Papier Mâché Heart

I want to see things differently. I want to see beyond seeing. I want to be free from this slavery to forms. Bodies. Objects. Volumetric shading, texture, gradation. The world is staggering in its beauty and its ugliness, in its seeming duality, in its myriad of variations, its layers and interdependencies, this Rube Goldberg contraption of sub-atomic particles, of action-reaction, of begets and begottens, this amazingly terrifying machine of which I am some small, but essential fly-wheel, spinning in my own little orbit, arcing through my motion until I meet some unbalanced force, until I collide with some other particle and my trajectory is changed and I ping off in a new direction, a terrnaut amok through the illusion of time, grasping for handles, just trying to steady myself, to hold onto something so as to stop spinning.

And maybe that’s what all this is, the writing, the photographs. My little Uniball Jetstream 1.0 is a miner’s pick – tap tap tapping away at the shale of my heart. My camera is my heart, the heart I so desperately want to pull out of my body and present as an offering to every tree, every stone, every crimson sunset – Just take it from me, please, because I don’t know what to do with it anymore. I never did. But they won’t. They cannot. The grass, the flowers, the scudding clouds. So I take them, and paste them like strips of wet newsprint to my Papier Mâché heart, imagining, in my naïveté, that I’m gathering back all those lost fragments of God and performing my own communion, returning, coming home, picture by picture, word by word, not building a wall but tearing it down so I might see through to the otherside land beyond my vain creations, beyond the guilt and the fear to the heaven that I fled when I made that desperate decision to go it alone and call myself boy; believing in the fiction of mirrors, falling for clever tricks of light in the time of my first awareness when I sat rapt before the wizard of my invention making shadow puppets, of dogs and horses, with my magic wands, my fabulous hands, that could, if I willed it, spin worlds out of straw and make the whole shit-show disappear; and those words, the words I thought were my own, built far better machines than mirrors, or even photographs. But they were merely symbols too – containers, projections, cheap substitutes for what could never be spoken or even understood; that longing for God.

I don’t know what any of this means anymore. The pictures. Vision. Perception. Photography, for God’s sake. I think I’m seeing something until I realize I’m not seeing what I think I see. And what is seeing, really? All along I knew that these acts were ways of discovering God – writing stories, taking pictures, of people, of objects. I thought, or felt rather, that God was out there, somewhere. I wrote the novel Serpent Box in order to find God, but I already had God, I just needed to pull my entrails out through my nostrils in order to see it. I needed to write a story about a wounded, confused little boy who could heal others with his hands so that I could see that he was me, and that my own hands weren’t the dangerous weapons I once thought they were. Stories can save us.

Art is a journey to discover the self. And it is a dangerous journey, fraught with perils that can kill the artist before he finds home. VanGogh. Hemingway. Cobain. Writing is art. It is a mythic hero’s quest that I embarked upon because I once saw a photograph of a little boy that begged an explanation. One image. My life was changed by a single photograph that was a gift presented to me by a friend, a fellow artist. When particles collide, whole worlds can be created, or destroyed.

o O o

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7 thoughts on “Papier Mâché Heart

  1. You said it yourself: “My life was changed by a single photograph”. This is your gift, your purpose. You can see where others are blind; not only that, you can communicate your observations in a beautiful and succinct way. YOU are shaping our universe and changing lives. More than that, nothing exists until it is witnessed. Without observation, there is nothing. Your observation, your pictures, your prose, creates life. Isn’t that more than enough?!

    • Thank you Amiapom, much appreciated. But I am not sure, anymore, if observation *creates* anything. Nor do I think I create life. Perhaps the illusion of life. But I do agree that what I do, *whatever* I do, *is* enough. Being is enough. Listening is enough. Seeing used to be enough, but I think now it’s being willing to see things differently. Your comments are always most welcome.

  2. You write, “I don’t know what any of this means anymore.” I watched a program last night about the preeminent physicist of our time. He has it all figured out, with formulas and theorems. The world began with nothing and we are just particles with no meaning. I’m not buying it though. If someone can’t find God, maybe they are looking in the wrong places. Maybe we have to “see beyond seeing”, as you say. Oh well, just a few thoughts. I enjoyed your words, even if they are mere symbols. Just because. No theorem required! Thanks.

    • What hubris it must take to think you can reduce this all down to numbers and words – mere symbols, more form. As if intellect is capable of comprehending the infinite. The book I’m reading states that the Big Bang was created by us in the moment we separated ourselves from God. Consciousness created the ‘particles’, the fragments and machination of the universe out of fear of retribution. Thanks always for your point of view Daniel.

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