Friday, October 19, 2001

One Friday night in Greenwich Village, Yoko looked seriously at matthew and said: "I watched from Brooklyn, the television, I could see second plane glide into the building, and then I turn around and I could watch the smoke cloud rise. It was totally superrealistic." matthew, grumpy and tired, paused in feeding her the cherries from the sangria to growl over the word. "It's not a word. there is no such thing as super realism. It's realism or it's surrealism." I nicked the cherry on his spoon, then poured more sangria in my glass, letting Yoko share the cherries but making sure I had my fill of the drink. Pressing hands against the cool, dark slate of the tables I was holding still, aware that the stench carried by the wind up the street outside was as superrealistic as it comes, unwilling to face the stubborn denial of this man who spent his working days with the smell reinforcing the image of death and fire seared into his memory.

The cherries eaten, the sangria gone, a cup of coffee to boost us on the long subway-ride out to Brooklyn, and the superrealism was forgotten to the pain of my blisters. After I discovered that my legs don't look bad I love displaying them, wearing short skirts and high heels, suffering in a different way from the years when I hated my body, hiding it behind too large clothes and punishing myself with guilt for being inches too tall, too voluptous, too feminine in a world where power is masculine. Now I make that punishment physical, my shoes stained from the realism of broken blisters; the thought of superrealism lost.

Two weeks later, a Friday again, but Yoko is at the NYU, at 8th street, matthew is trapped in his office in Wall Street and I am slowly warming in my office in Volda, when the phone rings. I can't see who calls, but these days it's normally my mother, my husband, my kids... or matthew. And it's him, quickly, hurriedly telling me, sharing a snippet bringing up the memory of that warm, fun evening with Yoko: "I just wanted to tell you, superrealism is a word now."

Yes, you are right. And so is photorealism and hyperrealism, all of them words for that dreadful realism, the feeling of the real world being too real, overwhelmingly real, created to the point of being unreal but with every single detail of reality present. The word, the voice, the memory of Yoko's accented account of her fear and outrage carries the smell of chemicals, dust, smoke and decay all the way across the Atlantic. Yes, there is such a thing as superrealism now.

No comments: