Composition #2

Every time I think of Kundera I recall my favorite line from Unbearable Lightness: “In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine.” And as I wrote these words, I went back to refresh my memory and was surprised to see that sentence on page 4—page 4!—of the book. Could something so meaningful to me have come so early in the text? Does that make it any more or any less significant? I’m pretty sure the man would say: both. Kundera opens his Unbearable Lightness with a reflection on the concept of “eternal … Continue reading “Composition #2”

Metafiction

A non-negligible number of books I’ve read of late have shared a common conceit: a chapter that holds the key to unlock the mystery of the whole. Granted, a climax or conclusion is pretty standard fair in any standard text, but that’s not what I’ve been reading. In ‘Camera Lucida,’ we have the clean break along the middle of the spine; in ‘Devil House,’ a whole number of a-ha moments, but only one chapter that literally fractured the narrative (read: act of narrating) in faux-Fraktur; in ‘Immortality,’ it’s part 6. Kundera tells us ahead of time what he’s going to … Continue reading “Metafiction”

47

“Photography has two antithetical ideals: in the first, #photography is about the world and the photographer is a mere observer who counts for little; but in the second, photography is the instrument of intrepid, questing subjectivity and the photographer is all.” (Susan Sontag) X “You can grieve for what you are grateful.” I was out of town when @jacquelineviola’s last installment of the (inconceivable and unbelievably absurd) times landed in my mailbox, so when I opened the carefully wrapped package this morning, I was more than a little surprised to see a sentence that so directly spoke to my mood while away. Wistful, … Continue reading “47”

Camera Lacrimosa

Roland Barthes wrote a book about photography called Camera Lucida, a play on “camera obscura,” that ancient primogenitor to Polaroids and Instagrams. In it, he introduces useful terms for reading photographs, like “studium” (the presence of elements that lend themselves to sociocultural or historical analysis) and “punctum” (the features that convey a meaning in an individual without invoking any recognizable symbolic system), anchoring his reflections in (his) subjectivity and emotion. Halfway through the book, however, Barthes seemingly abandons his whole project (or takes it to its logical extreme) and begins to meditate on a single photograph of his own recently-deceased … Continue reading “Camera Lacrimosa”

Ghost Viscera

Did you see that retweet of the screenshot of the story-post of a girl minding her own business reading a book at a bar? “Pick me, pick me,” the photographer mocked. Did you find yourself performing outrage or were you genuinely concerned? Can we know the difference anymore? Do you know what it’s like to be pushed around? To be there no earlier than fifteen minutes before your scheduled appointment? To take off your jacket and belt and empty your pockets? Your boots too. Now your shirt. You have fifteen minutes to run. X Do you know what it’s like … Continue reading “Ghost Viscera”

A Note on Aura

I had my aura photographed as a birthday treat on Friday. That experience & this ongoing heatwave seem to be conspiring to get me thinking about bodies again. For one, I don’t like being photographed at all, which is why I wanted to have this moment in time captured in the first place—which made one of the color associations on the little info-card they gave me even more interesting, once my photo had developed: my dominant “vibrational energy” was associated with “new beginnings.” I also don’t like to feel sweaty and gross and physically encumbered by needs & anxieties, & … Continue reading “A Note on Aura”

Memorial Day Weekend

I found this pin two days ago; it’s see-through. Maybe it was yellow once but it’s not yellow now. I found that interesting: a memorial without a memory.  Yesterday, I went to church without realizing that I was in fatigues until I saw someone walk in wearing full officer’s regalia. So I put the pin on.  Memories of unknown soldiers in invisible wars. Bonus points for its refusal to stay in focus every time I tried to take a photo.

#StayHome: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 13

Part 1: Livestreamed Concert This week had been planned for months to be a special one at work, with the official launch of a pet project of mine on the occasion of The Feast of the Annunciation. Circumstances have complicated all plans, and yet, have also made this particular one even more relevant than I could have imagined. To express this strange transvaluation of all things in these self-isolating times, I want to share some of my favorite creative responses to COVID-19. I’ll say more about how that connects to what I’d been planning later. First up: Dubioza Kolektiv, an … Continue reading “#StayHome: 20 Weeks of Gratitude, Week 13”

Tender Touches: Cornish’s BFA Expo 19

Here’s are some thoughts from my favorite pieces at the Cornish College of the Art’s BFA Art and Design Expo 2019: # “You Never Left” A sense of tender vulnerability cuts across many of the works in this show; a good number express this vulnerability through the elevation of domestic space, familial memory and quotidian craft. Here is one example: @stupidstinky’s sculptures and embroidered works are an invitation into a gentle and generous intimacy that feels far from self-indulgent. The works approach the universality of good storytelling, and the sheer amount of artful “clutter” on display is a delight. # … Continue reading “Tender Touches: Cornish’s BFA Expo 19”