October 27th, 2013
I’ve been going on photo explorations in deepest, strangest New York. The camera has the quality of isolating things–putting them in a frame. I see the whole street and everybody and everything on it. The camera focuses on details and, occasionally, sees things I might not notice or choose to see…
When you’re going through periods of severe paranoia, you see faces everywhere– in the pattern and weave of carpets, the grain of polished wooden floors, desks or bureaus, and in the patterns, cracks and shades of paint on walls.
This is a primitive state you slip into and you tend to see these threatening faces where-ever you go… Imagine being a traveler living in the year 800ad and walking through the black forest. You BELIEVE, without a doubt, that there are imps and ogres in the earth, the trees, the sky and the water. After all, the Church and your own childish imagination tell you so. Then, of course, you have to have amulets, prayers and rituals to avoid being grabbed and eaten, or turned into a toad or a knobby bush… That’s how you feel in the modern world when you are in the grip of such unreasoning fear. The whole environment is teeming with demons…
Of course the faces can dissolve back into mere wood or water, cloth or concrete if you take the right pill or chug down a long swallow of scotch… A good dose of love or sex will also cause the faces to (temporarily) head for the exits…
Decades ago there was a small painting on permanent exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I can’t recall the artist’s name.
I remember it (and my memory is very elastic and self-serving) as showing a little man, looking terrified and bewildered, perched on the back of gigantic, predatory bird-like creature. Clearly, the little guy was being taken for a ride–very likely his last trip. And all around and beneath him was a gray-black sky, looming clouds and hungry-looking ocean waves.
There was an inscription underneath the painting (or print) which said: “They reckon ill who reckon without me“.
This is pure William Blake, which is to say that no matter where or when–in world history or in your own life–If you’re not aware of lurking “demons”; greed, ignorance, violence, superstition–or, internally, sexual desire, fear, rage, revenge–then you’re in constant danger of being taken on a very bad trip.
Here’s a the link to a shot I took the other morning walking around the city.
The photo is of a section of wall at the entrance to a seedy indoor parking lot on the West Side of Manhattan– The wall has been patched and painted many times–even had a couple of holes drilled in it for some now-forgotten purpose.
*When you’re there, you might want to look at the other photos I’ve recently posted.