Unreal Nature

January 28, 2011

The Viewing

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 7:10 am

… One hand lies long and flat along her lap: it is elegantly made of bone and is two sizes too large for the keen wrist.

This is from the end of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee (text) and Walker Evans (photographs); first published in 1941. In the segment below Agee is describing what he sees in an Evans’s photograph “of Squinchy Gudger and his mother as they are in the open hall; … in a silent, white hour of a summer day.”:

His mother sits in a hickory chair with her knees relaxed and her bare feet flat to the floor; her dress open and one broken breast exposed. Her head is turned a little slantwise and she gazes quietly downward past her son’s head into the junctures of the earth, the floor, the wall, the sunlight, and the shade. One hand lies long and flat along her lap: it is elegantly made of bone and is two sizes too large for the keen wrist. With her other hand, and in the cradling of her arm and shoulder, she holds the child. His dress has fallen aside and he is naked. As he is held, the head huge in scale of his body, the small body ineffably relaxed, spilled in a deep curve from nape to buttocks, then the knees drawn up a little, the bottom small and sharp, and the legs and feet drifted as if under water, he suggests the shape of the word siphon. He is nursing. His hands are blundering at her breast blindly, as if themselves each were a new born creature, or as if they were sobbing, ecstatic with love; his mouth is intensely absorbed at her nipple as if in rapid kisses, with small and swift sounds of moisture; his eyes are squeezed shut; and now, for breath, he draws away, and lets out a sharp short whispered ahh, the hands and his eyelids relaxing, and immediately resumes; and in all this while his face is beatific, the face of one at rest in paradise, and in all this while her gentle and sober, earnest face is not altered out of its deep slantwise gazing: his head is now sunken off and away, grand and soft as a cloud, his wet mouth flared, his body still more profoundly relinquished of itself and I see how against her body he is so many things in one, …

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: