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The indelible evanescence of David Rattray’s Montauk

Image: still from “David Rattray reading ‘Mr. Peacock,'” (Antenna TV, 1992), https://vimeo.com/63123093.

Today I’m revisiting one of my favorite walking poems (or is it a travelogue?), David Rattray’s “West from Napeague” (read it here).

I love the singular movement of this piece, the way it’s structured like one long, deep breath, in and out. I love the language’s simplicity, and its diamond-like clarity, the way it seems to embrace and resist temporariness (like a coastal ecosystem).

Included in the above PDF is another great essay, “The Darkened Chamber,” in which Rattray joins writers like Susan Sontag, Hervé Guibert, and Roland Barthes in offering aphoristic and metaphoric commentary on photography’s relationship to memory and materiality.

Both of these essays can be found in How I Became One of the Invisible, edited by Chris Kraus for Semiotext(e), first published in 1992. Invisible was recently reissued with additional material. Make sure to buy it before it goes back out of print!

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