Square-Up to accompany a scene from a half-remembered children's movie, circa 1976

Elizabeth Hatmaker

The wording in square-ups, which usually scrolled
lethargically up the screen, was invariably similar,
often concluding with an earnest line about how
the film will be considered a success if it has saved
just one person from such-and-such an evil.
     Eric Schaefer

In other
words, you shouldn't need words for your visual economy, but
[follow this zoom] throughout history, in the development of contemporary
dangerous culture, within the sanctioned means over the beating vein
of the indexical,
      we vet out hearts in substitutes,
                        spot off
      clinical testimonials aesthetic failure visual argument is the idea.
                        'Mental illness and ennui
                  are typical visual jangle
                  of sentiment or eyeline.'

To the types of viewers who would
watch a young poor country girl recently transported to the
suburban city space with a single pet bird, a crow or a blackbird. It seems as
painless as any other cue to look, the naturalness of
the idea rolling down
the page.

Who would watch this girl long for acceptance, zoom tears, undulate with
the dolly, watch with anxiety the awkward
grammar of the eye, even as the other kids mouth
her manner of speech, her patience with birds, her poverty of aura.

Who would watch with maudlin fascination the idea dilute and quiver as she shows them her carefully trained bird; would watch as some other kid begins to throw rocks at the bird; who would hold the country girl in their gaze as she sees other suburban kids enjoying the torment on
the body of her bird; watch the girl betray everything
throwing rocks at her own bird;
who would imagine the sight line of the bird
as it watches the face of its girl, the fading sun, the details of
gravel, the economy cleaved.

I have not embellished this natural idea with any forms of trickery or art.
[Ground noise overtakes action, the violin pitch
      turns sharply in our chest and we are unconcealed]

Viewers who would consider in awe the power of zoom, even when badly used;
would wonder at the technologies of our hearts to take it all in on such levels;
who could watch from the perspective, continuity
of disinterested adult
seeing this betrayal, seeing the bird stoned to death,
self-loathing, the embarrassment of the other
children both for and about the girl looking about the sidewalk; who would
see tragedy as a diamond-shaped whole
with only slight cant, the reflected glitter of
that thing we gave up
to be looked at.

An awful thing to see no matter
what I write.

Viewers who would finally return to the act of living and watching
central to consumer ideology, zooming out again,
discerning adult implication, shearing the new purchase,
buying then rejecting a fluid motion of the arm to
cause pain, the eye
to glitter. It is for us to
take pleasure again.

                  'It is this anxious
                  exchange and the mental illness
                  it often illustrates that is
                        typical in the American viewer;
                        it can neither remain
                        nor can it be untreated.

To look is not self-justifying.'