Looking back on pictures of summers past, it’s easy to romanticize a one-time trip as an every year occurrence during a period of our time: childhood, adolescence…
boy & girl louies
But then again, don’t we go back into our pasts every-time we reflect on our memories? I read in a Psychology Today article that there are two kinds of selves: the ‘experiencing’ self and the ‘remembering’ self. The experiencing self is the part of our conscious awareness that is here in the moment while the remembering self is the part of our consciousness that creates a record of what we did. The main difference between the two is that when we remember an event in our lives, we then experience it as it happened when we lived through it, as it was recorded by our remembering self. As a Psych major, it’s nothing new to view memory as something immediate; we’re all an aggregate of our pasts, presents and futures – a part of us always as who we were, as we are, and as we are to become. I like to look at history that way, as a path or passage and not merely a passenger upon it.
As I look at these photos again of great times with cousins on Mayne Island I can’t help but feel like this always happened. I’m sure this feeling will only get reinforced in the years to come, but that’s what makes the philosophy of life – that it is ultimately about our memories made – so attractive.
Maybe it’s that dichotomous relationship with our realities that can so torment us; we always have a half in the past and a half in the present. One that is here and one that has stepped behind, hoping to disappear into our memories of summers past. But the same torment that can come from days gone by can also breed within us the great fire of hope that tomorrow will bring reprieve. That tomorrow will be different. That tomorrow will be the same.
The mind is such a fickle thing. It is completely certain that, only when it has already made itself up, it knows everything. Then nothing at all.
I’ve come on here more often in the past week than probably an entire month of last year. Maybe that’s an exaggeration – but I’m too forgetful and too bothered to go back and verify that statistic. You see, I’m starting to distrust numbers, or at least how they’ve been used in today’s terms, and the illusion of confidence they instill in us. Instead of accepting facts as absolutes I’m reclaiming my natural inclination towards the absurdity of life and my mistrust of authority. Never let the rebel in you die.
Numbers are only a story. As I’ve read in Trauma Farm, probably the best novel I’ve ever read – and I don’t think “novel” is the accurate word – in a long time. It’s an 18-year personal history of small farming and rural life on the Canadian West Coast told in the format of one day, reaching equally into the past and future. It starts in darkness and ends in darkness. As much as I could gush about it to you on here, I’m so enamoured with the words, stories, and absurd personal history of author Brian Brett that I’m reading it again, which will probably benefit us all the greater. I just finished it in December, but I am so drawn to the dense web of fact and fiction that make for a beautiful stone in this West Coast (Brett grew up here in Vancouver and lives on Saltspring Island) that I’ve got to finger through this jewel again.
I don’t know if I’ll walk out of here a poet or a farmer, but I can assure you I’ll walk out of here a better writer and proselytizer of this beautiful homeland.
On this New Year’s day, I’m thinking about the past. Not living in it – but looking back on a year that was decent to me and pretty good. And pretty bland and pretty mentally psychotic…but that’s another story. I’m thinking about how we need to be in touch with our roots, but there is a need to move forward in life. How letting go of the past can be painful, but necessary and important. How we need to be open, which sometimes means we need to be empty – so that we may be full. I’m thinking of how The Simpsons are the perfect education for bright, young minds; healthily instilling subversive thinking and informing the naive with a careful mistrust of authority, inoculating them for today’s pop culture.
I’m thinking about “cool” and how cool never really controls its fate. Not really. Everybody danced the disco, but nobody willingly let it fall to the ground off its seven storey platform heels. I’m disagreeing with my friend that “hipster” is dead. I think it’s just another part of cool on the way out the door, but I don’t think it’s dead.
I’m thinking about how one day I want to be a dad and how soon that really is. But not soon enough. And all the same, way too soon. Twenty-two is so young and yet so old…relatively speaking. I’m smart enough to know that I’ll never know everything, and careful enough to be skeptical that I know anything.
And I’m going to continue thinking for a little while at this beginning of another year. Birthdays, funerals. Discos and dinners. Losers and winners. Life will be the same, yet never again.
May this year bring the same great joys you have felt in the past, and enough encounters with reality to want to change it somehow. Happy New Year!
in a 1940s french theatre
there is no other sound
like the clutter
of hands clapping
— This poem is about the feeling I got when watching Quentin Tarantino’s film, Inglourious Basterds and my fascination with the hand clap. I’ve seen my fair share of war films – and then not enough – but this fictional piece about a set of Jewish-American special forces skinning the heads of Nazis in German-occupied France really opened my eyes. I felt, as I think Tarantino intended, righteous and good as the Jews got their revenge in this virtual, plausible WWII while at the same time I didn’t think it was right – that the deaths of the guilty justified the deaths of the innocent. But that is what art is about in one sense: that we as human beings, as people, can feel some way and yet think another. That life isn’t an experience of one dimension, but of many.
And so I sat there watching the Nazi hierarchy burning to the beautiful face of a Jewish women in a French cinema, where an act of revenge, redemption, and extreme violence felt rewarding and disgusting at the same time, and yet I was fascinated with this idea of applause. That in our time, 350 high-ranking Nazis, including the Fuhrer himself, could celebrate a campaign of cruelty with a universal symbol of social approval, hands clapping – albeit in a work of fiction. If you’ve listened to the soundtrack of a live concert, you’ll know the sound of a crowd applause is always different, yet always the same. There’s a patter, like rain, that is filled with hands coming together at a rate irregular, yet natural. In this poem I tried to capture the normal, eerie, nostalgic, and ominous sound of the applause of the Nazi officers gave before watching their last film.