Saturday, March 5, 2011

I just picked up my Senior Thesis after I read a friend's blog this morning. The quote she posted reminded me of one of my favorites. And so I dug up my work. Brushing off some dusty residue, from having rested untouched, atop books crammed into a space too small, I opened the booklet to the page I needed and then shared. Ralph Ellison, the author of my favorite book ever - Invisible Man - is quite simply put, a genius. His large work inspired my petite work. His words became the architecture to the small building of words and images that became my thesis. The quote that raised my brow and continues to tape loop my brain is this: "The end is in the beginning and lies far ahead." I think it is perfect. It's kind of like how the universe never ends - we all know this, but don't really know this . . . right? It's simplicity only becomes more profoundly evident via it's complexity. Seriously.

So, after unearthing the quote that I wanted to ensure not to misquote, I began to peruse the body of work I assembled almost a decade ago. Did I really write this? Peppered with quotes and cited works throughout, the bulk of the text, however, is my own voice on paper. My narrative, my dialogue, my edited and a more legible version of my very own stream of consciousness. Wow, I sound like I know what I'm talking about, all the while maintaining a curious and investigatory tone. This morning I impressed myself. And trust you me, this is rare. I believe I was meant for the world of academia. A world chalk full of chalk. An environment that thrives on thought and theory and wonder and malleable answers to positively uncertain solutions. A place of hypothesis and opinion - educated, political and personal - which in my mind are rather inextricable. The political, as I learned long ago, is the personal. I suppose that's why life becomes a struggle for a gal like me, who so strives to be authentic, but who is also required to play a game and wear myriad hats on a regular basis. It's a sense of invisibility indeed, this struggle. Which brings me to another poignant idea from Ralph Ellison.

"Invisibility, let me explain, gives one a slightly different sense of time, you're never quite on the beat. Sometimes you're ahead and sometimes you're behind. Instead of the swift, imperceptible flowing of time, you are aware of its nodes, those pints where time stands still or from which it leaps ahead. And you slip into the breaks and look around."

Invisibility has pros and it has cons. For now, however, I will hold the pros as paramount concern and be inspired by this ghostly notion of the outsider, the observer. I will slip into the breaks, off beat, and look around.

Images: After 'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue 1999–2000
Transparency in lightbox 1740 x 2505 mm by Jeff Wall
(I got to see this work in real life at SFMOMA. The lightbox element could not have been more relevant nor visually sublime. The postcard on my fridge does Wall's work little justice).
Ralph Ellison