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things to undo - j tarin towers

Love requires us, not just when ending, to undo as many things as we do. We can undo words with kisses, but we cannot undo kisses with words.

I made a valentine, a collage of candy hearts: "Love me, You prince, I'm yours, Your girl" – a river of words cut like a ransom note from a bag of candy, shellacked inside a heart-shaped box. Surprisingly beautiful, what made it ornate was the time spent.

Artists with notorious appetites for love – or, to the naked eye, sex – have always undone objects by creating others, and it's the same with love. You can't recant a sculpture, but you can make another; you cannot unlove someone, but you can love again. Surely, you can no more destroy works of art you've already given to the world than you can destroy past moments that led up to love's creation. Glances, caresses, and more complicated acts exist in time as small brushstrokes adding up to the tangibly intangible object that we create through either collaboration or obsession: love.

Love exists not just as a feeling in the body but as a force field of its own, affecting the passage of time and casting every room it enters with specific light: velvet fog of gas lamps; television's blue glow; brilliant, breathtaking, untenable color – light of fireworks; flickering, dangerous fire – these latter two bringing noise as well as illumination.

We created light like a permanent nuclear sunset. I knew the end was nigh, but when he dumped me into the ravine like evidence, I needed to create a Taj Mahal to undo the valentine I'd made. "I don't want to be in love," he said. I'd like to hear a better example of destroying something because it exists.

The way to purge your innards of your muse is to create one last homage. Neruda's most brilliant love sonnets were, in the end, break-up poems. I'm not so vain as to compare myself with Neruda, but I can declare myself nearly as lucky and cursed to have fallen in love deeply, darkly, and repeatedly in such a way that every word I write carries with it meanings imbued by the light of past loves, that every word I write about a lover is both a mirror and a hammer.

How lucky we are to have Burning Man, our fabulous week-long carnival that lives by this principle: everything is temporary, so make it beautiful and then make it disappear completely. The object burned at the first festival was also an effigy of the founder's ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend. The entire (although not the only) idea is that you can bring your love to the end of the world, you can build a giant monument to it, and then you can celebrate it by setting it on fire.

On the way home from a poker game in Alamo Square, just a week before leaving for the desert, I found a broken guitar in the rubble of a demolished house. I trucked it to the desert with two bags of Conversation Hearts, superglued the candy in rows like stripes on a rainbow (so beautiful in nature and so trite in graven images). The guitar looked nearly edible. The last night, I walked to a public fire and burned it. Nothing looks more like passion and destroyed passion all at once than a guitar on fire. Call it ritual, call it grieving, call it art, call it indulgence: The object created in order to destroy is the only reasonable response to the end of a love that was destroyed only because it existed.

What have you done for love?