November 17, 1902: from the history of smoke

Because they come to us surrounded by words, these images are a document. The document is now held in the Library of Congress, where resident historians have established its origin as a fall day rich with light spilling into river water. That origin is now the title of a story, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2010646582/ , which waits in the Library of Congress to be retold. The hopeful motto of all the stories in every library is Happily ever after

But now put on your red-and-blue anaglyphic glasses and read past the happy ending into the image. As its separated halves reassemble themselves in the eye, see how the story’s wordy boundaries fall away. The document, its read presence, vanishes into the dark beneath a cloud of smoke which rises into air above moving water. Soon, as the boat and its freight of cylinder-hatted bodies pass out of sight, all that will be visible will be the cloud. Because you can imagine that, it may be that you have always had the ability to read forward along time. The power came to you in a cloud of words.

And as it disappears instant by instant, this other cloud in the image is an unworded text formed by sight and thought into a moving darkness unchangingly changeable as the ordinances of nature.

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