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 don’t take pictures when I travel. I don’t want to stop, evaluate, frame, select, judge. I don’t want anything between me and what is. I keep things in my head, make up my own slide shows, melt the edges, elide images.

My first view of the Sierra Nevadas has me straining like a bloodhound in a butcher shop. These are not familiar, the friendly green of the Adirondacks, the gentle roll of the Ozarks. These are stark and terrible, a brutal landscape stripped to bare skin over sharp bone, a blazing mortification. I am trying to stuff as much of it into my eyes as I can possibly stand, even though I know they are going nowhere, but I am moving, still moving to the next thing, the next vista.

Some things I remember best: the shrieking pop of a snowball fight at 8000 feet; the pair of coyotes that appeared like bookends on either side of the road; in one direction the blue hour settling on distant mountains and turn the other way to the swoop of bats dipping in and out of one still lamp; the smallness of running in the edge of the evening with the absolute magnitude of scale and the press of 90 degrees of air temperature; holding still on a ridge to smell the sage and hear three distinct birds calling, layered over the bleating of goats, the warbling of chickens and the scratching of a boy making an empire of dirt.

It’s time to come on in now, it’s time to come home, but I have still not wiped the dust from my boots.


Anonymous desconocido del paisaje conocido said...

good to read you back.

7:33 PM  
Blogger ttractor said...

thank you! coming back is...well, strange after being somewhere so totally different. It does need some digestion.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous échaudage de l'inconnu said...

it seems like one of the best parts of the experiece, the novelty alienation - fills you with a curiosity and wide eyed attention that is difficult to capture "where you are" daily.

1:00 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

the wierdest thing, which I am trying to find my way to writing about, is being around middle-class white Americans. whoa.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous l'inconnu échaudé said...

it feels like the difficulty there would be describing the surf of minute differences, which amount to the overall distance felt -- holding a reading attention through that... boiling it out to a set of glaring spots, omg-this-weird-thing-s, collapses the continental expanse of the difference-landscape to a cartoon chasm.

11:30 AM  

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