This shitty diner is home
by: Casey Garner
The mouth of Krishna
There is the story of the infant Krishna, wrongly accused of eating a bit of dirt. His mother, Yashoda, coming up to him with a wagging finger scolds him: “You shouldn’t eat dirt, you naughty boy.” “But I haven’t,” says the unchallenged lord of all and everything, in spot disguised as a frightened human child. “Tut! Tut! Open your mouth,” orders Yashoda. Krishna does as he is told. He opens his mouth and Yashoda gasps. She sees in Krisna’s mouth the whole complete entire timeless universe, all the stars and planets of space and the distance between them, all the lands and seas of the earth and the life in them; she sees all the days of yesterday and all the days of tomorrow; she sees all ideas and all emotions, all pity and all hope, and the three strands of matter; not a pebble, candle, creature, village or galaxy is missing, including herself and every bit of dirt in its truthful place. “My Lord, you can close your mouth,” she says reverently.
In any part of the universe there is a whole universe –Hamlet saw the infinite space in a nutshell; William Blake saw a world in a grain of sand, a heaven in a wild flower, and eternity in an hour.
This is the story of the singular people who gather at the lotus pond in Tokyo.
One day an old man in a plain suit sat next to me by a pond in a park. He began to put powder on his face and changed into a woman’s kimono. He started dancing to the Japanese ballad that came over his radio, smiling all over his face. He told me that he was a master of Japanese dancing, that he was a homosexual, and that he had cancer. Another day, I met an old millionaire in underwear who rode a rickety bicycle, and yet another day, I met a devilish-looking man who in fact was a mammy’s boy. The pond is a wide lotus pond called Shinobazunoike. As I went there more often, I met more people like them. Before long, I began to take photographs of them and listen more to their stories.
There is something about the people I met at the pond that peculiarly attracts me, something more than just how they look, just what they say about themselves. It is as if they had a kind of magnetic power, unseen and quiet, further attracting those who take a close look at them.
I go to the pond often and share time with the people. Each subject has his or her own background and character so unique that no stereotype can define them. It is as if all sorts of mutually-conflicting and complex human characters – vigor and weakness, harshness and gentleness, beauty and ugliness, and so forth – all reveal themselves as they are in each person, and quietly create a magnetic power of his or her own.
’99 Variations’ - Self-portrait.
It is the metamorphic alchemy of the camera and the mirror.
Inside me, there are gods, men and women, and androgynous mutants. They co-exist with my present self, and ‘we’ are all interrelated.
I brought a key, the camera, opened the door to the secret passage, the mirror, woke up my mythical archetypes, and lured them out into the world.
To be connected to another ‘me’ reflected in the mirror, with an endlessly switching spot, is a kind of communication that blurs the distinction between the image and the reality. Which, I discovered at the end of my work. Music was turned on, and I took pictures of my selves while I danced and acted.