JP, half-cut, stepped from the car. Half-cut, he made himself conscious of his bearing, the solemnity of his gait. Ministerial. He 1) inhaled through his nose deeply, suddenly, 2) straightened his back, 3) waited for Conren, drunker than he was, to extricate himself from the back seat.
Feck him, he’d to be getting on with this. He left him to struggle with the door and sped in ahead. Roomfuls of people would not defeat him; roomfuls of people were never a problem for him.
-Hello, Minister, how are you?
-How’re yeh, howreyeh.
Whirl of handshakings, small words with faces encountered before in airless rooms of bespectacled tweeds. Less of a lark than usual, though, this bunch.
-introduce, the curator, Miss-
-How are you at all?
Kiss on either side. Bit sloppy.
-Have you a speech to be doing before or?
-Em, yes, well I’ll do a bit of a preamble and then you can-
-Fine, fine, that’s fine.
-say whatever it is-
Conren trailed and attached himself to a wall, behind a cluster of the in crowd. He had in his left hand the first tumbler of cognac he had liberated from the tray of one of the waitresses. He had in his right hand the second.
-Thank you and thank you.
The first one, in his left hand, had a pink glass straw. The second one, in his right hand, had a green glass straw. Both had the ministry’s logo on them. Due for a re-brand, I think, he thought, knocking it back.
-Gregarious fellow isn’t he, one of the in crowd had ventured.
Meaningful snort from the group.
-Quite a handshake, said another, clenching and unclenching a tender hand. It positively reeks of livestock already.
-Where he’s from it means you’re married now.
-And his skin, jesus. He looks like a roof.
Conren was about to contribute his own witticism, before realising at once his exterior position relative to the group and his drunkenness. Waitress.
-With no further ado, I’d like to invite our current minister for the national arts, JP, to say a few words about today’s exhibit.
JP made a triangle with him arms on the podium. It took his weight, until he felt the beginnings of its collapse. He righted himself and it.
-It, eh, gives me great honour and indeed a great pleasure, to be speaking here today, at the first of the eh, opening of this great artwork.
Of those books contained in the Jefferson building, they have been lacquered into a perfect solidity. Removing one book from the shelf cannot but result in the removal of all books from the shelf. This process may be viewed in the accompanying visual display.
-This building is of a great, history to me personally, my grandfather. I used to come here, I used to look at the em,
Where were those names?
-the paintings of Turner, em, Vermeer and Dante.
Note: Though this institution commits itself to the utmost in the fostering of a collaborative environment, we request that patrons of the installations do not attempt to replicate the process of removing a book from the shelf. This process may instead be viewed in the accompanying visual display.
They all agreed that it was a most radical work.
One or two of the faces turned. Recognised?
Of those books contained in the Adams building, they have been harvested inside of a drillbit designed to the exact specifications of this, the second part of the exhibit. The drillbit has a radius of approximately 25cm, for maximal extraction of extraneous bibliographical matter, retaining a single circle in the centre of the drillbit and the centre of the book. The drillbit was then retracted and through use of its ingenious design, the central parts of the books were threaded into one another, the result of which is what you see in front of you. This process may be viewed in the accompanying visual display. The drillbit used for the execution of this piece may be viewed above you.
Note: Due to the fragile state of the central ‘line’ of literary material (caused in part by the imperfect design of the drillbit) it was necessary to use string to suspend the work on some shelves. Though this institution commits itself to the utmost in the fostering of a collaborative environment, we request that patrons of the installations do not attempt to touch these strings, as they may disturb the exhibit. They may instead view the preparation and restoration of the piece in the accompanying visual display.
Being shown out to the car, he turned to Conren.
-D’you know, I had no idea Dante was a painter. No idea. And me from the Christian Brothers.
Conren had whispered his reserved witticism in the ear of the curator. Something about a balloon, JP had looked deflated, something.
He had made himself known to the in crowd. All were surprised, one looked scandalised. He was the one who had turned, visibly aggrieved by JP’s speech. It wasn’t half-cuttedness. Intoxication of all kinds was de rigeur at these things, but inarticulacy? Philistinism? Conren vaguely recalled this being raised to him, but elliptically, by someone who did not know better. He had said something unpopular in response.
Drunkenness had alienated the complexities of his experience. Disparate recollections became disparate impressions became nothing when they were called upon directly. They had to be viewed askance if they were to maintain their shape. And. There. A few non-chronological senses. The heat of the room in his suit, finding it difficult to hear someone and the awareness of having committed a social faux pas, the violent quelling of the regret that resulted from it.
All in all, it had been a successful launch.