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Meditation on Richard Mosses's 'Incoming'

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Panopticon — the menace of the camera’s movements.

The omniscient lidless eye. It devours the soft shaded cells and textured faces of the innocents. And the bodies. the Multitude. Pressed against. Below. Around. Indifferent are the air conditioning units and the solar panels. Brothers of Adam wandering beneath a patch of trees. Unreadable. No life signs. Not in this medium. But the bodies. The bodies engorge. Around the bodies forms this strange motion. Agony seems to fascinate the Eye. Agony — motions everyday in eyes.

A body of water. I think to myself — what would it look like? Azure for a moment. Then I realise.

Silent terror as the resolution becomes attenuated when faced with the lines of bodies. Or a lone fire.

I question our history. The genocide — need for chaos and destruction — I see here a scene not far from Auswchitz. This War of Mine. Hiigara. Detach from the immediate appal and appeal. And look upon it as a God might — as this lidless eye.


Cities in shipping containers. There comes across me a feeling. Again it comes. In my spine and thorax — a roving, terrible compassion— the horror sublime.

Tents in the arena always remind it of wars from time. The camps of Kosovo, the quarters of 101st in Berchtesgaden. All of which the Eye has been the witness.

Each tent a world. A tattered ship. A dinghy for the displaced. Floating in island. Artifice. The Eye observes the mud piles. The worn earth weary with foot pressed across the volley court. The mountains silent in the near distance. Somehow they promise me. Yet I do not know what. At first, I do not understand these shapes and why they are before me.

And then suddenly I know.

They are the bodies.

The preparations for sail.

The scavenged beaches.



The fire.

The water.

The molten moon.

A cruiser hidden in it’s rest.

The spectre of a helicopter.

Face black — white hair. The touchless bodies. Textures.

A Man.

Two children flat on rubber rings. Cruise ship rolls megalith across horizon. What is in it’s belly?

To reassure myself I remember the stories of our stowaways. And for a moment the ferry ship becomes a gorgeous hulk sliding across the desert waters.

Then masks and muzzles. The stain of disinfectant. Stain of blood. White on white. All white. Black faces. The sheen of sweat metal grill medical. Wrapping sound like the ancients handling a whales enormous entrails — hard desperate breaths. Scalpels and scissors. Rotary blades. Shin bones.

Then I realise

They are inside.

What is there to do but weep?

Hoola hoops and diablos. A broken wheelbarrow. She runs onto the concourse. Small. Thin. He looks but does not see and does not stop her.

Then they gather. More of the young ones.

But not one.

Her hair blowing. Dark about her face. She clings to a phone. She begins to move. Steps forward followed. She points at it. As if talking.

Yet the Eye sees only white heat of life and death.

There is something uncanny in the beauty of these faces before the lidless eye. I cannot help but love them. Praise them. And believe that they are best. I see the guards at about the port smile and receive a child’s hand. We witness children run. They shove. Not a punch thrown. The Eye sees. No words. Just silence. It does not judge. Except for the alien colours. They still fight. Headlocks now. And punches. But to no effect. And so it goes on. And longer. Still pulling. Hands to chest again. Eyes locked. And on.

Their elders intervene.

So gently that I wish to cry.

Kites high in the sky.

A body, floating // Flames and particles rising // The cable live.

I cannot pretend to know. It is as I saw Kiev. When they sang. Burning metal carcasses. And bellies holding shoulders up. Then the cyborgia arrive to quench the maelstrom. Yet they cannot hope to extinguish it. It all burns. Even the very air. The roar. The wail of siren. All their homes. And yet no voices.

This awaits us. If we choose. It is now.

We have foreseen it.

Lest we forget.

What future awaits us? As it has always been? Yes. An yet, surely no.

We chant and pray.

They raise. Holy Mary lifted. Rosaries adorn the young men who carry her visage. Why carry her visage? We look to faith. Protect the Goddess. Beauty stands in terror.

He bows towards Mecca.

Kiss the ground with washed face.

A single finger counts absently.

The Juggernaught behind dwarf him. Yet to me he is Pride of Africa beneath bleached rags.

Before my eyes I see the children tussle and fight again. I hold the tension of unconceived words — something preverbal — nascent, I cannot fathom it.

I remember the kites. I remember the beauty. There is always beauty. Sublime, perhaps. And terrible. But beauty nonetheless. These forms, these people are sublime and beautiful.

We are that which we observe. The process of mind is the viewer is the view is the mind. Each phenomenon an existence, a reality unto itself.

Some see struggle. Some shame.

Some carnage. Some courage.

Some see terror. Some justice.

Others look and are moved.

Others are moved and do not look.

Others yet understand.

Others who believe they do.

The struggle is to fathom. The struggle is to express the mean of meaning. The struggle is for courage to tempt truth with words or gesture. To fail.

But the attempt. The attempt is all. The attempt is all we do.

Policia green and black as hornets. Yet they are here to serve. Guardians and grunts. Which do you see? Some see State. Others see stories, needs, limits, cognitive, cybernetic — simple truths of empathic overload. Discharge. Discharging gun. What is this? Man? Meat? More than just a beret? He who might be Jesus with a gun. It is a man. And a man is he who has hungers, fears, loves.

And the chants come on again.

Prayers of the Shiites.

As the Eye observes.

Who am I to disturb it? God. As they that raise their voices and hands to their holy relics. Do not disturb it.

Worship reveals the revelry of man and woman in spite of all ruin.

And dare you toask the little girl again: How did you come to be lost?

In this moment we are touched by the hand of God. Now. In this sublime and rumbling silence. I would kiss this man and embrace him as my brother. I wonder how many Christians, Muslims, Sikhs are out there in the wasteland we are creating.

‘Fate had us meet as foes.

But this hell hath made us brothers.’

His finger. Then I realise. I count in this way. In ecstasy. Then return to this — this reality.

He wipes his face with ragged shirt, ragged clothes. As Jesus did.

And joy chaotic flows again from tin tapped hindi pop on stereos.

WE band together. White eyed. White teeth. Bodies in the jeep. Young men masked against the desert heat and the merciless. We seek the means! the strength to kiss the Earth again!

Profundity. Can we raise the strength to ask: the Question.


Burn faces in the heat so still and gaping I mistake them for Pharaohs.

Blake — nightmares and child’s angelic beauty. Terror of the perforated sky. White bone brush of death and the terror of a turbine. Incoming. Seek him here. Seek him here. Sensor Ping. Angel. Death. Majestical. My body dissolves in the white heat of war and I become the thermal white.

Stars against the background of constellations.

Fairchild of the Republic! A10 bears down to form stars and supernovas microcosmic of the bodies: metal — dust. Supersonic fury of Apollo —

What have we done?

The hand that reaches up to me to answer grabs a khaki wrist — this our 22nd Century — and here is our priest, the soldier. And the child weeps. The child weeps.

Seems we need war.

Teeth glimmering over skin.

Perhaps we need it to show us our brilliance, our horror — the spectrum of existence.

Perhaps missiles also pray toward Mecca.

And here the dream of Apollo is realised in instruments of death. Raw fusion. The crews gather together. Men united in their purpose. They hold each other beneath the flames.

Wide eyed. All-seeing the

Cratered Moon hides her face.

And the Eye is ever the same.


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