. . . . . . . Supervalent Thought

The Game (4)

4.  Contact Sheet

It is only evidence that she has been somewhere at the same time that her camera’s been there. There’s a pig in a doorway, a street, a man from behind. The places seem akimbo, as though executed by the fist of a small, tight child. The problem of a book is that it is fixed. But “archive” senses a strewn thing, of stuff and gesture moved by weather systems. Will we want to know later that the insurgents at the skirmish wore brightly colored jeans? We can imagine the folders into which they will go, each according to his palate.

The contact sheet is a record of no memory. The images track flooding, the cruising that hits a thick and then proceeds. Some details point elsewhere. Shoes are worn, uh huh. A side show with only some memorable moments, it’s hard to get vitalist about that; hard not to melodramatize; hard not to calcify the world into still life and shit. They were fighting with their fingernails, but there was no event. Is it all a gift waiting for a future? Sometimes it’s blurry when the camera swerves–or overfocuses. The body is a contact sheet with a nervous system.

That girl in profile, for example, smiles and covers her lower lip with her teeth, which in the next frame retreat all stained and mottled, an abject grin extra that’s tender, too. There are pictures of sweat and (I swear) bleeding through. Groups of people look around for prey or are trying not to be prey. There is an image of a nothing you can be sure of. But not all of the untimely is uncanny. Because presence isn’t overpresence it can sit there a like a meal’s full feeling. To witness struggle is not always to be in suffering.

But you want to get the atmosphere. The caption states, “Someone was smoking pot.” You can’t help but breathe deeply while reading that phrase, wanting to inhale the head of the world. Doesn’t revolt require lubrication and interruption–that’s why it’s sexy–to release the fish tank into its swerve? RETURN THE WORLD TO THE RAW. USE LAVA SOAP. WHEN YOU RUB SOMETHING ROUGH ON WHAT’S ROUGH IT GETS SMOOTHER. Politics moves across the surface like sex with its friction, disturbance, arousal, boredom, and minor sensation. If you can skim it (and you must) it isn’t there/here quite yet.

(with Susan Meiselas, Roberto Bolano, Karl Marx, Chris Taylor, Eduardo Cadava)

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