Reading The Blue Clerk, 150

“Verso 40.6”

We were walking around the museum, looking at the same things and seeing different things. Or we were seeing the same things and looking at different things. No, those words don’t quite get it. We were looking at the same things and noticing different things. Or we were looking at different things and noting different things. Even though our bodies clustered around the same object of contemplation.

All descriptions of the photograph claim that the first human being to be photographed is the figure having his shoes cleaned.

In a famous article, we were taught to pay attention to the person who was barely mentioned, the person barely named, the person who made possible the person to whom we were to pay attention, the person to whom we were to extend feeling, the person to whom we were to grant our imaginations and desires, the person whose desires were to enthrall ours.

Foreground. Background. Someone polished the floors. Or swept them. A gown sweeps across a floor. I read so many novels with this description. As though these sweeping gowns do the work of those who keep the floors clean.

I see first the figure cleaning the shoes as the photograph’s subject.

The gap between looking and seeing. No. Between what one is instructed to see and what one knows how to see. Knows? Peripheral. To see out of the side of one’s eye. To see only from the side. The angles are wrong. I do not understand the geometry of relation, or what we are told is the geometry of relation. Something is always moving athwart. A glance cuts into another glance. If you look at the right time, you will meet a glance that knows how to meet yours.

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