Saturday, 12 November 2011

memento mori

Jean Seberg, À Bout de Souffle (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

Extract from Kate Zambreno, Green Girl:

The girl behind the counter takes over from the male makeup artist. He is an artist. He doesn’t handle financial transactions. Earlier, to try to push the expensive makeup brushes on top of the purchase, he said: I am an artist. I must use my tools. You are my canvas. The salesgirl who has played the admiring spectator before now steps in front, clipboard in hand. All cool and business-like. The illusion is gone. They are not your friends. Or, to keep that illusion just a little longer, you know you must buy something. It’s part of the exchange, the ritual. She tallies it up. She barters with you still flush with attention. At home is a full makeup bag. But is there a price for seeing oneself anew in the mirror?

This is for the eyes. This is for the lips. This is for the skin. They haggle over the skin.

The skin is necessary of course. You need the skin. Without one of the tricks in the bag it all falls apart. It is a house of cards, your new identity. The makeup artist miraculously reappears to finish the sale. Look at how lovely you look. Your skin looks so young so dewy so glowing. You are reborn. You are luminous. You are lit from within. You flutter under the male flattery, docile, obedient.

I’ll take it. You say. I’ll take it. I’ll take the eyes, I’ll take the lips, I’ll take the skin. I’ll take it all.

Wrap up my new face and throw it in a bag.

They give you a face to take home, an actual paper face with colored in instructions. These masks like memento mori.

Faces, other faces. I can take mine off and breathe.

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