Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Letter to Diane Arbus

Staring at the face of Blonde girl with shiny lipstick, I can see where her eyebrows are starting to grow back. Too long since last plucking.

"...we tend while living here and now to perceive only what is random and barren and formless about it. While we regret that the present is not like the past and despair of its ever becoming the future, its innumerable inscrutable habits lie in wait for their meaning."

I can't say I regret that the past isn't the present.
But, that isn't to say there isn't one.

High School. Two (three?) semesters of photography. Mostly, I have stopped taking pictures. The idea of a manual camera gives me a feeling of loss, like a language I can't remember. A verb I am no longer able to conjugate. There is a roll of 120 film in my desk drawer. It awaits development. A chance to re-see the seen, to remember.

"I really believe there are things that nobody would see unless I photographed them."

I feel jealousy toward you. I want to be able to do everything I imagine. You lived on the Bowery, I think. I hardly remember that book I read about you two summers ago. The pain that comes with reading. But, I want to be there, in your apartment. An entire space filled with artists. I think Mary Frank, Robert Frank's wife, she lived there. So different. Did you wonder, how it ending up ended up like that?

You were schooled well, growing up, well-off near Central Park. But, the 60's and 70's were different, of course they were, but why lament for something I've never even known? A woman I've never known? The obsessions with mad women, but only the dead ones.

"We stand on a precipice, then before a chasm, and as we wait it becomes higher, wider, deeper, but I am crazy enough to think it doesn't matter which way we leap because when we leap we will have learned to fly. Is that blasphemy or faith?"

You gave me a reason, or, your story did, for being in New York. For not fearing. Because why, anyway? What for? No reason but fear of death, but that will come anyway. Nothing to be done. And of course, I knew not to be stupid about where I travelled, naive, but you weren't those things. Not the you I created. And that's the Arbus I need. Perhaps, when you're famous, people creates the you they need, in order to continue. I read somewhere, sometime, by someone, that our urge to live is entirely too strong. Like The Bell Jar, Esther on the edge of her bed, broken silk cord around her neck.

"Nothing is ever the same as they said it was. It's what I've never seen before that I recognize."

So, I take your words to my writing. I guess, that's what I do now. A purpose, of sorts. Recently, I wrote about my relationship to reading and writing. I mentioned that all three of us are in this together now. I cannot exist without writing, I am unsure of what else to do, and one must read in order to write. So that's what I have to do. For now. Until later.

*all quotes pulled from various texts printed in Revelations by Diane Arbus

No comments: