In the midday heat of any yellowish June's summer day, back in 1948. Touching the steering wheel and power ran to my fingertips. Driving west, then south, in search of the old highways. All of a sudden I was out of the lot and on the turnpike next to the mountains, flying. It was very green here, and the sun flashed and flickered behind the tall trees. I put my hand out the window, and then I put my head out. There were a million smells along this road, both old and just born. I felt my hair blow behind me and the air rush into me, and I forgot for a moment to worry about how I was supposed to be. Most of life is driving somewhere and then driving back wondering why the hell we went there. The two-lane roadway seems to stretch for miles in a straight line as the fields and farms give way to a more barren landscape. All that space, waiting, so easy to go sailing off this road. The broken centerline of the road reflected itself in the windscreen and becomes an endless pulsing ribbon. A town or village straddling the highway. Street signs peer out here and there among the trees. It was like hundreds of roads I'd driven over - no different - a stretch of tar, lusterless, dusty, pitted, bumpy. On both sides were telephone poles, tilted this way and that, up a little, down, threaded together by wires. I counted one, two, three ... one hundred and nine-teen telephone poles. Along them I drove like a drunken butterfly heading to its next fermented flower. The indicator on the speedometer started to lose ground and I was miles away from my real life. Driving is a spectacular form of amnesia, everything is to be discovered, everything to be obliterated. Drive until not a person knows your name, fly towards the unknown - beautiful paths can't be discovered without getting lost. The road makes a noise all its own. It's a single note that stretches in all directions, low and nearly inaudible. Except for the annoying sirens behind me.
The summer demands and takes away too much. But night, the reserved, the reticent, gives more than it takes. In the heat of this summer's night, I am kept awake by the endless chatter of my inner self. You know those nights where the day has unfolded in such a way that now, in the night, you can feel all the gaps in your body and you can see all the reasons you’re not who you wish you were - those nights when you’re unable to think or be or do because of the paralyzing loneliness. Down by a dark pond I parked my car. The water was breathing my name with a sigh. I walked up and down, drinking in the beauty of the quiet earth. The night was absolutely silent, yet there were sounds without a name. It stared me in the face, amorphous, blind, infinite, without frontiers. At night we are all strangers, even to ourselves, too serene for the companionship of fear. As a child I used to be afraid of something in the dark. I know now that the most fearful thing about the dark is that we may find nothing in it. At night, anything seems possible and everything is an adventure, when you are where you shouldn't be, even if it is somewhere you could go perfectly well in daylight. The world rests in the night and is released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. The darkness absolves everything; the struggle for identity and impression falls away. Our souls come out to play. The night was white-blind with fog and blurred every detail with its ragged veils. Giant butterflies dancing, punctured at various distances by the reddish glow of light escaping from the illuminated headlights. I walked on the grass, and my shoes were instantly soaked. The warm water claimed me. In a moment it was part of me. The moon, with its light that does not pass shadows, will guide me through the night, but it will always dwell in the darkness, in order to be seen. Moonlight knows no colors and traces the contours of the terrain only very softly. It covers the land in a dirty-gray, strangling life all night long. This world molded in lead, where nothing moves but the wind that fall sometimes like a shadow over the gray forests, and where nothing lives but the scent of the naked earth, is the only world I accept, for it is much like the world of my soul. Night is mine. For me, the moon slave, the night is my cloak, my shield, my escape from those who hunt to feed the noose. Black silk, shelter me. I need more of the night before I open eyes and heart to illumination. I must still grow in the dark like a root. Not ready yet, not ready at all.
