24 August 2008


And the moral of that is: Be what you would seem to be, or if you'd like it put more simply: Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.

— Alice in Wonderland

3000 miles and one windscreen crack later, courtesy of the city of Cleveland, I have returned to my flat in Cold City. The newly painted white walls, redone whilst I was away, brighten the space, however, all of my framed artwork still remains resting on the floor, leaning against the walls and off their hooks, a wholly appropriate metaphor. I had great hopes for my summer road trip, and while it had many enjoyable moments, I remain largely the same person I was when I left. I was hoping, perhaps irrationally and naively, for a greater change, a more impressive temblor, a wider break between the proverbial before and after.

Yet, as I reentered the urban precincts of Cold City on the final leg of my return drive, past the familiar landscapes, the skyscrapers and crowded exit lanes and Cold City U’s campus, I did not feel changed; at least not in the way I had wanted to be, bright and shiny, like a ferocious starlet, all legs and ambition and cannibal smile outlined by blood red lips. But I suppose that is OK. Such dramatic breaks in character might be appropriate for performances under the proscenium arch, but fall a little flat in the three dimensions of lived experience. There is no easy avoidance of the heavy lifting of self-transformation, yet the exercise of such atrophied muscles is beneficial, even if the short-term results are subtle, invisible, more sweat than substance.

The bustle of the new school year is upon us, with its mandatory meetings and obligatory social events, classes on the verge of commencing, new faces and familiar challenges. Summer here heaves its last, heavily humid breath. In September, the light will change. Such things distract positively, occupy the mind. Somewhat differently, 3000 miles of solitary road trip over two weeks does have a Zen effect, clearing the mind in the blankness of the road, the reach for the cigarette, the adjustment of the radio, motions that become automatic. Yet, the mind remains active, pondering and introspective, anxious for the life to come, revealing the limits of my own particular meditative practice I suppose, which is to say hardly any of worthy discipline.

Life, in spite of what we have come to believe from Hollywood and rapacious government bureaucracies, remains resistant to representation, which would include our very own clumsy efforts to ground it in narrative, and subsequently, attempt to know it completely, the fantastical dream of the 19th century, the glorified corpse. But that is OK too. The hooks may remain upon the walls, but the order of the pictures, through design or fancy, can be changed.

1 comment:

momo said...

Welcome back.