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"Auto-archeology" mind matters
November 12, 2002
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Begin the dig at the top, working your way down.

Inside the attic are cardboard boxes, stacked into short towers. Remove the boxes on top and start digging into the heavier containers at floor level. The spines of a multitude of books are purposefully aligned for browsed reading. The collection encompasses several genres, including contemporary fiction, mystery, science fiction, and legal dramas. Some older books show signs of water damage.

At the bottom of the attic staircase is an upright piano, still in tune. Upon the instrument are sundry knickknacks, like a corncob figure and a stone scarab. The piano bench opens to reveal printed music, overwhelming biased toward the Romantic Period. Photocopies of choir music give further clues to the occupant’s artistic tastes, although the pages have been relegated to the very bottom and are yellowing with age.

The furniture of the next room circles a square rug. A corner of the rug and the rubber mat beneath have been curled back, revealing a wooden floor. The floor is scratched and moderately dusty. Careful particulate analysis would provide clues to the rug’s history: two years in its present location, two years in a different home, several months in a carpet store, and its earliest days in India.

Atop a square glass table are papers, piled high. At the top is unopened correspondence, including envelopes from a banking institution, a utility corporation, and a local college. Still lower is a torn envelope containing scissor-clippings from commercial periodicals. Attached to these is an adhesive note with a woman’s handwriting: “This should help with your writing.” At the bottom is a shipping box with a return address of Redmond, WA. Its contents are missing.

Follow a cleared path to the kitchen. The refrigerator, its door hanging open, shows sign of recent use. Small, previously opened jars of sauces and salsa are stored on the top shelf, along with a lidded bowl containing a baked mixture of potatoes and herbs. Vegetables of various ages and beverages cover the lower shelves. A spaghetti squash has been systematically halved with a serrated blade and now rests face-down on a square of plastic wrap. Inside the door are bottled condiments. Though contents hint at the latent influence of a dietician, inspection of the trash receptacles reveals the recent consumption of chewy candies, gourmet ice cream, and multiple cheese varieties.

One additional room defies simple explanation. Certain aspects of this space are dedicated to storage, including a four-drawer cabinet filled with financial artifacts, whereas numerous displays of reference books suggest a library. Upon a wooden desk are upper-technology appliances, including a facsimile machine and computing device, as well as much paper miscellany. This small area is clearly a dedicated workspace, although some objects on the desktop are endemic and likely decorative. Before the desk is a large burgundy chair of fake leather. The back of the chair is unremarkable, but its seat is partially hidden by a human male, clothed contemporaneously but casually in a buttoned shirt and belted denim slacks.

Upon closer inspection, the man appears to be typing...

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Copyright 2002 Seth Maislin


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