Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Anatomy of a Default

There is one central image I retain, which serves as a very particular kind of key. The image is impossible to capture in writing, in words, for its complexity is too challenging to convey. Any effort to transpose it into a story will always fall short of its desired impact. It belongs to a place of visual memory and its potency lies in the repeated conjuring of this image. Still I will share it will you for the purpose of discussion, even though it is deeply personal and unlikely to sound the same chord in you, as reader, as I would desire it to. It is the most cherished image I export from an archive of childhood experiences and I have no doubt that everyone has experienced it for themselves, at one time or another.

I still remember and it was so many years ago I cannot recall their number.

I rise early and the morning sun, golden and bright shines over the river that collects in a  small bay in front of my grandparent’s house. I have passed the night sleeping in a screened porch that serves as a bedroom in the summer months. My feet point to the river and the air that I breathe is cool and alive. I look out the large, screened window at the morning vista and a memory is burned forever: It is the hot, white twinkling light that sparkles upon the gently lapping waves which evokes the strongest emotional response today. In that refracting sunlight lies something mystical, where I am pulled from a regular frame of mind into a Whole I barely consider under regular consciousness.

I do not think in images. Not at least consciously. It is through a state of emotional recall which forms the words of long sentences that I am able to play out experience on paper. Time is recalled in feelings. Whenever I expect my writer’s imagination to produce reliable, concise images, I try to evoke this memory and expect it to set some tandem process in motion. It is the impossibility to properly convey this image that keeps me trying to write when the spirit runs low. If ever I was achieve this objective, I might drop my pen; close the book; shut down. Catch me if you can, taunts the image and I balk at the challenge. It always wins.

This default takes me back, as though memory were shaped around a loop. When I begin again, I expect something fresh to surface; something I missed in the first pass through. It is as though time itself were creased like some poorly ironed shirt and under those folds lie the details that will evolve a better sense of what my intention is. I need only peek underneath.

It is the first snapshot in the scrapbook of my mind. There exists other memories but this is the first to distinguish, to astonish, to transform. It is a beginning; time starts here. Repetition is critical.

The merry dance of palliated white gold. In my mind’s eye, it is sparkling promise; rejuvenation in pure concentrate. This image is the gift that surpasses all others. Yet it is bound in memory. On many other occasions I have seen sparkling morning water, dancing below the heralding sun and all this accomplishes is triggering the first memory: the genesis of my appreciation of the natural world around me.

The situation resolves into a paradox -- I must share this beauty, yet it is entirely mine.

A happy nest of illuminated water spirits dance for my sense of recall. The water below the light generates from an unseen source and it is always there to provide the canvas for this phenomena. The impossibility of transferring this memory is one of the reasons I write. Knowing that such a place in myself exists drives the gears of my conscious mind in an attempt to capture the spirit of life itself. I write to capture that life and am resolved to the impossibility of that ambition.

{Artwork by Rene Magritte}

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