So, a good friend of mine is working on a very exciting sounding art installation which explores the physical, literal viscosity of sociological concepts (that is, if they were liquid). I think its a fascinating idea for a visual piece, and am really, really interested to see how it will turn out. If any people associated with galleries here in Bristol are reading this, please contact me soon to discuss putting on a live arts show based around this installation.

Anyway, I thought I’d write a poem in tribute to the idea itself, seeing as I haven’t seen the piece yet. I quite like the idea of paying tribute to an idea – for that is the direction art has to head towards (but most probably never quite reach, for that would be potentially disastrous within the frustrations of the postmodern paradigm!), that is, the worship of the idea; the seed; not the physical, tangible growth.

A Study In Viscosity – First Viewing, 15:05

See, a full glass vial

Atop a wooden stool, balanced flat-bottomed

Too close to an edge.

Muddled with clockwork, a pendulum swings

Tiny and brazen amidst liver and nails.


The liquid is moving, is pushed in

A parliament of pipework, capillery fed.

One-way valves create traffic,

And teeth will grow.

We shall call it public.


Light is refracted within

Needle-fine tunnels, the stickiness sweats

(And always has done).

Pulsing like molasses, a sapping hourlapse

It slips down the side with a visible skin.

Let us call this thickness time.


And water, always with density constant

Comes with too much ease.

Watch the canvas below drip quicksilver

And give you flashes of the greener wood,

Flashes of what wants, and isn’t.

Let us call this culture.


See a glass vial, and see too much more

Balanced on a stool in a brightly lit room.

About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

One response to “Viscosity

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