January 7, 2021

On Spiritual Creatures

Analog and Digital


The Net (Irwin Winkler, 1995)

On the winter beach something moves in the zone between where I stand and you speak. Thin gleam of sheet white light on waving repeat when into the space between I throw the light of this screen.

To see the messenger’s form and to make the middle glow or DICE THROW in an attempt to reach you I click on a link which writes its destination:


Wavelength (1967) plays a continuous zoom on an empty-full room —-->


lens revealed as moving eye ruled by what it’s in front of and behind.

Material things, says Thomas Aquinas, must have something holding them together other than their parts. A slice of meat THROWN

into a field of light to make it loop, enter
a body, loop, leave a body, loop, become a body.

Angels and other immaterial creatures of organization (like us) are always dying. MOVING in wave disturbances. An energy-carrying medium.

An angel, says Aquinas, might be pure form. The distance between wave crests. “Spiritual substance” or the speed of a wave divided by frequency or “divine thing” or when the medium’s wings glow then vanish upon delivery. Delivery. Something speaks. A throw of the die’s knife-edge between there and here along wired-up


When a form makes itself known. Brilliant frock coat appears. Again and again and again without end the wave breaks-crests-breaks-again. I have not reached you yet. AN ANGEL

falls too-bright light
becomes Lucifer as
waves freeze-frame
repeat where I stand
on the beach. Here
and there.

A very very awe-inducing morning star with white light of film and/or beyond. True or false light masquerading as air. Film in which there appear sprocket holes, edge lettering, dirt particles, etc. (1965-66) is a film by George Landow in which we see the form of the film’s trembling noise. The babble at the beginning of a world-film’s test strip. Dirt keeps bizarre time. The system moves. There is the risk of fire. Flicker and lettered glimpses. So close to the form we see its vision shooting from eyes in zigzags, swift dissolve. Wavelength, dying messenger, wavelength, repeated together.

A rebel angel adds its own sound to the message. Like me right now or sprocket holes as translucent form runs along the edge of the wheel. Wavelength getting closer to here. Medium excess gets hard to hold in the head. Light spreads its revelation, loop, wave, moving message.

I write to you and some of what moves thru


I write to you and some of what moves thru


me to you
sticks and escapes
blue digital
then analog
material between
sea and screen.
Something speaks.

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche writes:  “The devil has the broadest perspectives for God; therefore he keeps so far away from God–the devil being the most ancient friend of wisdom.”

Alarmingly bright thing gets dragged across the sky in between permeabilities this distant vision can’t see. Use something other than the eyes. Rotting light leaving behind RESIDUE

clinging as this light
speaks through me
to you? Reach and decay
then leave the frame.

In a trembling cool white moment from Michael Snow’s Wavelength, a frame shows itself, projector blue's bleeding edge. Lengthy beep where light, angel-demon, gets heard and seen. Falling, something speaks. Dying flare pushing through screen:

What can the painting/screen/sea see?  A breeze a breeze a penetrating breeze. Light, meat, famous nativity. Wavelength was shot during one week in December 1966 after years of conceiving. The goal: a moment of pure filmic space time. The blue-green-yellow beep plays behind a scene. The message DELIVERED SMASHED

is delivered again alarmingly blue
serene we speak as we enter
the room. We are in the room
getting closer and closer while
eyeing the lit threshold of a film
moving with the reel. Hearing
it hum. Then we go. Thick
light on digital liturgy. The angel
Gabriel did a fine 3-part job:
deliver, explain, depart.

We end with a photograph of the sea on a wall. The head of a pin is a place. Angels are placeless. A text message’s lit-up blue holds part of the room up on this sizzling winged shelf MICROSCOPIC

not quite itself.
What can film fit on?
How many angels can fit
on the edge of its reel?
What film plays
on the head of a pin?
The text message is
a Paul Virilio quote:
“God has come back
into history through
the door of terror.”

In the 1995 film The Net, computers seem new and strange, digital screens with their own light suddenly mediating sky, ground, hand, film, fireplace. Sandra Bullock plays a computer programmer. All day she clicks. A hyperlink is a wired-up electronic door.


She enters chat rooms and talks to cyberbuddies. We don't know who animates these entities. Angel, skull, smiley face. Michel Serres says that the Annunciation asks the question of the intermediary: “...if he is too magnificent, he may intercept the message; if he is too discreet, he won’t make it heard. Must he appear or disappear? Both one and the other? How?” Serres describes the Annunciation as “the perfect message” because simultaneously “word and act.”

A messenger may fuck up.
Something speaks louder
than its end. Time passes.
A scroll unfurls from hand
hangs suspended midair.

In the above early 15th century depiction of the Annunciation, a scroll extends between the two figures, the angel Gabriel and Mary. An unwound reel. The sea is a fixed image moving on a wall. On screen, I scroll, click. All angels and waves recede for an instant and we’re left with what was delivered. FRIGHTENING




THE MESSENGER IS A CHANCE like in Zorns Lemma (1970) when Hollis Frampton shows us many signs in quick succession, among them this flash of angel and dice:

Thomas Aquinas, angelic doctor, says angels are placeless but they can act upon places, pushing and powering arenas. A hook is the item Georges Bataille associates with chance. A fall blocked by the hook of chance, knife-arrow curved into U may rip and/or act as a saving grace. Bataille writes: “Chance, which eludes me, plays in the heavens. The sky: oblique link uniting me with those who breathe beneath its expanse; even uniting me with beings yet to come. How to bear the question of the multitude of particular beings?”

Innumerable spiritual creatures and oblique (hyper)links. Without divine order, chance mediates.

Alejandra Pizarnik’s poem “Exile” ends:

angels beautiful as knives
that rise up at night
as hope’s devestations.


frenetic in Marie Menken’s Lights (1966). She writes: “Made during the brief Christmas-lit season, usually between the hours of midnight and 1:00 A.M., when vehicle and foot traffic was light, over a period of three years. Based on store decorations, window displays, fountains, public promenades, Park Avenue lights, building and church facades. I had to keep my camera under my coat to warm it up, as the temperature was close to zero much of the time.”

On the December beach I watch one surfer carry a surfboard out of the ocean like a heavy wing. Between us: air, cold phones, hair, ocean foam, light blur, something I can’t see or hear.

Emmalea Russo is a writer and artist living at the Jersey shore. Her books are G (Futurepoem, 2018) and Wave Archive (Book*hug, 2019). Recent writing has appeared in Artforum, American Chordata, BOMB, The Brooklyn Rail, Granta, Hyperallergic, Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. She's pursuing a PhD in Philosophy and edits Asphalte Magazine.

For more of Emmalea’s work, go to and/or follow her on instagram at @emmalea.russo

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EST 2020