Friday, October 25, 2013

The Art of Drowning

The Art of Drowning

I wonder how it all got started, this business
about seeing your life flash before your eyes
while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,
could startle time into such compression, crushing
decades in the vice of your desperate, final seconds.

After falling off a steamship or being swept away

in a rush of floodwaters, wouldn't you hope
for a more leisurely review, an invisible hand
turning the pages of an album of photographs-
you up on a pony or blowing out candles in a conic hat.

How about a short animated film, a slide presentation?

Your life expressed in an essay, or in one model photograph?
Wouldn't any form be better than this sudden flash?
Your whole existence going off in your face
in an eyebrow-singeing explosion of biography-
nothing like the three large volumes you envisioned.

Survivors would have us believe in a brilliance

here, some bolt of truth forking across the water,
an ultimate Light before all the lights go out,
dawning on you with all its megalithic tonnage.
But if something does flash before your eyes
as you go under, it will probably be a fish,

a quick blur of curved silver darting away,

having nothing to do with your life or your death.
The tide will take you, or the lake will accept it all
as you sink toward the weedy disarray of the bottom,
leaving behind what you have already forgotten,
the surface, now overrun with the high travel of clouds. 

This depressing yet beautiful poem written by Billy Collins has been read by many of us. "Many of us" tragically did not include me until today, but poetry and I rarely got along in elementary school you see. I'm slowly catching up. Anyways, I came across this poem after watching a short animated film by Diego Maclean:

This two minute film, like its source, is very strait forward. The poem and film both match a style of raw simplicity that I find really impressive. After looking more into it I found Diego Maclean's personal website which features an awesome opening reel.

Billy and Diego are both very talented artists and their collaboration worked seamlessly. Making animations that coincide with poetry seems like a great stimulus for a project idea. Sadly, animation is no quick process and I may have to wait until winter break to tackle something like this. Damn, this material has gotten me into a really sad yet realistic mindset. 

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