I suppose it is because of the subject of “walking” that Thoreau is haunting me this morning now as I think back on our walk. Though as I said, the lines that kept pace with me at the time were Dickinson’s — you cannot fold a flood/and put it in a drawer. Taken totally out of their original context, doesn’t it seem ED wrote those lines about your work? I do… and not just this walk by any means.
A flooding jaunt of Thoreau’s least-expected Nature … I am little justified in observing such an unassailable whole from such a narrow angle, but inthe interest of compiling angles, I will make a due effort and give a few words to our wee nook of experience here…
The grid felt incredible — standing together, the electric dialogue between images, known and unknown, awash our rigid, near absented, bodies; incredible to diffuse my identity into an-other — another image worn over my own body and the other others around me — together one body of other others, and even so, other others’ others’ others. and so on … the efflorescent galaxy.
Efflorescent! so yes, in as much, it felt incredible to pull away from the grid, to head out newly born Laser Eyes/Baboon. But also EEEEEK/Woof Woof. Sebastian and I together, we were four new bodies/fractals as one. And perhaps the othering was even more vertiginous and vertiginously absenting as four ... And yet at the same time, because of that relationship, because Sebastian walked with me, I know I was very much less aware of our alluvial, threading lines through the city (as in lines of poetry, new in each step as the scenery shifted ever so slightly around our Laser Eyes/Baboon/EEEEK/Woof Woof body — each step with its singular musical time and singular musical place) as I would have been alone. I could not step aware into each line as I could not step completely out of motherhood … and yet if poetry and art are best when unrecognizable to themselves, perhaps this additional responsibility of Sebastian was a blessing.
“It is not words that I wish to hear or utter — but relationships that I seek to stand in ….” Thoreau, Journals. Debriefing with fellow walkers after the walk, it struck me that I had not sought out my own metaphors and relationships between my board-images and the environment. I had not, say, stopped and situated by baboon into the window of the pet store… I wonder if you wanted us to do that? A disciple of the verb, for good or for bad, maybe I resist that kind of authorship of an experience …? and yet what a joyful proposition such a juxtaposition would have been for passersby. For me, though, again not sure if right or wrong for this project, it felt too much like a physics of authored material rather than force/energy/verb. You cannot fold a flood and put it in a drawer… Interjecting my own moments of authorship would have felt too much, for me, like attempting the crease. Not that aleatory propositions don’t author contingencies but I preferred to walk as Laser Eyes/Baboon/EEEEK/Woof Woof and let the *force* of that contingency move space and time where it may. Though I should say that Sebastian and I did indeed pause for a few minutes at many intersections and other corners, but these pauses were determined either by the volume of traffic (as you had suggested) or because Sebastian was thirsty. So our pauses in the environment were quite random, nothing designed on our part — gospel according to the moment. (I know thisdoesn’t surprise you, ha!, but just getting thoughts to paper here…)
“Unless our philosophy hears the cock crow in every barnyard within our horizon, it is belated (…) His philosophy comes down to a more recent one than ours. There is something suggested by it that is a newer testament — the gospel according to this moment.” Thoreau, Walking. I was surprised at how very few pedestrians populated Melrose and Beverly, save for a few shoppers and occasional fellow walkers. We were generally alone on the sidewalk, and our interaction of force/energy was generally restricted to the gaggle of vehicles that moved against us … which was quite a cultural shift for us. One had the eerie sensation of having morphed into a 2-D image, billboard-style — we were but another set of images to be consumed as one drove down Melrose on one’s way to wherever else. As Thoreau says, I cannot hear the cock crow in every barnyard, so I am but a sun as I meander East along Melrose and hope that in those BMWs a few roosters sound a new morning, as we sew and unsew evanescent lines of poetry in space and time.
Fairfax was much more NYC style, and Sebastian and I loved this short stretch of a narrow, packed sidewalk and bustling small stores. As can be expected, we incited a number of remarks and questions, and Sebastian reveled in distributing his cards (probably about 10, which he only distributed when directly asked a question…) Perhaps it was because Sebastian was with me, but we have no unpleasantries to report, only jovial smiles and cheers from those who cared to notice us or at least respond aloud anyway. Inquisitive passersby took Sebastian’s card gratefully and wished us on our way. One of my favorite interactions was when Sebastian ran out to the street to hand a card through a backdoor window to a toddler in her car-seat who had called out — What are you? — while her mother idled at a red light. Sebastian will surely tell you, if he hasn’t already, about one of his favorite moments when a good-natured gentleman shared with us that he had decided to spontaneously give over part of his afternoon to collecting as large a variety of A.Pippin cards as possible. Quite wonderful. On our drive down to your place the other day, Sebastian and I were talking about that man, and Sebastian said, “I think that’s part of what Richard was doing, Mom, letting us meet that man in that way and then keep thinking about it.”
To say we are grateful to have been a small shifting atom in this galactic flooding, doesn’t begin to express our buzzing, cosmic glee…. thank you. thank you, dear friend. very very much.
e (Elizabeth Zuba)