Thursday, January 20, 2011

the presence of the living in history

this moment in history is populated with only the living beings. the nineteen fifties continue to live in the memories of living beings who are in their 60s and 70s. so take the korean war, stalin in russia, take eisenhower, kerouac drunk in california, castro in cuba or kurosawa painting in japan. think of malcolm x still alive, walking around, all night diners, wildernesses yet untouched, bukowski a young man, television moved into the home but everyone loved the radio, all this was some old lady's childhood hobbling down yonge street looking for a deal on table cloths amid the sex shops and thai restaurants and starbuckses of 2011.

the memory of the oldest person living today is the last living thread that connects the present moment to the past. As each of the oldest dies, then that moment in the past hardens into a stone, becomes part of the cloud of was, and we move further into the future.

the present is made up of only living beings. the living beings of the past are gone. the memories of the living beings of the present make a kind of aura around the recent past, make it still alive in a way. time does this too, the closer the past is the more vivid and alive it is, last year more still in our skin and our breaths than 60 years ago. the angel's wings blown along by the force of history is the present, the life. life's roots going back only so many years. in her mind 60 years ago lives, her childhood, whatever moments glowing within her, waving like grass in fluid memory.

two hundred years ago, in 1811, that was the present moment. The old timers could remember far back, and that was their roots dug into a farther past. What made it the present was that then they were alive, living beings populated that past, made it not this future. Because they lived, their memories had power to tie them to 175o. that is the strange thing about being alive, is that living is the creation of the present.

and of course, the present is always. the present now is the same present as 1811, only with different living children in it, so we mark it 2011, to signify the number of times the earth has gone round the sun. and we mark it too because this now is ours, those who are here, and we create this present, as much as we are created by those who populated it before.

maybe each time is like a city. we live in the city of the 2000s. we traverse it and can only meet other citizens of the 2000s. the citizens of the 1800 cannot travel here. but the city of 1800 is also a ruins, a ghost town. we can see its hollowed buildings from here, where the living once were. the present is always a place where the living are, on the other hand.

my general understanding of time is that it doesn't exist. the moment is an infinite present, the past and future illusions of the progression of motion, einstein called it time-space to mark that it means one thing, indivisible. what is really past is the dead, what is really present the living, you are on board a strange moment, the presence of the living in history is always the now, like a star orbiting a you, the dead living in a dead now, gone beyond the event horizon that doesn't make sense to us,

Saturday, January 15, 2011


if a book has not been a world you have not read the book. you must have fallen into the land the book made, you must have gotten lost, forgot the world you know, you must have been there in the other land, in a place you cannot explain except to others that have lived there, unless, unless, you can tell the story of being there.

in a book there should be a story, and in the story a reality, and in that reality anything is possible, which is the dizzying thing about the imagination - it can create something which you cannot find in your blankets or your clothes or your cities. to say it is unreal is to not understand that you traverse your whole little mortal life inside your imagination. the creation is not a lie, because it should never claim to be true. it lives within its very own country, a country made of wonderings and feelings and ideas and experience - most intimately experience - and that is as real as a stone or a law to you. and a story flagrantly trespasses, becomes limitless, like the universe, like the number of trees or counting grains of sand or stars - these things lose numbers.

and you should be careful how you read, because there is what the writer intends, and what they really meant, and what you understood or half-understood, and what you think they really mean, and what you think they really meant despite what they intended, and what really happened, and if it matters, and you have to follow each way one at a time and get lost in it, to really appreciate one side, and you have to be a certain age, maybe younger or older or or the same age as the writer, because you'll feel and see things differently if you're too young or too old or too much the same age,

and there are more books in the world than you could ever read. in the library of alexandria, at its height, were a million books, most of which were burned to death, except for a few that survived elsewhere. there are books that were and in a sense still are floating around and gone, that you could have read or can read, worlds all, ancient worlds, private worlds, each one a story that is like a breath of someone's heart, across centuries or years and miles, you couldn't read a thousandth of them, but if you read one well could breathe a universe into your heart. don't read fast, read slow, read like all secrets of the world were in them