Family, picture

When he laid his body into an array of images, the black cat became contiguous with it. Before he arrived, the images on this bureau had preexisted as a historic order predefined outside the frame, acquiring its meaning in a private community of reading through the community’s wordy memory. (“This,” people explain about a photograph, “is my dog.” When they say “is,” they refer not to the dog’s or the photograph’s visual form but to a name recorded in a list of words called a history.) But a community like this one on its bureau is also under the control of image’s physical meanings. On a bureau where differently dated images have been brought together, each of them fades to white on its own schedule. Within the frame of this integrated image of images, however, a clock has imposed an apparent uniformity of time. It registers the integral on the eye as a single perception. Time has entered the image, and the image has clocked and stopped it. For an instant, the metaphor of time as motion seems to have been suspended, and the living black cat seems as still as the dead images into whose space he has moved. The clock records the infinitesimal of suspended time as December 17, 2022, 8:17 AM.

Outside the image frame, of course, the actually never still cat continued moving. The shadows cast by a venetian blind moved too, and then a woman became visible to handle the comb and lay it back down, warmed now by touch as well as sun. To have realized such a truism of perception is a poignancy. For a perceived instant we could think we were stilled, like the cat. That was an illusion, of course. It is called persistence of vision. Seen at what used to be called the moving picture show, it is the sense that there can be an instant unchangeable: an infinitesimal of time and life never coming to an end.