One’s Place

The idea of ruin and dereliction, out-of-placeness, was something I felt about myself, attached to myself.
-V.S. Naipaul, The Enigma of Arrival (15)

DSC_0831To see oneself defined in relation to others, not in the modern sense, in which one hustles to keep up with the chimera of societal and class expectations, but in the deeper sense, perhaps not shared universally, but by those who are uprooted, or never properly rooted;  a keen notion develops of judging the hue, depth and contrast of all the places in which  one does not belong.

To see the possibility, the certainty, of ruin, even at the moments of creation: it was my temperament (52).

V.S. Naipaul in his memoir, The Enigma of Arrival describes with perfect tone the feeling of the observer who, by observation of other people and other places, describes oneself. Rather than the traditional I am this style of memoir, Naipaul is an arithmetic of I am not. I am, rather, the undefined difference between what I see and what I am.

Something in Naipaul’s remote but precise voice sent my own mind into an existential reverie. His calm prose emotes understanding, empathy and loneliness. The subtlety of his observations and musings of farm and garden life in bucolic England contrasted harshly with the surroundings in which I read most of this book: sitting in a down and out government agency for down and out citizens after I had gotten lost in a bad neighborhood and then been involved in the first car accident of my life. I sat in the hot waiting room and let his book of psychological disorientation, which perfectly suited my fractured frame of mind, sooth my shaking hands.

When I lived in Italy I often thought about the common exchange- Tutto a posto? how are you? – Response: A posto. Posto means place. All in place? In place.

Her life had repeated; she had lived the same life or versions of the same life. Or, looking at it another way, almost as soon as it had begun, her life of choice and passion had ended – as it had ended for her father, her mother, and possibly for generations of her ancestors (78).

Where we are forms something essential about ourselves and how we think we fit into that place or are stuck in that place, colors our experience of ourselves. The enigma of arrival however is that one never arrives, we find meaning in the journey and place or we perish. As long as choice and passion are alive, then we are too.


23 responses to “One’s Place

  1. Another great post,. How to translate posto? Is it something like grounded? The Italians have a reputation for being excitable. Maybe it’s the opposite to this, maybe calm is better. I recall being told that chamomile is the herb of choice for hysterical chidren and Italians.

  2. hi jessica
    that’s a really nice picture!
    see you tomorrow, tony

  3. Having being judged as “different” in one way or another from early childhood, I have often felt extraordinarily out of place in this world yet entirely comfortable in my own skin. I’ve been well aware that even that has gotten on other’s nerves, and it has pissed me off in return that others have the audacity to become so irritated that they haven’t been able to force me into some cage that they think they have a right to inprison me in.

  4. That photo is what? Ordinary, unspectacular, mute, but made something perfect by colour,detail and the art of looking. Ambience Radiating Truth, a little art. Taa!

    • The light, the air, the moment. A conspiracy for rather than against me. Maybe art is just that – a conspiracy for.

      • A pattern infiltrated and worn upon oneself, a brief belonging.

      • All too brief. And we gasp. And we grasp after the flickering perfection of the pattern, seen.

      • Seen is eaten by heart, head not withstood (though best ignored or humoured with thin smiles). Seen is been seen, marked by all, included, amongst. We are twill, tweed, embroidered, embroiled regardless of high or low regard. Our guard is dropped, melting into the passionless is.

      • Seen and consumed, heart’s regard (less more high low) is consummated. Our guard, an empty collection of warp and weft, never understood the story of orange and blue.

      • A tunnelling path carved through flickering time, framed roads, named, unnamed, tasted with hesitant tongue, delighted ear. Pulsed, a walking rhythm, a posy of moments, empty and full. Shall we walk together down the long evenings, birdsong and laughter, or fear the empty bridge, the shallowed gold pit?

      • A pocket full. Ignore the hard edges pretending the end. The pellucid vibrancy spills out, centers the path tickling the birdsong’s laugh off of our tongues. And so we shall. What else to do with bursting moments but walk the gloaming?

      • The gloomy gloaming of the joker tomb. Mock serious and smirking. It cannot hold a moment longer, bursting with radiate light. We can afford generosity, shedding skins, attaining orbits. Starlit, wandering, trying out new names with new lips, forgetting, laughing at footprints: leaf litter on an autumn path.

      • Lost once, lost twice, a cliff of thought, a tunnelled, mysterious evening. Mapled flutter, mapled collapse, mapled incense. Hesitant even, hastened steps, a whispered wind, a small bowl of sorrow, a small bowl of delight.

      • I’ve dreamed of a third bowl, wobbling on its edge.

      • Its sound is round, debating gravity and stillness. A heart or notion, a simple holding, a significator, the dreamer mirrored dream, a season, a map, a world of half light and half dark, rotating, a long whispered vowel.

      • A calling between consonants. Aggravating the spin, hand to hand among the maple trim. The cartography of my heart, studied in your grin, the sugar portending a notion of splendor made dormant. The punctation pauses, cupped, before the sound begins.

      • A sweet sound. A sweet silence. That path between, slyly negotiated: a low sigh.

      • The rustle of the blood’s report. The mirrored blush shies cheek and dropping leaf. Is this the place where it all starts?

      • Seems a nice place to stop. Mind if I post this duet on my blog?

      • Not at all. It was quite fun. Thank you, sir.

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