“The match: little stick tipped with combustible stuff, sparked by friction; typically comes in a book or a box or a bundle (the point being: never alone). The highly portable match lighting more or less when required was a great nineteenth-century innovation. Before, we had only Danger and Poison matches, and countless match-induced accidents and suicides.
We still have not engineered mischief out of the match. One little lucifer, God’s little helper, lit in the company of its sisters and brothers will, if we let them, afford us a miniature inferno. Are we responsible for the recklessness of thought? There will always be match tricks to go very wrong. How many times have we amused ourselves in the schoolyard, lighting up the whole passel of ideas within our reach, getting us in trouble? And now that we are older, we can strike anywhere. We count on sparks to leap long distances virtually, to pass most swiftly from point to point instead of smouldering. No sooner do we bring a flame to something flammable than it spreads — even as its conductors are already charring and curling up. Let us congratulate ourselves for remaking the transport of ideas. And for this new refrain: What matters is what’s on fire.”
It takes any number of forms. Epigrams. Aphorisms. Fragments. Sayings. Dicta. Sententiae. Facetiae. Pearls of wisdom. Fractions of truth. Maxims. Definitions. Jottings. Miscellaneous musings. Meditations. Ricordi. Pensées. Ephemera. Miniatures. Sketches. Vignettes. Denkbilder. Capriccios. Tiny ‘fires without flames’ …
In returning to these genres, MATCHES goes back to the drawing board of modern critique. It sets out to rekindle short-form literary-philosophical reflection, with roots in the Antiquity of Heraclitus and Hippocrates, apogee in the French moralistes (La Rochefoucauld, Pascal, Chamfort … ), and late splendour in German letters (Nietzsche, Kraus, Jünger … ). Moving from art and aesthetics to philosophies past and present, through natural and technological landscapes, beneath the constellations of politics, history and ethics, along the byways of contemporary literary culture — the slow reader with a little spare time will not fail to be struck.