Friday, December 5, 2008

From The Lazarus Project, by Aleksandar Hemon

"A human face consists of other faces—the faces you inherited or picked up along the way, or the ones you simply made up—laid on top of each other in a messy superimposition. When I taught ESL, I had students who would come to class with a different face every day; it took me awhile to remember their names. Eventually, from a certain angle, I could see what was buried under their fleeting grimaces, I discerned the deep faces beyond their acting out the person they imagined themselves to be. Sometimes they would flash their new, American face: the raised eyebrows and the curved mouth of perpetual worry and wonder. Mary could see no deep face of mine, because she did not know what my life in Bosnia had been like, what made me, what I had come from; she could see only my American face, acquired through failing to be the person I wanted to be. I did not know what shadows Rora saw, comparing my face and the one on the tombstone, but I did not think him crazy. Mykola Brik may have been someone who had settled here—here in the narrow passage between my brain and my gaze—before I was even born. Nobody can control resemblances, any more than you can control echoes."

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