jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


I see you.

You were seven years old. You were jumping out of a tree, bath towel safety pinned around your neck to make a cape. You were flying, flying, until the jolt of the ground, the clipped grass found you and your fragility.

You were fifteen years old. You were up late at night when the whole house was quiet. You were looking at your face in the bathroom mirror, wondering if you were attractive enough to inspire a hotly desired kiss.

You were twenty years old. You were turning your anger into knowledge, or your knowledge into anger. You were devouring books and ideas with a terrifying inspired violence.

I see you on the train, in front of me in line at the grocery store, tucked into the corner of my couch. I will ask what I have to. Because I am not so generous that I can just give this away. Because I want reciprocity, because I want the same empathy from you that floods me when I look at you in your beauty, in your flaws, in your raw humanity. I will ask what I have to: do you see me?


Anonymous famjaztique said...

Did you actually ask the question in some form or another? A close friend and I used to have conversations about this. The way that some people really seem to look at others as they are, without filters, without projections, while others seem to see others through some filter, usually their ego or their desires. I think we all long to be seen as we truly are, and then to be genuinely appreciated for it.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous famjaztique said...

p.s. This latest photo is one of my favorites of yours. Partly because I'm partial to the shocking and warming quality of a shot of orange, and partly because I'm partial to the lines broken by the curve of the tire. Are you still using your camera phone to capture these?

11:08 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

yup, still with the camera phone. Although I have been begged to use a real camera, so the images can be used in other ways later on. I know, I know. I'll be kicking myself if I ever want to print these, but with everything else that is going on, I can't wrap my head around the whole thing of a new cam, a new technique, new abilities, etc. ya know?

12:27 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

Froujen, to answer your first question--

well, it is entirely possible that when I am looking at people I am making things up, rather than perceiving them with any sort of, well, for the lack of a better term, reality.

I am not sure if I have ever asked the question. Although sometimes I feel like it is implied in just about everything that I write. So I thought I would finally just out myself, however painful and vulnerable that may be. (and it is. I am surprisingly not good with asking for what I want.)

3:48 PM  
Anonymous famjaztique said...

A friend of mine believes strongly that this is almost always a female problem, not being able to ask for what one wants. I don't know about that, but I know that I have a hard time with it myself. I'm really good at thinking hard about what I want though. If only I can locate the button, or perhaps create it, that would translate these desires from thought to words.

I suppose someday you might kick yourself that you're not using a "real" camera. On the other hand, you do what you do, and it's brilliant in its own right. Some art should be impermanent.

7:15 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

I kind of like permanency in art. I like being able to go back again and again, to re-feel or re-perceive.

Well, I did ask, and I did not get any kind of resounding yes. What I find somewhat sobering is that although this little corner of my world gets, what, 900 hits a month on average (and the other one gets thousands and thousands), nobody really says, yes, I see you.

I don't mean this to sound self-pitying at all. Even my best friend says, with a sigh and an upraised eyebrow "well, you're not for everyone."

Oh, maybe I am being a little bitter. I've had a couple of experiences in the last 24 hours that could make one so.

5:33 PM  
Blogger remue-menage said...

I see you - your ravenous appetite for the divine, your spells of joyous creativity, your riffs on the living city, your violent betrayals and your passionate embrace of humanity, your eye for discarded beauty and your pulsing fear of being unheard, your delight in the space between human beings and the textures of human works

I have wanted to look away, for the sake of my soul - but I cannot

6:25 PM  
Blogger slickaphonic said...

ah, ttractor,
I hate to say "I see you" because it's such a weighty statement--it carries a far heavier load than "i love you." but i wrote a distorted mirrored reply to this post, because it was beautiful.


8:14 PM  
Blogger famjaztique said...

Funny...a friend of mine today said much the same thing...only it was more like, "you're too much for most people".

Dammit. Too much of what? I don't bleed anymore than anyone else, but I do bleed. Maybe, maybe my heart splinters into a thousand more pieces than most people's, but no one ever sees that.

8:18 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

r-m, this made me weep. I am having one flying outhouse of a day. thank you for allowing me.

9:07 PM  

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