Monday, 5 March 2012

this is reality


why is it that you need to show three glasses when even one glass holds more emptiness than wine could ever fill? do you think that paint coming off the wall symbolizes loss and decay of the soul - generally speaking? or perhaps your own, tiny wound? do you think that flowers lose petals for the sake of your weeping? don't you see that you are still saying this and that, and your speech is flowing over the brim of every empty glass you might show?

i haven't invented anything, i pleaded, this is what i found on the balcony when i could finally bring myself to open that door, there was even a small heap of ashes there, which i could not get into my frame. this is exactly what i saw. somebody smoked there every night, the window wide-open, before leaving. some-body. a body pushing against the wall. this is what was left behind. this is reality.


you haven't looked properly.

furiously, after much pondering and fighting against myself, i weighed all the lines of the composition and went around them for many days, in search of the perfect angle. i removed one glass. still, it didn't seem enough. with one glass left, i was much closer to the truth, it seemed. yet it too needed to be broken into pieces. i handed you the barren landscape.


still overflowing, i see.
why the many crumbles, when even one grain of sand is enough to reflect the moon?

like this, like this? i asked, scraping off this layer of my self, and another one, and another still. when the new, perfectly empty vistas of my gaze presented themselves to you, i myself had long been gone, fading away like a whisper or some animal's breath in the icy air.


yet what one stared at now, from beyond the silence, was nothing less than three empty glasses, stained, full of ashes and dregs, placed on an old print of one of her photographs, fallen petals scattered across the table, paint coming off the mildewed walls of the balcony where someone would smoke late at night, and once bit her lips when kissing her against the frozen window, dust on the wooden table, the wet grayness of the air - each of the thousand colours alive and exact, each of the myriads of hues precisely delineated, the smallest detail of the smallest curve and angle present with all its impossible truthfulness.




  1. Beautiful. "Reality" has always been a little problematic for people, though. Too often it means, merely, memory, and that is whatever we make it: this, too, is "reality" for us. All too often, and with depressing predictability, it means "memory of things that have happened, extrapolated arbitrarily into the time that has not yet been," as though we could extrapolate at all, let alone with any accuracy.

    209,000,000 people have died from preventable starvation since 1996. That's -- let's see -- around twenty Holocausts. And it was known about in advance, and it happened and still does. And it was once preventable, every one of these deaths was known to be preventable, could have been prevented. By us. It wasn't prevented, though. It was permitted to happen. I wonder why.

    Even this, though, we could call beautiful, if we so chose. What does that tell us about our relationship to 'reality'?

  2. superb! so glad you remembered the colours in the end.

  3. I love this, it's one of your films in stills. I can hear you speaking, I feel the movement of the narration. You teach me how to look!

  4. An inquiry...objects as artifacts of a soul's experience. The evidence remains as a puzzle we try to piece together to understand a moment implicit in the objects left behind...someone was here then...I am here now. The puzzle is of then and now and time passing....the self...and the other...

  5. i don't understand my reaction to this piece, roxana. it is so complicated. i gasped aloud upon seeing the first photograph, the luminosity of the glasses, the clarity, juxtaposed with the decay of the wall, and each element in between seemingly carefully weighed and considered.

    and then the sliding into and out of existence. i would like to say two things, there is great knowledge inside this piece as though each small paragraph is a shifting landmass, and equally true i would like to say there is no knowledge at all in this piece nor any landmass, only the shift itself.

    by the end i make an unconscious motion to feel my shirt and wonder if beneath there is a body.


  6. All I need say is: "Lemonade, everything was so infinite, so boundless!" (and I wish those words were mine:)
    A very rich essay, toying with giving ideas, splurging on feelings, summoning a few of those books and authors that "break the frozen seas inside us". Not sure you would agree, but as said before, intentional fallacy not quite my cup of tea. However, I'd like to agree: "In three glasses we live…"

    "Inside the glass, the abstract
    tide of fortune turned
    from high to low overnight."

    (this one, a lot to my taste. not that it truly matters.)

  7. Her talent lies in the cinereous ability with which she reclaims both word and picture from the palimpsest of life (reality), and yet as a budding videographer with brimful eyes, she wants to control, twist and titivate the universe to her own liking, whereupon she finds that alas, after changing the velvety set and replacing the highly-paid, blithesome actors (empty vessels with tabescent talent and now, good God, untrammelled tears), underlying truths patently persist.

  8. have you been reading Claude Simon?

  9. cred ca te-ai gandit deja ca va fi una dintre postarile care vor intra pentru totdeauna in inima mea cea mai gandesc de ieri la ea,de cand am vazut-o aici,fara sa am calitatea timpului de care e nevoie pentru a incerca sa spun ceva despre.astazi insa,gandindu-ma mai bine,imi dau seama ca este unul dintre lucrurile acelea atat de graitoare despre care poti avea nesfarsite consideratii ,egale prin magnitudinea discretiei pe care ti-o nasc,concomitent,de a nu spune nimic.
    in ea este cuprinsa toata aparenta dilema a vietii mele,scurgandu-se intre optiunea culorii,a interpretarilor,a obiectualului vorbitor si supletea alb-negrului,a tacerii,a universului redus la un fir de nisip-da,de ajuns el singur,poate chiar excedentar:)stiu sigur numai ca-si asta nu e un merit personal-este nevoie de taote urmele,de toate culorile,de toate eforturile pentru a gasi unghiul perfect spre a ajunge la"nimicul"constient,la fel cum,apoi,in traire,este nevoie sa pleci tot de acolo unde ai "ajuns" pentru ca acele culori,ganduri si actiuni sa fie ,cum s-ar spune in basme,stropite cu "apa vietii"din noi.
    este un dar atat de mare aceasta postare,incat imi vine sa spun,redusa ,pana la urma,la a tacea si a ma bucura in mine,acele clisee care tin samburele in suprafata lor insipida.

