“Rhopography (from rhopos, trivial objects, small wares, trifles)is the depiction of those things which lack importance, the unassuming material base of life that ‘importance’ constantly overlooks. …The concept of importance can arise only by separating itself from what it declares to be trivial and insignificant; ‘importance’ generates ‘waste’, what is sometimes called the preterite, that which is excluded or passed over. Still life takes on the exploration of what ‘importance’ tramples underfoot. It attends to the world ignored by the human impulse to create greatness. … All men must eat, even the great; there is a leveling of humanity, a humbling of aspiration before an irreducible fact of life, hunger.” Norman Bryson, Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting, p. 61, Reaktion Books, 1990
By omitting some portions of the quote, I’ve taken it slightly out of context and for this I apologize to Norman Bryson. But the heart of the matter remains, I think, the same: that which is trampled underfoot, at every material and symbolic level, and the call to pay attention to the less (seemingly) important just because it actually points to another magnitude of importance. I love hanging out on the bustling street during those precious minutes before dawn. Mdm. Michaux’s coffee is syrupy and sweet, and seems to hold a crowd of regulars within its fragrant bubble. This lady came by for embers from Mdm. Michaux’s charcoal stove to get her breakfast fire going.