HUNGRY GHOSTS, LONELY PEOPLE

asphodelx

So here we are near, but not quite in, Asphodel Acres, a place “where dwell the souls and shadows of them that can labour no more” (Homer, Odyssey, Book XXIV) In other’ words, “A 55+ community for active adults.” Here are drawn some not so Homeric ghosts existing among us in our suburban hills and uncanny valleys. They are disquieting—disgusting, even—because they are simultaneously us and not us. They are like some of you, but they are not at all like us.

Let us not reify these hungry ghosts as personifications of Lust, Greed, etc. because that would require us to create (involve, believers will say) some kind of higher authority, an agency more fundamental than human self-ishness. We, like M. Laplace, “have no need of that hypothesis.” These sketches are just cursory embodiments of, as Goya said about the subject matter of his etchings, “common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance and self interest have made usual.”

Are these doodles less like generalized caricatures mentioned above and more like portraits, representations of the unique and persistent selves that we believe we are? Or are they neither and more like the face, the Jungian persona, Lennon and McCartney’s Eleanor Rigby wears and “keeps in a jar by the door?” that would be a face that’s “a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others and on the other to conceal the true nature of the individual.

But perhaps there is no “true nature of the individual” here and these are nothing but faces kept “in a jar by the door,” a landscape where as Jean Baudrillard said, “The simulacrum now hides, not the truth, but the fact that there is none.” Shakespeare wrote “All the world’s a stage…” what if all his “men and women are [not] merely players,” but are even less real, and are just masks? Then it’s not only Ms. Rigby who “lives in a dream, waits by a window” but the rest of us are there as well, with our selves, the “true nature of the individual” as ephemeral as a pop song.

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