Book of Layers
The Book of Layers: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. Chapter Three: He was Fed by a Bucket and a Rope. 2012. Each panel, 18" x 41"; 6 panels total. Archival inkjet print of photo by 2012 Bliss; text from Bliss' June 2, 2012 journal entry; archival inkjet print of 1927 photo by ethnomusicologist Ole Mork Sandvik bagged with found fish spine; composed sound from field recordings and interviews with residents of Ballinskelligs, County Kerry, Ireland.
Transcript of audio recording:
Background sound: slow, soft waves rolling into shore
Male Irish voice: But, um, I believe that he was fed by a bucket and a rope, and they would have fed him fish and eggs and whatever else they could find: shellfish, maybe mussels sticking to the side of a rock, and stuff like that. But, em, his whole destiny would have been – he was probably totally mad, because… you know… even if you are in the middle of nowhere, you’re still going to sin because we sin in thought and word and deed. It’s not just a deed that’s a sin. We can sin by thought, we can sin by word, and we can … So I’m sure by God that he’d had bad thoughts. He must’ve crucified himself for that, you know. Em, so, I think he probably believed that he went up here, and went into this total isolation, that he couldn’t do nothing wrong, before God.
Female American voice: It might not have been about trying to escape sin-making. I mean, it might’ve been not so much a running-away, but a running-toward, don’t you think?
Male Irish voice: Well, closer to God, yeah. But removing yourself from,,,, because, once upon a time, I thought of doing the same thing. So I have those thoughts and once upon a time I thought, well, if I went somewhere where there’s no people, if I could live somewhere where’s there nothing around me, then I could get closer to God because I can’t sin. That was my thought, and I nearly achieved it. It was my mother came down and said,”What are you doing?” I was going to go off and be a monk, but I had a wife and kids, and my mother said, “You can’t do this!” But I wanted to get closer to God. That was my passion, and still is, to get closer to God. But I believe you don’t get that real close ‘til you die anyway, ‘til you come into His presence.
(fades to waves)
Text on panel reads:
June 2. Cill Rialaig. 15:42 Lunch: fish stew with carrageen and mushrooms
MC just dropped by for a visit. He is quite a sweetiepie. Today, I noticed the form and line of his muscled body: his willowy taut forearms, their soft hair blonde and fleecy; the ripples of his thighs pushing against his work pants – sculpted not by the gym, but by the truth of his life, laboring day in day out on fields and in furrows, barn and mountain. His partnership with the land inscribed on his body, testimony presented to me as a map, and a choice.