I am eight years old. I’m given a book of children’s poetry. I hurry past the poems. It’s the photos that I study, that I want to enter. There’s a girl stamping in a puddle, and I feel a terrific yearning for her, so terrific as to be painful. It’s that preadolescent anticipation of falling in love, and it’s the foreknowledge of the mysteries of sex. In that single image, in that barefoot girl stomping so joyfully in a puddle, there lies the possibility of eternal contentment, possession, surrender, sublimation.
But what else about that photo? It’s not the girl; it’s not the foreground that matters so much. It’s the house behind her that draws my attention, a house distinctly and completely American, the likes of which I’ve never seen in my own quiet neighborhood. It’s a two-story gabled house with a deep front porch. The vernacular of American suburban architecture works as a great entrancing, hypnotic force in my life. I obsess for hours about all the perfection of form in my mother’s House and Gardens.
An inconceivable mystery: from where I stood as a youngster, the people all around me appeared to be more or less satisfied with the notion that they were living in Australia. They seemed, in fact, to embrace the idea! For me, Australia was a pale simulacrum of what reality should surely have been offering. The thought never crossed my mind that a physical continent—a country, flesh and stone, citizens and states, events taking place with or, more extraordinarily, without me present—could in any way be disentangled from the imagination. It was all one world. It was all one country, and it was called America: this place I was living in, in every way except the physical. The way to this land, this America, was television…
Aug 2, 01:05 PMPurchase or Subscribe to Slake: Los Angeles
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