My friend Randall turned me on to this great instagrammish app (Flare) and I was avoiding my work (as I am now) by toying with random pictures I had taken. I found this one I took last January and liked the way it transformed.
I was also drawn to it's articulation of the impending season of winter. I'm planning to spend time outdoors every day this winter -- partly because I've too often been lulled into the ease of attached garage, a desk-ish job and the ability to never come out. So far chilly walks in the dark have been wonderful. I'm almost excited to continue them into the blizzarding snow.
But as I posted this picture I was suddenly shocked by an apparition. Look closely at the upper lefthand quandrant of the picture, right where the telephone pole and the pine tree intersect. Just to the left of the bus stop. Do you see it?
And so just to be sure, I pulled in closer to the picture. Here's what I found:
So I've had the good fortune of reading two novels (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and In the Time of Doves) over the past couple of weeks and both of them, at moments when I didn't expect it lurch into something like magical realism in their narratives. Or maybe I've been ruined by the Western Tradition and they don't lurch into anything at all; it's just that magic starts to inflect the world and experience of the characters.
And I've had more than my share of education full of implicit demands for logic, rigor, verifiability and evidence. And then as frosting on that particular cake, had far too many religious demagogues who made magical claims that turned out, upon belief to be fraught with an ugly subjugation motive, masked by an invitation to magical-thinking-naivete. Exhausting to be brought up so rational.
So I'm always shocked by how delighted and disturbed I am when I get a sense that the fabric of this universe is not as rational as I've been taught to think, nor is my cynical detachment an adequate protection against the magic that may be lurking wherever.
There's a face in that tree. You see it right. And it's a face with NO BODY. It's a presence that is not quite fully formed and walking around on the (snow-covered) lawn in front of the Theatre Building at Malone University in Canton, Ohio. And he's smiling! And it looks like maybe he's even smiling at me? At us?
Snow always transforms the world into a magical place, but neither the heavy beautiful flakes falling so many months ago -- nor the magical twists and turns of the instagrammatic ethos -- seem as poignant as the ghost I missed 11 months ago. Or whatever it is he's trying to communicate to me now.