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“the night before the photoshoot with alyssa, i had gone to see man of la mancha, a musical inspired by don quixote. for those unfamiliar, miguel de cervantes’s story follows the misadventures of a pathetically comical old man who is so swept up by the “chivalric romances” he reads that he decides one day that he is actually a knight in shining armor himself. on his travels, don quixote mistakes an inn for a castle, a windmill for a giant, a barber’s shaving platter for a magical golden helmet, & a common whore for a princess. but don quixote is not just slapstick comedy at the expense of a doddering fool who has lost touch with reality. the genius of cervantes’s story is in how the other characters, who easily dismissed & derided the madman from la mancha, come to realize that don quixote is both a delusional, pitiable loser AND an awesome hero at the same time. don quixote’s imagination weaves a wonderful dream on top of a dreary reality, & if that means he experiences a better version of the world and the people in it, why stop him? & actually, who’s to say that he’s wrong?” “i was particularly moved by the courtship between don quixote & aldonza, the serving maid & whore of the inn. in man of la mancha, they sing:

DON QUIXOTE
my lady.

ALDONZA
i am not your lady!
i am not any kind of a lady!
i was spawned in a ditch
by a mother who left me there,
naked & cold & too hungry to cry.
i never blamed her.
i’m sure she left hoping
that i’d have the good sense to die!
then, of course, there’s my father.
i’m told that young ladies
can point to their fathers
with maidenly pride.
mine was some regiment
here for an hour.
i can’t even tell you which side!
so of course i became,
as befitted my delicate birth,
the most casual bride
of the murdering scum of the earth!

DON QUIXOTE
& still thou art my lady…

ALDONZA
take the clouds from your eyes
& see me as i really am!
you have shown me the sky,
but what good is the sky
to a creature who’ll never
do better than crawl?
of all the cruel bastards
who’ve badgered & battered me,
you are the cruelest of all!
can’t you see what your gentle
insanities do to me?
rob me of anger & give me despair! blows & abuse
i can take & give back again,
tenderness i cannot bear!
so please torture me now
with your “sweet dulcineas” no more!
i am no one! i’m nothing!
i’m only aldonza the whore!

DON QUIXOTE
now & forever thou art my lady dulcinea!”
“don quixote offers us a paradox. on the one hand, aldonza is right. she was born to & has lived nothing but terrible circumstances, & to survive, she had to recognize those circumstances for what they were and respond accordingly. the terms of her condition, in turn, came to define her. wanting to be valued doesn’t make you valued. it’s insulting & hurtful for don quixote to not recognize aldonza, & instead project his fantasies onto her. but don quixote is also right. he doesn’t need to account for reality. if don quixote values dulcinea, & aldonza is dulcinea, then aldonza is valuable. don quixote’s imagination rattles the shackles of aldonza’s reality, & gives her a glimpse into how she could define herself from the inside out, as opposed to being forced to define herself from the outside in. for better or for worse, don quixote shows us that our world is one in which believing something to be true can make it become “true.”
“i know what that feels like, on the “for worse” end, to have my image exploited & reputation rewritten according to falsehoods & other people’s agendas. i also know what it feels like on the “for better” end, when artists like alyssa take your raw presence & energy and transform it into art.”
“photographs themselves are paradoxes. cameras are only capable of capturing what is in plain sight all along, & yet, the way a photographer manipulates frame, angle, light, color…produces an artistic object that is more than its subject. in alyssa’s latest photographs, i see my body, my face, my clothes, my backyard…but i also see images that have a life & a beauty all their own. the porcelain-skinned girl with the dazzling eyes & the fur-lined, emerald coat—who is she? where did she come from & where is she going? i love that the answer is both: “she’s me, of course,” &, “your guess is as good as mine.”

-amanda knox

5 Responses to Amanda

  1. Nina Mesina

    Dear Amanda,
    The photos are beautiful. You are an amazing writer. I wish you peace and happiness.
    Sincerely,
    Nina Mesina
    Salinas, CA

    Reply
  2. Heather Hales

    What a lovely photo shoot and commentary! love Don Quixote! Take on your future, Amanda! You certainly deserve it!!!

    Reply

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