The Eternal Bliss of Being an Object Among Objects

By Erik Harper Klass

Once in the city at a gathering of political activists and poets, a man I did not know, drunk as a fish, walked up to me and told me apropos of nothing of the waxworks museums of the past, in which people were sometimes hired to stand with the human sculptures, and the museum’s visitors would amuse themselves in trying to discern those objects of flesh and blood with their white-painted faces and their painstaking costumery, from the dead objects of wax that surrounded them, but what was not remarked at the time, and rarely since, the man, swaying, continued, was the strange, almost compulsive drive of these stand-ins—these false-sculptures, these living beings twice removed—who were allowed by the curators to enter these waxworks museums at night after closing and stand motionless with Napoleon and Marx and Gediminas the Grand Duke of Lithuania—to stand in silent, half-darkened rooms and feel the eternal bliss of being an object among objects.



Erik Harper Klass has published stories in a variety of journals, including New England Review, Summerset Review, and Open: Journal of Arts and Letters, and he has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes.


Art by Jay Baker, an artist from Colorado, living in Oregon by way of New Mexico; he records music as Tom Foe.