“If you were to explain loneliness to a hive-minded species, how would you do it?” the scientist asked the man. The man buttoned his shirt as to seem less disastrous and more official, but his lazy pijama pants made it impossible. “I don’t know if I can answer this right now,” the man said, “I haven’t talked with anybody in two months.” “Oh no, they know— that’s why they chose you in the first place.” “Would you read again your introduction, please?” “If you need so.”
“As the official human representative of the [name reserved] race from the planet [name reserved], I hereby proceed to interview the subject [number reserved] on the study of human behaviour for the advancement of relationships between Earth and [planet name reserved].”
“Is that okay with you? Now, again, if you were to explain being lonely to a hive-minded species— as in, you know, they all share the same conciousness but inhabit different bodies— what would you say?” The man had just recently been woken up by the visit of the scientist, the broken window in the middle of the night, the eerie glowing figures standing outside in the patio, and he still wasn’t able to connect two thoughts together. He considered he should have felt shocked by the sudden knowledge of living intelligent beings outside the planet, but he felt oddly relaxed and even curious about the whole situation.
- “Okay, let’s me see. Um, do they know hunger?” the man asked.
The scientist left the bedroom and went into the patio. After a five or six minutes he came back.
- “No, they don’t really feel hunger, since they don’t eat or anything like that— they do absorb nutrients from the atmosphere, but anyway— I explained to them how the human digestive system works, and even though they’re fascinated by it, they don’t really ‘get it’.”
- “Can I speak directly to them?”
- “No idea. They don’t necessarily speak, per se. It’s more like— how can I explain it?”
The scientist holded a piece of paper and wrote ‘2 + 2’.
- “What number am I thinking of?”
- “4,” answered the man.
- “Okay, now—” the scientist wrote then ‘some dogs are’. “How would you finish that sentence?”
- “I don’t know,” the man said, “brown?”
- “All right. Final example.” The scientist then wrote ‘roses are red’.
- “Violets are blue?” said the man, without even being prompted.
- “That’s it! That’s how they communicate. It’s just this instantaneous, ‘pops in your mind’ kind of thing. Not like telepathic— not like they speak into your mind or anything, but you just kind of know, you see?”
The scientist touched the man’s shoulder and indicated to him the group of eerie glowing figures in the patio, grimly lit under the night sky. The man walked up to them. Somehow he felt they were laughing. How would hive-minded beings tell themselves a joke, anyway?
The man took a random ball that casually was laying there in the patio. He gave it to one of the eerie glowing things. “Throw it back at me,” the man told it, and the eerie glowing figure complied. Then he threw it back. This went back and forth for a while, the glowing figures shining brightly all of a sudden. Then he took it and tossed it away behind some bushes. “Now that ball is gone,” declared the man. But they want the ball back, somehow he concluded. “No— you see, you can’t have the ball, I won’t give it to you. And even though you’d like to keep throwing that ball at me and back, there’s no ball here anymore.” He stared at them, and felt that the eerie glowing creatures were a bit confused, randomly getting bright and back to dark again. One of them went behind a shrub and brought the ball again, but when it came back the lonely man had already walked away into the street, disappearing into a corner.
The glowing things kept somehow staring at the distance for a long while. Then they suddenly started to shine as bright as ever, and the scientist smiled. When they left, they took the ball with them.
2013-04-18 : 1 note
Another of my heroes has died today— one of my biggest influences as an artist, Storm Thorgerson. I can still remember being very young and discovering him, having in my hands these physical copies of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”, “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals”— how much the images and the artwork inspired me as much as the music itself, how much his surrealist style infected me creatively and visually. A master of iconic imagery, a true genius, all of his great art— I will always be indebted to his vision. Rest in peace, Mr. Thorgerson.
“i’m one of the ten state-allowed deactivators.” She stopped sipping her coffee for a second. He continued. “It’s a job, you know? I studied medicine, and expected to just be another regular doctor, attending people and shit, but then— the opportunity came, they pay me good money, so, yeah, I thought about it for a second and said ‘why not?’ So, yeah, I’m one of those guys.” She took a napkin and cleaned her mouth. “So,” she started, “you murder people for a living.” “Oh, no, it’s not like that. I’m not a murderer or anything. They just call me, like, on my cellphone— this cellphone right here. Like, someone’s really sick, they’re in a lot of pain, you know? They know there’s no other choice left, so I come in and I— well, I pull the plug, so to speak.”
From then on, the evening went just as normal. After the café, they walked and talked the streets of the city. They saw all the people in love around them, while they declared things about themselves, life, loneliness, existence, but ultimately, as the chatter stopped and the silence came in, everything went back to the subject of death.
