Pouring Lead, Melting Wax

  • Lena Schmidt (Author)


Pouring Lead Melting Wax is a critical introspection that seeks to approach the consoling effects of apocalyptic narratives through the reflection of melting. Melting and rigidity are not to be understood merely as poles between which this essay moves thematically, but rather as its own mode of movement:  When the wings of Walter Benjamin's Angel of History are clotted with black oil, when he can't break out of doomscrolling, when Icarus and Daedalus fly in sweeping sinuosities over the debris and the wax begins to melt, when YouTube videos of glacial collapses and volcanic eruptions trigger a maelstrom and paralyze those staring at them, when Day X, the X at the top right of the video window, external hard drives, and The Exform (2016) of Nicolas Bourriaud intersect; when Anne Boyer's Clickbait Thanatos (2017) crosses paths with Althusser's theory of the teleological structure of every genesis. The essay seeks to wrest from its analysis the causal concatenation of temporality, temperature, and form a self-emptying narrative that remains pliable and mobile even as glaciers and the Svalbard seed archive melt, as magma leaks and hardens, as history proves eruptive, porous, and incomplete, and yet the future seems so determined, when the archive above and the future ahead seem to loom like dark clouds, when people choose to be frozen in death, longing for the eternal or for the end, and let themselves slide in morbid solemnity into the infinity pool of the apocalypse, and from there admire the dazzling aesthetics of the sunset.