Emmalea Russo
Mysticism and Magenta

“From the beginning, a pathetic amount of light lit up the pocket, ‘lit’, too strong a word, still, enough to draw you toward it from the waterway, to your phone booth grave, because the nearly invisible alteration in color—from below, it was a dime-sized deep grayness amid the black—was enough to catch your reptilian eye.” – Bruce Wagner, The Empty Chair

I wait at the corner table where text pools.

My proximity to the absence is granted a new hue.


Color is a space the dog speaks to then swallows

that gray pool at the beginning middle end of SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)

hidden (in) the recorded world? Speaking from the other side

of the film where light is time recorded then dispersed

in degrees of darkness as the production of desire rapidly

(by your absence) multiplies rot’s gradual trance where oh!

close to the bulb whose hue spins years: 1310, 1950, 2020,

your light’s off, hello??


In his book on color, Goethe demonstrates what he means

by degrees of darkness. Light gets pulled through the prism

to spit back the subtracted colors: magenta, yellow, etcetera.

Super minor, knotted up, erased. Awash, waiting in CYAN, MAGENTA,

YELLOW, KEY (CMYK) through sick oscillations (subtract subtract subtract)

of decay and what’s slick. Blue screen unlit spews. In THE MIRROR OF SIMPLE

SOULS Marguerite Porete (13th c.) writes: “And she is inebriated not only from what she has

drunk, but very intoxicated and more intoxicated from what she never drinks nor will ever drink.”


Michel de Certeau claims we must relearn how to read the mystics on the black page they made. Invert, delete, and describe what mutes the room. In the ecstatic three minute magenta film Process Red (Hollis Frampton, 1966), there’s an egg and there’s a hand and the hand holds a ceramic cup. The simple maneuvers are sped up. To see CYAN, YELLOW, MAGENTA, subtract a primary additive (RED, GREEN, BLUE) from the white rectangle of light which is film. Michel de Certeau! says MYSTICISM is the search for another language (degree of darkness?) after the destruction of ours. The world rots, unreadable, UNSENT.


The divine darkness showed Angela of Foligno (1248-1309) nothing and everything at once. Washed hands and feet of lepers, drank their bathwater, stripped naked in front of cross, convulsed, meditated on up-close portions of hurt flesh. Cinematic fragment repeat repeat repeat.


Overstuff the prism where colors curl

an arena where darkness and light meet,

instantaneous delete when the phone rings

then (promptly) chucks this. Blown up in the café

scene, magenta hands spit vomitous too-lit rectangle.

Scab-colored and balancing between egg and cup.

Light! gets bent then breaks as my particular wait

mutilates the cup I hunch over that shimmers

the (process red) cigarette whose smoke wafts over

those meat-eating bees. Magenta hand dissolves

the screen it's shown on. Prism, color, screen, gloria,

magenta, repeat. Lower stratum of the body flickers red-ish.


Angels tell Angela

she’ll be granted their ex-

perience i run thru

the manual—


persistent gaze

erupting flesh

becomes erratic

recorder re-

ordered text/

world slides over

A thing un-

fastened (from)

light (scab from


Angela cannot

“imagine a death

vile enough”

to match

her desire

Angela’s man-

ual slid


against striker

blur utensil

held tenderly


by magenta


“There is in divine things a transparency so great that one slips into the illuminated depths of laughter beginning even with opaque intentions,” say the first lines of Georges Bataille’s INNER EXPERIENCE. Muscularly you describe the darkness which is not darkness. Hold and release. This is the oscillation we’re stuck in. Try counting to ten. I spy three cameramen in the dyed stars of the operating system.


Georges Bataille reads Angela’s visions on the train, eve of war: “But sacred or poetic moments, which die, leave on their disappearance diverse residues” which I read on the Los Angeles Metro Rail (pink sky) at a plague’s baroque entrance. Fur coat on. Eyeing someone. A few seats. You? Over. No. The residue for an instant thickens the secret color between red and blue. Three flies cover a still slithering worm when the train doors close. Nausea, magenta, yellow, red, next stop next stop.


Angela of Foligno describes the experience of bathing a leper then drinking their bath water: “As a small scale of the leper’s sores was stuck in my throat, I tried to swallow it. My conscience could not let me spit it out, just as if I had received Holy Communion.”


sidewalk under

scab-picked sky

Pepto-pink glare behind

Hollywood sign




Mystical illumination: an edit. Stan Brakhage quotes Wittgenstein when speaking about his films: “Our life is endless in the way that our visual field is without limit.” MOTHLIGHT (1963) is a film w/o camera. Like speaking mouth to mouth. Marguerite Porete says the clerks and the theologians will NOT QUITE GET IT.


A dead moth scribbling infrastructure

rapidly rapidly between strips

of film (cameraless)

pushes wings

darkest degree

against the bulb

blocked by fried leaves/wings

light curdling in the boulevard’s

silverer drain


A heat dead moth

shot thru the projector

mother-like orb

of almost matter

whose literal ecstasy

reminds me


of Caravaggio in 1592


of Joe Gillis in 1950 afloat

scab-like in the gray pool

of the aging star

whose emissions

lit this