Source unknown – Title Unknown (201X)

There are definitely essayists who are more formal, more critical, more highfalutin–but very few people approach writing with Rebecca Solnit’s firm belief in the potential of the marriage of words to ideas as a means of sparking curiosity, that most tantalizing precursor to wonderment.

In other words, she doesn’t treat her reader as if they are an empty vessel she is intended to fill with her great and varied knowledge. She suggests revelatory parallels, indulges lapses, digressions and exists fascinatingly somewhere between narrative and a sort of liberal arts whirligig. She’s dazzling to read; often bordering on transcendent. (She’s the sort of writer I dream of being.)

I can’t help but look at this image in the context of her most recent collection of essays The Encyclopedia of Troubles and Spaciousness–specifically Journey to the Center.

It’s the second piece she’s written about Icelandic artist Elín Hansdóttir‘s PATH installation–which is a pitch dark labyrinth setup in a gallery that one person enters to explore at a time.

On the matter of light and dark, Solnit observes that generally we are afraid of darkness and that one of the many things Elín Hansdóttir is interrogating is the notion of darkness as generative instead of detrimental–much as those spaces where piles of snow are last to melt, is also where the grass comes in greener and faster than anywhere else.

Of light, she notes:

Darkness is amorous, the darkness of passion, of your unknowns
rising to the surface, the darkness of interiors, and perhaps part of what
makes pornography so pornographic is the glaring light in which it
transpires, that and the lack of touch, the substitution of eyes for
skin, of seeing for touching.

This is not a good image. It’s somewhere between what I’d term a medium shot and a close-up. And while you can ascertain what’s going on–a fairly blase, heteronormative FFM scene–it manages to neither focus on the impending penetration nor provides any sort of coherent check-in with what’s going on in the broader scene. (In other words, the camera needs to be either two feet closer or two feet further back for this scene to make sense as a still image; whether or not it was intended as a still image is immaterial–whether they are moving or still the general stipulations with regard to the grammar of an image  are analogous, respectively, to writing a speech versus public oratory.)

So if It’s not a good image why are you posting it. Well, simply because if you only consider selective parts of the frame, the light really is sort of gorgeous. The way the oblique light kisses the engorged corona of his cock is effing breath-taking. The delightful illumination rendering the lower woman’s rump with a supple dimensionality; the gorgeous skin tone it brings out along her back.

In other words, the frame improves as the contrivance of the glaring light source diminishes across a distance and is blocked by objects which diffuse it, introduce shadows and texture.

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