away most days with a long-handled yellow broom.
There are 19 pecan trees on the small plot of land his house sits in the middle of. They dump their fruit and prune themselves without human intervention, throwing down nuts and twigs and branches. Every day Mister Chu sweeps slowly back and forth along the paths which lead to a small concrete apron in front of the garage that may one day become his painting studio. You could fit two Pontiac Cars in there, but to do so fifty boxes of books would need to be moved somewhere else; at this point there is nowhere else for them to be moved to. Back and forth.
As he is doing this sweeping he tries not to think too much, just the sweeping, but every day, as though walking blindly to the same destination, he finds himself thinking of how the buying, one by one, of all these books somehow stops him doing the painting work he wishes to. It is as though words and brushes, pages and color, are factions at war with each other. The forces of the conscious mind (and those collected up into walls made from the conscious minds of others) cluttering up the space the unconscious mind requires to expand in to.
It is a paradox to him that that which takes no appreciable space feels the need of room. This is what he thinks of as he sweeps. Clearing the way but not clearing The Way.
There is a small bridge, slats of deck wood, which lead over the creek that only has water in it after a heavy rain. On the other side there is nothing but a stand of bamboo, a small and empty shed, and the neighbor’s fence. As he sweeps Mister Chu is thinking about buying himself a wheelbarrow and every day collecting that which has been swept and then pushing it across the bridge and putting the leaves and nuts and twigs and dirt into the shed. He imagines doing this for many months until the shed is completely full and only with the greatest effort can the door be closed.
He sees a large truck coming back along the little lane where he lives and a number of men working hard to lift the shed upon it. Pulleys and cantilevers and muscle all needed. The shed is taken to Paris or Pyongyang and exhibited in the middle of an enormous gallery with a marble floor. Students and critics and housewives all come and walk around the windowless wooden walls. He will call this installation ‘Approaching’ or ‘Blockage’ or ‘The Injunction of One Thing by Many Others’.
His heart is racing, slowly sweeping, back and forth, back and forth. Caught up suddenly in how much time this project would take and the paperwork needed, the export visas depending on final destination, transportation insurance, publicity interviews, photography, catalogue materials, digital resources, staffing issues, initial feasibility assessments and other colossal details as yet unconsidered.
He wonders if all of that could also be collected somehow, named, exhibited. At last things would settle down. A documentary could be made. Simulcast. There would be a thesis (more than one) written by doctoral candidates (girls perhaps). Scheduled appointments. Tapes. More interviews. Disks. Arguments as to meaning. Drives. Coffee. No time. Editing. There could be a book. A book.
A book in a box.