the thing that absolutely will not happen :: 12/22/00
Shes halfway through her Thai cucumber salad when she looks up and sees the two people waiting at the table across from her. The woman has her head turned to her left shoulder, and her eyes are cast even further to the left, and downwards, as though she is staring at an electrical outlet at the base of the wall behind her. Her hand is held up at her mouth, and she is biting at her thumb, positively gnawing it Denise thinks of the way rabbits in cages will curl around and chew (anxiously?) at their own sides. The man is blithely reading a magazine. The magazine serves as a perfect interference pattern, blocking all communication between him and his companion (girlfriend, Denise supplies, without quite thinking about it).
Denise watches the couple from behind her sunglasses. She actually stops eating. The woman, so angular and uncomfortably perched in her chair, her face so tensed and drawn, radiates such tension that Denise cant comprehend how things in the room can just proceed as normal: she expects everything in the room to hesitate and shatter even though she also knows that this is the thing that absolutely will not happen. But she wants something to happen. If the man across from her wont lay a hand on her shoulder and say are you OK? then somebody else should one of the beautiful waitresses or another patron Denise feels this; it doesnt feel like a conclusion born from any internal moral or ethical system, it feels like a drive built into her very musculature; it feels like something that she must clench herself in order not to do.
This is one more reason to constantly distance yourself from the people in the world around you. Because the world is full of people who are suffering. And if you see each of them in close-up, see every line of pain in their faces and every emotion trapped behind their eyes, while knowing that the rules of the world will prevent you from helping them its enough to make you look for a razor. To try to use the pain of the body to block out the pain of knowledge. She knows.
The whole time she is looking at them and trying to stifle her empathy there is another part of her mind that is thinking about Edward Hopper, this painter shed seen a book of his paintings once at Johnnys. Johnny was still sleeping, but she was awake, fully awake, so shed gotten up and walked naked around his apartment, until she found this book of paintings by this guy Hopper sitting out somewhere; shed sat on the couch then and leafed through it, inspecting his tiny, lonely worlds. She ended up looking at the entire thing. She found herself most attracted to the paintings of his that depicted human pain but isolated it, hemmed it in, surrounded it by fields of visual space that were empty yet impenetrable. One of his paintings depicts a woman sitting, striking notes at a piano, while a man reads the paper. But what the painting mostly depicts is invisible: it depicts absence: the total absence of communication between these people, the same absence that she sees in the people sitting in front of her right now.
If you gave the woman a piano her boyfriend would still not hear her. She would need to scream. She would need to take the fucking thing and set it on fire.
Further Reading ::
Information Prose : A Manifesto In 47 Points ::
A manifesto, outlining some of the aesthetic goals behind Imaginary Year, can now be read here.