The Rule Book

The Rule Book

Perspective lends enchantment

The rule of perspective, now. In painting it was a sine qua non. The vanishing point: the notion that everything should come to a point and that everything should be commensurate in size. Whatever was nearest should be most in focus.

Well no, actually, Sarah thought: how about reversing that? What if that which was closest to you was presented in a rough, freehand way, and that which was furthest away was in the finest detail.The difference in texture.

How to tell the history of the present moment? Right at the front of the frame, on her desk, were the objects: bathed in a rough light, edges softened. The little statue, the stapler, the book, the clockwork toy, all losing their sharpness. Looking like a Monet painting. Mounds and blocks of colour. Go back. Perform a reverse iris shot. Where did they come from? The clockwork dog in the basket, now. It was sky blue, a mock wicker pattern. The little dog’s fur was brown and its eyes were bright. The key at the side was silver and when you turned it, the dog’s head rose up rather pertly, it turned its neck and barked softly. Pull back and sharpen the focus. Bought in a French street market. She had been happy that day. The sun was bright, her mouth was full of brioche, the scent of saffron filled the air from the bubbling vats of paella on sale. She had many finds that day, but the clockwork dog was the best. It was because he was the most comical: popping out of his basket, rising to the occasion like a cheeky lover, jolly and importunate, full of joy.

Pull back again. She had known how to run towards her desires then, and they knew how to run towards her. The hills in the background, on the horizon, were sharp: the lavender fields, the rocky outcrops, the burning light which seemed to separate everything out. At that time, she had known that pleasure resided in things being different from each other: and in finding something beautiful, but not needing to be the same as it.

Pull back. Where had that come from? From a moment in her childhood when she had realised that to savour something, she needed to draw a firm line round it, and to be different from it. She saw everything like a stained glass window, with black lead stripes demarcating the bright colours. Was everyone like this? Probably not. For her, the shafts of sunlight through the stained glass would cast a vivid glow on the bland floor, and they would transform it with colour. The space between the sharp objects and her soft, inchoate self would vary. But it was a space nonetheless.

Pull back again. She was somewhere round and warm, the womb probably. No untimely evictions from that hotel. But there, even there, in that cramped space, she was aware of her separateness from that which nurtured her. The perspective, the long vista, the vanishing point, the sharp black lines, the varying focus: they would come later. But there, coiled in the darkness and waiting for the light, Sarah knew that nothing - not the blood that created her, not the flesh that protected her, not the milk that nourished her - would ever be the same as her, even though she might waste a lifetime wishing it were otherwise.