At dawn and dusk, L.A. glows. There is this haze that fractures the light, scattering it in such a way that on many days the city almost has no shadows. The daylight is the most broad it can possibly be. Ever since I figured out this reverberant trick of L.A. light, the city has felt peculiar, dreamlike. I wish I was a photographer capable of catching that.
Where I live, in Santa Monica, there are mornings where a low-clinging fog bank cuts the desert light, rounding the corners of everything with a fuzziness. In moments like these, the Santa Monica mountains to the north appear as clear and dark as a church pew. And I know that at the foot of those mountains, in Malibu perhaps, someone is looking down the coast toward where I live, unable to see me, lost in the airlight.
When the fog burns off, as it always does, the sunlight is complete and total, it’s then, for the majority of daylight hours, when the contrast is extreme. This is why everyone wears sunglasses. The power of the desert bleeds through the thin facade – our built environment we’ve planted just on the surface.
I don’t know much about deserts. But I have read “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” and Sven Lindqvist, and I can nearly hear that dauntless servant riding his horse hard into the dusty air from “The Appointment in Samarra.” Basically, I know only that deserts are not to be trifled with. That the religions that came from the desert don’t fuck around. There is something eschatologically Abrahamic about Los Angeles.
Maybe it’s how the symbolic importance of “The West” and icons like the Hollywood sign seem to imbue those unseen forces that power this city’s industry with a kind of oracular grace. Or it’s their power to resurrect the dead in the form of remakes. Or it’s the San Andreas fault’s promise of armageddon. In L.A., the thing most resembling the afterlife might be a home in the hills with a pool. I’ll take one of those.