Monday, January 21, 2008

the view from my bed

artifact--1821 (artefact) "anything made by human art," from It. artefatto, from L. arte "by skill" (ablative of ars "art;" see art (n.)) + factum "thing made," from facere "to make, do" (see factitious). Archaeological application dates from 1890.

There was a time when archaeology, as a discipline devoted to silent monuments, inert traces, objects without context, and things left by the past, aspired to the condition of the historical discourse; it might be said, to play on words a little, that in our time history aspires to the condition of archaeology, to the intrinsic description of the monument. --Michel Foucault

1. Last night I dreamed about A. We were in some sort of abandoned ghost town, possibly an old steamship. We were beholding the dust-covered relics. I hoped we could produce some sort of illumination from these artifacts, some narrative that would explain what had happened in this place, what had gone wrong. He was patient with my lack of understanding, for after all, how could things be any other than they were at that moment, every surface blanketed in fine haze of decay--there was nothing to find or discover, it simply did not exist in any other way. I saw the absurdity of my longing to reconstitute history.

I awake vaguely aware of the dream, that I dreamed about A. I slowly reconstitute the dream, write a brief letter to A. and do not mail it.

2. She was sitting in the seat next to me in the car. It was cold and her hands were dangerously numb. A vague light from the broken streetlight just cautiously illuminated her profile (she looked beautiful--I am not sure what specifically to attribute this to, but there was a resolved gracefulness in the lines of her face and the way her usually animated limbs fell together in an unfamiliar and quiet repose, as if the limbs and trunk and head suddenly felt comfortable together, and enjoyed one another’s company). She said, I was in the place and I knew no one and didn’t understand the language or the culture, and I just woke every day and prayed that God would guide me because I could depend on nothing else.

Maybe that it how it really always is, I said. And maybe it is. What she really missed, though, was hot water. There was never any hot water.

3. It rains and rains today. Standing in the shower I wonder why all this water does not just erode us little by little, why, if I stand beneath the hot water forever, does nothing ever get dissolved of the knots of thought and flesh.