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Briefcase clutched tightly in one hand he raised the other in a futile attempt to keep the rain from his eyes. His feet ached, having trodden straight through the bottom of his shoes some time ago, the tattered hems of his trousers dragged on the ground, puddling around his cut and bloodied toes. The asphalt was rough, as if it had been laid many years before and then forgotten, and yet he was strangely comforted. His mouth had been clenched tight for so long, the power of speech escaped him. His muscles ached so badly that he had only the strength to repeat the same motion, over and over again. His very lungs clenched tight against the cold and he drew breath in short, ragged gasps and yet he was comforted. This road along which he traveled was a hard one, one he’d walked for as long as he could remember, but it was his road. He knew every crack, every twisting turn. He needn’t think to walk this path, merely survive, and survival meant just to continue the trudge. I walk, I think…oh Descartes…I know you were…but how can I be? He’d lost count of his footsteps so long ago that time had become meaningless, but after what could only have been a period of many years his feet scraped against dirt for the first time, finding the rain abated a little bit he raised his eyes to the path ahead of him and was surprised at what met his gaze; a fork. He rubbed the water from his listless eyes, hoping to see something other than this choice. As if he were being mocked by the cosmos, the rain dropped off around him, allowing him to drop his arms to his sides and face the split in his world head on. He wasn’t sure how long he stood there, mind blank, aghast at the prospect of having to take part in the production of his own destiny. He began to pace, once in a while rifling through the blank papers in his briefcase, hoping for some semblance of direction, some sort of instruction on how to proceed, but there was none to be found. His shoulders sagged in defeat, accepting the inevitability. To stand here any longer wasn’t an option. He looked down one path, cracked and worn, as his old one had been. He gathered himself for what was to come, took a deep breath, then set off down the second path, his face muscles ached as he smiled a long awaited smile, brimming with mirth at the cliché he’d just acted out. He breathed a sigh of relief as his feet felt smooth, newly laid street beneath them. The horizon opened up in front of him, the sun peaked out from behind his guilt and he was suddenly
able to see the land stretched out before him. Looking back over his shoulder he could see massive stack of his bad decisions flitting away on a warm breeze.
So I put my best foot forward and take the kind of deep breath that gives me away as the kind of person who deals with anxiety and odd numbers He set off at an even pace, not looking back, not ever again. The next fork that he came to he took in stride, not even looking down before choosing the new direction; deviation wasn’t nearly so scary any more. He broke into a run, and flung his tie down in front of him. He began unbuttoning his shirt and it too was soon left behind. The trousers came next and finally he was running without thought of direction, wind ripping across his undershirt and striped boxer-shorts. On the horizon and approaching rapidly was a dark shape. His pace didn’t slow but he took some time to examine his surroundings as he continued to let his feet choose path after path. All the roads were converging on one another, not being integrated, merely winding and weaving themselves together. These languid lengths of long black ribbon wriggled and writhed with an almost serpentine grace. His path then seemed to tear itself from the ground holding it, his feet held strong and he willed himself to remain stuck to the surface, he had to continue his trek…it was almost over. He was flipped and turned as he sprinted along the path, eager to get to the center of existence, suddenly he found himself face to face where the place where it all came together. A free flowing knot of highway ribbons sat before his eyes, suspended in the air above his path, through all the undulation and seemingly chaotic motion, he sensed a cool order…at the very least a feeling of purpose. As if sensing his thoughts, the flow slowed, and he was able to perceive a slow but steady rhythm, a heartbeat. Reassured now more than ever that this was the right place, he held out his hand, and suddenly plunged it straight into the blackness. With a sigh of relief and of release, the man with the briefcase, the man with no choice but ‘forward’, the man with no hope but the next step, in a bright flash that man ceased to be. In his place stood a man with all the answers. I smirked and thought to myself: Something is still something, and like some cats say Something’s better than nothing Will I be something? Can I be something? Am I something? And the answer comes: Already am, always was, and I still have time to be
Analysis In this piece, I force a character to physically encounter the piece of artwork in an undefined world. He doesn’t merely encounter the painting on the wall, he encounters what I would conceive to be the artwork as if it were brought to life in a tangible respect. The traveler is walking down a lonesome road. The weather is oppressive, and yet he is content. He represents every Joe-Nobody who insists that their life is ‘just the way they want it’ the fact that he is never forced to choose anything allows him to placate himself, insisting that this is the way he wants things to be. By identifying this trait I attempt to pinpoint the exigence the artist wants to rectify. What happens next to our traveler shows how the artist seeks to fix this problem. The traveler encounters a fork, and after desperately searching his meaningless existence for a way out of the choice, he finally succumbs to the choice. This simple act of decision liberates him from his stupor in the same way the artist wishes to lift us from ours. She presents the viewer with unabashed chaos and forces upon them the same choice that I’ve forced upon my traveler. The viewer’s eyes have only but to follow path after path, tracing and gliding along until the intersections become to frequent to call them choices anymore. This happens to my character as well, the fast pace of decisions blurring into one another mimics the healthy flow of a life lived not just for the purpose of being perpetuated. The artist insists that her viewer begin somewhere and end somewhere…there are no rest areas on the roads she has mapped out for us, to go forward is the only choice, everything else just happens along the way. The feeling of purpose or acceptance that artist attempts to lead us to is represented by the last section where the traveler encounters the beating heart, representative of his own finally finding its own rhythm. The culmination of the analysis finds the Anis Mogjani excerpt that echoes the traveler’s final inner feelings. The difficulties I faced in writing this piece were very frustrating at first. I really liked the idea of having a character come into contact with and interact with a piece of art, but I was having a hard time weaving my analysis into the prose piece. However, I feel that these difficulties in the end allowed me to garner a better understanding of what the artist was trying to do, and working through them gave me the opportunity to confront the artwork myself. The short, first person interludes represent what the artist hopes will go through the head of someone encountering her artwork, they provide a mental framework by which the viewer can further attach their state of mind to the piece.
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