Sunday, 25 November 2012

Neither Touch Nor

On one side of the river was a small park, with its park warden (this is many years ago). On the other side were large warehouses, their names fading away, the water oily and bobbing with discardedness. We’d run along the pathway in the park clattering railings and one of us experienced a fear then obscure which perhaps now clarifies as having to do with the fading names on the warehouses. As dark came down we were told we must leave the park and we crossed at the zebra crossing opposite the Greek café. There my friend Georgios lived. We were both 7, he’d wipe the snot from his nose on the sleeve of his pullover. Imagine how lonely God must be with everything that will ever be said having been said.

Poor Tom’s a-cold. We’d put leaves into his mouth and abandon him sleeping on a bench overlooking the warehouses and the river. Suddenly the names on the warehouses blazed out with the fire of trumpets. While Tom began to fade to blend with the twilight. We sat in Georgios’s father’s café and drank English tea. Then I ran down the road and kicked my football up against the walls of the corridor where our flat was.

Janice would stand in the school room and scream at the teacher. Once I hid with Janice back of the prefabs behind the school and we planned to run away. But I was playing: I was in no need of running away. Janice wouldn’t learn the alphabet; once a sparrow fluttered down and landed on her left wrist. With infinite kindness she waited for it to take its rest and fly away.

When there were no more languages, only a single, vividly fading image projected onto each of our eyes, into our throats, then we knew we were grown ups. The Romantic nostalgia for childhood is a product of this oscillating vividness / fading. One resistance is to realise it is possible to be afraid anywhere, anytime. Not just in the location or according to the temporality of their Decision. Let them know that fear makes you capable of anything. “Constable of course did not believe that his subjects were nothing; he meant only that earlier artists would have considered them so.” (1)

(1) From Peter Galassi,  Before Photography: Painting and the Invention of Photography (MOMA Catalogue, 1981)

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