In one passage from How Are Things? Droit recounts his response when encountering a life-sized statue of an angel. He is taken up short, frozen to the floor and unable to move, short of breath, panicked. He has no ready explanation for his response, excepting that in the last analysis, he states that
… there exists a nation of things which are not to be confused with other things. Things which are possessed of a certain power, whether works of art or sacred objects; things invested with fantasy, with desires; things charged with messages; things so full of meaning that they are constantly overflowing their banks. (p 180-181)
It strikes me that this little curio is the antithesis of Droit’s angel in some respects, but not in others. Certainly in terms of scale and presence, this little piece of cheap cast resin cannot compete in any way with the life-size, hand carved wooden angel Droit encounters. But, for the person that kept it, that it was invested with desire and that it held meaning and a message goes without question.
Mary, in an attitude of prayer. A figure invested with tremendous strength and power in the Christian tradition: the Mother of the Christ, and every mother, all at once. The religious-cultural narrative attached to this little curio is that of a woman who endures profound loss, who presents an ideal of humility and faith and quiet resolve in the face of hardship and struggle.
Not surprising we found her in the York, along with a number of other things tied to faith and hope. Not surprising that she could be held in one hand: anything but monumental.
Work Cited: Droit, Roger-Pol. How Are Things? A Philosophical Experiment. Trans. Theo Cuffe. London: Faber & Faber, 2005.