The past is never dead, it is not even past. ~ William Faulkner
By late December these phrases and all their variations become a staple «Oh, how quickly the year has passed», «I can’t believe the year is almost over again», «Tempus fugit [& carpe diem]», «Damnit, seems like we celebrated new year’s just yesterday». Looking back across the year time is condensed, luckily, and memory functions in a way to cut out the tedious stretches. And quite often, for denial’s sake, the shitty bits too. What tends to stick are holidays, entertaining times in the hot breath of summer, one’s birthday perhaps, all those events generally referred to as «highlights». And the really messed-up «lowlights», forgotten or not, tend to leave their material traces [e.g. scars, empty wallets, a broken heart, etc.].
2010 has come and gone and trying to sift through it I realize just how bad a memory I am equipped with. Around age 30 it becomes a bittersweet joke to blame this on one’s advanced years. As concerns myself, I am quite aware that it is a matter of selectivity: books and movies get saved in specially designated neurons [I imagine], while events that took place out there in the midst of stuff first become jumbled, then slowly begin to fade. I’m no Funes that much is for sure. So what was written onto my mushy, grey hard-drive?
A) Landing a position as an intern for a magazine “for” culture. It seemed like a breakthrough of sorts at the time [late March] but quickly revealed itself as a conventional, lackluster position [area11, admin. cluster Y/34k, sub-cog 25-tbmg-IJ] within the repetitive machinery of reality. Thus I retain my full-spectrum irrelevance as concerns the journalistic and cultural workings on an even smaller scale of reference: this country’s unreadable, unwatchable culturescape. Which I perceive as 2-dimensional at best. This could be a good thing in as far as it forces me to work on my craft.
B) The summer itself. Not any particular event or gestalt, just the loveliness of going for a run without getting got up in performance apparel, how the sunsets often seem to reference classical Dutch and French masters. It is said that they had no concept yet of irony but it’s imaginable that they did not care for it, not in their artistic production. I can empathize: I will choose beauty over wit any night. Even just to think that folks weren’t capable of cynicism is sort of cynical.
C) The train trips from Lucerne to Rapperswil [SG]. I have tried to capture these in a few meditations [see here] but came up against the inadequacy of words in describing the aesthetic experience of landscapes – at a specific time and place, experiencing specific sublime sentiments. I can reiterate the following: traveling by train along Lake Lucerne, rounding the corner near plush Meggen, the broad-backed Rigi rising from the shores of Vierwaldstaettersee is, whether wreathed in tatters of mist hugging its viridescent flanks or squatting under a greyly boiling sky…Rigi is powerful at all times. Later at the mountain’s back the train climbs towards a plateau of moors and little, stunted woods, Switzerland’s parliament’s signal mountains Grosse und Kleine Mythe off to the left and Rigi exiting stage right, providing another iconic vista. The moorland with its plaintive villages appears to be trapped, judging by the textures and shapes, in a time bubble twenty or thirty years old. Then one slaloms down toward Lake Zurich in languorous curves reminiscent of the Nile, the Amazon, the Rhine, the Chang Jiang. At last crossing a tombolo or a land tongue connecting the two shores along which there is a pasture dotted with red-haired kiloes come down from Scotland to munch grass and pass gas. If you get a chance by all means take a ride on the Voralpenexpress, it makes for a lovely day trip.
D) Our vacation in Rome, mother of cities, caput mundi, S.P.Q.R, city built on ∆∆∆∆∆∆∆, rising on the rubble of earlier eras [as per DeLillo]. Most memorable for: unrivaled pasta&pizza, dearth of other cuisines, the general, transcendent sense of bottomless antiquity and civic ingenuity, the megaton of walking we did, how much fun is havable simply chilling in a hotel room, how the coliseum’s splendor remains untouched by touri-trivialization, a missed [postponed] appointment with a cool, ark-codexy cat, «The Savage Detectives» for a song and a half, let me admit, Hadid’s autoerotic MaXX[X]i even if the exhibit stank forgettably and, blast from the last, god’s gelati goodness. Word 2 the Wise: Do not bother with the Via Appia Antica!
Trying to remember, Oh Dear, what a perilous, fragile undertaking! And yet we cannot do without it, at every moment condensing our entire pasts into a single now, our faces facing future-wards.
E) Moving to a different flat. In the centre of Lucerne, Sempacherstrasse 1. Leaving Chris&Rolf, joining Simi. A nice apartment, the time-honored parquet of which will pop/crack loudly in the dead of night, adapting to the seasons changeable temperatures. There’s stuff crafted into the ceiling, stucco work, just to remind you of the depth of and your debt to history. Lots of joking the day we moved and heavy lifting, probably felt that my spine has seen better days.
F) A nice B-day in the course of which an electronic book came into my life [see]. ‘Twas about time too for somebody who cares so for these objects. I am now technically capable of mistakenly buying a book. Best thing for reading in transit. U. Eco moralizes about bibliophile and bibliomaniac but forgets about another species: bibliolope – elegantly bounding between books and not obsessed by their materiality.
G) 2666, Inception, Remainder, Un prophete [compulsory], Reassembling the Social, Invisible, The beat my heart skipped, Where the wild things are, Market Forces, The Savage Detectives [steady progressing], The book of disquiet [if it’s the penultimate or last thing you do, read it], Point∞Omega, Red Cliff, Celda 211, How Fiction Works [thx Nonhi!], Michael & Dwight, Infinite Jest [second spin]
H) Exploring one bar after another with Dottore ‘Dre
I) New Year’s Eve’s heavenly Samosas&FondueChinoise&Ice-Cake and the dinner more generally. Took some liberties with my death-free diet because perfection is for saints and the clinically insane. The final two and a half minutes of 2010 were reserved for a madcap athletic feat for a party of eight: leaping out of the Cobra, running from Stampfenbachplatz station to Seilergraben 5, beer foam pouring over my outstretched hand as I struggled to keep up with my brother. Full bellies bouncing with partially digested viands [not just literary, literally]. The distance according to map.search.ch is precisely 604 meters. Regrouping at Central, lightly jogging the final stretch, leaping up the stairs. All eight of us made it just in time, with 20 seconds to spare for the countdown [and catching our ragged breaths]. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
J) The sum of all good things, manifested whenever I feel happy or at ease.
[if you’re reading this not in 2011 but in 2111 or 2666, THX for your time and necromancy]