siff impressions, i

    i. A Girl

    Instincts recycle, protean as X chromosomes, circulate like water, blood, anxiety, the need to branch.

    A luminous face, too-small eyes, cheekbones too buffed to be beautiful, lips on the wrong side of pout.

    But why begin with the body? Because the camera does: a frontal pubic caress; pan up to a face shredded with fear.

    Kindness and madness. Desire so wrought and unspoken it slices.

    Maiden, Madam, Mother. Museum, Manufacturing , Maternality.

    How to change a life. How to start again; to start again to be young to participate in life, to give life, to give.

    Men, of course, are only accessories, accomplices, objects of longing, prizes, machines, works of art to be guarded or guarded against, evaded, stolen, reclaimed, celebrated.

    All it takes is a mother’s arms and secrets, shattered glass and no tomorrows, to close the weeping.

    ii. Truly Human

    Is there anything as terrifying as innocence?  I watch this innocent, stupefied face that passes for ingenuity walk into and through the director and the camera’s relentless authorial cruelty, a force of nature as real as this shaky camera and unadorned lighting, the propless props. The incarnation of the Other, male for female, man for child, native for alien, prey mistaken for predator, is familiar, is mirror which holds nothing but what is seen in it, is tabula rasa except for the triggers of pain and pleasure, and even those, learnt. (Is an aborted child a refugee, or that which is escaped?) In the end desire must remain caged to be safe, wall itself in, become unreal. The moral is regret. Scattered papers and children’s drawings on the road, after the undoing of history, become the credits. Leaves at the end of fall, are these lost and hasty scribbles, these inscrutable names. What makes us truly human may be our ability to shut out the unfamiliar and narrow our gaze, onto a screen, a page, a face, one kind of living, ours.


    A benign face in a sea of groupies, Chomsky is the US’s most prominent linguist-cum-activist (although you’d be hard pressed to link his two intellectual pursuits directly, as he himself would argue). His rants against American Imperialism are thoughtful, popular (if not exactly populist), sweeping, principled, informed, and inexplicably optimistic. Why is he being mobbed by Californian campus groupies, of which the camera appears to be one more starry eye on the lectern? Disconcerting that Chomsky’s common sense (his primary asset as a “dissident”) even requires a pulpit; that they are not already self-evident. That his views are regarded as controversial is bemusing, even disturbing. Is the attention span of the American campus/ audience/ historian really so stunted? Little evidence to the contrary here. The man’s a loner, and the world is of course, as always, in trouble.

21 April 2003   18:08 hours
pillow book as proto-blog { } working definitions