Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Celluloid Projections

Below is the most lucid recollection of a nightmare I have ever experienced.  This vision has harassed my dreams more restless nights than I care to admit, and I'm hoping that my own fear of my own faults may serve as a lesson to anyone with a similar inclination.

In my house, there is a room where the walls are painted thickly in matted black wash.
On the table, in the corner where I stare, intently, there sits an oaken box.
In the box on the table in the corner where I stare, intently, is a lifetime of memories.

As, one by one, I pour across the memories pulled from the old, oaken box,  I do my best to notice each and every facet of the instant burned in exposition to the thin, translucent memories of days gone by.  In each frame of a life well recorded, yet completely without recollection, I seek to know these people, places, and objects which have been the subjects of so many carefully curated and preciously preserved memories.  As I cautiously progress my work from one frame to the next, it occurs that these memories are, really, mine.  I know the names of people and of places, and the relevance of things, but I am stricken with a sick, unquellable grief that I do not know the subjects of whom I have, so zealously, preserved such extensive records.  What saddens me most is that, in all the hundreds and thousands of frames, I have yet to spot the first glimpse of my own existence, though I know that I have had the equipment to accomplish such a task, as it sits a mere meter away, on another table.

One by one, as I draw each negative from its dark, protective enclosure, through the sequence of chemical baths, and to the harsh light of the projector,  I observe each of the tiny imperfections which are, without remorse, recorded by the exposition of film.  I notice each each fault in the lighting, or the background, or the subject itself, and I correct it: erasing it from record and, for all intents and purposes, existence.  With the projection of each frame, each round of scaling and cropping, of burning and dodging, I find my recollections of events more clear, the skewed portraits of them in front of me ever more obscenely inaccurate.  With each passing cell, I must work more aggressively to correct the standing record which has been etched in celluloid and entombed in plastic sarcophagi.

One by one, frame by frame, moment by moment of my ritually recorded, yet unambiguously unlived life, my hands are set to the quiet tedium of tempered curation.  Slowly erasing each unflattering wash of light, each unseemly shadow encroaching, every trace of acne from my son's bespectacled face, and every laugh line and crows foot from the corner of my wife's beautiful eyes brings a comfort that can come only from a deep meditative mania which overwhelms all logical thought.

One by one, the seconds turn to minutes, the minutes into hours, and the day has passed me by.  As the familiar pains of an empty stomach and a strained back weigh heavily on what is left of my consciousness, I remove the last frames from their wash and set to dry, the last completed images hang, pristinely in their appointed places, and each plastic vessel, contents undeveloped, is replaced within the ancient, oaken mausoleum.  I step, gingerly, through the light-lock chamber I had constructed specifically for her, and make my way down the narrow flight of stairs into our open kitchen.  I pour myself a tall glass of double malt whiskey over stainless steel cubes which had, until a moment before, lay in the arctic zone which is my open top freezer.  I hold the glass before me and take a moment to ponder the vast, heretofore untouched archive which had consumed yet another day of my life, and remarked on how, yet again, I had not found a single glimpse of myself.  Maybe that's why she left it here, I thought, maybe she knew I'd do this, and that I'd realize how much of our life I'd missed... or maybe she thought that that life wasn't worth remembering.

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