Bridge: How Art Connects Individuals Across Time and Experience

I have been thinking about individual-ness, the human condition of being, essentially, one, alone. In crowds, en famille, we are nevertheless alone — with our experience, pain, joy, confusion, fear, memories. Even our perception of color is individual, a matter of rods and cones and recollection, and probably some other wrinkles in the brain, neural pathways that meander. I like awake while my husband snores, lie awake in the uniqueness of my inner yammerings. Later I will snore while he lies awake in his own unique awakeness. We’re together here — in a warm bed in a slightly chilly room. This is something else we share — preferring to sleep in a slightly chilly room. Everyone’s night is his own.

In these days of xenophobia-fueled acts of hate and fear, I think often of that photograph from Little Rock, the first day of integrating the schools, the line of brave little black girls in white dresses, stoic with their individual mix of anxiety and anticipation. The tall troopers, also expressionless, some of them hating their task, probably for various reasons. But central is the face of the woman: distorted in a rictus of hatred as she screams something at those little girls. I think often of this woman. What was insider her, what knot of darkness? Did she see this photo of herself? What did she see?

I write about this because this photograph connected me, in that way that art can do, to those little girls, those guardsmen, that woman, that moment in history that happened before I was born. I am alone but they are with me, a vivid vision of what we are capable of, alone, together, alone.

 

Masaccio_-_The_Expulsion_from_the_Garden_of_Eden_(detail)_-_WGA14180

On another note, I have a video poem up on Atticus Review:

https://atticusreview.org

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