BY Barbara Vinken in One Takes | 13 AUG 13
Featured in
Issue 11

Barbara Vinken: Earrings

Choose a single object of special significance from your working or living environment

BY Barbara Vinken in One Takes | 13 AUG 13

(photograph: Barbara Vinken)

My favourite object is actually two. They are indistinguishable, alike as two peas in a pod. The earrings (I’d call them ear drops if that wasn’t a medical term) are made of the shiniest, heaviest, most radiant crystal glass in the world. I carry them with me always, like talismans. Most of the time they dangle weightlessly from my ears. Or they lie silkily in my hand with the almost stony weight of the world. You hardly see them, like dewdrops that catch the light from time to time. Usually you look through them, but if you look carefully they stand the world on its head – en miniature. Like the soap bubbles in vanitas paintings, they show nothing but the virtuosity needed to capture the perfect moment: a frame for things, a medium for light, at the price of being nothing. Perfect, they capture beauty which is perfect, which vanishes the very next instant. Unlike the soap bubbles, however, they are elementally solid. I hope many more perfectly beautiful moments will be caught in them.
Translated by Nicholas Grindell

Barbara Vinken is Professor of Romance Languages and Comparative Literature at Munich University. Her books include Die deutsche Mutter. Der lange Schatten eines Mythos (The German Mother: The Long Shadow of a Myth, 2011) and Eine Legende der Moderne. Flauberts einfaches Herz (A Legend of Modernity: Flaubert’s Simple Heart, 2009). Her latest book (Dressed: The Secret of Fashion) is published by Klett-Cotta Verlag in September 2013.