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Small Worlds / Apparitions




  As a little kid, I was always obsessed with noticing optical phenomena. I’d sit in kindergarten and stare at the wall, finding that in every field of vision were boundless sparks of darting grain. At the time I assumed they were atoms, and that I was seeing the microscopic building blocks of our world as flecks of color shaking amongst everything. On closer inspection of dirt, drywall, desks, rocks, grass, sticks and any number of things kids look closely at, I realized that the tones and surfaces of no one thing are uniform or flat, but are all made up by a magnitude of hills, valleys and mountains forming the geography of everything. I distinctly remember parsing grains in the sandbox, finding that some were black as pepper, others yellow as parchment, others clear as glass or green as bottles. This reverbrated in the static burried in the TV, the dust that would gather on mirrors, the nicks in rocks and in the patchwork of lines on my fingertips. 

When learning about germs, I imagined that on the surface of my skin lived an order of animals just as diverse as those scattered throughout the world. Small elephants drinking water from the pores on my arm, the hairs on my body looming into the sky like towering palm trees. Freckles, scattered like constellations over my body, must have seemed like waypoints marked by a shift in the soil. My veins, blue beneath my skin, would be a channel of subterranean rivers, flexing with the tide.

I’d sit observing, and straining to remember, the myodesopsia (a term I finally learned today) that floated through my vision. Nearly translucent forms and creatures, like glass worms and rice grains, which drift by as superimposed projections in the blue of the sky. They are nameless and unaddressed, semi-present apparitions set to share and populate your vision. I recognized them as an extension of the small world I had previously discovered, cast half visible only when as physically close as possible to the site of vision.

Just now I was lying on the rug in my bedroom, sunlight beaming from the open window onto my face. At the very top of my vision my eyelashes were illuminated by the light, and they cast a row of translucent white circles flecked with specks of faded, but rich, color. Lilac purple, ember orange, ocean blue, vivid turquoise, a nearly artificial magenta. The colors, stacked, presented themselves like iridescent fish scales. They can’t really be focused on or captured, only the impression of having seen something like this remains. Without a clear look, memory has a tendency to easily betray things like this, distorting them in quick time.


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