Following the arcane gestures of your hands
That replicates and duplicates the movement
Of your swaying rolling hips against my pelvis
I stare long and hard into your glittering eyes
Focused on the middle distance chasing down
An ecstasy among the chimeras and paradoxes
The beauty of your distracted expression
Is a provocation, an exhalation of pure spirit
A command from above that I dare not refuse
For you alone can take me there to where I belong
Drenched with colour and drowning in sound
Overwhelmed by sensation and alive in love
Dorothea Tanning remarked on her childhood in Galesburg, Illinois that nothing happened but the wallpaper, however everything, even wallpaper, is grist to the true artists mill and she succeeded during her long and incredibly productive life to create memorable works set in conventional domestic spaces filled with mystery, confrontation and revelation.
Family Portrait was painted in Sedona, Arizona, where Tanning lived with her husband Max Ernst for part of every year until they moved to France permanently in 1957 . The painting is dominated by the huge father (or husband) figure wearing sinister mirrored round glasses in the background. The size of each figure seems entirely dependent on their status within the family group. The perky daughter (or wife) with her large and expressive eyes sits level at the table with its crisp linen and strange dishes, dwarfing the housekeeper who is little bigger than the small dog on its hindquarters begging for its dinner. The muted colours add to the ominous and oppressive atmosphere. Family Portrait is a suburban Gothic drama of hidden tensions and Wonderland-like changes in scale that lingers unnervingly in the memory.
Now that I am fragile,
Now that the days weigh
Upon an already heavy heart,
Now that nights are infinite
With accumulated dread,
Now that I am falling,
Now that I need you
Can you forgive?
I have accrued sins,
There have been omissions,
Mortality is approaching
With an annihilating vision
That never assuages only
Magnifies the complicity,
A burden of guilt
Vaster than death:
Now that it’s too late, (For it’s always Later than we think)
For me to change;
Can you forgive,
Now that I need you?
Here we go once again: better to start back at the beginning
Remember those days and nights filled with the glamour
When I locked our looks together I saw a door swing open
To reveal another door but not matter I was ready to stumble
Over the threshold with you on my shoulder a wonder
To marvel at vision shared doubled with intensity revelation
Of another more expansive world drenched in vivid colour
All the senses overloaded hyper stimulated the slightest
Glance of hand against the gold glimmering skin overwhelmed
Leading me to groan inside whenever I heard you gasp
Because I have always known how to ultimately disappoint
I learned over the years to savour the bitter fruits of betrayal
All the best movies have a noir ending when the credits roll
So this is us omega over and out amen: until the very next time
Drawing on his cigarette, Al the Angle, coolly poised, as per usual, pauses before re-commencing in his deep, slightly slurred (is something lost in its translation through time and space?) voice.
“As always, I think we need a more oblique approach, pursue a different tack. Although common sense dictates that the map is not the territory, you will find, on further investigation, that this is not actually the case. The map is the territory, I repeat, the map is the territory. In fact, I will go even further and deeper to suggest that the representation of reality is more important than the landscape depicted. The idea of Atlantis, Agartha or Shambhala is more concrete than Imperial Rome, Phararonic Egypt or Ptolemiac Alexandria. The street plan of Mysterious Kor has greater claims to actuality than the highways and byways of London. The marvel that is the architectural drawings for The Very Heaven Heavenly Hotel reduces the MGM Grand Las Vegas to the vague and nebulous realms of fantasy.
“Which leads me to believe that your body, which is so self-evidently a map of Paradise, is the only trace of reality that I have so far encountered in this rather ersatz world. The promise of raptures that causes me to tremble on the threshold, (do I dare to enter the hidden hollows and crevices? Explore the valleys and scale the peaks? Brave the rushing rivers and flooding estuaries?), makes all the never-ending sunshine and low hanging fruit appear insipid and bland.
“So…I trust this has convinced you that we should begin to map out potentialities. Of course that may include us having a taste…a taste of the absolute Terra.”