This is a drawing by Pamela Coleman Smith -the illustrator of the first modern tarot deck. I read a biography over the weekend and this image stayed with me. That and her fricking awesome signature! (And other things, among which is a new appreciation of her Tarot deck).
This is from a set of Jamaican folktales she wrote down and illustrated. She lived for part of her youth and life in Jamaica, and perhaps was of part Jamaican heritage (or other Caribbean or African heritage).
What speaks to me about this image? That you can hide from night in the rafters in the dark. That even though death is darkness, there are other darknesses that even death has trouble navigating.
In this story, Annancy – the protagonist of most/all the stories in this collection is hiding in the rafters while death is calling for him to come down. Death and Night.
The ground is white, Annancy is white, the fence outside is white, the underside of the rafters are white, death is mostly white and the sky is dark. The sky outside the house that is. The rafters also are dark, the dome of the home, the dome of the domus.
Death is white. There is a light coming from open door, or perhaps it is the light of death that highlights the underside of the rafters. Where is the light coming from? Perhaps purely from the mind of the artist who in order for us to distinguish the scene must have a contrast (between light and dark). Death has a bag.
Really what happens in the darkness? We can hide. We become phenomenology – an arm a leg a rafter. We become disembodied. The logic of night is different. How is the arm connected to the leg? The rafter to the house? These connections are hidden. Occult!
Death in this image has a structure. Death is the logic of the night. In the darkness we see death. Night and Darkness go together. What sort of Night is the night of the full moon. Night is anywhere in the shadows it is not temporal. Night is the lacuna the space between notes, the space between points, the undefined space the unconnected space. In the night the material realm is disconnected, illogical, while the cretures of the night make sense in the night – the creatures of the night like death are fully revealed in the night.