Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Something Else / Asger Carlsen

"You're (really) something!" in Polish is "Ty to jesteś!"*, meaning literally "You are the one that is!".

This seems more logical than the English expression - your existence is more, your [way of] being is the right one.

Yet there is, hidden within this phrase, a sense of hierarchy that verges on arrogance - a value judgment on being. I prefer the English version - it sounds more modest, the paradox (you-thing) gives it the feel of a good fetish - you are [my] fetish.
We can also see it as edifying: I can see you objectively and that sight is grand.

But my favorite expression in this neighborhood is "You are something else!" It challenges everything we are tempted to say to and about another person. Here, she is not only a thing, but a thing that is essentially unattainable. She is not only "the other", but the other stripped of the alteregoishness, the person-likeness, flourishing in her (its) thingness, some - thing - else.

You are something else: you are fundamentally unattainable.

All the photos are by Asger Carlsen, from the series Wrong, 0 and Detour.**

* The Polish expression, however, has a rather pejorative connation, while the English one usually means we are impressed with the other person. Still, both have the basic meaning of awe and amazement, and both can in some circumstances be positive or negative.
** The first two pictures are not, as someone suggested, photos of real handicapped people. See the entire Wrong series for more.