Defect, Defect, Waiting For The Real ThingWednesday, August 01, 2007
The chorus of The Pointed Sticks's song The Real Thing (Nick Jones/Stephen Macklam, ©1979 Daily Tunes/Stupid Music, SOCAN 1979 Quintessence Records)goes:
Defect, defect, waiting for the real thing
The catchy chorus of this circa 1980 Vancouver pop band kept repeating itself in my head as my friend Howard Houston and I feasted our eyes on the first page of an Albert Einstein letter in the second floor of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin a couple of weeks ago. After seeing the world's first photograph by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and a lovely Gutenberg Bible Howard and I went to the second floor and I asked him what document he wanted to look at and hold in our hands. Howard said, "Anything by Albert Eistein." We had to go through a video that instructed us in the protocol of asking for and viewing rare documents. It was here where we lost Rebecca (she was bored by the video) who went down with Rosemary and Howard's wife Lynne. We sat down at a table and put on white cotton gloves. A file was placed in front of us and we opened it. It was a letter in Einstein's hand with the title as seen here in a copy of the Harry Ransom call document.
It was a thrill to not see a facsimile or a reproduction or a web page scan of a real document. We were looking at the real thing.
In an action that I now regret I rejected a copy of that first page. A copy would have given us the date (I didn't notice it) or to whom the letter was addressed to. I rejected the copy because the copy was a copy. And that was it. It was the flying flamingo all over again.