Between Appear and Disappear
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"An unforgettable and perfect book."
-Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan
In Japan, the concept of ma (間) - literally "the gap", "the space", or the interval that glues one space to another, people, people to objects, and even what we are as human being s - predominates how we live, who we are, and how we interact with things around us. In Doug Rice's Between Appear and Disappear, this concept appears again and again: the muted space between Mai and "Doug", the tension between photographs and texts, fiction and nonfiction, meditation and action. What is this book - is this a philosophical book on loss and time? A book about aesthetics of photography? A love story? A memoir? A book of photographs with texts, or a narrative with photographs? But this is what is apparent: the world in this hybrid book is the in-between ma, where what is visible and invisible, knowable and unknowable, what is uttered and what isn't uttered, gentleness and terribleness, mythic and mundane, all come together to show us, through Rice's exacting words, a new way of looking at this world that is both cruel and beautiful. This is a terrifying book to read - illuminating, wise, philosophical, and, at the end, devastating.
-Mariko Nagai, author of Irradiated Cities
Like accessing someone's private diaries, Doug Rice's translucent Between Appear and Disappear is a collaboration of syncopated narratives, a lyrical photography that "invites and denies touch." Rice notes, "When words fail, photographs capture the appearance that slips away." And, his lover and primary speaker, Mai, moves unlike a mirror, trapped in the abducted, discordant syllables of her Vietnamese past: a nightmare in which dust could not even clothe his memory of her. Rice, through his ecstatic visual and poetic splendors, invites her to move like rain, language, silence, skin, and inadvertently through the invitation, she opens like a lotus flower to the love letters of his photographs. Through both Rice's acute photographic tenderness and linguistic sensitivity, he has opened into the postwar body of his former lover a hyphenated water filled with the hem of her dress, ancient dreams, garlic and lemongrass, burnt dictionaries, dead infants, bombed villages, pluvial shadows, repetitive patterns from memories, "languages rooted in mud", and wings of weeping trees. Developed and captured through his gentle and seductive hands, Rice's incandescent meditation is a matriarchal waterfall made of silence and eyelids as he marries exilic sorrow and beauty with his beloved quiet innocence. As he photographs them onto our "tongue made of [womb] and ash", we become moonlit flowers and twigs floating down one riverbed of his/her loss to the next.
-Vi Khi Nao, author of Fish in Exile