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Broken Bone Art (X-treme Intimacy)

On Dec. 22, 2004, I slipped on the bank of the Charles River and fell. It turned out to be a double fracture of the tibia and fibula bones in my leg, and I spent the next three months bed-ridden and overcast. There was not much to photograph in those circumstances. I stared at the naked branches in my rear window all day long.

My rear window lacked Hitchcockian drama. No torso woman danced there and no murderer went about his dirty business. No masseuse visited me, to say nothing of Grace Kelly. (I uncovered a major inconsistency in Hitchcock’s movie, visible only from the point of view of the broken-legged.)

The more I looked outside, the more the outside world was losing its plausibility, resembling a bizarre illustration in an old children’s book: “Find the figure in the background.” Do we know that there is a figure there? My horizon shrank. Sometimes the branches appeared to be mere reflections of my inner entanglements and fractures.

Later I discovered a strange etymological connection between branches and limbs.


1297, "limb of a tree" (also used of things analogous to it, especially geographic features), from O. Fr. branche, from L.L. branca "a claw, paw," of unknown origin, probably Gaulish. The verb meaning "to diverge from a central point" is first attested in 1799.


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