February 4th, 2011 / 3:39 pm


Does the color red change the way you look at this photograph? It is difficult to escape the received standard ideas of red: Red as an erotic color, red the color of heat, red for danger, red means stop before you roll into the path of injury, red means embarrassment (but in this case later for the lovers who ought not have been together caught by the camera, their transgressions revealed by the resulting prints, which are made in a red-lit darkroom, and developed in a black-and-white developer bath lit red by the darkroom lamp, so the first time they’re seen they’re blushed [a word which means red has come into the cheeks, and therefore blood] by the red lamp, which means the first time the photographer sees them they already carry the color temperature that calls to mind the heat and the shame he means to initiate), and now we consider the role of the blood in the interpretation of emotions or intimacies, the way the swelling or engorgement of vessels carrying red blood reveals involuntarily things we may want to reveal or we may want to hide, and the way the possible ultimate receiver of the photo — the lover-done-wrong, perhaps, or the husband or wife — might “see red” upon receiving the red photograph, by which we mean fall victim to the body’s own involuntary expression of rage, and if the rage is sufficiently manifested physically in the rager, blood vessels may pop in his or her eyeballs, at which point whether or not they literally see the color red, those who look at their lookers will see the red that rims them in spidery tributaries, which calls to mind that fiercest of plagues, the river run red with blood, or the great fear of my childhood, the sky turned blood red announcing the arrival of the warrior Christ riding on a white horse, leading a company of angels and the saints on a mission preparatory to the destruction of the world by fire, which I’ve seen in my imagination in giant flames of red, which is also the color of the devil, the demons, hell itself, and according to those who first told me these stories, these caught lovers in the red-lit developer bath are writing their own ticket there, a ticket probably printed in red ink upon red paper sufficient to withstand the ravages of the red fire, and since, in this way of seeing the world and seeing it red, to think an act in your red heart is the same as having committed it in the bloody redness of your fallen body, there might also be a red-inked red ticket bearing my name in red as well, and if that is true, then I want to know why the one who filled us with these rednesses filled us with these rednesses if he knew these rednesses would be our undoing which delivered us into the eternal rednesses, and if it is not true, then I hope to find some compassion for what happened in reddest secret between two so consumed with acts of red and thoughts of red and the reds that passed between them on their way to the reddings and unreddings they set into motion the moment this red photograph caught the reds they meant to keep hidden behind the white blinds the photograph has rendered in their more appropriate color.


  1. andrew

      i too feared red sky announcing warrior christ!

  2. andrew

      i too feared red sky announcing warrior christ!