Materials: styrofoam, palindromes
WASITACATISAW (was it a cat I saw)
NOWIEMITTIMEIWON (now I emit time I won)
"Up, Down, Same Thing" is Buddhist nun Jiko's koan-like comment while watching surfers. The paradoxical logic that defies linear thinking finds a linguistic analogy in palindromes (back/forth, same thing). Palindromes align with the space (in the stairwell, "up, down, same thing") and concept of slow time (linear flows of language and time are arrested as they transform into repeating loops or cycles). Styrofoam pieces suspended in the virtual vortex of the spiraling stairwell evoke the plastic garbage patches stuck in calm spaces within the oceanic gyres, a central motif in A Tale for the Time Being.
Ozeki's novel features searches of many kinds, including Ruth's search for Nao, Ruth and Oliver's search for a lost cat, and Proust's search for lost time. The palindromes reference the missing pet and Proust's victory through writing over lost time. "Now I emit time I won" might be imagined as the subsequent sentence he uttered after famously saying, on finishing his 15 years-eight volumes-3,031 page search for lost time, "Now I can die."