The Diary of a Metaphysical Bookworm by Suzanne Valtsioti © Installment Three The Death of the Bohemian

The Diary of a Metaphysical Bookworm

by Suzanne Valtsioti

©All Rights Reserved

Installment Three

The Death of the Bohemian

So, Raz, I was writing in my last installment about my grandmother’s youth, explaining how she was left alone to make her own choices at a very young age. My dear Coco left to her devices, chose to remain in London. And she settled in Soho, attracted to the wanton behavior, the artist colony, the debauchery and the reckless freedom.

That being said, I am feeling much better about writing out my thoughts and secrets to you Raz. Because I made a good start. Yes, writing about my grandmother.

I need to write everything I know about Coco.

Why am I writing this Raz, do you know? Do you know why I need to also write out Coco’s story when in truth it’s my story that I need to explore? Why focus on others when I need to finally dig inside, deep, deep within my soul, to allow myself to grab my own story and let it all out?

Because there is a saga unfolding before our very eyes.

Well, Coco left this world just last week. Nearly one hundred years from her birth. She left. She is gone from here and as I am writing in this ‘here and now’, she is definitely creating her noise someplace far, far away. And I am certain that she is happy there.

Coco, Coral, call her what you will, has died. This version of her had aged and withered like a leaf on the ancient oak. And I am left with a tremendous task.

Her dying words to me where to ‘find myself’, ‘to release Skye from all confines of the mind’ and ‘to fulfill my legacy’.

She said that I am one of the ‘wise women’, a ‘wise one’ and my emergence is to happen now. The only obstacle she said is that I am being blocked, and she told me to search deep inside and to open my eyes wide to the truth.

We spoke for days on end towards her final curtain call of this life, and it is all starting to fit in place. Everything that I knew to be true, all of my ‘weirdness’ and all of the strange facts, occurrences and coincidences marking our lives all seem to be making more sense to me now. So many unexplainable things making us so different from the rest all seem normal to me…as if they were naturally meant to be. I can finally see it this way.

I think that last night was the point in time when things sunk in. Things that I was afraid to face all these years now seem natural and they make sense to me in a way that I had never experienced before. But then again, last night I had a ‘seeing’…another vision.

You see, Raz, growing up the way I did made me afraid of what I really am. I like to call myself weird, just to excuse my being different. Now I finally feel like I don’t need to excuse it. I don’t need to be like the others and fit in.

Damn right I am different. We all were. And I suppose it is our legacy.

Look…how many people can claim to be raised only by free-thinking, spiritual, ‘different’ women,…and not by the mother but by the grandmother. I was raised by my grandmother, just like my grandmother was raised by hers. But that is not where the ‘different’ comes into play. Here is the ‘different’.

My grandmother found her freedom as a young woman in London in World War 2. Who finds freedom during a time of war?

Anyway, she was a wild intellectual and an extremely spiritual person – frighteningly intuitive and very strong. She was like a thunderstorm. And extremely in tune with things that others would never be able to see or understand. Searching for her world and for soul mates, she found her niche at first with a very freethinking crowd in a London neighborhood.

But that is just a mere description of her that hardly does justice to the truth about Coco. I barely skimmed the surface of her story.

From the moment that she stepped foot on British soil, she woke up to a new reality. Coco stepped into a dream world. That is how she used to explain it to me. She heard a calling. At first, she didn’t ‘respond’ to it. She just used to let it ‘happen’…she used to receive visions.

‘Seeing’ is how Coco referred to it.

She collected all of the information, what she would see, how she saw it, what was said. She wrote them down in a little brown notebook back then when they started to occur. She didn’t act on them at first, Coco just recorded the details in her notebook and collected them.

And she became fascinated with this dream world. Studying the details of her visions, she realized that they pointed her to Avalon, to Glastonbury. Coco was getting bits and pieces of a life there, of a calling to either ‘remember’ or to actually do something. She wasn’t sure what it all meant, so Coco would just allow for the visions to come, and she would study them.

