Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why I Can't Write.

Because the shimmer I see in images, and I mean shimmer literally as well, it translates to other images and not to words. It translates to a language of images arranged using the structure of grammar. Grammar as the basis of the making of the photos and the ordering of the photos. As much as I work to have the photos connect to the history and movement of photography, I see the I-95 and the photos equally as a literary construction, with syntax mattering as much as any individual image.

Word, sentence, paragraph, chapter, book or story, complete body of work.
Word, poetic form, completed poem, collection of poems, complete body of work.

and also

Lyric, melody, song, album, albums, live performance, complete body of work.

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From "Why I Write" by Joan Didion

"Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason
to write. I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see
and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Why did the oil refineries around
Carquinez Straits seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night lights
in the bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years? What is going on in these pictures
in my mind?

When I talk about pictures in my mind I am talking, quite specifically, about
images that shimmer around the edges. There used to be an illustration in every
elementary psychology book showing a cat drawn by a patient in varying stages of
schizophrenia. This cat had a shimmer around it. You could see the molecular structure
breaking down at the very edges of the cat: the cat became the background and the
background the cat, everything interacting, exchanging ions. People on hallucinogens
describe the same perception of objects. I’m not a schizophrenic, nor do I take
hallucinogens, but certain images do shimmer for me. Look hard enough, and you can’t
miss the shimmer. It’s there. You can’t think too much about these pictures that
shimmer. You just lie low and let them develop. You stay quiet. You don’t talk to many
people and you keep your nervous system from shorting out and you try to locate the cat
in the shimmer, the grammar in the picture.

Just as I meant “shimmer” literally I mean “grammar” literally. Grammar is a
piano I play by ear, since I seem to have been out of school the year the rules were
mentioned. All I know about grammar is its infinite power. To shift the structure of a
sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely and inflexibly as the position of
a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed. Many people know about
camera angles now, but not so many know about sentences. The arrangement of the
words matters, and the arrangement you want can be found in the picture in your mind.
The picture dictates the arrangement. The picture dictates whether this will be a sentence
with or without clauses, a sentence that ends hard or a dying-fall sentence, long or short,
active or passive. The picture tells you how to arrange the words and the arrangement of
the words tells you, or tells me, what’s going on in the picture. Nota bene.

It tells you.
You don’t tell it."

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