Apr 07, 2016, 09:52AM

A Night Cap

52 Weeks of Elizabeth Veldon, Week 14: “we will name the four hundred and eighty five dead (our part to murmur name upon name)” (03/27/16).

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You just stop feeling. Voices on the street fade away. The jazz on the stereo seems piped in from some distance. An irradiated mist swirls in the darkness behind your eyelids. A stillness reigns. You are an angel, dangling on the head of a pin, circling the cusp of unconsciousness. “we will name the four hundred and eighty five dead (our part to murmur name upon name)” expertly evokes this state of being: that acute degree of dislocation, that sense your mental grasp is not consistently firm enough to hold an object, that feeling of not quite existing. “we will name” is octopus slippery and indistinct in a mind, shadowy way, stranded somewhere between corporeality and decay. The tone, one of lethargy, becomes a tug of war rope, pulled a few inches this way and then a few inches that way with no real sense of urgency.

We—well, most of us—are programmed to think of black and white media as intrinsically more artistic. Imagine an impressionistic television commercial for a perfume or cologne where disinterested models are arranged along a beach on a cloudy day. The models captivate the eye, inspiring lust or envy, their surroundings of little interest. But what if the cameraperson, bored, focuses instead on small waves, waves so hypnotically listless that refuse to result in sound, spray, or thrilling visual poetry of whitecaps? How long could you watch? How long could you hold on?


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