“It must be hard.” She said, while staring at the river from the side of the bridge. “Excuse me?” “It must be really hard to do that.” He stood up behind her, talking behind her shoulder. “I don’t know. Sometimes?” “Is this what you wanted from life?” He looked at his own shoes, then saw an ambulance on the other side of the street. He touched her shoulder, and she turned back. “Look, it’s just a job. Am I happy with it? I don’t know. I just do it. Some people do their stuff, other people do other stuff— I…”
His cellphone played Ottis Redding. “Shit. Okay, I’m very sorry. I should have told you before, I was going to tell you. Shit. Okay. I’ve gotta go downtown. They called from the hospital. Can I call you—”
“Can I go?”
It started raining. They took a cab right around the corner. In complete silence, the car drived across the city, ghosts and shapes moving in between the blobs of light and the wind outside the window. She stared back to the obscure faces and the movement of the rain. He held his hands in his legs, absent. They both heard the raindrops falling, the sound of the wiper moving across the window, the tic tac sound from the dashboard of the car. For the whole ride they didn’t say one word.
They arrived into the hospital. He waved hello to the nurse at the desk. She smiled back knowingly. She followed him into the elevator. They arrived at the lobby of the intensive care unit. “Just wait here,” he indicated to her with a subtle movement of his left hand. He went behind the big doors, a doctor shook his hand, and he disappeared inside the corridor.
She sat there waiting.
An hour later, Noah Hellman came out of the door with a bunch of papers in his hand. “It’s done.” He signed a form at the hospital’s desk, and they both left the hospital, still in complete silence. The rain had stopped. They crossed the street and walked into a park, leaving the hospital behind, moving between the trees, distant. They sat on a bench, staring at the floor. His hand touched her hand for a moment, but then he held back and away.
Then she grabbed his hand.
2013-04-04 : 1 note
Roger Ebert died, and it hurts more than I could ever think it would. It’s unfair. The great man— one of the best film critics and essayist, but even more than that, one of the greatest American writers of the 20th and 21th century— has left with his death a void in the world of film, art and criticism. One of the big defenders of high art, with his writings he introduced me to Werner Herzog, Kurosawa, Errol Morris, Ozu, and so many other master filmmakers, always in the search of beauty and will, truth and passion. His Great Movies list will always be a canon on its own, featuring some of his best writing on film and directors. I learned from him so much, and I’ll always be grateful for his dedication, good heart and genius. No more thumbs, no more stars.
The master is dead. Long live in your words, Roger Ebert.
2013-03-30 : 3 notes
White canvas, black square. Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square is not, however, the most minimal painting that could be produced. He himself made a painting, White on White, which is even closer to an empty canvas, and I would consider that the only place left to go. Then, there would be nothingness itself: an empty canvas, the beginning of all paintings, tabula rasa, the vast nihil from which all ideas are born.
But I ask myself— am I looking for the complete absence of form? No, it’s not about the void. In my mind, this black square abides. What’s the seduction of Malevich’s Black Square? Disregard perfection: the lines may appear to be straight, but in detail, you can see the small distortions and mistakes, so to speak; the shades of black affected by light, as the waves reflect and deflect in the oil and the canvas; the diminute holes in the texture of the canvas itself, and all the unknowable particles and dust coming across it. But then, when I think of a square in my mind, is it as perfect as I assume it is? Could I imagine a square in my mind, with four precise lines in 90° angles, in the blackest of all blacks, perfect in all possible ways? Would I be able to retain that thought in my head for more than a second, even?
It may be it’s uncanny imperfection. This black square is merely an imperfect, brute representation of a perfect square. But would I be seduced by a perfect shape? Would there be any artistic value or intention to it? Draw in a computer screen this divine, ideal shape. Is it perfect, anyway? The light from the display is strobing in slow motion, maybe 30, 60 beams per second. There’s a second in which there’s not a square or image coming from the screen: just a void, the absence of light. From which angle are you staring at this shape? Does your position make it look completely in perspective, or does the angle, distance and your own imperfect eyes distort it? Could there be anything such as a perfect shape, outside of the dimension of mathematical theory and numbers?
There’s intention to Malevich’s square. There was strength applied into a canvas with a brush, and particles of black oil paint merging into the fibres of the materials, made into an unique object in space and time, action and consequence to every stroke from Malevich’s hand. There’s an idea being represented, a concept, an ideology, and the whole momentaneous state of a man recorded into it. There’s ecstatic truth to it. It’s not only that it is, but why it is and how it is. Would a perfect square, made without a creator, be as seductive as Malevich’s Black Square? Would another artist’s Black Square be as striking and powerful as this square is in my head, and would I even care or consider it?
I can’t describe this shape no more. Still, even though I tried to honestly, humanly find an explanation for my visual fascination for this painting, I’m unable to give anything more than just more questions and abstract thoughts. In my mind and eye, Malevich’s Black Square just is.