you play (toys and siblings) with them to see and understand the physical limitations and immediate sensorial feedback you receive.”

Inertia
See Steel.

Might
As in perhaps, as in potency, as in potency of perhaps.

On what I think about most
I find it difficult to sit still these days, my entire body a hand fidgeting, except that it cannot hold anything so firmly as to appease itself for the time being. My mind is a bell ringing and ringing and ringing even in the quietest of afternoons, and only briefly would it realize there is barely a sound until it begins again. I want to shut up, but what for, and to whom; yet at the same time, I am tired, even without much speaking. So I sit anyway these days, I sit through my most uncomfortable rest, and I slouch as I let it ring, ring, ring. While I think, I also try not to think; oftentimes, I fail to sleep.

Rest/Restlessness
Etymologically, the distance after which comes the possibility of stopping, a respite only at the prospect of movement.

Rocking Chair
The rockers of which do not entirely differentiate the object from its lack of them, as the rhythm its curvatures lend only yield to the same stillness. Perhaps what matters more is that as one sits here, they might not only think or not think, but think or not think too to a certain lulling. Or that to such lulling, one might not only think or not think, but also simply sleep—all of which can be accomplished anyway by sitting on a chair without rockers (or a chair with rockers, whose each end must only rest on a debris contingent to the site), lulling excluded, of course, unless one thinks mightily enough.

Steel
Etymologically, the capacity for rest, that debilitation.

Whitman
“…Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

Writing poetry in plain language, akin to
“Aristotle says that metaphor causes the mind to experience itself / in the act of making a mistake”: a rocking chair with debris stoppers becomes a chair, the chair is entirely a handbell, a body sitting on it apparently a hand. All of this happening without moving much.

Notes

Lesley-Anne Cao’s Gemini (2017) is part of The Arm, a two-man exhibition with Itos Ledesma, held at 98B COLLABoratory, Manila, from 5 August to 2 September 2017. A part of Cao’s artist statement to the group exhibition Composite Circuits, held at Vinyl on Vinyl Gallery, Makati City, from 7 June to 30 July 2018, is lifted, to be the title of the last fragment.

The writing of this essay was enriched by insights from conversations with Jeremy Willis Alog, who is also quoted in the fragment “Hands.”

Co — Star is “a hyper-personalized, social experience bringing astrology into the 21st century,” providing “algorithmically-generated horoscopes.”

Regarding might, see Jacques Derrida’s work on Hélène Cixous (a Gemini), H.C., for Life, That Is to Say… (2006).

The title of the fragment “On what I think about most,” as well as the quote “Aristotle says…” from the fragment “Writing poetry…” come from the poem written by Anne Carson (born on the Gemini-Cancer cusp), titled “Essay on What I Think About Most,” from her book Men in the Off Hours (2001).

The line quoted from Walt Whitman (another Gemini) comes from the 51st part of his poem “Song of Myself.”

Christian Jil Benitez, whose moon is in Gemini, finished his AB-MA in Filipino literature at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he is currently affiliated.

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