Wednesday, March 07, 2012

“The Hysterical Light Of Electricity”

“What are you doing out so late wandering around? How old are you?”

They walked in the warm-cool blowing night on the silvered pavement and there was the faintest breath of fresh apricots and strawberries in the air, and he looked around and realized this was quite impossible, so late in the year.

There was only the girl walking with him now, her face bright as snow in the moonlight, and he knew she was working his questions around, seeking the best answers she could possibly give.

“Well,” she said, “I’m seventeen and I’m crazy. My uncle says the two always go together. When people ask your age, he said, always say seventeen and insane. Isn’t this a nice time of night to walk? I like to smell things and look at things, and sometimes stay up all night, walking, and watch the sun rise.”

They walked on again in silence and finally she said, thoughtfully, “You know, I’m not afraid of you at all.”

He was surprised. “Why should you be?”

“So many people are. Afraid of firemen, I mean. But you’re just a man, after all . . .”

He saw himself in her eyes, suspended in two shining drops of bright water, himself dark and tiny, in fine detail, the lines about his mouth, everything there, as if her eyes were two miraculous bits of violet amber that might capture and hold him intact. Her face, turned to him now, was fragile milk crystal with a soft and constant light in it. It was not the hysterical light of electricity but—what? But the strangely comfortable and rare and gently flattering light of the candle.

from Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury

A style of painting, really a technique,
called ‘chiaroscuro,’ was invented
sort of in early Renaissance drawings—
extreme, even excessive, lights and darks
made shapes and scenes vivid and exciting.
Painters embraced the technique for drama.
Sometimes the intense light was religious.
Sometimes the light came from no source at all.
Often figures leaned toward dazzling candles
and candle light provided a bright glare
illuminating the nearby features
and quickly turning to pure black shadows
even close at hand in the mid-distance.

Now all light is the hysterical light
of electricity and images
are all photography’s hysteria,
even drawings and paintings mimic it.

How can anyone draw, paint, anyone
in this light, lost in the hysteria?

How can anyone look at anyone
in this light, lost in the hysteria?

The cameras built into phones these days
convert the hysteria to a grid.
Nothing gets lost in the rows and columns.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The Question Clarisse Asks Montag

Rocket Summer People

There’s A Hand Raising A Phone

This Woman And A Flickering Candle

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