I’ve always admired them. I never knew them particularly well. I think they’ve got the fame and beauty to hear of their demise slightly before the fact of their demise. I’m going to call them, all of them, the Contraption, because now’s the time to be reflective, or at least to be solemn.
We say the cosmos ended long ago, and here I’m referring to the old Greek idea of the cosmos, with the earth at the center, the fire tucked in beneath the moon, the incorruptible spheres nested up and up to the uppermost sphere of stars, which was very seriously called the “place” of the universe because everything needed to be somewhere. There are many theories about when the old cosmos died. I don’t think it did. I don’t think the new universe lives alone, and I think most of us are found in between the two. It’s those of us in between who love the Contraption.
The Contraption is neat and self-contained. In this way, it’s like the old universe. You pull the handle back and release the silver ball. The silver ball mounts elliptically through its aphelion. In this way, the Contraption is like the new universe. The ball gets to the heights because it’s born furious and innocent. It’s buffeted everywhere as it hurries or slouches to the underworld. In this way, the Contraption is like the old universe. There’s no divine hope for the silver ball, but skill and unpredictability. In this way, the Contraption is like the new universe. There’s hope for it in the precise astrology of the blinking lights. In this way, the Contraption is like the old universe.
I don’t know what it means that the Contraption is almost dead. Everybody wants to say it had a second life, a digital life, but I knew it never had a chance. It’s not our taste anymore too read so much from so little, especially not on computer screens. It carried the eye a certain way.
Invited contributor Jonathan Regier is a writer and doctoral student in the philosophy of science at Paris 7. His first book of poems came out with Six Gallery Press in 2008. He's currently at work on the second, also for 6GP.