One thing was for certain. She beckoned and wished for them to come to her more and more. Coco felt this strong need to communicate with whatever it was that she was seeing. And this began to dictate her life. That is why she felt so comfortable with a group of ‘crazy’ artists- painters and writers. That is what others outside their lifestyle called them. But she knew that they were far from crazy, they just saw more to life than the average person did. And that liberated them from the norms. This made them do certain things that the establishment wasn’t able to accept or understand. Their liberated lifestyle seemed almost corrupt and destructive to those who couldn’t understand that these people were seeing and hearing things from elsewhere, that they were being fueled and driven by inspiration from muses outside the realms of the five senses.

Coco became one of a select few of privileged wild and free souls that also frequented a very clandestine opium den in an underground space of a shop in Chinatown. And it was the opium that allowed for her to suspend herself for what seemed an eternity, hovering between worlds. While some of her friends were literally languishing in this netherstate, Coco seemed to thrive. Opium released her and allowed for her to embrace her link to Avalon.

It was in this state that she had the hallmark of her visions, the one that literally changed her life.

It was in this state, in that underground languid opium den that she saw and spoke with the great Merlin. He came to her and told her things that changed her whole life.

Coral Brackford became Coco who now shed her cocoon and emerged as a mystic woman of old, a wise one, a priestess, a visionary, that has suddenly found herself in this particular world. All of her past seem to peel away, and as she emerged back into the daylight from that opium den burrowed into the earth, that day, having spoken with Merlin, it was as if she suddenly assumed the identity of her true being.

Without ‘training’ or experience or influence, a whole new woman emerged from within her soul and showed its face to the outside world. And it was very real. And it was that woman that she now was, a Druid, a priestess of the Celts, a wise ancient archetype of a mystical band of beings, that sought to bring me into this world and to raise me. She did what she had to do to ensure that I would be born.

Because she knew that I had a mission to fulfill.


The Diary of a Metaphysical Bookworm by Suzanne Valtsioti Installment Two The Young Coral Brackford, aka “Coco”

The Diary of a Metaphysical Bookworm by Suzanne Valtsioti

Installment Two

The Young Coral Brackford, aka “Coco”

Okay, Raz…It is officially time for a complete investigation as to who I really am. For crying out loud, how messed up am I? I really have no idea what I am about. All I know is that I am different. And I don’t mean socially and all that…because God knows that I just don’t fit in. But I mean I feel spiritually different too.

If I don’t dig in now, and get to the heart of the matter, I will become a recluse… and in time I will morph into an old cat lady that talks to herself.

NOW is the time that I can write down anything and everything that is tough to handle, or painful to hold onto. NOW is the time that I can jot down everything and anything that was and is difficult to overcome. NOW is the time that I can write down all I know about all the unusual and unexplainable experiences that I have had up to now.

And if all of this gets recorded in your pages, Raz, then I will be getting somewhere. I will have unloaded heavy baggage. And then I can take my time and rummage through the baggage and examine its contents so that I can finally get a picture and an idea of the whole person that I am.

I suppose that people like me with ‘untraditional’ or dysfunctional types of ‘families’, if you could call them that, never really get a chance to know themselves.

We are too busy all our lives trying to figure out those that were and are around us, and later on, we are too busy trying to explain away all the pain and suffering that accumulated over the years.

My childhood was definitely ‘different’ because I was never really a child. I was too serious. And I certainly wasn’t in an environment that was suitable for children. That is for sure.

But, looking at the bright side, we made it. I don’t know how, but we did. And here I am, fifty some odd years later, trying to figure out life.

I suppose that if I didn’t have Coco, my grandmother, I would have been a lost cause. I would have been a street urchin or some sort of endangered species.

Coco loved me, in her own way. But Coco had too many issues of her own to deal with, and raising a child was never on her agenda. That is why my mother ended up like she did. But on the other hand, I got to grow up in places all over the world. And that would never have happened if it wasn’t for Coco.

Oh Raz…I don’t want to sound like some spoiled brat of privilege. I don’t want to sound as if I am criticizing the only people that cared for me. But there are wounds. And I want them to turn into scars. I want them to close.

