Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Those with two heads know something you don't - Diane Arbus
Distrust everything - especially the happy face,
the successful face, the face with something solid
stacked behind the eyes. Locate instead the scapegrace,
the lost and the squalid,
those who have nothing to say with the eyes but the eyes
are open and inward or are lost down a well
where you look down the shaft to find them and their faces rise
like your own in the circle
of water, with lips large as dinner-plates: the man with a tail,
the man who smoked cigars with his eyes, the Siamese twins
in Hubert's or Huber's where there is neither male nor female
but paradigms and paragons
that tickle your guilt and your pity. You say: I don't want
to make you cry, but when the button's there you press it.
And it's true that those with two heads know something you don't,
only you guess it.
(from Blind Field, 1994)
The characters are all from Arbus's own experiences. She was a frequenter of freak shows at a place called Hubert's or Huber's. She also said: 'I don't want to make you cry, but when the button's there you press it'. What Mark Granier says in the comment to the previous post is absolutely true and justified. It is only that "their faces rise / like your own in the circle // of water".
I suspect it is our faces we see as if from the other side. The 'freaks' are not out there: they are within. Those in the photographs retain dignity and integrity, are in possession of themselves. We do not retain it. We, whose eyes have something solid stacked behind them, in that alternative moment become the scapegrace, the lost and the squalid. It is not appearance at stake, but condition.