“Looking at These Landscapes of Predilection, it is as if I Were Certain of Having Been There or of Going There”

December 30, 2008

Always, forever, everywhere I go, I will eye each playground I pass. I am scanning it in order to know, in an instant, if it is a very important place that lives in me in as an image wedged between memory and destiny, experience and imagination. This playground is either a place I have been or a place I have dreamed or a place I have summoned out of that which I’ve seen and dreamed and not yet seen. It has been with me since time immemorial. This playground sits in a raw, grey mist. There is a rocket ship whose paint is chipped and it totters atop a cold, stolid coil. In here, a child can sit. The ground is not grass but wood chips. The smell here is the smell of that shade of yellow of the buttons on a blue sweater I do not remember but remember seeing myself wear in a photograph. The smell is the smell of silent early morning, it is the smell of an empty playground in the mist, but the smell of an abandoned place before one has aged sufficiently to understand an empty place as poetic space. There are no sounds. Not even the plodding of feet or the creaking of the spring beneath the sitting-in-ship. It is a vacuum of sound. So it must be a photograph. And yet it can’t be because I have surveyed the scenery with my skin. Many playgrounds have almost been this playground. The hope that I will find it is so great that my throat closes when I think for an instant I’ve arrived at this place that I miss so desperately because I have such a perfect and imperfect knowledge of being there. And I seek it so obsessively, in fact, that at times, I’ve thought it best that I never come across it because to do so would certainly signal death; an utter collapse of past into potential, indexical into oneiric, self into oblivion. In this place I will cease to be a cipher, and hence, cease to be. So significant is this place, I cannot even know if I will be able to know it when I see it. It is what makes myth and materiality indistinguishable. It is my absolute spectre of self and space and time. To know that it exists would entail, necessarily, learning how it exists- a parsing who’s process evades any sense of sense. I can only conclude that each ‘almost’ adds to an aggregate epic which only grows more so the farther away it falls.

(title quote from Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida)


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