“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

I’m back in Mississippi on some family business.

There’s 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 there’s 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.

It’s 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. (I’ve been reading Agamben on such displacement ... post some quotes next time. But onward to the personal--afterall that’s all that really matters right? You’ll have to determine the degree of irony here for yourself since i am entirely uncertain.)

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 don’t seem all that different, from the very earliest ones to the very latest generation linked cybernetically.

Ok, i’m losing the thread of my Mississippi ruminations here.
next time.