093: Presence

After ninety three days of making a film a day, the filmmaker began to study a new phenomenon, a phenomenon he dubbed his growing madness. The evidence for his madness (although he would not define it as insanity) took two forms.

The first involved a simple fact: the filmmaker carried his digital video camera or often several cameras with him at all times. He carried a camera to parties, to the houses of friends, and when he forgot a camera, which was rare, he would hold his phone at the ready, waiting for the proper moment to use it.

The second phenomena was more fluid and abstract and illustrated his growing madness more authoritatively. He found that his sense interpretations/impressions and cognitive load (the weight of his day to day thinking, you might call it) about the world had begun to occur in the viewfinder of his camera or on the screen of his phone without the presence of physical subject matter. For example, empty rooms once silent and absent of any human presence would erupt with life when he opened the viewfinder. The chairs would be occupied by people or people would cross in and out of the room, turn things on or off, stumble, or appear ready to strike. These people would be animated, involved in intense discussion or uttering monologues either elliptically suggestive or directly expressing critical notions.

But when he moved his eyes off the viewfinder, he would see only an empty room. He would hear the clock ticking. In the distance, he would hear the quieted activity of neighbors or the hum of the city. Then he would look back into the viewfinder and the animated images would return. In the finder he witnessed murders, car chases, bank robberies, arguments between lovers, scenes of conflict, disquieting shadows.

The filmmaker sat on a park bench. Of course, he had his camera with him. He felt the sun on his forehead. He heard birds in the trees. He couldn’t help but reflect on his growing madness. The world still impacted him. Yes, everything was as it always had been, he told himself. He still laughed with his friends, and his colleagues reproached him for nothing. He made his films and published them. He ate and slept and moved through the day, but while the world still impacted him (just the other day he had a brief argument with a salesperson on the phone and nearly fell down the stairs carrying a tripod) he found that what he observed and recorded as a filmmaker on his camera, placing and recording objects, directing his actors, were the only things that had significance for him, especially the elements of life that he saw when he aimed the camera at, say, an empty chair and focused his attention on the viewfinder and there Esmarelda would appear and she would be engaged in important and dramatic address but when he looked away he would see an empty chair, no one there at all, no Esmarelda, no person, no words or suggestive dialogue, just an empty chair, and the thought of this now as he listened to the birds and felt the breeze touch his face made him smile for it was a madness he was prepared to live with for the remainder of his days.

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