Maybe it is better that I start out writing a bit about my mother. I could confide in you, Raz, tons of pages worth of thoughts that I never once confided and feelings that I never, ever shared. With anyone.

Maybe because I never had a brother or sister.

Maybe because I couldn’t have friends when I was young.

Maybe because now that I am an adult I wouldn’t know how to find a friend that I could really talk to. Maybe because I am alone.

Maybe because I am a loner at heart.

Being alone isn’t all that bad. After all, I am a bookworm. I can spend my whole day and night reading. Reading everything. I am definitely more comfortable with the reality within the books than with the physical reality around me. I can’t seem to function in society, in the physical world that exists outside my home, in the town. I don’t understand it. But then again, I never really lived in it. I really wouldn’t know how to survive in it.

My childhood was spent roaming the world, swept away from place to place by the wild Coco. No roots anywhere, really.

And then weirdness happened, and I began to see things and understand things that weren’t part of this physical world. From then.

But these things that would suddenly appear, activity from another world, from another place in time and space, suddenly would superimpose itself on my surroundings, out of nowhere going on around me, it was all very real, and I was a part of this different world that was suddenly bursting into my world and appearing to me.

I can’t really explain it yet. I don’t think that I am ready to.

But I need to, and it’s time to be told is coming. After all, I am finally coming out with this now, after all these years of keeping it a secret. It is hard to just come out and babble it all. How do you tell someone that you can actually see yourself living another life in another ‘time’ or another ‘place’? You don’t. You can’t. They would never understand. I wanted to tell Coco about it when I was growing up, and I almost did. But there were reasons that stopped me. Serious ones.

If my mother was only around then, when it started happening to me, maybe I could have told her about it. Maybe she would have understood. Maybe she had experienced it too. But she was already gone, out of my life, and out of Coco’s life…We never used to mention her name. It was too painful. For all sorts of reasons. But it was a pain that we never acknowledged and that we never allowed ourselves to feel. Coco and I were pros at burying our true feelings.

To this day I don’t know what became of my mother. That is a very long story. One that I feel must have some missing piece or some sort of clue in it about her that I am just missing. Her name is Summer. Yes, that is my mother’s real name. Summer. Coco didn’t want to give her a last name.

My mother never met her father. Coco said that he was just there to insert the sperm. They were very clear about that. There was no relationship between those two, Coco and my ‘grandfather’. They took great pride in meeting just for the sperm. For a sacred union, Coco would say. But that is a very long story. One that I never understood as a child, but that I grew to understand later on.

Well, Coco, my grandmother, whose real name is Coral Brackford, hailed from the East Coast Brackfords, the steel magnates…big money then. She was raised in a very stuffy, traditional and quite anal environment, cloistered inside her grandparents’ Manhattan brownstone. She was born in 1920. She was well educated by governesses because her parents were away most of the time. So here we go.

Coco, my dearest grandmother, never really knew what it was like to have parents. They left home right after my grandmother was born. How could she know as an adult how to parent, how to relate to a child when she herself was deprived of her own parents?

She was left to grow up with old lady Brackford, her grandmother. My grandmother was left in the care of her grandmother. And her grandmother was hardly the type to pay attention to the child. Poor Coco, left in the care of a despot. Children should be neither seen nor heard until adulthood according to despot Old Mrs. Brackford. No one really liked the old lady. Neither her husband, nor her children…and my grandmother was abandoned by her parents to be raised by this cold woman.

No wonder my grandmother’s parents married, had the baby and took off for Africa. The pity was that they left this baby behind, my grandmother, dearest Coco, abandoned in the ‘safety’ of the palatial Manhattan home…to be sheltered from danger but dangerously deprived of family and from familial love.

The matriarch that ‘raised’ my grandmother, old Mrs. Coral Brackford wasn’t American. She was British. The daughter of a wealthy family from the South of England. She had married James Brackford, a native New Yorker and inheritor of a large fortune, while he was in London and returned to New York with him to make their home in his family’s brownstone. The one that Coco grew up in.

