Essay

A Chinese Box of Closets [Flash Fiction]

Everything from one end of the monochromatic scale of black to that of white I am able to imagine when taking photos. I see color arrangement in monochrome.

The black and white film I buy at B & H on 9th Avenue across from the Cheyenne Diner I have used for decades now–is it that long, really? The last time I was there was with my Dad–no, it wasn’t the last time I was there, the time I am remembering. I was there getting some 8mm movie film processed–color–when? My last time there . . . the last time I was there with my dad we did go to the Cheyenne Diner, we did have hamburgers, we did . . .

How long ago now–there are many things I become surprised by how old they are in my life, how long ago they happened. I cannot say that the last time I was there with my dad I bought film at HB and burgers at the Cheyenne Diner. We did go and get burgers at the Cheyenne, my Dad and I. How long before he died? He died in the morning with the sun breaking through the clouds after having snowed a few inches the night before. It’s four years ago that my dad died as the sun broke through the gloom . . .

I was once told that neither extreme on the monochromatic scale is actually present in a film–but that can’t be, can it? This is not a point of contention for me when I shoot with black and white film; is there true white and true black in what I have shot. I have gone into the extremes of low-light photography and let me tell you I have recorded on film, black and white. I have hundreds and hundreds of photos in black and white stored in boxes in a closet in my apartment. . . a closet photographer, no? Interesting, this idea about being in a closet, or how being closeted is not only about sexual orientation and sexuality.

Every human soul experiences this closet of his own, this closet of his desires, his feelings, his ideas, whatever have you that’s locked up in you–in me. No one escapes, really, one Chinese box of closets this Self of selves.

 

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