digging over old ground

[feigning surprise] well, well, well, we meet here. [tired] Again. We keep going over the same ground. [idly kicking a vessel shard] What is it we do here in this non-most of places? I sometimes feel like Pooh (and you Piglet) as we repeatedly circle the same patch of ground and get increasingly excited by our own multiplying tracks. We meet. Wait a moment; I never come here alone…do you? If you are here without me you must let me know; tell me now. Ok, it is always we. [mumbling aside] we put the ‘us’ into ‘use’. We meet, we ruminate on the ground we create, pick at bits and throw them back down. Sometimes they are changed…altered. Mostly they are altered. Inevitably they are altered. They must be altered. But this is a nonsense anyway, we are chasing up the wrong tree, these things which are not things, in as much as this place is very much non-, become thingy when we consider them. We are far from gods though, investing power into these…things, we are as much thingless things to them are we not? [much looking at the ground ensues. A simple whistled refrain is attempted. It falters and fails] Come over here a moment. This piece caught my I. Obviously part of a fragile vessel but let us take it further.

How much further matters little, it is the furthering of it that is important. First we must loosen it from its matrix, most carefully now. Do you see how some of the surrounding deposits have fallen back into the hole created by the removal of the fragment? We must take note of them too for they will become as important as the fragment itself. In a way the fragment formed them, it certainly gave them an other form. Pressed into use. Anyway, back to the fragment. Where did you put it? No, no, I did not take it from you. I guided you in its removal, we then became sidetracked by the surrounding deposits. You must have retained it while we spoke. [a mumbled excuse] How can it just disappear like that? A perfectly, obviously, materially there thing bristling with thingness…gone…pfffff. Tell me, why do you come here? Can you leave me just for a moment please.

[short musical interlude]

Ok, ok, come back if you must. [a mumbled apology. Changing the subject] I feel like we are in a Craigie Aitchison painting, that one with the dog. Oh, a lot of them have dogs do they. Well the one with the horizon then…will that do? I’m feeling quite archaeological today, all this talk of matrices, deposits, horizons and digging of course. It’s the digging that I enjoy and I think that you know that. All that washing things…[second thought arrives]…actually I don’t mind the washing bit…or the putting into bags. I can even turn my mind to the writing on things although my writing is far from neat. It is all the process beyond that. The dirt has gone. Disinfected horizons. I don’t want these things to be burdened with a use. The ground that they were in was enough. Maybe I should stop digging these things out in the first place…I certainly should not keep passing them on to the, the, the…what are they called? Oh, let’s call them the disinfectors. Look, there’s another fragment.

Hmmm, this also looks very fragile; friable even. I’ve only just started working with this sort of material. I’m perfecting a technique for analysing the most delicate remains. The trick is not to remove it entirely from its matrix but to loosen it a little, let it rock slightly but do not detach it entirely. If need be, scrape away  a little more of the matrix (but do retain any scrapings for these will need to be reported). I hadn’t realised that we had dug so deeply. This trench will need some shorings.

[oh, so obviously, (too obviously?) the walls of the trench collapse in on the excavators]