So read the poetry on the train. A tad morose compared to the Situationist catch cry of "Under the paving stones, the beach!", but then Melburnians are less inclined to the beach than their counterparts in other Australian cities, and they are more inclined to wear black.
I was reminded of this piece of "public poetry"when walking across the paving stone below on High Street, Armadale.
For those with less than perfect monitors/eyesight, it reads A CURSE UPON THE REMOVAL OF THIS SLAB AS IT FINALLY LAYS TO REST WITNESSED 1ST DECEMBER 1989
This mysterious artifact is casually inserted into an otherwise rather dull stretch of road. I have walked past it many times and don't recall ever seeing anyone except myself stop to look at it. A tentative questioning of locals has wrought no answers (disappointingly my questions were met with blank looks rather than a Wicker Man style suspicion of outsiders) and Google has drawn a blank.
In a sense though, I am satisfied to remain intrigued. I hope that it is the work of some anonymous magic-maker, embedding mystical anomalies in the fabric of a rational world. A city without mysteries, without magic, is barely a city at all. With its unknown origins and talk of curses, the paving stone is a magnificent avatar of gnostic urbanism.
In a churchyard near to where I grew up in England, there was a nameless grave with only a skull and crossbones and date on it (sixteen-hundred and fifty something I recall). I was similarly fascinated and perplexed by this oddity and conjured up for it many exotic tales. In the end made no attempts to find the details of its origins, for concern that they could not live up to my fantasies.
What I feared was a minuscule reflection of Zizek's "revolution which consumes itself". I did not want my stone to echo the libertarian "sexual revolution", which in the end destroyed sexuality itself, leaving in its wake only a dispassionate and unerotic void of simulated images and surface-level narcissism (a recently published survey, for instance, found that Australian men are more body fixated and attend the gym more than men in other Western nations, and yet they have sex less often). I could not bare the idea that my liberation by truth might, like the naked body at the end of a striptease, purge the stone of all that was seductive about it. The aura of uncertainty is why this paving stones stands as a perfect mythical fragment of the city.
Although we are condemned to inquisitiveness (jouissance aside, the exquisite repression cannot be self-administered) the true beauty often lies not in the truth, but in the mystery.