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Month: October 2012

Fuming a latent image


Dear –

Foggy again this morning. Considering taking my camera down to the coast to take some dim romantic plates but the thought of you stopped me. For that I am grateful- I have enough dim romantic photographs as it is that can’t stand up to the light needed to print them. Plus, shrugging landmarks in the ambivalent local gloom are just too similar to the cramped and vague notes in my daily journal. Incidentally, I’ve taken to calling it a ledger over journal, dairy or even log because the overall impression is of inventory more than expression. A record, catalog, of sums of experience, but thoroughly lacking any numeric discipline. But the word ‘ledger’ does have the air of a verb which keeps me expecting some helpful mechanical tug, an axis of time; some sort of inexorable physical term that is both fatigue- and complicity-proof.

All that out of the way. I’m writing to you because I’m out of cigarettes. I’m not asking for money again- it’s early Sunday morning anyway and the stores are all closed. I keep getting up much too early. I’m not sure I want more cigarettes because lately I pace vigorously whenever I smoke; tight regimented circles that betray my casual loafers. And ranting. I can distract myself with coffee but no matter how many different blends or roasts I buy it has been very bad all month due to weather, possibly regime change. Sickly, tasting of acid rain and the civet’s digestive failure, a small rot behind the warm inviting scent there in my cup like the camouflage of brand new thick twill socks and a warm shirt (still very cold here)  but I see that I remember a half-smoked butt from 3 a.m. so I will be right back. So easily sidtracted. (that’s dyslexia, but I’ll pretend it was intended as clever coinage of sidetracked and distracted.)

So I’m editing this letter even before I finish it; whether because I don’t want to continue or I want to reign myself in before I get carried away is anyone’s guess. The last several letters I haven’t sent yet. I will. With polish. But is it better to send several letters in one envelope, or play the ridiculous game of sending one every few days to give the impression of spontaneity and prolificacy? If you knew how I agonized over these letters. Obsessive? Well, surely; the last updates the eternally previous, a conditional expedition. But I still need to insert in the letters a curiosity of you actually out there, because you’re out there: no spam bot, no mere haiku algorithm,  nor nOOb156948.

But speaking of me- my condition is back. Probably exacerbated by all the caffeine and nicotine. It feels like a hand around my throat. By turns cool and sinewy or strong and warm. Always high on the throat, just under the jaw, like a portrait collar. My expression is of something endured, like the long exposure of a daguerreotype. Dour, not sure what to do with the eyes. The lens’s focus on the tip of the nose a palpable itch. There’s a slight unbidden pulse at the carotid, like the tick of the metronome the photographer uses to count the time.

This metaphor only because I just had a dream about sitting for an antique portrait. My neck braced and eye to eye with a giant wooden box draped with a long velvet darkcloth that obscured an oddly anthropomorphic tripod with tiny clawed feet. The camera itself was fitted with a elegant and slender brass probe instead of a lens. There was a general throbbing overall; of metronome or pulse in my neck or both. The framed samples on the walls hummed. For every second endured the rate would be cut by half, the portraitist clearing things out of the studio even as the plate festered in this exponential agony, cautioning me to hold still or the aperture and thus time itself would constrict further. This time was dilated against the pulse in my neck, and an orange-green nausea would swell whenever the ticks did not align. I then realized the odd anatomy of the tripod was actually a writhing scrum of toothless orphans huffing the mercury pot. ‘Fie!’ hissed the portraitist, dragging the whole fuming mess out the door by the area rug that staged it.

Actually I’m lying about the last bit- no toothless orphans. But I did expect more out of the tripod. More on all this later..