My ‘Das Ding’ is my monocle, a gold-rimmed eyeglass with an approximately 30-centimetre-long chain and clip on one side. It clips to the inside chest pocket of my sports jacket. Since I always wear a sports jacket, I always have it with me. I take it out when I need it and scrunch it in front of my left eye. Always the left one. If it slips off, the chain catches it.
My wife gave it to me as a present 15 years ago. It started with me not being able to read and fill out check-in forms at hotels. I chose a monocle over glasses because it’s more practical. I can have it in front of my eye in an instant and don’t need to fiddle with a glasses case first.
Of course the monocle isn’t for reading books for an extended period of time. It’s meant for quick use: for glancing at one’s mobile phone, for skimming over a letter. A monocle can be helpful if you’re standing at someone’s door and need to quickly decipher the names beside the doorbell, or if you are holding a movie ticket or a map of a city. Or if you’re at a museum and want to read the wall texts beside the paintings. So it has all sorts of applications in buildings, in rooms – great!
I would never switch to glasses. Plus, no one has a monocle these days. They’re a thing of the past. It’s very rare to see someone wearing one and yet I wonder why they’re so easy to buy – at a good opticians, in stores selling glasses …
Of course it also lends the wearer a certain je ne sais quoi when out in public.
Translated by Yana Vierboom
Ulrich Seidl is a filmmaker who lives in Vienna. His films include Dog Days (2001) and the Paradise trilogy (2010–13). His latest film, a documentary called Im Keller (In the Basement, 2014), is currently in theatres.
First published in Issue 17