Issue 162, Summer 2002
Interviewer: If you could just summarize this next question in your reply, because I’ll be editing it out. (Pause) So you’re saying that there was plausible evidence—not only in your own experience but corroborated in the observations of others—that a person or persons had access to the interior of the cube? Perhaps through some secret hinging mechanism or design element?
Irv Paley: (Suspiciously) Actually, what I’m saying is that metaphor is a powerful thing, just like ambiguity is a powerful thing, and you know we use these forms to orient ourselves in an insecure urban landscape like New York City. You know, because of where I was right then, I—
Interviewer: You didn’t summarize the question.
Paley: I’m making a point.
Interviewer: Let’s try again. If you could just make the restatement sound natural. (Pause) So you’re saying that notwithstanding the fact that some of the voices on these tapes you’ve given me sound troubled, perhaps even unreliable, you’re saying that there is plausible evidence that—
Paley: (After a pause, growing serious) You don’t believe me. I can tell you are not believing in what I’m telling you.
Interviewer: In no way am I saying that.
Paley: What did you come out here for if you thought I was making it all up?
Interviewer: Actually, I thought the way you talked about the sculpture on the phone was interesting. And I liked the enthusiasm of your respondents.
Paley: (To waitress) Check, please? Check? (To interviewer) What’s your name again? Dave? Doug? Listen, Dave, turn that recorder off.
Interviewer: I’d rather not.
Paley: I’m telling you to turn the tape recorder off. I know how it works. Radio bends the signal, Dave. Some people, some artists, they’re leaving the friction where it is, they’re allowing the static energy to rise up from the surfaces of things, leaving the mixed ambitions right out there alongside the joy, letting the work breathe, leaving the ragged edges scraping against one another, letting the gears grind. Like the cube, Doug, like the cube, spinning on its vertex. Like it’s going to erode away everything in the neighborhood. It’ll still be there when the buildings around it fall into the river. But nowadays we’re about smoothing out these rough edges, that’s what I think, smoothing it out, compressing the signal, boosting the quiet sections, synchronizing, isn’t that right, Dave? You’re smoothing it out. You are living for structured irony around you, the carefully crafted human interest, the satisfied investigations of exotic cultures. So that you can step over the bodies out there, Dave, so you can step over bodies.