retinalechoes, the birth

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On a barren mountaintop overlooking a desert, a word is uttered. It echoes across the empty valley, and transforms into image. Echo’s humble love becomes the mirror into which Narcissus drowns his self, but also the reflection through which he becomes himself.

Cinematic images burn themselves onto our retinas, and through the retina into our soul. Our vision makes them flesh, metamorphoses them into living creatures of another genus. And as these beings slice open their cocoons to emerge into the light’s first rays, rods and cones absorb their images frame by frame, scan-line by scan-line, pixel by pixel, vitalizing these virtual creatures.

With this text begins a new journal, and like all births, it too requires its measure of pain and labor. Today, the journal is a zygote floating in the potential fluids of creation. There is no indication yet whether the being which springs forth will become man, monster or mutant. With no model, no embryonic test which will shed light upon its future, it must crawl itself through each stage of being in innocence and independence.

One thing this journal will not be is in agreement. Not in agreement with film or literature as a good for little but consumption, hijacked by collectors of aesthetics. Not in agreement with groups or movements who reduce vision to its lowest common denominator. Not in agreement with the purified logic of thought. It will have no causes, no platforms, no systems. It will not ruin the art, literature, cinema at which it gazes through civilized acts of rationalization. Although its reason for existence will be to lend a critical eye, it will not lose sight of its purpose by demystifying the objects of its gaze, will neither artificially erode the echoes, nor amplify them. Rather the shared gaze will be the intimate one of a lover, brother, or perhaps enemy.

This journal has no obligation to fill its pages (for it often wants to remain at home under the covers). Yet despite its temptations to sloth and melancholy, it will take up arms violently as an enemy of the clever phrase, a foe of the pretty image. With the same zeal with which it rejects facileness and phoniness, it will embrace imperfection, unconfidence, complexity.

It is a poetic and critical response, a reflection from retina to retina, a cry of alert echoing across the void from wanderer to wanderer. Yet one that must pass through eyeballs and cameras and pens and editors and bank accounts to reach one another, if they are to seek a quiet intimacy with one other.

Intimacy with the works; intimacy in both reception and reflection, to which it hopes to submit.  It will reflect a fuzzy aesthetics, one based in the physical world, stretching to the metaphysical, yearning for the pataphysical. Cinema is Narcissus – the mirror of our own existence, freezing us in our path. Our gaze is a sword sharpened to break this captivating mirror-image, so that it may be sublimated into an echo, love’s most humble expression.

We live in an age of the moving image. Film is the very heart of this époque of the ‘I’ as much as the eye. Cinema is the closest reflection we have to what we are, perhaps even an oracle of what we might become. However, unlike the arcane divination methods of old, our mysteries pass in front of our eyes in almost frightening clarity. The high definition which is the root of our daily visual experience overwhelms us with its eeriness, tempts us with its promises of reality.

As vagabonds wandering through this world, we reflect upon this reflection of our selves in the water. Neither too long nor too deep that we should be sucked into the lake, for if there is one thing we do truly wish for, it is to drown our selves into this pool, to efface our our being,  by fusing with the alabaster shadows flitting across the screen. With fear in our bellies, we open our eyes, take a deep breath and plunge into the darkness, risk death by drowning in hopes of emerging with a pearl from the work itself (one created from a sandy aberration, a granulated core of danger or irritation). Plunging into the obscurity of the cinema hall, the labyrinth of the phrase, the frame of the painting, we envelope ourselves in the ancient ritual of the world’s forgetting, and thus learn again to see.

The darkness of Layla, Night, the angel of conception and bearer of semen to the beckoning palms of God, spreads her wings over us in this silent hall. The truth we see embedded in the images flickering before our eyes is but the echo of the truths we have always known. Night the angel accompanies us on our voyage, as she has in the womb. Guardian of the light, she teaches us under cover of obscurity of the world and of its ways.

Yet before we exit this womb, we are made to forget it all, to return to the streets with a wary regard, effaced of all but the intuition that we once perhaps remembered. To diminish our suffering,  Night our mentor, burns the grace of forgetting upon our upper lip, leaving the impression of our former wisdom. With the pressure of this angelic finger, the universe is forgotten, and upon rebirth, can once again be learned.

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