Written in transit from Gare du Nord to Waterloo, listening in part to In Our Time on Spinoza.
Social Scuplture – Gesture work for the next week.
Cemetery (Pere Lachaise) Like mould, lichen, which grows slowly in small patches over a long period of time. But these spores are invisible, we cannot see them except in the broken panes of glass, the flaked paint, the verdigris patinas on the doors to individual tombs, the chipped stones; every trace of time’s slow, considered vandalism. It’s always present in the cemetery and every now and then, one detects a trace of its fleeting presence – the scent of vinegar which lingers around a tomb where the glass is missing, where the door is open, or where the iron gates have corroded and been worn through by time’s relentless scratching; time’s relentlessness.
Even when all trace of the bones has gone, long after the burial clothes and the casket, time will continue its malevolence, picking at the fabric of memory, wearing down the words, smoothing over names, dismantling the dead and our memories of them, withering through slow alchemy these parts into atoms. Candles lit and placed beside the graves will soon be extinguished, flowers will be wilted, trees will be naked, picked of their leaves and left like confetti, to remind the living of this withering certainty.[Look at Spinoza – nothing in nature that can be called contingent. Connections (if we could see them) determine what we do through a network of causation]
Cemeteries are not just places where the dead are dismantled, where the names by which these parts were held together are also broken apart. They are as much for the living, who fight with death to keep the parts together, to deny death, to deny its certainty; to deny their own futures. The living wander the graves to maintain the present. Inside cemeteries the present is stretched.
We walk through cemeteries, and with our minds like nets try and catch this butterfly called Time, but we are assailed by its beauty, we stand open-mouthed and wait for the chrysalis to be spun with invisible thread around us.[Marcus Aureolis – “In the thought that I am part of the whole, I will be content with all that comes to pass. IOT. Spinoza. 30.21]
Paraphrasing George Eliot – end of Middlemarch. “We must be forgiving to people because what people do is not really up to them, it’s much more influenced by the outside than they expect. But that things are better with us than they might be is due to many unremembered, unhistoric acts by people who sleep in unvisited graves.”
The way people perceive the world must be determined by the language they speak, the sound of their words etc.