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This report is taken from PN Review 215, Volume 40 Number 3, January - February 2014.

Image-Making
An Apology to Students of Creative Writing
Vahni Capildeo
I was part of a heterosexual couple, a small dark woman attached to a tall fair man, in a city where couples dine with other couples, in nice houses. The hosts are a small fair woman and her tall dark attachment. After English-Italian, we move onto the sofas. Fair Woman, barefooted, shoots me a naughty look, beating her seventy-denier calves across Dark Man's lap. Dark Man looks bored, caressing them. Fair Man looks bored, drumming his fingers on the sofa. Carpet and walls loom blondly. The unfiltered night air smoulders like Hedy Lamarr. Fair Woman mouths an O. My attention has already left the building. When Dark Man stands at the threshold to bid goodbye, waving above Fair Woman's head, his corneas seem to fill with electric blue. For a moment I do not see him. A mental image displaces him: a basalt statue of the Egyptian jackal god of death, Anubis.

The two images, man and jackal, were not superimposed; nor a juxtaposition; nor a flickering. They were one thing, steadily neither man nor statue: Anubis-and-and/or-or-Dark Man. In that moment when inner and outer perception fused, Dark Man was that philosophical impossibility: him and not-him. This was not troubling. Images are intrinsic to everyday thought, as well as part of the process of poetic composition. They present themselves plausibly, and are not amenable to 'mapping' or 'unpacking'. A complex of thought, memory, experience, feeling and association operates in them, not fixed or accountable. Banality when described or explained, this thing-beyond: that judgment and appetite were embodied in the jackal-deathgod-husband, in that living hell ...


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