BEAU WATKINS: First, let me say it's an honor to get to talk to you. I've been following your career ever since the sublime Gemma, Standing in a Tutu.
ANNE GEDDES: The honor is all mine. I've been reading The Wag for years.
BW: It's only been online a little more than a month, you know.
AG: I know.
BW: Good. Let's talk about your latest creation.
AG: Goethe's Theory of Colours?
BW: That's the one.
AG: What is there to say?
BW: Plenty, I'm sure.
AG: Plenty's right. Where do you want to start?
BW: How about with the size?
AG: It's CinemaScope. I forget the actual size.
BW: I have here that it's just under 165 yards by almost exactly seventy yards. That's roughly 2.35 acres wide, one acre tall.
AG: Like I said. CinemaScope.
BW: Why CinemaScope?
AG: I'm a big fan of Baz's Australia.
BW: You are aware that 2.35:1 is a misnomer, right? Modern movies claiming this as an aspect ratio are actually shot at 2.39:1.
AG: Don't tell me that! I'll have rip up even more of that field!
BW: Which is something else I wanted to bring up. Why that field, specifically? Why Iowa?
AG: I got the idea from Wire's 154. If you're familiar with Side Two…
BW: We're talking "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W," right?
AG: That's… Listen, if you already have the info, there's really no need for me to…
BW: No, no. It's just that there's been no confirmation from your camp that you actually meant to…
AG: Oh. I see. Well, yeah. It had to be there. Those lyrics felt as though they were written specifically for me. My life, my work… it's all there. "Crystal palaces for floral kings"? I mean, come on!
BW: I don't know. I think you could work most of those lyrics to make them mean whatever the hell you wanted.
BW: So what you're saying, in other words, is…
BW: OK. Glad we're on the same page.
AG: Are we?
BW: No fucking clue, Anne.
BW: All right. Moving on. How about the process?
AG: You mean the staging? The capturing? The developing?
BW: Take your pick.
AG: It started with me thinking about Benjamin saying it no longer felt right to dream about the blue flower.
BW: You referring, here, to Novalis's Blaue Blume?
AG: No. Benjamin is. And really, I'm referring more to Adorno, since it was his observation on Benjamin's observation on Novalis's Blaue Blume that really got me thinking.
BW: And that observation was…
AG: Adorno's. Keep up, Mr. Watkins.
BW: Yes, yes. The content of it, I mean.
AG: Art is mimesis of the world of imagery and at the same time its enlightenment through forms of control. The world of imagery, itself thoroughly historical, is done an injustice by the fiction of a world of images that effaces the relations in which people live.
BW: That's your take on what he said, or what he said?
AG: That's what he said. Translated, at any rate. Every day when I wake up, I recite this to myself. And then I repeat it. And then I repeat it again. Just before I go to bed, too, I repeat it to myself. It's my life's mantra and the coda to each concluded day.
BW: And what's your take on it?
AG: My take on it is baby pictures.
BW: And how does Goethe's Theory of Colours, specifically, comment on your take on it?
AG: It's the ultimate comment. Penultimate comment, maybe, if you aren't bullshitting about Australia's 2.39:1 ratio.
BW: I'm not.
AG: Penultimate, then. We give ourselves up to a soft sensation of repose, and whilst our senses, touched by the harmony of the colours, the forms, and the sounds, experience the agreeable in the highest, the mind is rejoiced by the easy and rich flow of the ideas, the heart by the sentiments which overflow in it like a torrent.
BW: Another quote?
AG: Yes. Good catch. From one of Schiller's essays on aesthetics. Of course, the essays were actually letters. Briefe. Though brief they ain't! Anyway, I only have the one mantra. If I ever need another, though, the Schiller's in the batter's box.
BW: You mean on deck?
AG: Whatever. We play cricket Down Under.
AG: Oh, my. That sounds like a euphemism for a long un-penetrated vagina. Ha ha!
BW: Ha! We play cricket Down Under!
AG: We DO NOT play cricket down under, Mr. Watkins.
BW: No, I'm sure. I was just…
AG: We DO NOT.
BW: Of course not.
AG: Soft sensation of repose. That's what my infant photography is all about. For me, it follows a violent attempt at life affirmation. Whether or not the affirmation is a success is irrelevant. The struggle's the thing. The babies in Goethe's Theory of Colour are Laocoön after succumbing to the struggle. They are postlapsarian man, if you will, at the end of it all. Years removed from the Fall, having lived out their lives in the damning wake of it.
AG: You know damn well what I meant!
BW: D-A-M well?
AG: Oh, Mr. Watkins. You get me. You so get me.
BW: I'm a married man, Anne.
AG: Of course. Of course.
BW: What's interesting to me is that you've chosen babies to represent this fallen man.
AG: The child is the father of the man, they say.
AG: Close. Wilson and Parks.
BW: Ah, yes.
AG: And you see the placid looks on their faces. Again, it's a soft sensation of repose. To put it in Derridean terms, it's the "Gift of Death." And though I've been quoting a lot of Germans, when I say "Gift," I mean there to be no pun.
BW: None taken. So the babies are supposed to be dead?
AG: Oh, the babies are dead. Stone dead.
BW: You mean they represent this death artistically, right?
AG: I mean the models. Dead babies, all four of 'em.
BW: That's… That's hideous.
AG: Yes, it is. Hey, you know how to make a dead baby float?
BW: Please don't.
AG: Two scoops of ice cream, two scoops of dead baby.
BW: I think I'm going to be sick.
AG: Oh, come on. Show a little mettle. They're just dead babies.
BW: My wife's pregnant!
AG: I know. Like I said, I read The Wag.
BW: I think we're done.
AG: Suit yourself. Keep in touch. And if the unthinkable happens--later-term miscarriage, stillbirth, crib death--give me a call.
BW: That's… Like you say, that's unthinkable.
AG: Well, just think about it.