The One Facing Me

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Bruiser, Atlanta, December 2011

          “He is trying to take the form of a man, to be a man, but instead, he is a situation. Situated in this pool scene, he himself is the pool scene: not a person but a place.”

          This past December, I visited a friend in Atlanta for her Debutante party. As I sat on the floor, she wanted to show me her dress, so when she came in the room, I tried to take a picture. As if the timing was planned, her dog barreled into the room and headed straight for me, obstructing my view, and, as far as I was concerned, ruining the picture. After looking at the picture a second time, however, I learned to appreciate it for not only its uniqueness and accidentally aesthetically-interesting qualities, but for what it signified in its sense of place. This was not a picture of my friend, of her home in Atlanta, or even of Bruiser, but instead an image that begged to be assigned an accompanying story.

          Matalon discussed a picture “Father” kept for years of a deceased child. She struggled with it, desperately “searching for the details, but the effort blunted its immediacy instead of sharpening it,” (p. 179). Contrary to Barthes insistence that a punctum brings value and meaning to a picture, as a particular detail that essentially haunts the viewer, the narrator is haunted by the lack of detail. She is moved by what the picture represents, and finds that the further she looks into it, it blurrier it becomes. While the picture I’ve posted may not necessarily have an emotional hold on me, it represents a story and a moment that, even though blurred together, adequately captures a moment I may have forgotten if I hadn’t managed to salvage proof.

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