The misty afternoon sunk into the tall grass growing on the roadside. An angel's face showing up at the crossroad. Could ya give me a lift, mister? Lilla came from Sicil-y, hitchhiked her way across Ital-y. Pondering her case, thumbin’ a ride. Escaped from Messina. Riding with Strangers. Brothers of the wheel. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. Time for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water. As for you girls, you must risk everything for freedom, and give everything for passion, loving everything that your hearts and your bodies love. The only thing higher for a girl and more sacred for a young woman than her freedom and her passion should be her desire to make her life into poetry, surrendering everything she has to create a life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in her imagination. There are plenty of aimless people on the road. People who hitchhike from kicks to kicks, restlessly, searching for something. But I'm not looking for anything. I'm not aimless. Not in the least. It's just that my aims are different from most. No longer to be poisoned by civilization she flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild. You may call her a tramp, a gipsy, but I know it goes a little deeper than that. She’s a -- highway canvas, making her life an art. And home she wrote: Dear Mom, I've hitchhiked to eternity. I shalt not return. Don't be mad.
I am a modern lady, but not a trendy one. I remain eternally young simply because of my characteristic style. Other women get old, I get vintage. You don’t need a perfect body or designer clothes to score a date. All you need is a smile and an actual life of your own. Independence has always been my attitude. And because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. To do, not what is expected, but what I feel is right. By choosing to live above the ordinary level we create extraordinary problems for ourselves. I am planning on buying 20 Porsche and crashing them all just for the extravagance! Très chic, ohhh, je suis très désolé! I’m here to live, not to calculate. And that’s just what they don’t want you to do – to live! They want you to spend your whole life adding up figures. That makes sense to them. That’s reasonable. That’s intelligent. They die comfortably in their little bed of understanding, to become useful citizens of the world. I pitied them, and in short order I deserted them one by one, without the slightest regret. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate, or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. Everyone has his own reality in which, if one is not too cautious, timid or frightened, one swims. This is the only reality there is. And a night comes when all is over, when so many jaws have closed upon us that we no longer have the strength to stand, and our meat hangs upon our bodies, as though it had been masticated by every mouth.
The land and the water make numbers joined, through endless night the earth whirls toward a creation unknown – a poem written in flesh and stronger than steel or granite. For years I went about, day and night, with only one thing on my mind – her. She rises up out of a sea of faces and embraces me, embraces me passionately – a thousand eyes, noses, fingers, legs. I could see only the eyes shining through; eyes so big and bright, as if they saw more than they could comprehend. That’s what made them so beautifully bright. One can wait a whole lifetime for a moment like this. The woman whom you never hoped to meet now stands before you and she looks exactly like the person you dreamed about. But the strangest of all is that you never realized before that you had dreamed about her. Your whole past is like a long sleep, which would have been forgotten had there been no dream to become reality. I sit down beside her and she talks. I hear not a word because she is beautiful and I love her and now I am happy and willing to die. But she even wouldn’t remember that at a certain corner I had stopped to pick up her hairpin, or that, when I bent down to tie her laces, I remarked the spot on which her foot had rested and that it would remain there in perpetuum, even after the cathedrals had been demolished and the whole Latin civilization wiped out forever and ever. I loved – and I lost.
It is very queer that the unhappiness of the world is so often brought on by small men. We were young, and we had just begun to love the world and to love being in it; but we had to shoot it to pieces. We’ve been cut off from real action, from getting on, from progress. We don’t believe in those things any more; we believe in the war. You take it from me, we are losing the war because we can salute too well. Yet the poor fellows think they are safe; they think that the war is over. But only the dead have seen the end of war. He’s like a hero come back from the war, a poor maimed bastard living out the reality of his dreams. Wherever he sits himself the chair collapses; whatever door he enters the room is empty: whatever he puts in his mouth leaves a bad taste. Everything is just the same as it was before; the elements are unchanged, the dream is no different than the reality. Only, between the time he went to sleep and the time he woke up, his body was stolen. To forget is the secret of eternal youth, thus one grows old only through memory. But why does a man live? In order to think about it? I want to think and at the same time that is the last thing in the world I want to do. Our knowledge of life is limited to death. Life is a disease, brother, and death begins already at birth. Every breath, every heartbeat, is a moment of dying; a little shove toward the end. We are all alone here and we are dead.
