A BOX WITH FIRE IN IT
The object is an internal combustion machine. It is not useful as it does not convert the chemical energy it produces into mechanical energy; it produces only emissions. It does not produce life; it does not ‘work.’
The object is oblivious to its emissions: smoke, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, unburned hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides are produced by the combustion that occurs within. It does not care.
The object is devoted to the production of waste, a dissipative structure par excellence, since dissipation is its product. It is a waste engine. It is glorious in its expenditure; revealing its dissipation and concealing the motor of its incontinence.
It is impossible to extract energy from it.
The object conceals its fire, that rages in its heart. Only the vaporous effects of its internal condition are visible to humans and other species. Its surface is cool. Smoke fills the air. Sometimes sparks fly.
The object is a black box, but it is not black. It is a wooden box, steel-lined, suspended, inert. An architectural cipher gifting its impenetrability to architecture that, unlike the box, does not have a heart of heat.
If it must be described as a system (and it need not), it freaks out. Systems theory unmasks the authority of the box, revealing its need for fuel, for something ‘outside the box.’ It is fragile, a little defensive.
An indoor object, it shuns accretions, growths, attachments. Its materiality cannot be loved by another, it offers nothing and expects nothing. It was perfect long before you came.
If it wants anything (and it wants nothing), it wants you to leave.
The patron saint of the box with fire in it is Samuel Beckett. Enveloped in its own darkness it offers a dark, uncertain commentary. Even in its perfection it is not certain. It keeps puffing.
I am a platonic object, it seems to say, but I am dynamic too. I am everything. I have it all. Krishna. Kali. Mary. Christ. Allah. Word. Animal. Machine. System. Object. I have it all. My objecthood is inexhaustible. I am undead.