Submission No. 15

Anthony Discenza, We Wondered At Unfamiliar Sensations (street sign)

Anthony Discenza, street sign, 20??


So let’s imagine the sequence of events, shall we?

First, unfamiliar sensations.


We wonder at them.

Then we have the (sudden? gradual?) realization that these unfamiliar sensations are, in fact, doubts. The sensations are in our minds. We lack certainty on something. We feel uneasy in the face of an assertion of certainty.

This realization is accompanied with a recognition that this uncertainty is a good thing. To have doubts is a good thing…

Hence, we feel joy.


I concur with this. It is well put. Doubts should be a cause for joy. Cracks through which truth seeps. Information is change.

But what about the artist’s placement of this — on a sign, printed in block letters, graphically simple, held in place with stainless steel bolts? Near a red and white NO PARKING sign. What does this add?

I suppose that street signs are full of certainty, as all are instructions, laws, rules. They do not admit the creeping doubts and moisture and hesitancies of our actual lives. They say: First-degree murder requires such-and-such a penalty, when proven in a court of law. They say: No Parking on the Third Wednesday of the Month from 10:30 to 12 for Street Cleaning. They do not admit ambiguity or hesitation. So the contrast is instructive — grabs our attention.

But more than that there is a kind of crying out conjured by this placement. It is a plea by the artist for reassurance that he is not alone in celebrating doubts and in-between spaces. This piece reminds me of dissident activity in the old Soviet Union. Samizdat printing. Manuscripts hidden in desk drawers for years. Political protest. Spanners in the works. Yet the message in this work of art is not the rise of the proletariat, or the defense of an oppressed minority, but rather, the rise of, and the defense of, our innermost, human softness. This, I submit, is the seed bed of art: the notion that what is most vulnerable, most confused, most soft in humans is what is most worthy of protection and reverence. For in the end, certainty is always a form of cruelty.

About Tom Clyde

The best place to learn about me is to read my riffs. What could be more revealing? Cheeky, maybe, but true enough.

One comment

  1. Cool traffic sign, nice sentence 🙂

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