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#358 :: Bow

February 7, 2005

remedy adiposity ‘popup’, drugs ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>This is the cultural equivalent of a successful GoogleWhack: A purpose-built frippery with one and only one use. The peach-satin confection came flat in a glassine envelope, a little stack of ribbon rectangles. To set it up, you pull a little thread at its center, which bunches the strips into loops forming a perfect, gift-ready visual confection. It is an emotional virus, designed to carry a “message” of “festivity” and “affection” to the recipient, and then to be simply torn off and discarded. If you put together the production chain, from designer to industrial loom operator to dye-maker to cutter and packager, you wind up with a micro-economy of specialized laborers whose only professional purpose is to construct the physical manifestation of a hoary old meme in visual semiotics. You could work yourself cross-eyed deconstructing the symbolism, or just trying to understand the way the flat thing becomes a rounded, resilient and brilliant bow. But then you’d have given it way too much thought.

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