Reflections on Learning by Holly Isemonger

          Sometimes while I am reading, I see a woman in my head who is me. She sits in an office. It is modern, large and bland, in a skyscraper that has many windows reflecting clouds, because she is so high up, perhaps the twenty-ninth floor. She has her hair pulled back in a bun and wears a burgundy suit with a tag on the lapel that says ‘Holly.’

          A plant next to her chair is nearly dead. She has a mug of black coffee that has long gone cold. She is slumped and bored, tearing pages from a large leather bound book and slowly but determinedly eating them. Sometimes she stops, takes a swig of her coffee, winces, dabs away the coffee on her cheek with another page, and then eats that too. Holly stares ahead, her face straining in frustration. She knows I am watching her. She slams the book shut and rifles through her desk drawer until she emerges with my diary. It is flimsy and blue. She flicks through the pages at speed looking for something; wisps of hair escape office bun.

          She stops, clears her throat, looks directly up at me and says: “December 18th Hamburger Kunsthalle: How long did Otto Runge spend painting his wife’s double chin? I can see the old paint, he must have put it there and he must have layered it, each layer taking time, measurable units of time. The cracks in the paint of her double chin do not extend through to her face.”

          Holly gives me a stare so cold and piercing—I did not even know I was capable of it. “What is this? What, exactly, do you think I am up here for?”

          She lifts the leather bound book from her desk and shakes it in front of me.

          “Do you know how long I have been here? I am digesting like a motherfucking bovine to get through this! For you…for you to produce shit like this?”

          She flings my diary at the window. It smashes through and sails down like a game bird, shot dead. She fixes her hair, drinks some more coffee and reopens the book. She ignores me and begins to hum, tapping her shoe to some unknown beat, then resumes chewing. Behind her cracks have spread through the window like capillaries surrounding the jagged hole. They have not, however, extended though to the top left corner, where cumulus creep into view. It is at this point I realize that I have not paid attention to what I am reading for some time now. I return to the beginning of the paragraph: 

"We are no longer in the situation of a relationship between the actual image and other virtual images, recollections, or dreams, which thus become actual in turn: this is still a mode of linkage. We are in the situation of an actual image and its own virtual image, to the extent that there is no longer any linkage of the real with the imaginary, but indiscernibility of the two…"




Editor's Note: Text featured is from Cinema 2: The Time-Image (Deleuze, G., trans. Tomlinson, H & Galeta, R. 1989, Athlone, London, pp. 270).


Holly is an Australian living in Glasgow. She enjoys maps but not in the practical sense. She likes running and walking long distances, she is usually confused or lost. Probably because she is not good at reading maps, but loves them anyway.