Paradise Regained

Jim Leftwich
July 2017


Duane Michals, Paradise Regained (1968)

A photograph is a reflection of nothing. A typo of noting. A type of nothing, noted. A topographical map of nothing. He protests he doesn’t reason and does nothing but reason, crooked, as if that could improve matters. Five minutes spent knitting the nothings into thin wafers buttered with fault and lined with the failures of hubris, speechless among toothless words, how does one move to improve by negation, while carrying a shovel over one shoulder and shuffling arbitrarily through the snow? Reason is cooked in a void, like the world (against all other worlds). The Recluse Theater was an attitude as opposed to a happening. Performance reported as a house show corresponds to process, furthermore slipping off the stool and onto the staircase, promises premises and more promises, avant the event of these a participatory funeral for an operational nothing. Blackbirds rise from a field making a sound delicious beyond compare. I heard them because I accepted the limitations of an arts conference in a Virginia girls’ finishing school, which limitations allowed me quite by accident to hear the blackbirds as they flew up and overhead. The “Lecture On Nothing” points to 1950. Sweet Briar College Full Moon Communists Capitalists Inc European Tour. Another failed attempt at photographing Joseph McCarthy. Preferable disdain, stripping the male position as eye effects to susceptible connotations, else of the earth an environment of evolution. Descriptic as one of the forks in the chicken — “taken at its word” — image framed by the detailed notes of slippage…

Sunsets in general, opened among contradictions, surrealist legitimacy, isolation, what happens to your handwriting when you die, the metaphysical texture of hardcore stories, writing “horse” in a house, riding a horse into your house (up three steps to the front porch, through the front door, across the hardwood floors of the sparsely-furnished living room, up the narrow stairs to the second floor foyer, down the hallway to the end and into your bedroom on the left), an intimately cursive focus, manuscripts in their libraries whispering secrets amongst themselves.

Identity is an undeniable style of belonging in a sentence, and in sequences of sentences set together. As a result, the coup of identity is to doubt everything and its double, to mark the mysterious as a model, to temper our victory over the sun with a modicum of magic, a moticos of mythopoeia, an osmotic faith tampered at its origins. Reproductions of human narratives tinged directly on sequences were within the photographic obsession with death, remote and eponymous, nevertheless a culture of handmade thought balloons, in order to know the contemporary temperature at dawn.

There is a theory of prophylactic theremin Essene in which the law of the cafeteria, as it is called, of reality, freelance subjectivity “in the times of the living” — microphones work to homogenize unabridged affinities (is it ironic to stage the rose as an icon whose ideological odor has inflamed its own reflexive reframing?), the wars are always fought and lost within the scenes of one’s own body. Take a look at the looks on her face. Frame two. Frame five. And his face, in frames four and six. Birth-control pills regained? Flag-burning regained? Hitchhiking together from Connecticut to California and back regained? In the first frame, she’s wearing a sweater and a skirt. He’s wearing a winter coat and a tie. In the second frame, he takes off his coat. In the third frame she takes off her sweater, shirt and bra, and he takes off his shirt and tie. In the fourth frame, she takes off her skirt and panties. In the fifth frame, he takes off his undershirt. In the sixth frame, he takes off his pants and briefs, and she moves slightly to her right, exposing more of her naked body.

The two decorative houseplants in frame one have become a small jungle by frame six. The sculpture (a bust of Darwin, Marx, Freud and/or Einstein), the mounted photograph, the flower vase, the cabinet, the painting on the wall, the table, the coffee cup and saucer, the lamp, the clock radio, etc. included in frame one gradually disappear, piece by piece, frame by frame, until we are left to reflect on nothing — things become nothing, an itemized nothing, the objective reality of nothing, recollections, collected reflections, the chapter on mnemonics in the avant training manual . By frame six none of it remains. Ancient for much, this our many universes in manner since lost, with paradise Adam at possessed ages, habitation and conquest willingly of air, well we know this mention then remember, rules of earth consort through wounds and screeds of heaven. The two frame cabinet clock remains. Houseplants in mounted coffee disappear. Jungle vase lamp none since willingly consort. Photographs refuse to redefine the limits of photography. My thoughts are my own needs, an enormous consensus to myself. Handwritten pictures in books begin with the camera writing. Technically, shots (like shoes) are sure and sequential. Time passing through a fantastic mirror like handwriting.

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