Literary Screw Ups


A line is really just a number of dots that become a line. Eyes scan along lines, which provide direction and movement—a crease of a mouth, a bent knee. Different types of lines can create alternate feelings and responses due to the enhancement of perspective and depth—an arm around a waist, chin tilted. A shape then is just a space enclosed by lines, a nose hungrily pressed against a cheek. Shapes that are perceived as having depth create forms, like two bodies naturally intertwined. Therefore, forms are just shapes in relation to each other, next to each other perhaps, whispering.

Staring at a photograph, you can dissect it by forms, then divide by their shapes, narrow in on the lines, and it all just becomes a cluster of dots. Until you zoom out almost out of focus, or blink. You recognize the figure, against the background, and the dots are now a complete visual space, transporting you back to those beautiful teeth and sturdy jaw. You feel it in your gut, a neurochemical attack. You notice the contrast and the relationship of different elements. Harmonious and expected, like those jello molds with the chunky fruit. You cannot decide whether to focus on the darkness or the lightness. Is it fruit with jello, or jello with fruit?

Those elements are the building blocks of the tone. Color gradients are clustered meticulously—or haphazardly—pink lips on a cuff. Some colors can have the same tone, and like colors can have different tones, skin on skin, world beneath world. Colors create responses, connect, yet some are hard to look at, or get ignored. Like the distant lights through the window, proving there was life outside of that embrace. Texture is also important. Texture is the character of the forms-a rumpled blouse, or socks gathering in a native scrunch around the ankle. Different textures allow for distinctive looks and feels, like the unruliness of freshly washed hair. There is also a certain practicality of texture—revealing certain intentions.

Then there is this idea of hierarchy, of the various dominance of shapes and colors. The shadow on the wall, a block of a figure forming a monstrous pinky in the air, filled with power and want. The inclusion of or the lack of symmetry—arm above the head, body exposed—is also telling. Exposed but not untaken, a strong palm burrowing into a ribcage. The abstract, almost hidden details are captivating. Then you blink again, out of habit, and puff your cheeks with a robust sigh. The perception of the image changes, a different discourse has begun. Intimate assumptions have transpired into a patient endurance of forgetting. A chair may still be a chair with or without anybody in it, but you never even noticed that the couch was plaid.

That strangely flattened face, eyes set curiously close together, has a different meaning now. Observing from a new angle, and more importantly from a fresh time, you renounce the claim. Sparse and well used, the photograph you stare at may be all you have left, once reminiscent of robust laughter and fleeting amusement. What is that saying? that we gain control by letting go, or we win through surrender. So life goes on, diffidently, and you choose to see just a series of dots and stuff the photo back into its hiding place. Until something moves you to confront the dots again.

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