He’s the kind of person who can look you straight in the eye for minutes on end without saying a word. They say that Christ is not a man but all men combined, and when Stu looks at you this way you believe it to be true. He’s the Rumplestiltskin of Marin County, a trickster-elf who lives off the land and the kindness of strangers. A person’s only homeless if they’d rather live inside and can’t but his living situation is own choice. “I just had someone give me a brand new tarp to put over my tent so everything is working out really good,” he said. “I feel really confident in that I’m being taken care of, that’s why I live the way I do ’cause I, well, I’m going to explain everything by telling you the name of my home: The Rent’s Right Motel.”
The eyes are not just the windows to the soul, they’re the windows into all of them, every human being who’s ever lived. Bodies appear in an endless assortment of shapes and colors, and so do eyes, but to stare into the eyes of a stranger and truly look is to render them familiar, again. Stu gave me that gift. He let me look into his eyes. “I’m gonna tell you the highest thing I know because you’re open for it right now”, he said. “I read in a book one time that if you act like you already have what it is you want there’s nothing in the universe that can stop it from coming to you.”
I’ve heard that before. Act as if. The mind is an all-powerful creator of realities and myths. Our stories are just that, tales we tell ourselves. The eyes transcend their color and their sex. And they are ageless. They’re the only part of ourselves that are born fully grown. They are both infants and crones. I think I want to photograph only eyes. If you saw the eyes of a stranger, and nothing else, what would there be to judge? I just watched a film called Ex Machina. It’s another in a series of speculations on the nature of consciousness. Can man endow machine with soul? The movie conjures Spike Jones’ Her, Blade Runner, and 2001. And in all these musings on what it means to be human, to have a mind, the body is the nexus of the conflict within the machine, as if without one, can one be alive? A body, a human body, is not seen so much as a housing for a soul but the essential element of it. Self-awareness and self-determination are presented as the sole criteria for consciousness but in none of these treatments is the idea of spirit explored. Can man create a true consciousness? That seems to be the great question. But I don’t know. Perhaps the more important one is can consciousness, spirit, transcend form? Can it, does it, transcend the laws of nature as we understand them? Is it bound to matter?
The next time I saw Stu he seemed to have forgotten me. He was polite but only vaguely aware that we had met before, that we had sat together for more than an hour, deep in conversation. I went back to the park in hopes of engaging him again but he was surrounded by other denizens of the surrounding hills and they were all focused on getting high. I understood without having to be told that I didn’t belong to the cadre. And that was fine. The most powerful and memorable encounters I’ve had with other humans have been fleeting and singular, and I ask myself sometimes if they were even real, these people. I used to believe in angels, walking among us in human form. And I still do. The difference now is that I no longer believe they’re rare. I’m starting to wonder. Maybe we are angels all, acting as if we’re something other than the living parts of God. You, me, everyone – the one being, the one image, the one creation, I don’t know. But I feel it sometimes when I look into your eyes.
o O o