Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"Transparent" by Carla Harryman


Have I ever had a real vision? I wonder about this, even as I can easily describe one associated with something I ate once—several months before I met you. It was during Easter break in the late spring of 1971, and the vision happened on a Laguna Beach mesa overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was early morning when I went through the ritual of consuming the toxic buttons. After a prolonged bout of nausea from which I could find relief only by lying in my shower with the shower head pointing directly at my body and continuously spraying a soft mist onto my back and stomach, I was at last able to slip on a dress and sometime after midday wander down a short hill to the sandy mesa where a man in a transparent shirt tapped me on the shoulder. I was not exactly startled, but I had been enjoying the feeling of warm sand on my bare feet, so I reacted to this touching with irritation. A personal project in those years was to find fulfillment in being alone—a challenge of sorts for a young person living in zones of rampaging libido. I had to talk myself into turning around to see who was touching me, with the sense that if I didnt something might go wrong. He said something I can no longer recall, but I do remember his shirt, which simultaneously sheathed and revealed his lean high definition body. The shirt was composed of a blend of threads—the sky blue of Pacific air after the fog had burned off and the pale adobe pink of the Spanish style rooftops in the area. When I realized that his shirt was the rooftop meeting the sky, he faded in front of my eyes. Until today, however, I hadnt thought that this vision had to do with actual things in the sense that real things were the compositional materials of the hallucination. Instead, I had experienced the things around me as having been constituted by the vision. I believe I relied on that oddly distorted sensation in order to retain the memory, which otherwise might never have been recorded.

Source of the text - Carla Harryman, Adornos Noise. Ithaca, NY: Essay Press 2008.

TJB: Novelistic memory of a vision. Intensely visual, it is as “transparent” as a page-turner but still makes us pay attention to sound & style.

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