Sunday, June 23, 2013

From Time to Time

In what may still prove out to be yet another error of judgement on your part, you were never a fan of the writing of Marcel Proust.  Were you unable to sleep late some night in some hotel or lodging not your own and the only other book than A Remembrance of Things Past, also known as In Search of Lost Times, was Atlas Shrugged, you might be persuaded to have another go at Proust.  But not now.

You do like the thematic approach you understand him to have taken with time.  In the process of adding years to your curriculum vitae, time has acquired a shape, a personality, an insistent presence.  A recent rummage through a suspect shelf in the kitchen cabinet produced not only the record you were seeking, you also discovered a photo of a quite young you, perhaps six or seven, but not likely any more.

Time has turned you on its lathe, drawing you out to a taller you with better posture, quite a bit less hair, a deeper voice, a much more acute range of vision, and greater sophistication wrapped about the armature of any story you tell today.

Time has also added to your body the same effects visible on a well-traveled street.  You have pot holes, scars, a greater allergic awareness of things Acacia now than in the past, an incredible tolerance for coffee, and an almanac-like present-day awareness of fools and foolishness now you had no inkling of then, the better to not suffer them lightly, much less at all.

Relative to the you of that picture in which, face contorted to keep your eyeglasses perched high on your nose, you cling to your mother's Pekingese, Ming-Toi, a cranky lap dog and no pal for a six-year-old boy, you had a greater wish-for list than experiences, you are at about the same ratio now.  This is not to minimize or criticize your range of experiences, rather to admit to a broad spectrum of things undone that you hope to get done.

For the six-year-old you and the current day you, time was and still is the fulcrum.  When you first came to the last line of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, you were about twenty.  Nevertheless, you found yourself borne with some regularity back into the past, searching to discover ways you'd come to be the person you were then, in some ways as cranky as your mother's Pekingese.

Now, among other reasons, you find yourself borne back into the past to dwell with fondness or grief over things and persons in your life now lost to you, roads taken and not, decisions that have stood the test of time (which, near as you can decipher the concept, means outcomes you still endorse and enjoy).

From time to time, you perform Dr. Frankenstein-like experiments with time, freezing artificial moments of it on paper or on screen preparatory to sending it to appear on paper along with an ensemble of individuals you have created, plucked out of the waters of your imagination like a fly fisherman capturing sleek, darting trout from hidden pools, using dry flies that approximate real life insects real life trout might well consider for a snack.

You find comfort in the awareness of how time influences writing, music, photography, art, and biology, each of these concepts having time as its denominator as you in fact have it.  In each of these concepts, you included, timing is everything.  How long will it take?  What are the intervals, if any?  What things did you leave in the past that might be recovered and used to some benefit?  What past things are better left, perhaps lost in metaphoric cushions of the large, cosmic sofas on which you have sat or reclined in all innocence, unaware of things slipping from your pockets?

This is not the time for if only, nor was the time when you stood in front of 6145 1/2 Orange Street, a scant half block away from the Miracle Mile in mid-city Los Angeles, where and when Miracle Mile portended great miracles of imagination and discovery and where, indeed, the present day you of 409 East Sola Street, Santa Barbara, still senses portents of miracles to come with time and an obsessive need to imagine.  Considering a few accidents you experienced between then and now, you do feel the presence of the miraculous, skittering about like a burrowing animal that has found its way into the foundations and is now digging for its own possibilities.


Anonymous said...

I keep imagining many of your splendid pieces published as a writer's notebook, A Man's Journey Into Story.
I would talk more about this at the Saturday work group but that's all I have to say.

Querulous Squirrel said...

I'VE been thinking about Proust a lot lately because of Lydia Davis' translation and she's such a great microfiction writer. I've been trying to analyze and imitate her microfiction and it's like a puzzle, comparing it to Proust, the opposite in so many ways.