Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Desk

When my father bought his 19th century American roll top desk, i instantly fell in love with it. It was a thing of magic, with its endless amount of hidden drawers and slidey bits integrated into its structure. I think i spend hours playing underneath it, driving my toy cars over my father's toes as he attempted to work. I loved the shine of the wood, and the touch of it, and thought i could make it my home.

Now that i'm too big to live underneath it, i make sure it has a place of honor in the houses i live. It has moved with me 4 times now, and each time i'm about to move, i check the new house for a place to put my father's desk. The rest of the furniture will organize itself around it. It needs a place with good light, so the wood can shine. Yesterday, when i got home, it was glorious.

My father never had any of his published work on that desk, just 5 maps containing 200 as of yet unpublished essays in one of the drawers, but since the desk has come into my care, i've put his works in bookform on it. His collected works consists of more than 3750 titles, so i'd need a bigger desk to hold that, but the books just about fit, so far. They stretch from his thesis in 1956 on the right to the books published after his death, the most recent in 2004.

I don't really work at the desk, i keep it more as a shrine to family -and to put my mail on.

And it's a good place to put some of the things my father collected. We share a fondness for wood and old iron.

The desk, besides being a beautiful object, also is the most physical reminder i have of my father. More than the statue, more than his clothes and coat, the desks represents him in my life, his physical being. His voice and spirit are in his books, but the dominant image i have of my father is him working at that desk. Combining them is about as close as i can get to having him around.

"You won't find wisdom in books -I read somewhere."
~ Cornelis Verhoeven


Hanli said...

Beautiful pics Daan, and sentiment.Your love for your dad shines in every word you write... you make him seem alive even for us who never met him... Thank you.

jade said...

You captured this desk so well. Love the light carressing it. You write beautifully well too.

-raaf said...

Hi Daan,

I just stumbled on your blog yesterday and have been reading the odd entry here and there. Enjoying the often recognizable sentiments and considerations, I find that your fathers desk appeals to me even more than the other Things of Interest that you post here. Probably it has to do with the fact that ultimately, the link between us, weak and remote as it is (but not less cherished), is the enigmatic and fascinating person of your father. Every once in a while, I cannot help regretting the conversations I have never been able to have with him, due to physical distance (however insignificant), a rude lack of interest from my side and my enduring juvenility. Nevertheless, through some of his writings and very recently through your random ramblings on these pages, I sometimes get the feeling that we would be able to get along quite well. Or is that just the feeling that Truly Great People always give other people? Anyway, as Vonnegut wrote: "So it goes." We're stuck in time. "Poo-tee-weet."

Ah well, back to reality. I will make sure to check back here once in a while to enjoy your writings. Perhaps, if I happen to stumble upon your email address, I might even drop you a note one of these days. For now, take care, and don't ever become drearily normal.