Now and then I channel my father who hated all things mechanical. He was incompetent with tools and just the idea of hanging a picture could make him sweat. He was the sort of man who panics before touching a hammer.
Back in the day I imagined my father was merely clumsy with amateur carpentry. He was, after all, a scholar, a Harvard trained political scientist. What use did he have for hammers? But this was naive on my part. Everyone needs a hammer at some point. Why did the hammer fill him with dread?
I think I know the answer. The hammer, more than any other instrument, reveals a man’s life is spiced with heavy lies.
This didn’t come to me without help. Late last night I read the following lines in a poem by the late Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai entitled “Travels of the Last Benjamin of Tudela”:
The time has come to engage in technological
games, machines and their accessories,
toys that are kinetic, automatic,
spring-operated, doing it themselves, in their sleep,
wheels that make things revolve, switches that turn on,
everything that moves and jumps and emits
pleasant sounds, slaves and concubines,
a he-appliance and a she-appliance,
eunuchs and the eunuchs of eunuchs.
My life is spiced with heavy
lies, and the longer I live, the bigger
the art of forgery keeps growing inside me
and the more real.
My father stayed inside his books. Those bulwarks against the forged life.
Hammers told him what a liar he was.
The subconscious is filled with angry hammers.
A hammer knows you’re bound to slip out of your life and disappear without anyone noticing.