NOTES ON HAWAII, JUNE, 1969
I rented a car once and drove up the Nu’uanu Pali Drive, a curving Riviera, overhung with giant vines, buttressed with aerial roots. I was in love with the thick clumps of spider grass, the Japanese Tatami palaces, the darkness of the roads interspersed with the brilliant blue of the Pacific. One day, I thought idly, I’ll live here. Although we ended up with many houses on that island, none of them were in the Tantalus area: perspective change.
But my memory was Hawaii was so intense that much of my early life seemed to be made of of wanting to get back to it. And yet when I look at the dade slides of moments which are seared in my mind, they are so unremarkable that I begin to suspect that the roots which infuse our imaginations are in the end place things, magnified by our own sense of romance, exaggerated by what we wanted them to be, and which come into their essences only through the dreams of children, not the reductive eye of the camera. We base our hopes on our ability of capture the world in a click, and yet what we capture are our own inventions, which photographs only serve to undercut with what machines, not eyes, see.
Ultimately, our loves make our lives into cast constructions out of the small materials given us, which we remember as much vaster than what we’ve made of them; rarely do we have the chance to return to the moment of inspiration to find out how negligible it seemed on the outside, despite the immense chords it played in our minds.
From this I extrapolate a sense of how foolish it is to expect the world to make anything of itself once we are gone, to continue to present itself the way we might see it. We have a limited amount of time to sway the day with our vision of it, before it reverts to the norm when we become too tired to protest.
So a random drive in a rental car was the germ of disproportionate fantasies, a dismal, burned-out day from which a few awful photos survive, morphed by time into legend and beauty. The lives of artists are poor, invented scraps, illuminated by feu follets, tin shrines wrapped in Renioirs.