Friday, May 21, 2010

Repetition and Difference: A Poetics of the Body

I circumambulated the parking lot on Passyunk. Walking around the perimeter. With my spirit cane. Observing. Attending. I had no plan in  mind. Was not sure whether I would walk the circle once or more than once. I noticed so much the first time, so many details… things… that I was drawn into beginning again. Splatters of paint beneath the mural. Oil stains. Cigarette butts. Shadows cast by pebbles. It was like flying—looking down over the earth from many miles up. If I'd told myself: I'm going to walk around that parking lot 15 times, I would have so strongly anticpated boredom than I likely wouldn't have done it even once. I learned this from my Seven Day Six Places Poem. With the first repetition I was impressed by how much was new. What I’d not seen the first time. The same for the second circle. There was also now repetition—though it wasn’t quite, as what I’d seen before was companion to newly observed details, and so existed in changed patterns, and being overlaid with memory, I too felt myself changed. The first three times I was aware of number. This is my first time around, I heard myself say in mind, the second… third. Sometime after that numbers fell away. I could not tell you how many times I circled the lot. I would guess—more than 12, fewer than 20. At some point I reversed my direction. Would this be like unwinding, I wondered? But it wasn’t at all. More and more I would see what was familiar from before… other things would be lost to memory and seen as though for the first time. Familiarity seemed to have the power to erase some things and heighten attention to things I’d not noticed before.  There was a stone lying near the corner of a square of concrete.  I’d seen it several times. Missed it several times—when I felt a weak impulse to kick it… or nudge it with my stick. It was the first time I’d felt a wish to intervene—to bring about change. This seemed strange to me, the desire to experience agency.  So much was happening by letting go. I could tell how that alters the mind.. I carried that stone with me for many yards after… thinking about  it, remembering, wondering about this business of agency. What did I miss because of that? The more we do, the less we see, the less we are present in the world.
                                                                        Walk     Remember      Record

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