Monday, May 17, 2010

call me: exhibitionist

There are a whole bunch of reasons for why Hans Christian Andersen got it both uncomfortably right and incredibly wrong when he wrote up a story about red shoes. Right now, I want to consider this:

Have you ever said to someone, please, undress me? Turn me inside out. Look me in the eye for longer than is polite, or comfortable, or safe. Let's unfold those honest linens, the ones in the dusty chests piled under manners, niceties, the sheen of everyday. Diminish the distance to none. Let's have you be me and me be you, and we'll watch each other while we reach into this bag of shadows and pull out: a toad, a pebble, a long afternoon.

Put another way...

It's really difficult to lie and dance well. You're trying to say something without words, which are somehow easier because meaning doesn't have as much space to rattle around in when it's confined by words. It can't drift off, can't evoke quite as many unintended echoes. You can limit how much people see with words. Dancing well (at least, my current definition of well) is much more like inviting someone to see a clumsily edited montage of your entire life. You've done the best you can, but rogue fragments keep finding their way into the stream. They tell more than what you meant, though you're not sure how much. Your only defense is that the audience, the person with whom you're having this conversation, is (with any luck) being struck by astonishments of his own. Recognition and memory and all those things that make us feel anything when we experience some art, when we look at the (metaphorical) inside of another human being.

I can't get enough of this, on either end. It's a pleasure and a thrill. It's as much fun as running around in the rain, singing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" at full blown, ridiculous volume. Trust me, I know.