Friday, April 27, 2012, 4:06pm
I am sitting in a business class seat in an Amtrak train on my way from, Providence, RI to New York Penn Station. The wi-fi has broken down, and this gives me a chance to ignore the perpetual onslaught of emails and focus on this text, which has been overdue for some time now. I want write here about mirroring, because it seems to me that the photographs that make up this book—photographs of and by three pairs of young men, Steven and Dylan, Ted and Zachary, Colin and Oisin, each taking photos of the other—fall into that category I first wrote about so many years ago: mirrors mirroring mirrors, each mirror a telescope leading us into deep reflection wherein we see the likeness of, not only our self, but the other. Interestingly, we do not see eyes portrayed in these photos; they are out of sight, or closed, too intimate to share with us, the viewers. The gaze is private, hidden, thus emphasized by its lack. This is the voice over I imagine for these images:
Who is this other that gazes back at us, unflinching? What do these eyes see reflected in ours but themselves? Gazing into that deep well of loneliness that is the other, we find the reflection of a reflection of a reflection. The soul we find there may be our own. Is the other gazing back, or is that merely a reflection (of a reflection of a reflection) of our own looking? Surely this beauty, this image of male beauty gazing, is the image of our desire, of our love for another, of another's love for us. This tenderness, the tenderness we can find nowhere else, is the sweet touch of the gaze, the touch of this boyish trusting glance upon manliness, upon our manliness, reflected in another's eyes, entangled limbs, two bodies touching.
The camera mimics this trusting glance, this touch.
Now I am traveling through yellow fields fringed with pale trees brightened by the flush of spring's green. A cluster of white houses swings into view and vanishes. A river. A factory, perhaps abandoned. Across the aisle a young man with dark, tousled hair and red earphones is intent upon a videogame in his hands. The river again; moored yachts; a sign declares Mystic River Foundry. A cemetery glides by, perfectly lit by the watery late afternoon sun. The young man is gone, perhaps to meet another on the platform at New London, CT, where he descended. I picture them with tousled hair, a little scruff, turned away from us, each a mirror to the other.
Written for At the Same Time