Sunday, March 21, 2010

Monkeyshines, No. 1 (1889)

Just a test, to see what it can do.

Camera’s ready. You ready?

I don’t know. Make a—
fist? No.
Make like you’re praying. Palm to palm.
It photographs better.
Now give me thirty seconds.


Like you? No, it doesn’t, unless you’re a white blob. But it moves like a person, and that’s what we needed to—
No, I don’t know what it’ll amount to. You tell me.
No, I run the equipment. You’re the one with the imagination. You’re the artist.

But we aren’t the same.
But if we were?
Then, what would I see, in this?

A freshman’s fool dance;
A tramp with a cane;
The all-time schnozzola;
Or a mohawked hack, talking smack to his mirror.

I’d see,
A vampire’s shadow;
A corpse stirred by storms;
The slow slip of bedsheets;
Or a girl facing backward by turning her head.

A train down a gorge;
And a great ship upended;
And an auto-dogged train car;
And a sphere of grey metal, blown to fireworks in space.

Swedes and Danes!
American maids;
Beijing’s best kickers;
And India’s fragrant... most elegant, jewels.

Sidling up to,
Great profiles,
Smooth spies;
One-man armies;
And cowboys who sling from the hip.

True love on a mountain-top;
Dozens of tiny kisses in Rio;
Touches with tastings of honey; and
What a flower-girl, blind then healed, finally sees.

And I’d know,
How igloos stay solid;
And penguins press on;
And slam-dunks mean hope;
Since children started shooting children.

I’d find,
Pet cemeteries;
And dry, choking gulches;
And Paradise and Hell;
And endless spans of grass and sand, and ocean and vacuum.

Smarmy rabbits;
Mice in shorts;
A pig in a flying machine;
And a little girl, lost in nightmares made of others’ pollution.

And finally, I’d see,
The most beautiful woman on earth;
The most honest man in town;
A spectacle unlike any that the world has seen;
And something so grand, friend, that I would never look at film the same way again.
Now hold still.

It’s time for take two.

Where to find Monkeyshines, No. 1:
Monkeyshines, No. 1, is the name given to a series of camera tests performed by Edison Company photographer, W.K.L. Dickson, ca. 1889. This film can be found on Disc One of Kino International’s Edison: The Invention of the Movies.

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