Sunday, December 22nd, was gorgeous. The sky was big, blue and Emersonian. We had an Easter Egg Hunt, around the perimeter of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, without Easter Eggs. We foraged, instead, for the colorful PMA admission buttons, lost and tossed aside by museum visitors. Easter Eggs, behind bushes and under bleachers, in fountains and between cars, over the river and through the woods. I lost miserably— eight buttons to Willie’s twelve to Lucy’s fourteen. But the Easter Egg hunt— the lifegame itsel— was successful and suggestive, and a thumbnail for larger purposes.
Drifting— the dérive in the situationist sense— is a real pleasure, but it does not necessarily impress new desires onto crosswalks, hotel lobbies, dead ends, and Nordstrom restrooms. One method— the method most dear to my heart— is by conceptualizing the city as a field for actions— a gameboard, in both the wider and slenderer senses. And on this gameboard, we then invent a whole folio of lifegames that create new desires, as all many desires are created— ex nihilo— from nothing. With luck, the lifegame catches hold, and its absurd new desires become fullblown obsessions, in the way “throwing a ball into a hole” became an international pasttime and multi-billion dollar industry. I’d even go so far as to say that the best desires are the ones that are, at bottom, the most absurd. And so with drifting, we want lifegames that give us new eyes— like the new eyes and lustful gaze with which skateboarders see the world about them— a lust as searing as sex and heroin. New eyes that see the cityscape in ways other than City Planning planned— other than “the economic, political, and historical contours.” With skateboard-eyes, I look and act on double-staircases with near absolute freedom. And when I hunt for PMA Easter Eggs on crisp days, the reality of the Museum itself changes. This is the mark of a successfully overturned reality.
The Easter Egg Hunt is just one species among millions, and even its details and elements can change. Instead of admission buttons, we can search for used lotto tickets, shiny gum wrappers, hypodermic needles— again funneling middle-class boredom into a communitarian impulse, by inadvertently cleaning the citystreets, not from Good Samaritanism but from the Will-to-Power inherent in a children’s Easter Egg Hunt. The Easter Egg Hunt can be indefinite, setting a rubric for points gained gradually over time, by finding a lost glove, a needle in a haystack, or a car fender. In this way, the Easter Egg Hunt turns archaeological— ethnographic even. Reading receipts, collecting clues and artifacts from this lost American civilization, in the Whole Foods parking lot. What does this tell us? This crudely fashioned tool they called a “Swiss Army knife?” Where can we go from here? You might ask the same question to coin, stamp, and all collectors— where does your desire originate? Where does it lead? Or consider William Sidis, the uber-wunderkind often considered to have been the “very highest end of human intellectual capacities,” who in his adultlife turned into a bitter recluse and avid collector of streetcar transfers; he published one of his only books on the subject, infact. The boy predicted blackholes and literally spoke a hundred languages, but funneled that omniscience into streetcar transfers. Weird desires, infinite possibilities. Here is the rubric for Easter Egg points, which will be refined and calibrated with Experience:
(These items should probably tossed after the points are tallied by a solid witness)
Used lotto tickets: 5 pts.
Unlit cigarettes: 10 pts.
Hypodermic Needle: 50 pts.
Glove: 10 pts.
Shoe: 20 pts.
Coke Can: 1 pt.
Diet Coke Can: 2 pts.
Unopened soda can: 5 pts plus free drink
Silver gumwrapper: half a pt.
Subway metrocard: 2 pts.
Business cards: 3 pts.
Receipts for total purchases over fifty dollars: 12 pts.
Colored can tabs: 5 pts.
Empty cigarette pack, soft or hard: 3 pts
Cigarette pack with atleast one cigarette, no matter how crushed or broken: 10
Missing child: 500,000 pts
Missing child (alive): Million pts.
Single lens from glasses: 7 pts
Metal silverware: 9 pts.
Plastic silverware: 2 pts
Toothpick: 4 pts
Mint-flavored toothpick: 0 pts
Drawing or letter from someone under the age of seven: 50 pts.
Treasure maps: 1,000 pts
License plates: 30 pts
Rings: 30 pts
Personal photographs: 25 pts
Sewing needles: 45 pts
Miniature plastic bags- usually blue- used for drugs: 20 pts
With drugs inside: 50 pts
Matchbox (not matchbook): 15 pts.
Matchbook with working matches (must be tested): 3 pts
Fanatical Christian pamphlets: 15 pts.
And for literalist flair, an unbroken egg: 100 pts