By Sarah Stone, Faculty member in the Department of Writing, Consciousness, and Creative Inquiry, and author of The True Sources of the Nile
“The progressive cultural evolution of humanity will lead us to understand that we are animals among other animals.”
It’s an animal thing, how writers need the other arts. We need to be fed differently, to be knocked down differently, in order to understand everything we don’t see when we bury ourselves in one art. So, after days of being knocked down and re-formed by AWP, Ron and I went to the museum.
You can walk through it, climb the stairs and look down into it. Red restaurant red chairs red floor red tablecloths red breadbasket red knives red forks red plates red vases red roses. Blue-gray foxes climbing, crawling, rolling, pouncing, their faces crafty and intelligent in animal ways, a series of intensities (like glee, like curiosity, like fierceness, but those aren’t the names for those animal ways of thinking). You walk through it. You can’t be part of it. You walk back the other way. One red fox. One reddish-painted fox fur, the real stripped-away skin, draped over a chair. More like a dream than a dream. What a dream would be, if it were possible to imagine this.
Not clear whether the fluorescent green – scooped up, poured out, stirred in cauldrons – is the source of the catastrophe, an additional burden, or some kind of effort at repair. The worlds broken together. Bosch and sci-fi, hard-boiled crime fiction and shamanism, ritual acts and toxic spill, the other world and the future we fear. The wooden underpinnings of the destroyed ground, the man passed out or dead, the interruption of gray/brown normality. Where the red and turquoise break in, the moments of yellow.
A little doll/puppet propped upright in a trunk or suitcase, old-style fabric body, her arms and legs black tubes, sticking straight out. Her largish oblong stocking-mask head, a video screen, shows just her face, a creature going through every emotion, sitting stiffly in her box, calling out orders, asking for help, uttering speculations, whispering or exclaiming:
“Maybe nothing this exciting will ever happen again!”
“Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero.”
“Hey, what’s going on?”
“Fire! Fire? Fi-i-ire. Fire!”
The trunk is stuck back in a corner in the half-dark, though her voice can be heard in other rooms. (I had thought she was saying, “Liar! Liar!”) Spectators come up and start laughing immediately, a painful laughter, looking around to see if other people see the bitter wit of this doll with its fierce and self-contained dramas.