This is a solarized photo of one of the many street lamps in downtown Athens. I like how the globe is rendered to look like a black pearl. I like the idea of black pearls, especially.
Recently, I found out that Eleanor's birth stone is the pearl...though that's kind of weird, since a pearl is not a stone at all. It's a pearl - It grew on the inside of an oyster. Why are pearls prized as gemstones? Because they're rare. Rarity = Value is supposed to be the equation at work here. That's not really true, though, is it? I mean, if that were the case, mind-blowing experimental films and poems would be prized possessions. But no, not so much.
A few days ago, I accompanied my friend Sean into a jewelry store, where he bought a string of pearls for his girlfriend. Sean's book of poems had just come out, and he was feeling expansive and weirded out by the experience of having a book, complete with a Library of Congress number. The girl behind the counter flirted shamelessly with him. She wore a black sweater. After some deliberation, he handed over his credit card and - bam - my man had himself some pearls. "She told me not to get her anything," he said to me on the sidewalk. "You did the right thing," I replied.
I don't know why, but I left out the part about the girl modeling the pearls for him. Some things don't need to be said...like the way she pulled her hair up off her neck to reveal the pearls. And how they hung. And how she set her gaze deep into Sean's eyes, who tried hard to stare at the strand of pearls and remember what he was supposed to be contemplating. She was good, in other words. I said that to Sean, back out on the sidewalk. "Yes, she was," he replied.
Pearls form naturally. But they can also be "grown." Naturally, a pristine natural pearl is more valuable. This is because natural pearls are the experimental films of the sea. Since both kinds look pretty much alike on the surface, you have to use an x-ray to tell whether or not a pearl is natural or grown on a pearl farm. Imagine that: shooting all that electromagnetic radiation into a wee, little pearl just to reveal its past.
To take the mystery out of something can be a real tragedy. Then again, every scientist knows that pearls don't really come from oysters anyway. Like everything else, their story is a crazy orgy of millions of forces, causes, and conditions. They arrive to jive from beyond the veil. They assume their forms like businessmen donning fedoras. And they slap high fives in the Void way before manifesting as bling-bling in the oyster's mouth. And that's cool. But I wonder if oysters flirt with one another on the ocean floor. And I wonder if they agree with Federico Fellini, who ate acid, made experimental films, and once said "All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster's autobiography."