The scene: a bunch of anthropology students in a van on the way to Asheville.
Professor: “I thought we could stop by the anarchist book store. What do you think?”
All students in tandem: “YEAHHH!”
I can’t think of a more fun group of people to go to Asheville with than my experimental ethnography class. We spent a day and a half going to both Black Mountain College campuses, the Western Regional Archives, and the Black Mountain College Museum in order to really get into the play we’re performing. But we still had time to visit Firestorm Books and Coffee, a really neat place that you should definitely visit if you’re in Asheville. It’s the kind of bookstore where all the queer books are on display in the window, and is an altogether refreshing place to be in. Everyone had a collective heyday. I picked up a lovely copy of Queer: A Graphic History.
Our trip was filled with strange coincidences and resonances, the most bizarre of which I shall share. It starts in my junior year of high school, when I made a collage, and then a painting of the collage. I consider this piece a breakthrough, when I stopped messing around with art and started getting serious. It’s technically rough, but my conceptual basis was doing a 180. This is one section of the painting–notice the two-headed snake (it’s hard to miss):
The story continues six years later, yesterday, at Firestorm Books. One of my classmates has picked up the zine “Birds of a Feather: Flights of the Anarcho-Surrealist Imagination” by Ron Sakolsky. One of the pages catches my eye as my class mate flips through the book. I seize it from her and splutter incoherently.
The very same snake. Rather unbelievable, no? I’m still coming to terms with it. My professor told me it means something, and I’m inclined to agree. The same motif appearing in my life six years apart–though in The Book of the Dead (my current project) there’s a two-headed snake as well, the god Nehebkau. So maybe it’s not that strange.
Resonances like these seem improbable and ridiculous, and require a certain suspension of disbelief when read about. But maybe they happen more than we think.