In the cloud of vog, for a moment,

a thin black line line becomes apparent. Cutting its way through gray and brown, it shapes itself into the appearance of something recognizable by cultural memory as an artwork, the kind named profile. Named, the work becomes instantly, intimately known. The gray and the brown now appear always to have been part of a work in purposive progress. They take on the additional definitions of fur and shadow, and in that two-word lexicon there is no order of priority. It is, and it seems never not to have been, a single meaning of gray and brown.

DSC_3716H4

Of course, as Aristotle teaches, that particular meaning is intelligible only within its outline of silhouetting fur. Outside outline there can be nothing but the endless: the void prior to beginning.

Haydn Creation Chaos

But when vog modulates light, it reveals a furry penumbra where light lingers for what we realize is a next-to-last time. We become aware that we have seen and named it before. Along the no longer entirely black border between a dimly glowing cloud without and a dark, momentarily beating heart within, memory creates an image.

From the archive of the not to be archived


Hagerstown, Maryland, October 1937, by Arthur Rothstein. Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information Black & White Photographs, Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1997009146/PP/. Photoshopped. The library’s annotation explains, “Negative has a hole punch made by FSA staff to indicate that the negative should not be printed.”