member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tango in a Box VI

Part One is here.

When you can see his eyes, Johnny’s got ears like perfect shells. Not all folded up like everyone else’s, but smooth with long water-polished ripples. If I have to look at him when he’s talking, I focus on his lips, because it helps me remember I’m trying to listen to him talking, but it’s his eyes I’m thinking about anyway. When you can’t see his eyes, he looks like someone you would ignore on the street, he’s not a sunglasses kind of man. All the threat that moves the world and makes each breath come out just in time to jump that next step so there’s no chance to think is in his eyes. When he laughs, it makes me deliriously afraid. I close my eyes tight, and I remember the red wet animal flipping around the tops of slightly crooked teeth and the lips starting a slow curve upwards. That slow curve, even just in my memory, it’s like a trigger, my body immediately ups the oxygen intake to prepare for intense activity. I’d say, “In-Shah-Allah.” He’d laugh. The pacifier popped in and he’d grab my hand and we were running. Whatever we’d done, there was always lots of noise behind us, but all I could see was Johnny’s back and hair in front of me, making everything else rush into streaks of color. I’d focus until the halo of white pushed the colors away from us, and then we were in the car and the rest of the world rushed back to me all at once. The impact of the wind, the car’s throttle and the rattle of its muffler. The sun glinting harsh across the windshield and us, laughing.


Hog Belly Dance, by AZ Rainman of the Independents
In front of me is this impossible man, fat like a tent, kicking up his legs and catching himself with his palms on the floor, throwing himself from one palm to the other. I imagine him as a puppet, someone from the fourth dimension is yanking him from side to side, from palm to palm, up to his feet and down to his hands, entertaining all of us here with the idea of a leaping, dancing tank. As I watch him, someone is trying to convince me of the mundane. I do not say, “Don’t bore me.” I do not say, “Compare, dear audience, that which is before you with that which is next to me.” The thing I notice is, if I had seen him sitting, I would have figured this dancer couldn’t get up by himself. The other thing I notice is, his face is the color of what I got when I asked for well-done, and he’s breathing so hard I can smell his breath from here. The lawyer sitting with me, he’s a vegetarian, and he’s looking at my plate. He says, “You might send that back.” Obviously, he’s never worked in food service. The place, it’s very Middle-Eastern, so we’re sitting on these huge cushions, perfect for disappearing into the corner. The dancer, he’s definitely Middle-Eastern, because no self-respecting white man that size would get up off the couch. The lawyer’s telling me how famous Johnny is. He’s been all over the TV for years. He says, “You see bank robberies all the time in the movies, but they don’t really happen that often in real life. And when they do, the guy’s in jail before the movie’s credits would be done rolling.” I’m thinking, if the cook’s already pissed in this, it’s probably crawling with hepatitis. The lawyer says, “It’s not a matter of appealing in this case.” The tank throws himself down to his right palm and kicks his left foot up in the air, alternating from palm to palm, foot to foot. Sweat sprays onto my steak. The lawyer says, “Between state and federal, Johnny’s never going to get walked out the front door of that place.” And then there’s the dead security guards, at the one place where the video tape got all twisted up and useless. A miracle. “Otherwise, he might have gotten the chair,” says the lawyer, and he makes a loud motion like he’s brushing dirt off his hands, holding them up for me to see, fingers splayed. He’s so impressed, it could only be an act of God— so he can’t take credit. The situation is this: I don’t give a shit what this guy thinks. He’s a lawyer, wrong field. I’m here because I haven’t figured out a way to explain my plan to Johnny yet. Or exactly how to carry it out. The reason I’m still here is, my eyes have glued my ass to the seat. Every time the tank flips, my mind screams amazement. Right now, it’s peripheral vision, but I swear the guy is bouncing on one foot and kicking the other out over and over as he turns in circles on one palm. Right now, I’m thinking about memory. I’m remembering where the psychology textbooks tell us that a whole bunch of people watching the same thing will not remember the same incident when asked about it later. For instance, your average, averagely fearful white suburbanite will tell you that the perpetrator was a tall black man. Thirteen people present at the same bank robbery will all point confidently at someone different in a line up: someone who was in Germany at the time, someone they saw on the news, one of the other victims. Anyone the police officer next to them seems keen on. A tall black man. This is your mind, having bracketed the world into patterns, seeing what it expects to see. It’s called the Bartlett Effect. People get frightened in these scenarios. If your mind can’t grasp what it sees, it’ll do a little overdubbing, see something it can grasp. So I’m thinking, it might be hard to see the power we have over our future, but some part of us, at least, seems to have all kinds of power over the present and past. Right now, you’ll focus on what’s key to your survival or sanity: the gun in your face, the dancing whale. So that tomorrow, I’ll remember this impossibly large man leaping from side to side on the palms of his hands like I couldn’t when I was a six-year-old ball of explosive fearless energy. Tomorrow, this asshole will daydream in the shower about my dark green turtleneck stretched tight across a padded and stuffed 34D bra. It’ll never occur to him that I didn’t say anything through the whole meeting in which I’m pretty sure we were supposed to discuss some type of plan of prison-release, like mine, for example. Me, I’m thanking God this guy’s dancing so I won’t have to remember anything I’m supposed to be listening to.

Source photo of the above, by Sideshow Mom


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