Day of the Dead Gives Birth to Girl Made with Her Own Hands

Last Hot on 16 Sep 2009 in Nostalgia
Uploaded 13 Nov 2008 — 55 favorites
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© seanie blue
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Photo Info
UploadedNovember 13, 2008
TakenNovember 3, 2008
MakeNikon Corporation
ModelNIKON D300
Exposure1/25 sec at f/5
FlashNo Flash
Focal Length27 mm
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Q: My sister in-law recently gave me a Canon EOS 10D digital camera body. Having only used point and shoot cameras, what would be a good beginners lens to get for this camera? Should I get kit lens to start with?

A: Do you know?

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Even in Oaxaca, in its maelstrom of tourism for the Day of the Dead, even when you don’t want to be here because your life has become an unstoppable series of wrong turns, even when your famous novel comes to a full stop because of this interruption, and you spend two grand you can’t afford, all because you cannot say “no” to a friend who badgers you into coming . . . Even in Oaxaca at the Day of the Dead there is magic.

I made the pose. Noticed the girl. Swept the two men into the week-long hustle of my schemes and made them loyal to both my wishes and my commands because we were doing things they’d never done before and never imagined they’d be doing. Got the costume from the town down the coast where the fat ladies in charge raise the last boy in every family as a girl because they don’t want any men in the marketplace. Talked this pose up and sold it like a carnival barker in the bosom of these people’s lives, a pose of a girl with a jug made with her own hands, a jug made shiny brilliant black by being rubbed with a piece of quartz, a process invented by this very girl’s great-grandmother, Doña Rosa.

The girl speaks Facebook and MySpace and is a swimmer and a ceramicist named Athena and she might as well be the man from the future, a storm formed from the breezes of her attitude and turned lethal by the aims of her patience. Mexico is young, muscular, winning at Cannes and the Oscars. I want my picture to show that culture might be facilitated by technology, but that culture is always led by somebody’s imagination. And Mexico is imagining itself.

Even upset that I am here, pissed off that I am too cowed to refuse a pal, sacrificing my stupid novel for a touristy event too maudlin to shoot with distinction, I still cannot help being me: “You want to go to Tokyo and Manhattan and listen to a conversation and catch an idea that blows your mind, makes you see a world you cannot imagine, right? Well, you’ve got those hands of yours, Athena, and you can make your own ticket wherever you want to go, but what you make has to be something nobody has ever seen before. Not just artistic, or arty, but art. Can you make with your hands what you feel in your heart?”

Athena nods as I speak. I have fucked up my own chances, but I am crisscrossed with scars of failure, my grand illusions that cut but did not kill, and she, wise youth, hears me, nodding, because I am singing a song of escape.

Just what she has been thinking. And I walked into the ceramics factory like any other silly tourist, looking to take images and memories home so I can remember where I’d been. Suddenly I am putting up a theatre, featuring the chance to be whomever you’d like to be. She grasps at this role. She’s been trained for it all her life, grown monstrous on dreams and pollen, plumped with tradition and sculpted by megabytes and ambition.

I am glad to be here, suddenly.

26 responses

  • Joseph Rotindo

    Joseph Rotindo said (13 Nov 2008):

    well sean, it has been some time since I've seen some of your essays...and i might say that I'm glad you've resumed your writing.
    how many times i've felt like a "silly tourist" myself, wandering around in some "foreign" nation, including digital, semifictitious ones. and i wonder just what the hell it is that brought me there, thinking too what it would be like to not be that and not have to wonder about why it is i am like that.
    right on, man...nice shot, terrific words!

  • Llorenç Rosanes

    Llorenç Rosanes (Deleted) said (13 Nov 2008):

    Welcome back, Seanie. Me leeré más tarde el post.

  • Chris Whitney

    Chris Whitney said (13 Nov 2008):

    Sean-We often find inspiration 180 degress from where we look. It is always a delight to read your insight. Your images and words together show the possibilities.

