3.21.2006

stone ground cornmeal

i don't remember where or when--probably at some touristy historic recreation site, maybe a field trip in elementary school--but one time i saw a donkey-powered mill. yep, a really large round stone and some big timbers acting as an axle and a donkey walking round and round grinding up big pieces of corn into small pieces of corn.

cornmeal.

i remember this because viewing it was simultaneously informative and yet so completely, immediately... nothing. i mean, it had all the makings for short term interesting-ness: the giant stone, the grooves where both the stone wore down the corn and the donkey wore down the earth, a pleasant crunch sound, the mechanical obviousness of it all. but it was all so rife with non-event-ness.

as i think about it, i realize i'd like to set up a video camera to record people looking at it. here's what it would show:

-a person approaching the hand-smoothed, wooden observation rail that surrounds the whole contraption.
-the person's eyes kind of traveling over the works, from donkey to stone to corn to mechanical parts and then back around again.
-a momentary pause in which the person takes in the whole thing, and then
-that person walking away.

but it's that third part--the momentary pause--that would be the subject for my video.

I'm willing to bet you could pinpoint a single, solitary moment--much quicker than the blink of an eye--in which there's a rift in time and space, a moment you could see that person just go...totally blank. That, just for a frozen second, you could watch them know hey man, this thing just goes on forever.

2 comments:

mary said...

aaron & I decided that you really seem to enjoy watching people have moments of clarity.

Walter said...

it's true. although i hadn't really thought about it, i live for those moments.