Friday, December 18, 2009

No Zero

I wonder if Yves Klein made a habit of counting everything when he collaborated with Zero or while he was designing the above layout for their magazine Zero 3?  15 sweeps of limited lines should do for that page (7 for the first paragraph)?  Around 1961 he wrote 15 letters to Otto Piene who, with Heinz Mack and Gunter Uecker, was at the core of Zero.

Recently I've noticed an odd habit some part of my brain has developed.  Counting within actions without thinking: e.g.  watering can needs 10, plants need 6 each,  the kettle 7 or 9,  a hot water bottle takes 8.  Gargling 30.  Teeth 180.  From my last home to my present 422.  15 stairs followed by 6. 
A normal walking in-breath 4.  A swig of tea 3.  While the counting is happening everything else seems to be perceived as normal, the numbers are parallel.  I can't even blame my numbered days - they finished after only 4, although perhaps aspects of all my days are numbered (separately from the obvious).  And why count such banal tasks anyway?  Clearly these activities don't take very long, and I am left wondering if the counting would continue during a marathon, what a horrible thought.  Worse is the possibility that should a mistake be made I'd have to go back to the beginning. 

It might be because most of the time I choose to live without extra noise permeating my space.  Am I filling it with these paltry numbers rumbling along in my head instead?  If the inside of my mind is scraped will everything be perched on a background, a wallpaper, of low numbers?  A resonance of Bachelard's walls of sound, echoes of time repeating endless counting.

It reminds me of John Cage in 1952 with his 3 movements that made 'Four, thirty-three', counting certain moments while actively engaged in something else - in that instance listening.