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Reading’s hard. Normally. And I find it hard to read if I’m not travelling, which is when something resists, like the feeling of bumping nausea on a bus, or noise, pure and irritating noise. Even so, it’s better than pure and irritating silence. The best place is on a train, where I might hold the pages tightly, as if they were connected to the world outside, and if I were to let them go they might fly away. So I hold them tight, clutch them, catch them, like an idea that hasn’t yet been written down.


“A documentary work is an attempt to recapture someone something somewhere looking back.” (Susan Howe)

In a film by Chris Marker, and on a straight pier in Orly airport outside Paris, at an undesignated time before World War Three, a woman, a hand on her face, her fingers curling in a spiral pattern and gently brushing her lips, looks back, at nothing, and at the same time at everything. Her reverse in this, a still film made almost entirely of still images, is the image of the wide-eyes of a boy in shorts watching the planes, and the image of the same wide-eyes of a man marked by an image from his childhood, and the image, in a different space at a different time, of the wide-eyes of the viewers of a film.

Every view has its reverse. The woman at the end of the pier looks back at everything as we do when we watch the screen, with the complete desire, as Stanley Cavell waxed, of seeing from behind the gaze, magically reproduced, “the world itself, that is to say, everything.”