30 November, 2015

Camera Obscura

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Mystic Metals Body Jewelry

Camera Obscura


I moved a little while back. My friend owns a house and had a spare room. Good friend. Good fit. Very nice place. Good price. Don't know anything around me now, but it's only a half hour from where I am familiar, so it works out nicely. It's really remarkable to throw all of your shit in a car, put it in a space, look at it and think, 'Yeah. That's all my shit. That's it.' Weird. Objects representing a life, and they all fit into one room. Yeah, yeah, I know; a life isn't measured by possessions. Settle down, Buddha. Still, our life's artifacts are all odd indications of bigger things. Like lovers and accomplishments and failures. It's bizarre to me to see them all collected in one space. And of course, the inevitable box of photographs. Going through the photos and thinking about who you were and what you didn't know at that point. Who wasn't dead or married or pregnant just yet. Looking at photos and thinking, 'That dude has no idea what's coming.'

We in the beautiful culture of modification look on the photos a bit differently, don't we. We see small lobes, or bare skin. Or heavier, small breasts and crooked noses. Of course everyone, modified or not, sees similar things. Thin bellies now fat. Long hair now bald. The girlfriend now living across the country. The husband now an ex. The able now crippled, or the pet now dust in a jar. (Or 'over the rainbow bridge,' as my beautiful sister would say. Apparently every pet is Thor? Never understood the rainbow bridge.) The question is this. Are we complete in our mind's eye now, assuming we were incomplete in the photos; or are the photos a place of no return to which we wish we could?

The person who owns the house I live in had a party this weekend. Our friends overlap briefly, but most of them are cocksuckers, and only two overlapping friends showed. Note: I love my cocksuckers, and that's why I can call them cocksuckers. I had two of my own friends appear, and the rest were my house owner's friends. I had to be there because all my stuff is there, but I had a difficult day and my ability to be social (already thinner than my hair) was uncooperative. I interacted and told stories, but mostly answered questions about my disability and my modifications. These party guests were not the modification type, save a rouge nostril here and there. Good and fine people, but those who participate in a different aesthetic culture.

In talking about my disability, I always and slickly pivot to my modifications. I'd much rather talk about my lobes than my spine. I've been cut open and poked and looked at many, many, many times. In the 80s, no one knew how to interact with spina bifida, and the MRI only hit market in the late 70s, so it was a fantastical magic machine. I got poked a lot. There is a story to be told for each hair in my unruly beard ("Unable to be ruled!"), but no one wants to hear hospital stories. And that's why I pivot. In truth, when I was a little older and getting cut open all the time, I'd get modified to represent the change. I watch a lot of sports, and there is an old broadcaster bullshit line that says once a player has a surgery, he can get as close to 100% as he can, but he'll never be 100% again. There's a change. He, or I in this case, is not the same material human as I was moments before the knife split my spine open, and hands which were never intended to be beneath skin manipulated what was grown in the belly of my mother. But I can't see that. I can't see the pins and rods and missing parts. But I can see a nipple piercing, a labret, a daith, a Madison, a septum, a nostril, an eyebrow. I can see a tattooed arm or calf or thigh. And I can remember. I can remember that I was a thing which I am no longer, and in that, I can recapture what I want to be, or more accurately, what I am comfortable being.

So I look at the photos. I look at the missing things. The naked arms, the little lobes. I think, this Andy has yet to know why my lips are pierced now; and he's not going to like it. I see photo Andy, and I see him standing. I see him with movement and the limited semblance of grace that he had. I put the photo down, look at the chair I'm sitting in and think, 'He has no idea.'

Of course, it's not all bad. I look at photo Matt and think, 'He looks like a porn star,' or photo Chris and think, 'Nice giant glasses,' or photo Dan and think, 'Khakis and white sneakers? C'mon, man.' And I laugh. Isn't that the intention of photographs? To stop time and put it on a little piece of paper so that we may time travel in the depths of our cobwebbed minds. We don't need a DeLorean. We've had a time machine since the fifth century BC when Mo Ti used the camera obscura to trace inverted images projected by light through a pinhole. We can go back to anywhere in time, so long as were were there when it first happened.

We are aesthetic beasts. We use our eyes to feed us information, and whether we realize we are doing it or not, we are making assessments. Judgements levied and opinions formed. We use eyes to tell us things. To tell us that the landscape has changed when an abandoned building is leveled for a park to be built. When wrinkles beside eyes tell us of things seen and sun imbibed. When motion tells us of able times and carelessness. The kind of carelessness that isn't born of neglect, but freedom. The carelessness to move across the country for a lover, or change jobs for an experience, or to get on stage and play music your heart wrote. Change, photos, eyes, time travel.

I'm writing not because I believe I have something to say, or because I believe what I am saying has any value. I'm writing because I've been asked to. The photographs of my words from years past (yeah, that's a thematic stretch, but eat shit; this is my space) have caused a remembering of what was, and the perception from the asking people was that what was was good. But even still, looking on the photographs of past things written, I am emboldened by the same odd angels and demons from the actual photographs of me with long hair, or without a tattoo sleeve, or without a wheelchair. Emboldened because his innocence is a refreshing reminder to choose innocence over bitterness. Then again, what we don't know is always hopeful, regardless of how much of a jaded asshole you are. Every team is a World Series contender on Opening Day. Maybe if you're nice to me, I'll post a long hair photo someday. I probably won't, but I figured we'd practice the Opening Day theory real quickly there. Yeah; I need more work on it too. Stay beautiful, kids.

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