What Does It Mean? - Chapter 3

chapter 1

          ♫ Hand, hand, everywhere a hand...mockin phys·i·og·no·my...freakin my mind ♪

          “OK.  This is where you explain the unsettling not-face in Untitled Portrait of Self.

          “I suspect you won’t be satisfied.”

          “Why not?”

          “Because we-humans are innately head, face, and (especially) eye centric—a viewer’s natural inclination is to scan-and-lock on this area of an artwork; affording more time to above-the-neck images and less to the remainder of the work.  I chose images which would, hopefully, discourage that impulse as well as answer three questions:  What facial expression would my hands make?  Which animal lives inside my skull?  And (avoiding cliché) how can I depict thoughts?
          "Other artists have addressed this in very unique ways:  Rauschenberg's self portrait, Booster, included his full-body x-ray; Magritte blocked his face with an apple; Dali depicted his soul's glove in Soft Self Portrait with Fried Bacon; Lichtenstein used a fragmented-cubist style; and the photographer Vivian Maier worked with reflections and shadows."


          “That’s your entire explanation?”

          “I said you wouldn’t...”

          “Why a rat-brain?  Why are the eyes closed?  Why is the tongue out so far you can see tonsils?  Why an oct...OK, I get that part...pretty ingenious, but what’s on the TV?”

          “There are so many, too many, correct answers.  Each answer obscures another. 
          “I’m nocturnal; squint in any level of sunlight; love cunnilingus (only obvious when the necktie—reinforcing dynamic motion—is examined closely); and the final scene of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samauri, are some answers.  But.  So is...I enjoy cave exploring; don’t enjoy direct eye contact; have no cavities (or tonsils); and the subtitle—again, we are defeated—could be pessimism, realism, or a comment on war.”

          “Hmm.”

          “You're nonplussed.”

          “This underscores my problem with understanding.  When something is ‘open to interpretation’ I feel like there are too many options and, inevitably, I pick none.”

          “What does the word ‘rat’ bring to mind?”

          “Dirty.  They eat garbage.  Spread diseases.”

          “What about an octopus?”

          “Camouflaged, intelligent, problem solvers.”

          “And what about this drawing of two hands melded into one?”

          “Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo Del Torro.”


          “My sensibilities are quite pleased with the interpretations you bring to these elements.  Moving on to hands...
          “The rat is looking at Geovanni Giacometti's Theodora, who is shielding her eyes with her left hand in order to gaze sharply downward, encouraging the viewer to do likewise.  Theodora’s vantage point suggests she is staring at Lichenstein’s Nude... (mentioned in an earlier chapter) who is staring back at her—people staring at each other are intended to create visual tension. 
          “I chose to repeat the visual trope begun with the face by having the SNAPPERHEADLINE NEWS (obvously a reference to my blog) being held by, and depicting, many hands.  The three-ring circus element needed to be visually different from that of the right arm (gun : limb : common sense/intuition) as well as from that of the head (rat-brain : octopus-avocations : doublepalm-face).
          “The monkey depicts dichotomy by taking/climbing on the paper, wearing a trinity nuclear explosion as a helmet, and allowing money to fall out of its tailhand.
          “The lobster depicts both good and bad repetitious behavior by holding the newspaper in its tailhand (no day-off in nine months) while grasping a golf club (practice makes perfect) and an antihistamine sprayer (a life-long addiction).
          “The top hand, merely displaying the paper, reflects my job.
          “Above the headline: brains never make same connection twice, is a melding of suggestive images which are open to interpretation, culminating in a banana near the monkey (visual/mental connections).”


          “Don’t be shy at this point.  Let's hear one of your intended interpretations.”

          “Masturbation.”

          “OK.  Maybe.  Male hand gripping a banana.  Fingers directing the eye along a disembodied female gluteal sulus.  Nipple shield.  It is so obvious.”

          “Sarcasm doesn’t change my interpretation.”

          “How about another for good measure?”

          “The progression of birth to death.”

          “Oh come on!”

          “Nipple shield—a symbol of birth, connected to female life-giver, connected to male pointing a metaphoric pistol at the war-monkey?” 

          “Bet you can’t do a third.”

          “A three-panel Exquisite Corpse.  One artist begins, folds the paper allowing only a small hint for the next artist who appends to that hint and then folds...”

          “Shit.  Now I see it.  But only after you pointed it out.  Who needs a chapter break?”

          “As long as the smoke from the campfire doesn’t waft up the nose on the leaf of the lilac bush (a favorite and a visual guide) causing an explosive sneeze (an unfortunate trait) to frighten the bee into a frenzy which causes it to buzz the thong-shaped streetlight pole and seek refuge on the concrete porch of the cliff-front condominium (a pipe dream) forcing one of Georges Seurat's models (staring at the viewer) to flee down the ladder, snapperhead will return with another chapter explaining the portion of the the story in, on, behind, adjacent, and surrounding the left leg of Untitled Portrait of Self.

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