“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognises before it can speak. But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.” — John Berger, Ways of Seeing, 1970
I see you in the orange glow of the small black lamp on your desk. The one whose neck is bent to look like a coiled snake peering at you. The one you use to build with—water cooling systems for computers—things I understand in theory, but could never see the way you do. This same lamp on your desk has seen you working up a sweat in the late afternoons when you have nothing but time on you. This lamp sees what I see: how you love what you build with your hands—tangible things.
This is a reservoir. You held it just above my head to show me. It stores the coolant for the loop. It was a clear cylindrical container, fitted with black lids on either ends. It had clamps so it could be mounted onto something.
And these are called fittings. You pointed to short white metal joints, the size of your thumbs, screwed on the ends of the reservoir. They allow you to connect each component in your loop with tubing. The reservoir is one such thing, but the other components include the radiator and the water blocks. The former looks like a miniature version of what I know the word to be, and the latter is a square metallic plate pinched at its corners, with holes where I assumed the fittings would go.
The radiator keeps the whole loop cool by dissipating heat and the water blocks are what you actually mount on the hardware you want cooled. The more heat you can dissipate, the closer the coolant temperature will remain to ambient temperature. Radiator almost sounds like refrigerator, so your explanation fails to lose me.
In your palm is a compact object. This is the pump. It looks heavier than all the rest. A black cap, the shape much like the bottom of a tea candle, encases what I imagine is all machinery. This is jutting out of something with a much larger circumference, but with the same depth and shape of a camera lens cap. The ridges though, are noticeably thicker. There is a valve on top for the reservoir to feed the pump with coolant, but also one behind it. The pump sends the coolant through the entire loop and it all eventually goes back to the reservoir.
I piece what I saw and what you said in my own language, reproducing it in a way that I understand, in a place out of context, unseen and in the dark of my bedroom. There is a lamp seeing me: It lights my back and casts intangible shapes on the walls. I, too, build with my hands, but in the ways I know how.