posted on: Sunday November 4, 2001
by Ellen Bisson
You’re just a photograph. I’m just a photographer, picking and choosing where the focus of the shot will rest. You’re just an image. I’m just a painter, changing with each stroke reality to suit my own needs. I’m forced to see you through a keyhole, distorted. You’re locked and I don’t have the key. My vision is clouded anyway, so it wouldn’t make much of a difference whether or not the door was open. Questions poke holes in the surface, not making things clearer, and this worries me. Will I ever see things clearly?I know you’ve already made a judgment of me. This doesn’t bother me much though because I’ve done the same thing so many times before and I’ve lost out on so much in the process. Yet I continue to do the same thing every day knowing the consequences, and not seeing the effects until later. How silly, how stupid, how completely and utterly foolish of me to have thought that way, I think later on, maybe even moments later. That’s all it takes, a few moments, to see it another way. The camera angle is shifted, the brush is lifted, or a new hole is made in an otherwise covered up mindset.I’m walking the edges of sanity and I’m thinking of jumping. I just don’t know which way would be better so I’m still walking carefully on top of the wall. I don’t want to make the wrong choice and then regret it later. Maybe I can find something that will work better, a sane insanity or an insane sanity. This just seems like a cop-out, though. No one will know how to see me. Where would I fall on the judgment scale then? I won’t be good enough to get an invite from either party.I’m just kidding. That was just a test. The truth is I already am insane. But if you were paying attention you would know that by now. I’m so insane that I sometimes laugh at my own pain. I’m so insane that I sometimes cry in sheer happiness. I’m so insane that I think grades are inhuman. They’re not tattooed on our arms; they’re just chiseled firmly onto our records. They chase us like ghosts, saying all the while “You’re smart” or “You’re stupid” or, God forbid, “You’re average.” I’m so utterly insane that I sometimes see professors as real people that I can speak honestly to. Can you imagine? I could go to them and explain very sincerely why it is I got a D on the last exam. We could work something out. After all, I can’t schedule my bad days. I’m too human for that. I must be really insane. You must know I’m kidding though, right? I’m the sanest person there is. Talk to professors like real people… Ha . . . haha ha. That’s funny. You must have been cracking up with that one. They don’t want to hear about that blow-up fight you had with your boyfriend the night before the exam. Even if they were willing to listen, even if they cared in a “poor you” kind of way, they won’t change that grade. It’s more real to them than you are. Even if you could prove yourself in every other way you’d still be so and so with a (B, C, B, B, A) = B average in the class. They don’t really see you and you don’t really see them. Everybody knows that, unless of course you’re crazy or something. Are you crazy or something? Students are here to learn and teachers are here to teach. So why does it feel like something’s missing? What is the cause and what is the effect?Change the lens. Dip brush into a new color. Ask the question. Are we all crazy or something? This world’s changing every day but everything here seems to stay the same: ordered and routine. I look through you and you look through me. We only see a small fragment of each other through a keyhole, distorted. That’s what worries me. Will we ever see each other clearly? Look, there I am. Third row from the right, third seat back. My boyfriend and I just got back together, that’s why I’m smiling. No, I don’t think this is the greatest class ever. Don’t ask me those questions because I don’t have your answers. I just have my own and they’re not good enough, I’ve found. And anyway, you had me figured out right the first time; I’m as insane as they come, I’m just really good at hiding it. I think we’re all just really good at hiding it, or just don’t want to admit it.We all play our parts so well sometimes we get caught up in them. We forget we’re just painters making up the pictures as we go. If we could see things as they were and weren’t putting our own spin on things, would we all laugh or cry when we saw the picture, the whole picture, for what it really was? Would we all finally recognize our insanity? Would we see the distortions we create? Two buildings collapsing in a shower of rubble, ash and debris, holding life in a suspended shock. An eternal confusion marked on the face of innocent men and women. Snapshot. Frame. Hold this image. Bombs smacking in retaliation, leaving in their tracks many of the same sorry remnants, only in another land, for another people to confusedly absorb. Snapshot. Frame. Hold this image.What is the cause and what is the effect?