Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
Scenario A: Dive into the Horse Feathers cannon, or get stuffed into it is the likelier way it would all play out when a cannon it is, and rest in the sooty, thin nose, feeling your shoulder joints getting sore and your feet twisting uncomfortably together near the rounded off bottom. A dull, sizzling sound can be heard coming from the outside, down by your toes - the sweat beads springing up on the bridge of your nose and on your upper lip. The temperamental fuse puckers as it touches the metal and then tries to send forth that unmistakable belly-rumble that cocks the whole warring contraption backwards and into a jerking, shaky teetering.
This refuses to happen the way it's meant to with other cannons and human torpedoes. The sparkly cap and goggles are in place, the cape is tied appropriately around the Adam's apple of the throat, but you're not going to make any great noise when the wick hits the butt and the trigger. What will happen, when Justin Ringle is the one with the matchstick and the fully operational cannon is that the machine itself won't make a peep. It won't recoil with the sort of force that will rock the cannon backwards to dig its feet hard into the earth or the asphalt surfacing, a body shot that will require a shovel and some patchwork. It will send you up and out of the muzzle and into the air like an unspooling nest of ribbon, lofting out of the opening as prey for the blue sky curtain.
When Horse Feathers commence, the world is turned into a vacuum and all surrounding noise is swallowed up by the unspoken demands upon the ear, for the craning of a neck and the intuitive recognition that this is going to require a greater amount of discipline than you've ever had to show before. A heavy breath could sound like an earthquake and a sneeze could ring the church bells five states away.
Ringle is a maker of time standing still long enough to let escape a story of unimaginable character and fascinating sorrow. He is a maker of the kinds of signature moves of conceptual nakedness in beauty -- of nature playing selfishly. He writes words as splendidly obtuse and heartwarming as Sam Beam, but makes almost all of them into the final conversation between Charlotte and Bob Harris at the end of Sophia Coppola's "Lost In Translation," in the thoroughfare in Tokyo, where understandable phrases melt into a louder clatter and yet tiny strains of the audible fall just short, leaving a mark of savory suspense as a memento. Ringle stops himself always leaving a hollow, yet vibrant force in the air. It's like a fog that you'll never be able to put a coat and a hat on. It becomes you as you fly from the cannon, unburdened and silent as a grave, looking down, but staying in the air indefinitely, suspended by the thick, buoyant mystery dance.