not a pretty picture. not a good. not a bad. picture. but an argument.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

against nostalgia

Nostalgia by Charles Wright

Always it comes when we least expect it, like a wave,
Or like the shadow of several waves,
                                                         one after the next,
Becoming singular as the face

Of someone who rose and fell apart at the edge of our lives.

Breaks up and re-forms, breaks up, re-forms.
And all the attendant retinue of loss foams out
Brilliant and sea-white, then sinks away.

Memory's dog-teeth,
                                lovely detritus smoothed out and laid up.

And always the feeling comes that it was better then,
Whatever it was-
                            people and places, the sweet taste of things-
And this one, wave-borne and wave-washed, was part of all that.

We take the conceit in hand, and rub it for good luck.

Or rub it against the evil eye.
And yet, when that wave appears, or that wave's shadow, we like it,
Or say we do,
                      and hope the next time

We'll be surprised again, and returned again, despite the fact
The time will come, they say, when the weight of nostalgia,
                                                                            that ten-foot spread
Of sand in the heart, outweighs
Whatever living existence we drop on the scales.

May it never arrive, Lord, may it never arrive.


  1. Replies
    1. thank you, dirk. i love low light the most, what is revealed, what is concealed, what is necessary and what isn't.


  2. La nostalgie est un puissant moteur pour la créativité. Il peut aussi être un puissant frein à l'énergie vitale si nous la laissons nous envahir. Mais sommes nous vraiment maîtres de nos démons. On le sait, les Saints vont en enfer, comme l'écrivait si justement Gilbert Cesbron. S'il est parfois bon de se damner pour une âme en peine qui passe et nous brûle de ses flammes, est-il nécessaire d'appeler la mort au risque qu'elle nous entende et nous emporte au pays de la nostalgie ?
    Le jeu photographique permet toutes suppositions et chaque rêve est bienvenu pourvu que ce soit la vie qui nous emporte vers d'autres créations.
    Ceci dit, Erin, j'aime beaucoup tes photos en noir et blanc. Elles ont une âme et te ressemblent.



    1. roger, can i be so bold as to begin by posting a translation of your comment that james translated for me. it is such an important comment which pivots upon how we interpret nostalgia and i would like to remember it.

      "Nostalgia is a powerful motor for creativity. It can also be a powerful brake on vital energy, if we allow it to invade us. But we are truly the masters of our own demons. We know this -- the saints go to hell, as Gilbert Cesbron writes so justly. If it is sometimes good to damn oneself for a soul in pain that is passing and burn ourselves with its flames, is it necessary to call death at the risk that it will hear and carry us to the land of nostalgia?

      The game of photography allows all speculations, and every dream is welcome, provided that it is life who carries us toward new creations.

      That said, Erin, I love your photos in black and white. They have a soul and resemble you."

    2. but there is so much more inside your comment then what is derived immediately from translation and a shiver passes along my body for very specifically i was thinking of these things just yesterday. but perhaps nostalgia motivated me along these lines, how all value is assigned by us thereby making us masters of our own demons and in this way making us our own redeemers too. very specifically as i was running yesterday i noted how it was the most painful of life's experiences which burned me present to the moment. (these words specifically, pain burned me present. and here you hinge all of this to nostalgia.

      and so it can be a very ripe place to create from but it is a dangerous place of rewriting and cementing oneself to the past, not allowing for each transient moment to sing with its full presence.

      for me this photograph is steeped in nostalgia. why is that? and i wonder if that translates to anyone else or if it is because it is associated with times from my own past. but no, i think it is universal. this is a child opening to the moment, barely clad in snow, absolutely present and happy. he is playful with his life, throwing the snowball up and catching it and then extending his arm through a full arc and releasing his story to possibility.

      but if i as his mother stay bolted to this naïve and pure moment and do not allow all of the precipitous moments, good, bad, mundane, and precious to occur i lose my place in time.

      already at 11 my son looks back to better times. forgetfulness is wound into our retelling but we need not forget the pain, nor even the mundane.


  3. Replies
    1. that's interesting that you say haunting, sage. aren't we haunted by both our own sadness and happiness?


  4. it _is_ universal. i love this, that, despite every possible difference and perspective, there are things to which we - or better - something within us responds in the same way, as a wave rising, all the same wave...
    (but then the wave breaks into countless tiny particles and each sheds a particular light onto the world)

    1. it is then? for you too? this raises me up upon that wave)))

      with wonder i look at the world, at each wave whole and each broken and particular. i don't understand. i understand. it is. and for the moment, we are too:)



"Words at the limit of hearing, attributable to no one, received in the conch of the ear like dew by a leaf." (philippe jaccottet) or even a quiet presence is appreciated))