NOTES ON SHADOW BOX
This started out as a description of nature upside-down in the bath. The ice hung upside down from the roof, whereas it should have been on the ground. Iced aspen trees looked like upside-down icicles.
The winter landscape was reflected in the skim, the soapsuds of the bathtub’s surface. The macro world was reflected in miniature in the tub, but then exploded beyond the confines of the bath into the real world, the Platonic shadows of the cave projected on the show sky.
A tub is a kind of canal, which channels the world, orders i into locks, before releasing it into the wide ocean.
I was thinking of Browning’s “As sheathes/A film the mother eagle’s eye/When her bruised eaglet breathes.” Like the film of dirty soap on the water’s surface in a tub, the film on an eye is a form of camera. Film shelters the eye from tragedy, forces us to focus.
A tub is a small ocean. The world is captured on its film, as it is in the small dark room, the camera obscure, of a “shadow box,” a camera. But our feelings about the world can only be limited for so long by photographs, by our own solipsistic fancies, and eventually they break free and we mature, beyond the simplicities of a poem or a photo, into the farther realities of a world where landscapes are politicized, and girls seduced.
Or into a world of better ends, where storm light in fact produces the ermine pillows of dreams, of poetry, where poets live and dream in the sacred trees above misty snowbound towns. Stranger things have happened than a world transformed by snow.
Formerly “Film,” which went through our versions between December 11th and 20th, 2008, at Tippet Alley during a week of storms.