© 2019 by SASHA PATKIN

MOOR EEFOC

Charles Dickens, in writing about his youth, describes a coffee shop in St. Martin's Lane:

 

I only recollect that it stood near the church, and that in the door there was an oval glass plate with 'COFFEE ROOM' painted on it, addressed towards the street. If I ever find myself in a very different kind of coffee-room now, but where there is such an inscription on glass, and read it backwards on the wrong side, MOOR EEFFOC (as I often used to do then in a dismal reverie), a shock goes through my blood.

 

“Moor Eeffoc.”

Through his inattention, Dickens inadvertently flattens the world and reanimates it. He creates a magical presence in a coffee shop not through any fantastic, otherworldly flight of fancy, but simply through fully realizing what is already present.

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In wandering through New York City's transit system, I often feel as Dickens must have felt as a small child sitting in the coffee shop in St. Martin's Lane. Although for many passengers the experience of travelling has become trite and exhausted, as I travel, scenes and images collide and interrupt one another, and it is this sense of Moor Eeffoc that I hope my photography captures – this slight disorientation by which the world beneath the city seems to me at once absolutely familiar, and wonderfully strange.