Tuesday, 21 April 2015


I go through family photos after hear death, three bags full. Some are framed, under glass. Dust is blinding this oval glass, like a tarnished mirror. The silver frame has gone black. Oblong teardrop-shapes and hand-like leaves curl inward around the photograph. A gaunt female face with vacant eyes is embossed in silver at the bottom, gives a blank stare from her bed of flowing hair. Hair swoops up the frame like electrified, and becomes one with the surreal vegetation. This disembodied lady, I now imagine, has her mermaid-tail and body floating like a phantom beneath the mirror's surface.

The young woman in the photo hails from that same old world of snakeskin clutches and Egyptian amulets. We are distantly related, but our features seem so alike i feel dizzy. "She had my face before me", it pounds through my head, "she walked around with it, used it up..."
At first the vanity shoots through, and I wonder if she aged well. Then, what kind of man undressed her, slipped fingers into her, and how she liked it. If she was ever raped. Probably. Most women at least once. The concept of having a doppelgänger suffering abuse is creepy, and I shake it off.

Did she have friends, and know people who looked just like ones i know? Soon, I see my whole life already duplicated in the past and all finished up, and even already forgotten. Bleak prospect. One day I'll just go out like a candle, and start the descent into total erasure from everybody's memory. Like this other me that came and went. Aside from the shapes of objects around her, the fashions, and the vernacular tongue she spoke, her life must have been just like mine. How else could she stare so dolefully out of an art-nouveau frame, if not by computing in her brain the exact same series of emotions that I have also felt. 
In the melting and psychotic plants, the wilting and heavy nature morte around the glass, the gaunt shadow, I recognize the drawn-out drawers of my life, its enchantments and its  exaggerations, pretences and elastic sub-plots. I recognize the grand insignificance of it all. Some would rush to say that's liberating, but in this attic, it only feels oppressive 
Some people talk about life after drug addiction, or after zyprexa and lithium, as life after death -- especially on conceited rock albums. Survivors of the Hollywood glitter and glam metal scene are particularly vocal about this, and I love their tribe. The huge spiky mullets, frilly shirts and leather bows, they secretly remind me of that arcane lady who looks just like me in her art-nouveau frame (which was modern and new at the time, so she would approve of my evolving tastes. Like me she was probably infinitely fickle when it comes to tastes, and knew the futility of taste in art). 
I secretly wonder if these mullets and cheetah print glitterati also found such a photo in their dead relative's stash. Perhaps they too found that their face is not even a one-off and their whole existence is a segment in an infinite loop. Until this moment, that woman's life had fallen into the well of oblivion.

That abandoned amusement park by the beach...

In reality, my life after drugs fell into a gauche cadence after the first year or two of rebirth, clarity, and upsurge. But let's face it, you don't hear from many of the artists after their first "rehab" product. After that, it's the sameyness of the self that weighs like a melting face on the shoulder. The return to things uncannily similar to the first round of life; the realization that there has been no true life, death or rebirth, but only a fluffy dustball of desires and frustrated wishes, followed by a padded and secretive flight into a fake new life, that claims to be a fresh start, spiraling out to blue skies and candy floss

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