Sunday, August 25, 2013

Three lost memories

I'm trying to recover three lost memories. Maybe you can help me? Below I describe them, going from the easiest to the hardest.
1 - The novel
A few years ago I downloaded a scanned book. A thriller / fantasy story concerning an author and some (of his ?) fictional characters. No one I asked knows this book. I remember two scenes:
  • A ghost (or daemon) explains the phases of detachment of the soul of a deceased person and their names. In each phase the soul is less attached to the world, like: when some of your body still exists, when someone living still remembers you, when your name is still recorded somewhere etc.
  • The author sees a young man hide in an urban corner and then he sees him transform into an angel. The angel looks highly irritated. Later someone explains that this was one of the archangels and that he is very much pissed off because he hates coming to earth. If he has to troubleshoot the situation his solutions might be drastic.
2 - The artist
A few years ago I found an art book in the Rotterdam library. It was about a contemporary, still living artist who fled (from South America ?) and settled in the US (in New York?). In the book was a picture of a sympathetic, short, older (60?) man with a grey moustache (and beard?), slightly tinted.  He could not find employment in the US as an artist, so he took a job (as a teacher, or librarian?).
But he kept making art. Small (10-30 cm) conceptual, very physical but highly abstract objects exploring shape, color and texture. Most of them were made from wood or other cheap materials using simple tools. Very original work with conceptual titles like: "Box with three different shapes, two colored and one burnt".
The library has sold the book and I cannot remember the title. It might have contained the phrase: "a Sunday artist".

3 - The strange shop window
Many years ago the Van Oldenbarneveldstraat 138 looked neglected and uninhabited, even though it was in the Rotterdam city center. The shop window was dusty and contained a collection of curious objects. Maybe the shop had been a pharmacy. But it might have been an antique sex shop.
The ornate wood and glass shop window contained several yellowed boxes with disreputable looking aphrodisiacs. There might have been a box of "Spanish fly" powder or pills. Maybe there were a few pin-up pictures. There might have been a few glass bottles, flasks or laboratory equipment. I was most impressed by the glass and rubber contraption for administering enemas. That one looked especially sinister.
But the most memorable was a commercial slogan in the back of the shop window advertising some patent medicine for male malfunction: "Impotent? ZUMBA helpt!" (Impotent? Zumba helps!) 
I was not the only one who was fascinated by this shop window. I once saw a photograph of the Zumba slogan in a Rotterdam cultural magazine. Maybe there exist more pictures.
In recent years the area has been gentrified. The shop front was kept intact but the shop window and its contents are lost forever. I would like to see it again.

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