His name was Francis Gary Powers. They found him hanging by his neck one day at exactly 11:35 am in his small, one-room apartment. The autopsy results show that he had died at exactly 11:35 the previous morning. He had hung alone for 24-hrs before his body had been discovered.
Powers' room was bare except for a series of paintings that clung despondently to the walls and an unlabelled cassette tape. This, it would seem, was to be the only suicide note that Powers would leave behind.
The paintings shared a similar motif: a lonely cityscape and two figures.
The image of the lonely cityscape is easy enough to decipher - frankly, the ennui, the boredom, the loneliness inherent in cities has become cliché.
The two figures, however, pose a more challenging mystery:
Of the two figures one is always large and in the foreground and the other is always small and in the background - there is never an equal standing between them.
The figures in the foreground are ugly, painted with harsh colours, and disagreeable looking - conversely, the figures in the background are painted with softer colours that evoke a sense of amity.
Furthermore, the figures in the foreground are always being spied on surreptitiously by the figures in the background. The figures in the background, the voyeurs, are always spying on the figures in the foreground.(Artistically, the paintings are exciting, as there is an interesting paradox at play: the figures in the background, the ones for whom we feel a natural affinity, the "good guys," are, in their role as a voyeur, actually the more reprehensible of the two. Unfortunately, these musings, whilst undoubtedly stimulating, do little to solve the mystery of the death of Francis Gary Powers.)
Are we to understand that Powers saw himself as a figure in the foreground, ugly + with heavy conscience, hemmed in and checked and monitored by the people who surrounded him? Was he haunted by the ugliness of his own soul?
Or could it be that Powers saw himself as a figure in the background, aware constantly of the horror that existed in his fellow human beings, and impotent to do anything but watch? Was he haunted by the ugliness of the world?
The cassette contained a collage constructed of different samples. Some were from songs and others were from conversations that had been taped in the lonely city. The collage has been transcribed for the reader:
¿No entiendes, hijo, que te quiero mucho? Yeah, dad, I understand that, but I'm not too sure what you hope to achieve by sleeping in my bed/Sagittarius. We're supposed to be lucky. I said, "We're supposed to be lucky." And I've been pretty lucky, I must say - I've always had my health. And that's really the most important thing/Sit down. Sit down. SIT DOWN!/Yeah... why not?/It's OK with me.../You'd better go to the doctor/Come through the door/You'd better go/[T]hrough the door/It's OK with me.../You buy a book on sex; for the positions. Which one's for a baby boy, which one's for a baby girl/No time to/save up on life/Nobody cares about you. Nobody loves you. Nobody takes care of you because nobody loves you. Do you love your mommy, darling? Do you love your mommy?/Aw, I don' like you an' you don' like me/But a life that you know will keep you 'round in love/Is that all we've got?/We are the ready men/Is that all we've got?/We are the ready men/We are the ready men/Is that all we've got?/Aw, I don' like you an' you don' like me/I feel fine/I feel fine/I feel fine
Police are having some difficulty finding someone to come down to the station to officially identify the body.
don't be sad because it isn't sad
Written on Sunday, 20 March 2005