Hatred of the delicate

It’s funny how once something is damaged it can never be the same. Not actual funny, but the funny that comes with a statement like “It’s funny how the only thing guaranteed in life is death.” This statement isn’t funny at all. Permanence is never funny.

Going into special collections was a terrible experience. From the gloves you have to wear to the way the office worker runs over to tell you that you can’t lift the photos off the table. It is not that I don’t appreciate preservation; It’s just that I would rather not come in contact with it.

There is nothing gentle about my hands. Delicate things make me uncomfortable. This is why I avoid holding things like newly born children.

Standing over the very large photos as they lay on the table I felt as though I was back home. With my mother and sisters staring at me as my mother says “Stop looking at the baby like that, do you think he’s going to bite you?” while my sisters stand in the background shaking their heads in disappointment. They do not understand that my hands were not made for the delicate.

Looking at the Cowin photos was a process that I many times wanted to cut short. The office worker and I stand at opposite sides of the table, we look at each other to make sure we are on the same page and lift the large photo out of the box in unison. We place it on the table and she raises the flap. I grab the white sheet that is laid across the picture by its opposite edges and slowly lift up, making sure to not drag it across the photo, and place it into the box. She holds the flap up and we both stare at the image. I say “Okay” or nod my head in fake satisfaction as I lift the white sheet out of the box and place it back over the picture. She closes the flap, and we go on to the next one. We do this 6 times. Then one by one, in unison, we move all the pictures back into the box. Through out this process I felt the fear of dropping a newborn baby.

The images were not very interesting to me but I stared at each of them as though they were. I did not want the work that we put into viewing the photos to be in vein. Some of the photos had ridges on them. I found this funny. After all this precaution the photos were still damaged, and there was no coming back. The delicate was destroyed.

Looking at the dolls from Olivia Parker’s Lost Objects I saw both delicateness and the permanence of damage.

There was one doll in particular that annoyed me. It had a crumbling forehead, white eyes, it’s arms were reaching out, and it was looking right at me. Special collections as a whole annoyed me. Being able to touch the art but not really being able to touch the art annoyed me. But this doll in particular with its broken face, that was falling a part and that was delicate was reaching out for me to touch it. I cannot explain how much this annoyed me.

I wondered how all these dolls looked untouched and damaged at the same time. I thought about how the damage on the dolls was permanent. I thought about how this permanence was captured on camera and reproduced into another delicate thing. So now the photo held double the amount of delicate. I thought about how the most permanent thing these dolls will ever experience is their destruction. I thought about how easy it would be to damage these dolls, to scratch a picture, to drop a baby.

I have never liked the delicate.

Advertisements

The meaning of a photograph

  • A photograph means that an image has been stolen from time. The image has been captured and once you look at the image you too will become captured. So you will stand with the image in mutual capturedness being reminded that the photograph, the image, the reminder of a place you can never return, a place that you can never go, a time you can never touch, can only bring longing, nostalgia, a happy kind of sadness.
  • The photograph steals a moment from the past and present at the same time. Upon looking at it you long to continue to do just this, look at it; even if it is only for a second a moment from time has been taken.
  • If the image is particularly good you will feel the need to go back to this image, see it again, experience it again. But no matter how much you love the image or feel for it you may never get that same feeling you had the very first time you saw the image, the moment, the reminder.
  • A photograph always has to be tangible, an image does not. You can touch the photograph but you cannot touch the moment. You can love it but you cannot go back, you cannot feel again, you cannot understand deeper than what you see.
  • A photograph can be a very interesting thing. You can take the image from the look on your sister’s face when she caught you in the kitchen seconds before thumb met knife blade and store it in the scar on your hand. If you photograph this scar on your hand you have now managed to steal multiple images from time and place them in one photograph. Upon looking at the photograph you create another moment in time, another possible photograph.
  • When you look at a photograph you may think that you gain the ability to steal the image of the moment that you are in. You may think that you escaped the longing, the nostalgia, the happy kind of sadness. Do not be deceived. Unless a photograph is taken you will feel these things. If a photograph is taken, you will still feel these things. There is no escape, a photograph just makes these feelings better or worse. There is no saying.
  • If you take a photograph of the scar, then a photograph of you looking at the photograph of the scar, and so on. You can capture a never-ending sequence of moments, but these moments will be lost in you. Photographs will be lost in the world. In the end everything will be gone. There is no escape from this. Photographs were created to bring longing and nostalgia and a happy kind of sadness.

A warning against buried images.

Images that are buried deep will always find a way back to you. You’re 21 and in a museum. You see a marble, and then you’re 5. You’re 5 again and standing in front of the vase of marbles in your aunt’s house that you will soon begin to swallow. The same aunt that you wished were your God mother before you understood what a God mother was, so you ask your mom if your aunt can be your God mother. You don’t understand why she reacts the way she did. Now you do, now you’re 21 and standing in a museum looking at a marble, and you’re sad. A marble made you sad.

