UnseenSeen: An Exhibit Guide to The Invisible World


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The Invisible World:
Museum Guide for the Imagination Impaired

Liam Hogan

Welcome to the Museum’s latest exhibition: The Invisible World. The gallery you are about to enter may baffle or bemuse; this visitors’ guide should help you get the most from your experience.

In these seven rooms you’ll find display cases of varying shapes and sizes. These may appear, at first glance, to be empty.

Rest assured: they are not.

Some people—the rational minded, the sort who take “literally” literally, the kind who can stare at a picture of the horsehead nebula (or the even more terrifying map of cosmic background radiation) and not even shiver—may struggle with these “empty” cases. The object labels displaying the name, year, and provenance are insufficient for their constrained consciousness. They may choose to neglect the priceless exhibits, racing through to find something—anything—concrete.

A few even demand a refund of the Museum’s modest entry fee.

For those, this guide will—in considerable detail—describe the items contained within each case. Reading the entire set of gallery notes should take the average reader approximately an hour, which equates to the length of time those with the sensibilities of poets take to navigate the exhibits. This helps to stagger the visitor flow.

For people with a shorter attention span, here, for your enjoyment and edification, are some of the not-to-be-missed collection highlights.

Room 1: Birth

The entry room focuses on beginnings, on birth, on creation. Spend a while in front of the very first exhibit: The Spark of an Idea. This is far more nebulous than Eureka! (Room 6). Here, only the barest shape of the embryonic thought can be glimpsed. Even the subject may prove indistinct; amorphous, like a Dream (Room 2) that, on awakening, vanishes the moment you reach for it to tell it to your loved ones.

Room 2: Journey

 Wander through the second room, past the many exhibits that clamour for your attention. Here you will find bold concepts and the strongest of emotions. Here you will find Good, and its ever present partner, Bad. Continue on, and you will also find Beauty. Some claim that beauty is skin deep—it is much, much thinner than that and, like the case containing the Gap between Speech and Meaning (Room 4), it happens at an indeterminate distance between the object of the affection and the observer.

Room 3: Love

The more rational of our visitors are encouraged to speed through the third room. There is nothing for you here. Equally there is far too much for our humble guide to cover. It may break the heart of our expert curators, but please take the left and shorter of the two possible routes, to avoid the throng of the lovelorn clustered around Unrequited Love. It calls plaintively to some and remains utterly silent and indifferent to others.

Room 4: War

This room contains, as well as CourageFaith and many other principled items, the hot Barb of an Insult—careful now! Don’t stray too close.

Here, curiously, you will also find Friendship. The curators fought long and hard over where to place this precious exhibit, its location finally decided by the Museum Director’s school-aged daughter, Miriam.

We apologise for the prolonged absence of Freedom: it appears this exhibit is only ever recognised when it is not there.

Room 5: Justice

The fifth room contains Right, and TruthCompassion, and Dignity. These cases are big and brash, crowding out their misshapen wall-fellows: A Sense of EntitlementHypocrisyProtectionism, and Intolerance.

Here you will also find The Moment You Realise You Probably Have More Years Behind Than in Front of You. Just like the exhibit in this gallery, it usually comes long after that point has passed.

Room 6: Knowledge

The penultimate room offers a change of pace, a slow meander past cases containing memories of the cases you have already seen. Here you will also find Humour, a useful tool to appreciate the absurdity of all that has gone before.

Lurking somewhere deep within the room lies Wisdom. The brighter the gallery lights the more elusive it becomes, but, if you are patient and lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of it as you pass.

Room 7: ?

The seventh and final room may baffle you the most. You will find no cases; no object labels. Stand a while, alone, or in the company of others. Let it all soak in, these unadorned four white walls, the pristine floor, the neutrally lit ceiling. Give it time and you might finally realise what this box-shaped room contains.

But if, after all we have shown you, you still do not understand then please; proceed through to the exit and the gift shop beyond. They have some nice postcards there.


Crack a Cold One


–> Amber Morrison



The Poet Explains His Work

The poet explains his work
on an LP for the blind:
45 minutes of skritch, skritch, skritch,
a cough, and a murmured “Sorry.”

–> Greg Beatty


The Language

The gravel slipping under the car, the train gathering purpose, shrapnel from a shattered rainbow, the house that name built, a man singing his son an unidentifiable song as he pushes him on a swing, the dual in individual, trees indexical and brightening towards the east, the suicides calling from the sea, conversations with the wind, what words talk about when we’re not using them, a raft of measures, the knowledge that sucks the telephones black, all the contractions of I to is, fixed beliefs that when interrogated belong to no one, new exploratory drillings to find words under the icecap, tongue deadening against meat, mist in translation, the wind’s way home that names itself harder, the hole in the self, the one the words fell from, matter’s irresolution, fissure of imaginable lament collapsing under the weight of its signs, cigarette smoke from the crack in a car window, the explaining doll, the wolves from the forest of symbols that only pause at the suburban edge, their eyes walk light onto the grass, what a map contains if it is a map of language, capital of cloud, behind the lyric, older than state, something that animals would not have thought, the never-weeded corner in the dust at the end of the eye, the object: the stone, that upon which we tread, retread, the map of your failures, an open wound that makes insides apparent, a cluttered and deep-basemented house, in which we skin our shins trying to find what may be useful to say, the sound of an alphabet marching through the dark, selves sifting inside, a sieve for a soul (the sound releases its sense, glucose into brain), that which explains itself by its name, of stars, always negotiable. If the stars explode, ignore them since it is in their nature, always let us hear what they have to say.

–> Giles Goodland


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Unseen: Exhibit Guide to the Invisible World 
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