  10. Are these your photos? I think I agree with you...reality is unpleasant sometimes.

  11. this dialogue -- perhaps spoken (grimly, despairingly, or whispered in love?) across the fracture between sides of the self -- drives creation, doesn't it? with each successive image, each stripping away, i am persuaded -- yes, at last, this is right, this is the truth!! -- and yet ... and yet ... where does this final lushness come from, unless it grows like an unanticipated wildflower in the gap?

  12. thank you to all of you ~

    the first and last picture (as they are the one and the same) are indeed what presented itself to me on the balcony. i took the rest of the photos with these words/questions on my mind.
    while writing, it suddenly occurred to me that i was, in fact, moving along the lines of a rather famous zen saying: 'Before I had studied Zen for thirty years, I saw mountains as mountains, and waters as waters. When I arrived at a more intimate knowledge, I came to the point where I saw that mountains are not mountains, and waters are not waters. But now that I have got its very substance I am at rest. For it's just that I see mountains once again as mountains, and waters once again as waters.'

    and i had to smile: i had, spontaneously, built my little story about essences around photography, what does this say about myself?! :-)

    ps. Anna, yes, they are my photos. Michael, i am sorry, i am not familiar with Simon's writings, unfortunately but not unsurprisingly, given the extent of my ignorance.

    and yes, ONLY THE SHIFT ITSELF ~

  13. i didn't actually expect you to have read anything by Simon, i am pretty certain that the nouveau roman is not your cup of tea, however you might find yourself sympathetic with this remark from his Nobel lecture, "Not demonstrate, but show; not reproduce, but produce; no longer express, but discover. Like painting, the novel no longer claims to draw its pertinence from its association with some important topic; but from the fact that it, like music, struggles to reflect a certain harmony."

  14. and i just discovered this interview, in which we find the following exchange, in which i feel Simon could almost be speaking for the bridge itself:

    INTERVIEWER: What do you want your readers to learn from your books?

    SIMON: They’ll learn nothing. I have no messages to deliver. I hope only that they will find pleasure. The nature of this pleasure is difficult to define. One part is what Roland Barthes has called recognition—the recognition of sentiments or feelings one has experienced oneself. The other is the discovery of what one had not known about oneself. Johann Sebastian Bach defined this sort of pleasure as “the expected unexpected.”

  15. I like this piece - a journey without going anywhere.

  16. ah how powerful are these words and images together what a masterpeice and I have to admit I have a weakness for ultramodern art and this is soooooo ultramodern
    I love the way you have shown the psychological decay the death with your images and words. the taking down of the dream the burnt out dream the ashes the decaying dream wall. it reminds me of cleaning up after a party.haha.

    and what I find truly methodical here and actually amazing and brilliant is that the words imply an arrangement of elements an arranging of elements-do you need to show three glasses(for example)the right photographic angle, the attempt to fit the ashes into the frame etc.
    you call it finally this is what was left behind the reality but we are left with a strong sense that we are in control of the arrangement of the elements- therefore we have the power to manipulate the elements to find a solution because it isn't difficult to go from the physical manipulation of the elements to the manipulation of the psychical elements, this bridge has existed right from the beginning of your words-do you think that flowers lose petals for the sake of your weeping.

    thankyou. hugs

  17. Michael, not being a fan of Barthes but having a love of Bach, your observation about the "expected unexpected" is intriguing. I had not thought of reading this as one would a piece of music, but applying this metaphor produces new insights. Thank you! (I'm listening to Tatiana Nikolayeva's recording of Kunst der Fuge, where one gets to hear the expected unexpected in the final, uncompleted fugue, continuing in the mind after the death of the composer: recommended to all.)

    This can be read very musically: a theme stated, then varied, evaporating as it were, until almost unrecognisable, then coalescing until, finally, the theme recurs as a coda, less austere and more from the heart.

    I wonder if the whole represents a transition from the austerely cerebral to the restatement augmented by the subliminality of color. Hm. :)

  18. si eu, ca si erin, citind, mi-am pipait hainele ca sa simt daca sub ele se ascunde un trup.

    am fost muta citind aceasta postare. cred ca este una dintre cele mai puternice care au plutit deasupra apelor si podului tau.

  19. and all these details that you so intrigueingly define all come to reflect on the captured moment and the futile attempt to capture the fleeting mood all bearing down on thousands of light years of sunsets and sunrises on 4 billion years of evolving and an infinite number of psychical paths following the cosmic ways illuminated by the wayward stars
    and I have often here on the bridge explored the idea of these intricate pathways coming together to form the moment
    and if someone asked me what is reality I would answer you can hold life in a test tube perhaps create life in a test tube but how can you hold 4 billion years of evolution in a test tube....all we can understand is-our own tiny wound and the barren landscape and the exalting sun of humanity.....


  20. Marion McCready's comment helped me to understand why it was that I needed to read all the comments before attempting to gather my thoughts and write my own. I'm still at a loss for words, though.

    While reading this all I thought was Zen. I couldn't conceive of grasping at the complications of reality. Then I read your own reply to comments and thought: all is well.....and Zen.