James Brackford died when he was 50 leaving the British aristocratic Mrs. Coral Brackford, widow and ‘matriarch’ to rule over the finances and the social standing of the Brackford name.

Coral and James had one surviving son, Reese.That was my great-grandfather. The other sons that were born to the old matriarch never made it to adulthood. There were a few daughters. But they were suitably married off at a young age and so Mrs. Coral Brackford was finally rid of the obligation to look after them and thus she was delightfully able to ignore them.

Reese Brackford, Coco’s father, my great-grandfather, was the anthropologist. He married the much younger Nora, the daughter of a wealthy family of Dutch descent. Reese and Nora were Coco’s parents but took off without even considering raising their own daughter. Reese was a great traveler and left New York to spend most of his life studying in Africa, along with his wife.

When Nora became pregnant with my grandmother, she gave birth in New York, left the baby with the nanny, under the strict supervision of the matriarch old Mrs. Brackford, Coco’s grandmother. Coco was officially named Coral after her. as old lady Brackford, the wealthy matriarch was also named Coral.

Old Mrs. Brackford was very old school. She thought that the baby’s place was in the nursery, with the help. And so, Coco grew up, with amazing nannies and governesses, in the upstairs nursery of a huge brownstone mansion. Luckily for her, the nannies and the governesses were very kind, loving and well read. They were the only family she had really.

And so, my grandmother had her own little world created for the baby up there, and as my grandmother grew up, she never left the nursery area, except for her daily walks to the park with the nanny.

Meanwhile, old Mrs. Brackford was living her own quiet life on the ground floor and the first floor of the home, removed from this terrible burden of raising a child. Her exhausting days were consumed by tending to the much-needed administration of the household staff and to the demanding array of luncheon and tea engagements. She was hardly aware that my grandmother was there, growing up among the household help, in the nursery.

There was a lot of money in the family. From all sides. Turn of the century steel money, railroad money and all that. This is why my great-grandfather Reese, could afford to live his life studying primitive tribal customs and trying to make his name in anthropology. Apparently, there were very few social scientists there, and so for years in Africa, he was working alongside some British and Swiss colleagues.And he took Nora with him to live in Africa. It was best for baby Coral to be left in New York with Grandmama Coral, they believed.

Over the years, Reese and Nora made very few visits back to New York. By the time Coco was seventeen, her parents were both dead. She received word about both of them in a letter addressed to her and her grandmother from her father’s Swiss friend and colleague. Her mother, Nora, had died first, and her father, Reese, died a few months later.

It was said that young Coco’s mother,Nora, had became pregnant again, and died from complications in childbirth. It was said that her father Reese died of heartbreak and of malaria. It was said that the baby was stillborn. Others said it died soon after birth. Others say that it didn’t die. There were many conflicting stories that managed to reach young Coral’s, or Coco’s – as I like to call her, ears over the years.

For some reason, neither one of those stories seemed to have an impact on Coco. Either she didn’t care or she cared too deeply and the pain was unbearable. There was never any mention in the social circles of the time about the infant in Africa. That was a detail that was best forgotten according to them. People of their standing did not roam the jungles, fornicate among the natives and give birth in the midst of barbarians.

But nevertheless, Mrs. Coral Brackford, the old NY matriarch, couldn’t survive the idea that her only son Reese was dead. And so she closed her eyes, and never reopened them.

Coco or ‘young Coral’ was left all alone.

Coco had many relatives but no family. They were all very cold and indifferent people. The family solicitors took care of the funerals as per directions left in the wills. And Coco, in 1937, was left with a fortune. Her share of her grandmother’s inheritance as well as all of her father’s.

She remained home under the supervision of the family lawyers and the household help until she became eighteen. She received a letter on her eighteenth birthday from England. There was yet another inheritance there to be claimed by her, it came from her grandmother Coral’s side of the family. A branch of the family that Coco never knew anything about. An inheritance that would have gone to Reese upon the old lady’s death, and now belonged to dear Coco.