Buried images will do this to you. They will take you places you did not know existed. This can be dangerous. You need to watch out. You need to keep your eyes closed and your mind shut. Do not go looking for them, because you’ll be 21 and you’ll drop a beer bottle on the ground, and you’ll see the pieces of broken glass. Then you’re 5, and it’s May, and your mom is screaming, and your uncle is holding you in front of a sink of running water, and your dad is telling your mom to stop screaming, and there’s blood everywhere. These images will snatch you up, they will take you from where you are and put you back where you came from.

They never tell you what came first. These images are you playing in the park, eating with your left hand, screaming in front of a blood filled sink, walking up steps, red popsicles, red koolaid, falling us the steps, red hamburger buns, red knees, red concrete, red hands. They are the car ride to the hospital, they are not knowing whether you passed out, blacked out, or fell asleep.

Buried images are everything happening at once but not anymore. Do not be fooled by the fact that they are called images. They come with sound and feeling. They are being 21 and remembering the image you didn’t know you had of a piece of glass wedged through your thumb. Then you’re 7 and you’re arguing with a friend about how you can say ring finger but not thumb finger. So now you’re 5 and 7 and 21.

Images sit still and move at the same time, they never let you know which one they’ll be doing. They bang on your surface but cannot rise, they become the way you feel when you can’t remember the word on the tip of your tongue that you never knew. They are fleeting and ever present at the same time. Do not believe a thing you see, buried images are often full of lies. They are looking down at your bloody hand in the bathroom sink but looking into the mirror and seeing your sister’s face.

Why do you scream with your mouth open: A series of questions for the masks

  1. What is it that haunts you? Is it how bad it is to raise the dead? To give life to something that did not own it in the first place? Why does your face fall and twist and gape? Why do you scream with your mouth open and your eyes sad? Where does your passion come from?
  1. What is it that disgusts you? Is it falling in love with something that you shouldn’t or is it that cupid himself condones this with a smile on his face and an arrow drawn? Is it the unnatural becoming natural? Are you afraid? Are you afraid of what love is capable of?
  1. Or do you think falling in love with something you’ve created a sin? Do you find it vain and narcissistic? Is it that you’re angry?
  1. Why don’t you ignore it? Why don’t you turn your head like you see nothing, better yet why don’t you stare at yourself in the mirror? Maybe use your own moral perfections to suppress your feelings of indignation. Do you too want this feeling? Do you find this unfair? Do you find this shameful?
  1. Are you shocked that something like this can happen? Is it that you’re surprised? Do you think the shallow do not deserve happiness? Do you think the only thing that should be given to them is punishment? Do you not wish them well?
  1. Is it about the child? The way the mother shields their eyes? Are you frightened for the child or are you against the mother? Do you think this is something a child needs to see? Do you not believe that children should be shielded from the world? Or are you appalled by the child’s presence?
  1. Maybe you are frightened for the girl? Is it because you know she can never love someone else? Because you know she can have no other purpose than to be with this man? Do you not agree with the fate that she was given? Do you want to save her from him?
  1. Or maybe it’s because of him. Do you find obsession poisonous? Do see him as a slave to false love? Do you want to save him from his pleasure? Do you want to save him from her?
  1. Or is it the fish? Are you worried about what will happen to the fish? Are you thinking about how people don’t care about the things that are smaller than them? Are you thinking about the things that are neglected once love is found? Are you thinking about yourself?
  1. Why do you scream or gape or bellow? Why does your face hold so much pain or anger or shame? Why are your eyes like this? Why is your face like this? Where does your passion come from? What did this to you?

tumblr_o367xw4Uxo1qjo63oo1_1280

Michelle Increase Volum

Your bald head

Your brown skin

Your baby powder plastic scent

How everyone loving the way you smelled

Your laugh

Your locket

Your voice

The soft movements of your arms and legs

How you snored while you slept

The song they wrote for you

Your pink earrings

How everyone wanting to hold you

Being dropped

The tube in your throat

Your missing leg

How you drowned

Your pee on my leg

Being thrown by me

Forgiving me

My name in your locket

Your diaper that I did not understand how to change

Your carriage

My closet

Your lost clothes

How you were always forgotten

How you ran out of food

Never growing

How you were always lost

How no one cared about finding you

Your other leg breaking

Your broken earrings

The toothpick stuck in your throat

How you always seemed to smile, even when you were crying

How your palm was still only the size of my finger

Losing your voice

Losing your voice permanently

The marks on your back

Your painted nails

Your lipstick that smudged down your face

Someone trying to fix your leg

That someone failing

Being let go

How you were forgotten

How you were always falling

Losing your locket

Your baby powder plastic scent that never went away

Being forgotten by me

Being remembered by me

Being left by me