Friday, August 26, 2011

The Road

"In dreams his pale bride came to him out of a green and leafy canopy. Her nipples pipeclayed and her rib bones painted white. She wore a dress of gauze and her dark hair was carried up in combs of ivory, combs of shell. Her smile, her downturned eyes. In the morning it was snowing again. Beads of small gray ice strung along the lightwires overhead.

He mistrusted all of that. He said the right dreams for a man in peril were dreams of peril and all else was the call of languor and death. He slept little and he slept poorly. He dreamt of walking in a flowering wood where birds flew before them he and the child and the sky was aching blue but he was learning how to wake himself from such siren worlds. Lying awake in the dark with the uncanny taste of a peach from some phantom orchard fading in his mouth. He thought if he lived long enough the world at last would all be lost. Like the dying world the newly blind inhabit, all of it slowly fading from memory."

From Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Silencing the Past

"We are never as steeped in history as when we pretend not to be, but if we stop pretending we may gain in understanding what we lose in false innocence. Naiveté is often an excuse for those who exercise power. For those upon whom that power is exercised, naiveté is always a mistake."

"I also want to reject both the naive proposition that we are prisoners of our pasts and the pernicious suggestion that history is whatever we make of it. History is the fruit of power, but power itself is never so transparent that its analysis becomes superfluous. The ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; the ultimate challenge, the exposition of its roots."

From Silencing the Past, by Michel-Rolph Trouillot,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Fractured Description

There are only two things, mainly. The object before you and your relation to it. Always changing, whether you notice or not. A thought is a beginning, but it is not complete until you set it to work in the world. It is not complete because there is no world outside of the objects of your consciousness. It’s all in your head, slick. Even when you have gotten the words on the page or the paint on the canvas.

Yeah. The outer is the inner. So if you want to know how I am doing, all you have to do is look at my bike. If grime covers the plastic, so much can be said of my soul.  I set out into the streets, motivated by feelings that I wish were behind me. 

The night is moist. I keep thinking that my visor is blemished, that I have only to clean it to stop the world from looking so cloudy. But the thickness is out there and it casts a sad halo around every brake light. The halogen lanterns that light the streets repulse me as ever, drowning the world in that sick sepia. In the summer heat, there is only sweat between leather and flesh. Tonight, I will not be looking back.

A small hill can feel like a speed bump if you go the right speed. From the fast vantage, familiar roads become alien and new. Contours turn to kinks and gradual bends become hairpins. The vista is always coming up; it is truncated by time and my frenetic movement through space. In a true moment of beauty I can’t feel the machine. Neither can I feel myself. I am lifted out of that void by my own doubts, but I return as the next corner draws closer. One good turn. I begin to feel the ink unwritten on my skin. 

The streets let me pass. They do not challenge me, nor do they slow me down. The engine screams for me. It is a tone my voice can’t sustain but that my status demands. I hear the sandy grind of the brakes between downshifts. 

I stop in a dark place of endless tarmac. The light of the city obscures the sky, though I can make out one constellation. The Swan. I think back to a time when I walked the streets of New York in the same frame that now rides me through Tampa. It won’t do. Even the tragedies that don’t belong to me are mine; I am tired of giving so much to the road and the wander. I ride it with heart but it adorns my rubber with nails and chips of wood. My back tire is a crown a thorns.

The Atlas rides on. I search for a clear sky but the darkness that I need is too far away. I turn away from the heavens and focus on the smell of the exhaust, the feeling of the front end, the reflection of knower and known. It will be time to turn back soon. My greatest rival is the dawn.