Being as Glass Eel

A textual veil that reveals the form of the object beneath it.

| Fall 2014

  • "If you think we're obsessed with what's under the napkin, behind the curtain or the numbered door, then you're wrong."
    Photo by Flickr/Riccardo Cuppini


“Want to see a magic trick?” Who would say no? It’s late at night, and you sit at a table of strangers who met today for the first time (you all had work in the show). The stained checked tablecloth is smudged with spaghetti and meatballs, napkins and glasses. Across the road from the restaurant there’s a park that’s dimly lit. You note to yourself: “Ask for a walk to hotel room later.” The man fills his glass with dark brown liquor. He lifts a napkin by two corners, and lays it over the glass. The glass is completely covered, but its rim supports and deforms the thick cotton, creating a distinct circular outline in the cloth. “I will consume the contents of this glass without moving the napkin, no, without even touching the napkin. Okay?”

“Okay,” you say.

He makes a show of gestures around and above the covered glass; he hums a tune, recites some words, and closes his eyes. Then, he opens them. “There,” he says.

“There? What?” you say. Without thinking you pull away the napkin, and of course the glass is not empty, but as he picks it up and drinks down the thick liquor, “without even touching the napkin,” you realize that his deceit made the trick true. You’re disappointed because this is not magic, this is only a game played between words and fears.

If you think we’re obsessed with what’s under the napkin, behind the curtain or the numbered door, then you’re wrong.

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