She wasn't doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together. JD Salinger.
One reading. It’s not a line from a poem. It’s from a short story, J.D.Salinger’s “A Girl I Knew.” The story is about a girl a young man knew. The girl later became a Nazi victim. The man returns to her apartment after the war, and realizes everything has changed.
A second reading. Salinger writes, "Probably for every man there is at least one city that sooner or later turns into a girl. How well or how badly the man actually knew the girl doesn't necessarily affect the transformation. She was there, and she was the whole city, and that's that”
Salinger, a man in the world, describes the quintessential fictional woman with “an immediate gravity towards someone that goes beyond sexual/physical attraction”, a woman “wholly legitimate”.
And the second reading elicits the question, how does a woman render a man “wholly legitimate? How does a woman photographer translate masculinities with the breadth, and confines, of the still image? How does she intuit his universe, the universe he holds together? How can she walk alongside him as he navigates his stride, his intelligent thrust, his sensuality, his masculine calm and power, his individuality, his life history, his constriction, his griefs, his tremblings, his tenderness, his gifted hands and heart. Why is there, although legitimate in itself, so much writings on feminism, the rage of women, while writings on the sentient life of men, the feminine archetype of the male, the rage of men confined by ambushing stereotypes, the rage at heterosexuality deemed the only ‘normal’, so scarcely residual? For Masculinities exist; breathing at networked coffee tables, in the freeing sanctity of night clubs, in the comforting bedclothes of lovers, on a father’s chest, and a mother’s breast, - does she sink her fears into you? - under a hooded mechanics car, in the seat of an aeroplane taking off, dancing intuitively to music, listening to vinyl records and playing chess, in the thrill of life, staring blankly after the perversity of war, staring blankly midst domestic abuse, joined in a brotherhood of bravado and/or deep consistent love, and vivid in the confining, rebelling, ceaselessly shifting, expressive world.