  • Ronnie Ginnever

    Ronnie Ginnever gave props (13 Nov 2008):

    How nice to have you back to hear and see your story.

  • Alexis - Now on Flickr

    Alexis - Now on Flickr gave props (13 Nov 2008):

    What Llorenç said!

  • Mojca Savicki

    Mojca Savicki said (14 Nov 2008):

    Just finished reading a book by Coelho, The Witch from Portobello, with the main character named Athena, a gypsy woman. Don't know why your Athena reminds me of her :)

  • Rachel Mckinnie

    Rachel Mckinnie gave props (14 Nov 2008):

    Well look who it is ;) Beautiful image and story Sean.

  • Bonnie Blanton

    Bonnie Blanton (Deleted) gave props (14 Nov 2008):

    your prose and pictures never cease to amaze me, another phenomenal piece of art

  • Alexis - Now on Flickr

    Alexis - Now on Flickr gave props (17 Nov 2008):

    Now I've read the story. Another one of these gems of sight and language that you leave for us like H&G's crumbs..

  • Brad Flora

    Brad Flora gave props (17 Nov 2008):

    The graphic image compliments the use of your narrative in illustrating the change in your self.

  • Konrad Ragnarsson

    Konrad Ragnarsson gave props (19 Nov 2008):

    Welcome back,Seanie,glad that you are back!!!

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (20 Nov 2008):

    Amazing compo.

  • Lynn H

    Lynn H (Deleted) gave props (26 Nov 2008):

    Stunning shot!

  • Kevin Kabuki

    Kevin Kabuki gave props (2 Dec 2008):

    Great shot, great pose. Nothing like an unfinished novel to wear at one's bones, there are a few hundred pages of one around here somewhere. Haven't touched it in months, decided I really didn't have anything I wanted to say.

  • Leanna Lomanski

    Leanna Lomanski gave props (14 Dec 2008):

    I can't stop looking at her a primitive goddess. Glad you made the trip worth your while and ours...........

  • Sherry Davis Johnson

    Sherry Davis Johnson said (12 Jan 2009):

    Fantastic! She is beautiful! You have vividly recreated her dream for all to see. I love the juxtapositions of enlightenment and dark, the primitive jug and technology and my favorite is how the greatness of her dream towers over the manacles that could impede her.
    The two grand was well spent. You answered the Universe’s call to inspire and cut a diamond in the rough. She’ll have to do the polishing herself.
    Lucky for us all that you can’t help being you!

  • Sherry Davis Johnson

    Sherry Davis Johnson gave props (12 Jan 2009):

    Welcome back!

  • Diane Peterson

    Diane Peterson gave props (15 Jan 2009):

    Impressive, all around!

  • Brian Hagy

    Brian Hagy (Deleted) said (21 Jan 2009):

    beautiful shot and moment. i love how well the light is working in the shot giving just the right amount in every area, such as being able to see just the right amount of light on the cell phones which in turn don't distract from the girl. lovely play with light and dark, tradition and modern culture, color, composition, and detail.

  • Alexandru Iedu

    Alexandru Iedu gave props (17 Mar 2009):


  • rory cobbe

    rory cobbe gave props (22 May 2009):


  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (11 Sep 2009):

    Oh YEAH! Rad!

  • conchita. del. mundo.

    conchita. del. mundo. gave props (13 Sep 2009):

    hello, seanie! love the new image and the new story. i eat up your travel tales. never tire of them. i get almost every single twist and layer, too. always so cleverly told. i hope to see and hear more soon.

  • Jim Robertson

    Jim Robertson gave props (14 Sep 2009):

    Thanks for this gift of image and narrative, always a fun detour from whatever I'm doing here.

  • Cindy Griff

    Cindy Griff   said (17 May 2010):

    Your images leave me wanting more, excellent!

  • Alwyn Scott Turner

    Alwyn Scott Turner said (26 Oct 2011):

    Its the identity that shines from her personality...seen through the conscious eyes of the photographer, that give words of meaning to this staged image.

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