We keep crashing through the floor, if I may put it so, into
the cellars of time, even while we imagine ourselves to be occupying the
floor of the present. R. Musil
Im back in Mississippi on some family business.
Theres always something disconcerting about coming back here. I
walk the five minute walk from the house to the small square and through
the cemetary where I was spooked as a kid and where now relatives are
beginning to pile up. I was as much so when I was a young boy walking
through at night with my cousins, hyped up on three consecutive saturday
matinee movies. But then, the beginnning was much closer than the end
and these kind of mordant reflections were the furthest possible distance
from the group of raucous tow-headed kids.
But theres something primitive, even primal, about walking the same
streets I walked as a child, in the same steps as my parents. The whole
atmosphere is suffused with a solidity, a gravity, that seems wholly lacking
in the city. The parts of reality interlock like some cheap jigsaw puzzle.
Maybe a piece or two missing but mostly all there and worn from being
taken apart and put back together again.
Its only vaguely comforting. Much of the time it seems to create
a peculiar kind of haunted space, every stick, thistle, branch reaching
beyond itself invisibly, yet palpably touching its predecessor, the puzzle
completed not only on the table but below and above the table, interlocking
its drift of families behind and ahead of themselves, socked tightly in
the cradle of now but only because all the other business of time is taken
care of, off stage as it were, geneology, the grave, the cradle, god and
the devil all locking fingers with a wink and a nod.
Yeah, it was comforting if you could get to the table. The other reality
of it being that once the puzzle pieces get displaced, lost, moved around,
it no longer seems quite so enchanting but clautrophobic and threatening.
And too I think we get addicted to the violence of displacement, it at
least FEELS liberating to us, even if in hindsight it is the freedom of
the immigrant forced to flee from his homeland. (Ive been reading
Agamben on such displacement ... post some quotes next time. But onward
to the personal--afterall thats all that really matters right? Youll
have to determine the degree of irony here for yourself since i am entirely
At any rate, that collision of the ghosts of times past is always unsettling
when I go back. And really, I have to say that I enjoy the frisson of
whatever sort of sputtering Proutian ruminations it causes in me. If I
lived there, or had never left, it would no doubt be quite different.
Although, who knows? Perhaps generations move en mass somehow and that
alienation which I feel is a part of that time/space port called a generation
(some energy source powering itself into the future) that humans born
and dies in this time have docked into. Yes, the more I think about it
the more that seems so. Nothing supernatural about it... I imagine columns
of these interlocking patterns which are peoples lives, each generation
being on a different table, the bits and pieces of gestures, vernaculars,
media watched, images consumed.
But really the way that the patterns lock together dont seem all
that different, from the very earliest ones to the very latest generation
Ok, im losing the thread of my Mississippi ruminations here.