Thursday, March 29, 2007

the moment as redemption

“Your theoretical wish to come visit you over there [New York] won’t happen until my next life,” he wrote in 1970. “Now there’s not much time left to have new impressions--not in my visual repertory because I can’t even realize all that I’ve bit into here…” --Josef Sudek

If Sudek had arrived for his retrospective exhibition in New York in 1974, he would have been ten years early. She would still have been sleeping in her east-facing bedroom in the stark cold light of the plains, displaced by the predominant metaphor of sky. But I like to imagine them, still, he an old man of almost eighty years, and she a girl of almost eighteen, colliding on Broadway at dawn and knowing that this was no accident.

Alternatively I imagine that they meet over and over again, many times, punctuated by the poignancy of their respective vulnerabilities, which each could see in the other as clearly as the sun in the sky (missing arm, fractured heart). If they were to meet, over and again, in the startling clarity of wholeness, amidst the multiple collisions of ineptitude and defense, which would win out as the “overarching narrative”?

I don’t believe in overarching narratives any more, so I choose to believe in the arch-supremacy, the redemption of “the moment.” Let this, then, be the moment: A girl walks along a sidewalk paved with flagstones, unaware that as she walks her shoes strike a particular note, and that as this sound rings out it ruptures the very fabric of time, just as an old man in Prague presses the shutter to capture the image of the frozen apple blossoms. The tree will not bear fruit this year, but he will have the photo, the moment of the blossom entombed in crystal. He will remember.