Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Entry #1

February 9th, 2009 by Wordsman


“Hello, woman with camera. I see you.

“Did you think that you were invisible? Did you honestly believe that some sort of mystical tourist shield would prevent my eyes from finding yours? If so, you thought wrong. You cannot hide behind your expensive digital camera, or your companion, or a tree. You are standing in broad daylight. And I see you.

“I know the real problem: you can’t see me. At least, not for whom I truly am. You look at me, you point me out to your gawking friends, you take pictures of me, but what you see is the parade. In your ignorance, you believe that I am nothing more than a part of that parade. You think that I am just a puppet, waiting to be pulled along with all the rest, just a robot, just a doll. But I am not. I am not just part of the scenery. I do not exist solely for your entertainment. I am a human being, just like you. Well, not exactly like you. There is one great difference between us: you cannot see me. But I can see you.

“Don’t look at my partner. Don’t compare me to him. We may be standing next to each other, wearing the same clothes, carrying the same instruments, but we are as unalike as night and day. He is just what you assume him to be. He is nothing more than a tiny cog in the vast mechanism that is this display. He is content to stare vapidly forward, taking no notice of his surroundings, interacting no more with the world than would a statue. But he is not me. Perhaps that is why you fail to see me. You equate us, believing that if one man standing in the middle of the street is a mindless drone, then all of them must be the same. I tell you now: this is a mistake. He will never glance in your direction. His neck may be fully capable of rotation, but his brain will never feel the need to make it do so. He does not see you, cannot see you. I can and do.

“And yet you do nothing, make no response. Is it possible that you can no more hear the words I am speaking to you than you can see the expression of purest disdain and loathing on my face? This must be the case, and I find that as I consider this situation, it is not so hard to believe. Why should you be any more capable of hearing than you are of seeing? I could strike you in the face and you would be no more aware of my existence as an individual than you are now. You would probably believe that it was all part of the show. You would feel the script, not my hand, my hand that I use for eating, and drinking, and reaching, striving. It is not just for holding a decorative staff. But you will never feel my hand, my hand which I am starting to think may be realer than you yourself. I could take my hand, seize you by your stupid nose, press my face into yours and scream, ‘LOOK AT ME!’ But you would not see me. You cannot see me. But I see you.

“If you were capable of conversing with a being that you can only perceive as an object, a performer, you might ask, ‘So what?’ For the sake of argument let us pretend that you can hear me, can speak to me, and you say, ‘Yes, you can see me. What now?’ What would you believe that I would do? What sort of response would you expect from a man about whom you are unable to know anything? Would you think that you see sadness, despair, apathy, boredom, anger, hatred, rage in my eyes? I will tell you what you would expect, if you were capable of anticipating anything other than simply standing there, taking picture after meaningless picture.

“You may not be able to see me, but I know you can see the swords I wear at my waist. You probably assume that they are fake, with no other purpose than to decorate my side. I assure you, they are not. They are real, realer than you. Even the ones my idiot companion carries are real, though he is no more capable of drawing them than he is of deviating from his set path. But I can draw them. I understand what a sword is. I understand what it is for. I must admit, I have considered using it on you. It would be quick, that I can assure you. The strike would be, I mean. The aftermath . . . could take longer. In those moments I would speak, and you would finally hear me. You might even see me. Would you be able to see me if I was drenched in your blood? Would you be able to see me if—”

“Oh my god,” said Abigail, lowering her camera. She turned away from the parade to face her brother. “Would you just shut up, Theo?”

Theodore did not turn to face his sister. He continued to stare at the spot where a man she had taken a picture of had stood several minutes before. “It’s what he was thinking,” he said, his voice hollow. “I could feel it.”

“Somehow, I don’t think so,” Abigail said, rolling her eyes. “He looked in our direction for, like, a split second. And even if he was looking down on us, I really don’t think he could have come up with anything half that creepy.” She shivered.

“How would you know?” Theodore asked. “You never saw him.”

Abigail sighed. “Sometimes you have to look at the big picture,” she tried to explain. Her brother continued to stare fixedly at the spot on the road. Abigail shook her head. “Just watch the parade,” she said wearily.

Posted in Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? | No Comments »

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.