So, my grandmother, the young Coral Brackford was escorted by the New York solicitors onto the steamship and sailed to England. There she was met by the solicitors handling the estate in England. They met her at the docks and brought her to the hotel in London where she would stay.

The next day she went to the solicitors’ offices and her financial situation was put into some sort of order. It was arranged for her to receive monthly income from a large estate left in trust. And she had a sizeable income from the NY Brackford money coming in as well.

So the wealthy young Coral Brackford was set. She was young, very wealthy and inexperienced. She was lively, and all of a sudden found herself to be free. Completely free. And it was 1940. What a time to be free and with no one to say ‘no’ to a girl who was housing a very wild spirit inside of her all this time. And she wanted to try everything, to see everything and to live life to the fullest.

And that she did. Talking about sowing oats.

And this is when Coral Brackford officially became Coco. Not Coco Brackford.

Just Coco.

She became a free spirit, one that rocked Europe. She spread her wings like no other.

And this new life of hers is the turning point in Coco’s life that came to be the decisive factor that would greatly influence my life when I came into this world years later. There is so much that needs to be said about my grandmother Coco.

Bare with me Raz, because I need to write it all out. I don’t want her story to get lost in time. There is too much to tell.

First of all, when Coco saw London, she fell in love with life, freedom and the wild ways of the forties. And that is when she discovered that she was gay.


The Diary of a Metaphysical Bookworm

The Diary of A Metaphysical Bookworm

 by Suzanne Valtsioti 

©All Rights Reserved

Installment 1

No one is going to call me crazy again. This time, I am certain, that NO ONE but NO ONE can understand me. Except for you. Diary. My dearest Diary. But now, you are no longer my diary, you are RAZ.

Raz means ‘secret’. God’s secret. For as long as you were an empty book waiting to be filled, you were a diary. Now that I have opened you and have begun to fill your lines with my words and your pores with my ink…your essence is now intertwined with mine. You are an extension of my thoughts…the ones that I choose to write. How can I call you ‘diary’ when our connection is now so intimate?

You are Raz. And I am Skye. And I know that no matter what I tell you, Raz, you will never betray me. We are victims in a sense. Together. As a person who has been betrayed, I am about to flood you with gushes of thoughts and feelings. Victims tend to do that. They let it build up inside and then gush everything out when they can no longer hold it in.

As for you Raz, like it or not, you are there,the recipient, accepting it all, no matter how heavy it will be. You are prepared to open up and take in all that I have to write onto your pages. Bearing my weight. I guess that is being a victim too. After all, you can’t just stop me from writing what I want, when I want. 

From existing all along as a blank set of pages, like it or not, you are now becoming a part of me, a part of Skye. I suppose that I have already written enough to say officially that you are now an extension of me. Of Skye. You are now bearing my thoughts in words.

So, Raz, from where do I begin? From my feverish craving to write out a million things that have bothered me over the years? From my burning desire to memorialize passion? From my secret wish to leave certain things behind when I leave this planet, things recorded by me, just a few personal stories and experiences?

NO. I am not sure if I want to write a memoir or to keep you, Raz, as a ‘diary’. I think that I am actually doing both. I feel the need. Ha!…It may end up sounding like a confessional if I keep this up.

There are too many things going on in my head that need to find a physical place of existence. What better place than to be transformed into written words, and etched onto your pages, my dearest Raz? The keeper of my secrets, right? And there are too many things from my life that need to be recorded. Recording them will give them the physical form of immortality. They will always exist, once written. If I record them and then re-read them, I will be able to re-process them, perhaps see them more objectively, and I probably will be able to finally make some sense of it all. Sometimes it is easier to understand what is going on when you read your own thoughts and memories that have been written out. It is easier than listening to your mind replay the never-ending reel of mind chatter, of brain babble. 

Raz, I feel tired. I need to let go of some of the baggage that I am carrying. Some of it is genetic, some of it is energetic, some of it is emotional and quite a bit of it is simply metaphysical.

That is the heavier load, I think. 

