elementary tears (ii)

That which breaks the voice by interrupting the stream of its words still belongs to it. Such is the case with tears, which speak without naming anything, without saying anything, in the pure effusion of meaning. We are no longer the masters of this meaning; it passes through us to give itself and lose itself. At the peak of this trembling glimmer, at the very height of tears and their effacement, there would be weeping without knowing that one weeps; we would not even let our tears flow, as if we were still making a decision to cry or not, nor would we any longer weep out of sadness or out of joy, but instead simply weep sadness or joy—weep in the oblivion of our weeping. Thus perhaps our tears, in truly giving way, would gather in themselves the sadness or the joy of that which cannot weep, and it would be the world that shines in their ephemeral crystal. 

Are there tears that belong to no one, tears without anyone who weeps? Sometimes on window panes the cloud of vapor ceases to be a veil that is flat, even, and somnolent in the indefinite clarity, and instead, as it carries on the effort of its condensation, animating itself into coalescence, animating itself with coalescence, it begins to form tears. It is beautiful that they express nothing—it removes all limitation and all imitation from them. We speak commonly of a face veiled by tears, which is not true: a face can be twisted with fear, spite, rage, or disappointment, but what is more unbearably naked than a face in tears? As to the streaming of tears on window panes: it opens days, arranges cracks of light as hazardous as they are precise, allows a glimpse of that which an instant before was hidden. When the panes weep, the world is purer.

Jean-Louis Chrétien, from Elementary Tears
Hand-to-Hand, pg. 152



museum window

"I noticed that the large windows between the paintings, in the Musée d'Art Moderne, interested me more than the art exhibited. From then on, painting as I had known it was finished for me."

Ellsworth Kelly, Window, Museum of Modern Art, Paris 1949, Oil on wood and canvas, two joined panels, 128,3 x 49,5 cm, Collection of the artist




Minor White, Beginnings, Frosted Window (Rochester, New York), 1962 - gelatin silver print.