i saw this woman from the above charles brittin photograph in a dream a few nights ago. i dreamt that she had been put into a trance before the picture was taken. in my quest to uncover the story behind this image, i found that the woman is shirley berman, the wife of the artist and poet wallace berman. i was disappointed to learn that she wasn't anonymous. that seems like a hurtful thing to think. at least she has a name, thank god she has a name! there is something very sad and very unfair about photographs in which people are pictured and not named. when i see images of anonymous people i always feel bad for them because it seems like common decency that we should know, or at least want to know, their names. however, there is also the obvious enticing mystery that accompanies looking at an unknown. who is she, what is she doing, what is she thinking, how is she feeling? i suppose this photograph has not been ruined for me by learning the woman's name because i still like to pretend that in this moment she is tragically anonymous and possessed: robbed, posable, a vessel.
i've looked at this photograph so many times now that i can see her pupils and connect her gaze to a point in space, but i'll always think of her as being in a trance. i see it in the whites of her eyes; her tousled, haloed head; and the sunlight resting in her open hand. i like to be on the side of the photographer, the one putting the spell on her, the one who can look and impose whatever i want upon her. i also like imagining that i'm her, that my entire being has been sucked away and that i am free from making choices or being affected by anyone or anything. there is something irresistible about a body that moves at the command of a mind that has been overtaken, but nobody wants that, i don't want that. i want my body to do what my mind tells me to, and i want my thoughts and my thoughts only to be the ones that make me do the things i do and say the things i say, stupid and floundering as they sometimes may be. i guess that's life: you want somebody to tell you what to do, but when they tell you, you say, "no! leave me alone! you can't tell me what to do and it's better this way!" and then you fuck up and learn from it wish you were in a trance but not really.
let's just agree on this: it would be nice to be in a trance for an instant, like the one that i will always imagine shirley berman having been in on that day in venice in 1956.