The metaphysical…having to do with the spirit…the intangible…the heaviest of the stuff you can’t see, heavier than the stuff dreams are made of…the metaphysical baggage I carry are the unexplainable things that have weighed me down because I know that they have always been real, they have a physical form, but one I can’t perceive with all of my senses. 

Real, but I don’t understand them. Well, I do understand them, but not fully. My metaphysical experiences sometimes are memories that are like iron ball and chains wrapped around my ankle, being dragged around with me everywhere.

Which is the real Skye? The different, offbeat Skye that lives a reality shockingly different from the rest? That is the Skye that accepts this metaphysical, otherworldly reality as being the life I am living. Or the Skye that is forced to behave like everyone else, floating about in this other reality filled with the people and the things that physically surround me most of the time, one that surrounds me most often than not, but one that I don’t feel a part of. Christ said that we should be in this world, yet not of this world. Is that what is happening to me? Am I part of other worlds, and if so, are they good ones? Or do I close my eyes, my ears, my mind’s eyes and ears that is, and rely on my physical senses only, to be like the rest of the humans that exist around me, blind to everything but my physical surroundings, to be like those that really don’t have a clue about what’s ‘out there’? Should I deny my ‘weirdness’ and be the Skye that is like the rest of this world? I suppose. That is the dominant Skye, I think. That is the Skye that most people see.

It should be the other way around. I should personify the metaphysical experiences that grace my reality, be the ball and chain I carry, heavy and solid, dragging around what I know to be true about me living in other ‘dimensions’ or in other ‘times’ as well…

Times and Dimensions, those are both shitty words that are overused, they come close to describing what I want to say, but these are words that fail to describe something that ‘I know’ but can’t define. Oh Raz, what I mean to say is that the ‘me’ that is sitting here writing this is so heavy and sluggish compared to the me living the life I see in these ‘moments’ of escape from this frequency belt…That is, the Skye sitting here writing this out is not like the Skye that also lives these other lives. This Skye, sitting here, writing, letting it out, is a very heavy and weighed down Skye. You know what I mean, Raz? I can’t figure out who I am, really. Am I here now, just here…or am I out there as well….or is this a dream, or is that other reality I often see myself in a dream…

Where the hell am I for real? In which worlds do I exist? The ones that I perceive around me most of the time, or the ones that superimpose themselves on my reality and hijack my perception….where I find myself living a completely different life…in another world, another time.

Anyway, I am going to start fresh tomorrow. I think that I need to get to know myself. That is what really comes to my mind right now…I have glided by too much of my life in this existence, riding the waves from everyone else’s splashes and dives. Now I need to really see who I really am.

The ancient Greeks wrote in Delphi ‘Γνωθι σ’αυτον” or in English “know thyself”. It’s deep. It is not just “know what you like”, or know who you are. It is about knowing your essence…not what you are pretending to be, or what others want you to be. It’s really the psychoanalysis version of finally getting to know who and what you are on some sort of level…and then getting a grip on all the other facets and loose ends as well.

It’s like seeing a photo of yourself for the first time, when you have never, ever, seen what you look like. That is the kind of knowing yourself I want to do. Because I truly feel that I don’t know myself. There are too many parts of me that are everywhere else but here. I don’t see too many people experiencing this sort of thing. I am fragmented in different existences. There was too much of me that was so different from the rest of the people around me, for as long as I can remember, that I just couldn’t be ‘me’. So I tried to bury that me and become a boring Skye that never discusses the scandalous and intriguing lives I live elsewhere. Obviously, something is to blame for this ‘split’.

I suppose that is where my surroundings, my background, my people, my situations all come in….well, we don’t choose our family, many people say. They certainly leave their mark on us, though, don’t they?

 Like dog piss on a tree. 

I think, though, that we do choose them, our family that is, somehow. In a karmic way. especially if they are terrible choices. They usually are. There must be a reason for this somewhere.

That was my problem for the longest time. Being only what others wanted or expected of me. Never, ever allowing myself to be just Skye, me. And I also buried my individuality under layers of self-doubt and fear of being different. 

