Paul XVI: Angel

“Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” Hebrews 1:14

“His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and his voice like the sound of a multitude.” Daniel 10:5-6

“The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.” Revelation 16:3

I’ve always found the concept of angels to be terrifying. Something that can turn water to blood or inhabit your dreams? No thanks. And there’s always like a trumpet sound introducing them and I wonder if it’s less of a physical introductory trumpet and more of a trumpet-like noise that the angels might make. In a glottal kind of way. Like a kind of anti-musical grunting akin to one of Spielberg’s velociraptors. Yeah, I think that’s it. Anyway, the idea of angels scare the hell out of me and, since it was recently Halloween, I thought I’d briefly talk about some unsettling photograms by Bruce Conner that I had an opportunity to see a while back and they’ve kind of remained with me ever since. Maybe it’s descriptions of angels in the Bible as “spirits” and not as any kind of physical matter that make me associate them with no kind of human form. I think of them probably as faceless and metallic-looking. Not sure. The Bible makes it clear that they had wings. Even wings on their feet. Guess I picture them as a kind of streamlined human-like ghost covered in tiny metallic wings. Jesus.

Conner’s 1970s Angel series comes close to that description. There’s something unknowable about each one and I think that’s why I love them so much. The non-knowledge of these captured light energies are unnerving. During an exposure, Conner (who had an aversion to photographing himself for the longest time) would stand in front of light-sensitive sheets of paper exposed to light. His shadow would eventually cause the ethereal, white formations you see above. The shape of each one is incredibly uncanny and, if you ever have the chance to see one in real life, I highly recommend it.

I guess I’m wondering why I haven’t read a horrifying book about angels yet. Or does that book already exist and I just haven’t read it yet? Maybe I’ll write it. Maybe Rauan will write it? Maybe one of you will write it? Who knows!

All of that said, I’d just like to say hello to everybody. My name is Paul Cunningham. I work as an editorial assistant for Action Books. I devote the rest of my time to The Fanzine and co-im-press. I write mostly poetry and I translate Swedish poetry and I currently study in the MFA program at the University of Notre Dame. I also make book trailers.

Very excited to be a member of Queen Mob’s Tea House!

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