I’ve been out on that open road, singing in the old bars, swinging with the old cars. That’s the way the road dogs do it. That’s the way I make my life an art. This is my idea of fun. Don’t break me down, I’ve been traveling too long. I’ve been trying too hard, with one pretty song. I wear my red lipstick, I grab my coat, I grab my sax. Winter of my life, let’s ride. Don’t take me home again, take me to a new land. I can escape to the great sunshine, make it out to the other side. Drugs, suck it up like Vanilla Ice-ys, treat me really nice-ys. My eyes are wide like cherry pies. I was born to live fast, die young, live my life on the run. Oh, my God, I feel it in the air. I’m on fire, I feel it everywhere, wonder if this is it, it’s darkest before dawn. I fall asleep in an American flag. I’m Miss America, now I’m gone. I’m Miss America, now I’m free.
Three o’clock in the morning. The highway is empty, under a malignant moon. The oil drippings make the roadway gleam like a blue-satin ribbon. The night is still but for the engine’s humming noise. There is something unbearably sexy about cars at night. The way the fenders twist the light and reflect the road, the way every driver becomes anonymous. The inside of the old Lincoln smells like asphalt, gasoline and dreams – and desire. The road is straight. The way is long. But the night is short. The humming burgeons into a roar. The car is going so fast it sways from side to side. The backseat produced the sexual revolution but all males chase women they have no intention of marrying for the same reason dogs chase cars they have no intention of driving. My tears were not allowed to cry. At that very special night, after the last picture show, driving my car along the country roads, I began to wonder how real the landscape truly was, and how much of a dream is a dream. I dreamed of driving off bridges, into the moonshine river, into the dried-up reservoir on the country road to home, into the lake beneath some twisting highway of my youth. Film Noir.
Because the automobile has become our national sex symbol we cannot really enjoy anything unless we can go up an alley for it. So we have to divorce our wife today in order to remove from our mistress the odium of mistress in order to divorce our wife tomorrow in order to remove from our mistress and so on. As a result of which the woman has become cold and and undersexed; she has projected her libido on to the automobile. So in order to capture and master anything at all of her anymore the man has got to make that car his own. So he must not only own one but renew it each year in pristine virginity, lending it to no one, letting no other hand ever know the last secret forever chaste forever wanton intimacy of its pedals and levers, having nowhere to go in it himself and even if he did he would not go where scratch or blemish might deface it, spending all Sunday morning washing and polishing and waxing it because in doing that he is caressing the body of the woman who has long since now denied him her bed.
Through photographs, each family constructs a portrait-chronicle of itself; a portable kit of images that bears witness to its connectedness. They are on the auction block; a big ’4 Children For Sale – Inquire Within’ sign in a Chicago / Illinois yard mutely tells a family’s tragic story. For long months the family waged a desperate but losing battle to keep food in the mouth and a roof over their heads. With no place to turn, they decide to sell their four children. The mother was shielding her eyes from the camera while her four small children stare wonderingly sitting huddled on steps outside. This photograph is the remake of an infamous historical photo originally taken in 1948, that made its way into many U.S. newspapers. Redone to put focus on the tragic case again because things haven’t changed very much. Human trafficking is still around in many countries and still numerous children are sold throughout the world. Many of them abused by child labor and kept in child slavery; not to mention sexual abuse and child prostitution.
I live in perpetual expectancy. You come and the time slips away in a dream. It is only when you go that I realize completely your presence. And then it is too late. You numb me. I am saying to myself: here is the first woman with whom I can be absolutely sincere. You could fool me, I wouldn’t know it. I can’t fool you – and yet I would like to. I mean that I can never be absolutely loyal – it’s not in me. I love women, or life, too much – which it is, I don’t know. I don’t know what to expect of you, but it is something in the way of a miracle. I am going to demand everything of you – even the impossible, because you encourage it. You are really strong. I even like your deceit, your treachery. It seems aristocratic to me. You make me tremendously happy to hold me undivided – to let me be the artist, as it were, and yet not forgo the man, the animal, the hungry, insatiable lover. No woman has ever granted me all the privileges I need – and you, why you sing out so blithely, so boldly, with a laugh even – yes, you invite me to go ahead, be myself, venture anything. That is where you are truly regal, a woman extraordinary. I laugh to myself now when I think of you.