Wasn’t it Gide who said that a caterpillar who seeks to know itself won’t turn into a butterfly? Ever? Yeah, keep on staring at yourself will get you nowhere. You freak out, become too scared to move.

Ha! Gide…now isn’t that weird that I would remember him, after all these years? But how could I forget? After all, if anyone influenced me the most, I think that it is my grandmother. The unforgettable Coral. My Coco. 

And Gide was one of my grandmother’s favorites…being gay and all…she supported their cause like religion…I suppose it would be natural to remember all that she drove home to me from such a tiny tot age…things that I never was ready to understand. Talk about indoctrinating. 

Yes. Raz…I need to know myself, to really get to know myself. I have been hiding from myself for as long as I can remember. And I don’t want to die before getting to know who I really am. Otherwise, I will not have lived. Here. In this present lifetime. In this point on the timeline. My timeline. And My timeline is going through some crazy phases, looping and joining and merging when I least expect it. That is the surreal weirdness I am trying to explain, Raz. Because it is that timeline slipperiness that makes me Skye. 

Yep. Slipping and sliding through my different lives, without intending to. That is me and that is my life. And I need to understand it and accept it. I want to get to know me, instead of sitting here for decades ignoring the unusual and either trying to be closed off to my ‘timeline gift’ for fear of ridicule, or I find myself staring at my reflection in the mirror with my mouth open in wonder…trying to figure out if I am real, if I am sane. 

After all, I know that I am ‘elsewhere’ as well…so is Skye the same as the lifetimes I see myself living in parallel worlds or lives? Are they dreams? They can’t be. Are they my imagination? No, impossible.

And that is how I am going to start writing. First I will explore Skye, taking a good look at my life….from my earliest memories. And I will try to put some order to my chaos. Once and for all. And you Raz, are going to help me do it. 

I will write it all out to you. Because you are my only friend that will believe me.

A Cosmic Accident?


Zadie Smith on Deana Lawson’s Kingdom of Restored Glory | The New Yorker

…”Examining Deana Lawson’s “Sharon” (2007), a black viewer may find the confusion of her earliest days reënacted. Before you’d heard of slavery and colonialism, of capitalism and subjection, of islands and mainlands, of cities and ghettos, when all you had to orient yourself was what was visually available to you; that is, what was in front of your eyes. And what a strange sight confronts the black child! The world seems upside down and back to front. For your own eyes tell you that your people, like all people, are marvellous. That they are—like all human beings—beautiful, creative, godlike. Yet, as a child, you couldn’t find many of your gods on the television or in books; they were rarely rendered in oil, encountered on the cinema screen or in the pages of your children’s Bible. Sometimes, in old reruns, you might spot people painted up, supposedly to look like your gods—with their skin blackened and their lips huge and red—but the wise black child pushed such toxic, secondary images to the back of her mind. Instead, she placed her trust in reality. But here, too, she found her gods walking the neighborhood unnoticed and unworshipped. Many of them appeared to occupy lowly positions on a ladder whose existence she was only just beginning to discern. There were, for example, many low-wage gods behind the counters at the fast-food joints, and mostly gods seemed to shine shoes and clean floors, and too many menial tasks altogether appeared to fall only to them. Passing the newsstand, she might receive her first discomforting glimpse of the fact that the jail cells were disproportionately filled with gods, while in the corridors of power they rarely set a foot. Only every now and then did something make sense: a god was recognized. There’s little Michael Jackson and grand Toni Morrison, and, look, that’s James Baldwin growing old in France, and beautiful Carl Lewis, faster than Hermes himself. The kinds of gods so great even the blind can see them. But back at street level? Too many gods barely getting by, or crowded into substandard schools and crumbling high-rise towers, or harassed by police intent on clearing Olympus of every deity we have. And, for a long, innocent moment, everything about this arrangement will seem surreal to the black child, distorted, like a message that has somehow been garbled in the delivery. Then language arrives, and with language history, and with history the Fall. …”


via Zadie Smith on Deana Lawson’s Kingdom of Restored Glory | The New Yorker

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