Sunday, August 31, 2008

by Percy Shelly

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

A confluence of events:

The third anniversary of Katrina.

My own halting efforts to finish the Serina trilogy are resumed.

A hurricane once again threatens New Orleans.

Any of these would be enough to get me thinking. All of them force me to acknowledge that while a city of New Orleans still stands, and will stand (and will rebuild again if necessary-- we're a damned stubborn species, and I love us for it), but that the city I loved, home for a powerful and seminal period of my personal history, is gone.

Likely, that particular city was gone before the storm. Much of the Minnesota I knew vanished under bulldozers, name changes and the cupidity of minor officials. Things change, life moves on.

I've lived in constant motion for a long time now. Full throttle, as it were. And I've had to accept the places and people I've loved being lost behind me. Fuck it.

My generation may well live to 120. Some of the more optimistic gerontologists put our life expectancy at 300 years or more.

It occurs to me that I will live to see a great deal more vanish beneath waves and sand.

Next post, I'll write about writing again. And of course, the work continues.

On Day 24 the trusty Wordcount-O-Meter stands at 25,200 words.
Full throttle and... you know the rest.


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm glad to hear of the possibility that Serina might be continued. And you're right, I think "that" New Orleans was already largely gone before Katrina. There are elements that remain even now, though. Hard to imagine living 300 years.

Lisa said...

My father used to have drive us around Boston, and in particular through Brookline where he grew up, and point out where stuff "didn't used to be". Time goes by and I find myself doing the same, although things change so rapidly that it doesn't take long for a city or a town to change its face anymore.In a way, the places that are forever changed are especially sacred to me because in remembering them, they've changed to something that belongs only to me.

Bernita said...

"And I've had to accept the places and people I've loved being lost behind me."
Yes, I know.
From another poem: "gone, and by the wind grieved, oh ghost come back again."

Glamourpuss said...

That's one of my favourite Shelley poems.

And yes, the sense of time passing and the futility of our efforts grows as we age. Well, it does for me anyway.


Sidney said...

I think a lot about how time marches on. It's one of those sad things, but it's good to keep moving.

Riss said...

I see it differently in some ways. I think that there is a moment to be taken for the things that have past in our lives, but that doesn't mean that the things that we've done are futile or pointless or without meaning or any of those other things. The Fuck It attitude only works so long. There has to be processing and then moving forward, because time does move on and for a period so do we--going full tilt isn't exactly the counter to it, but I think learning to appreciate what has been yet keeping it separate from what will be or could be is what makes life so fascinating, well into our hundreds, ask my grandmother, she's 101 in January.

Steve Malley said...

Charles, Serina the Third is 1/2 finished, 2/3 penciled and from there trails off into clouds of scribbles. If I was a more avant-garde type of guy, I might be tempted to end it that way...

Lisa, you one wise lady. :)

Bernita, wind does sometimes press the boughs, and the withered leaves do shake...

Puss, I don't think my efforts are futile. At least, I hope not!

Sidney, I guess I like to think of my memories as frozen in time, like those old photos in the hotel in The Shining. Gives me a bit of a twinge when I realize the hotel's been torn down.

Riss, besides 'full throttle and fuck it', other favorite phrases of mine are 'you pays your money, you rides your ride' and 'you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other'.

I made a decision a long, long time ago to forfeit deep roots in one place for the breadth of the wide world. I've paid what it cost and I'm happy.

Sort of 'It's A Wonderful Life' in reverse!

Riss said...

I tend to agree with you, I am much more fond of inertia than potential energy that just sits...and waits...and does nothing. You're right that there is a cost for what we choose to do and what we choose to walk away from but I venture to say that the cost may be higher for those who never leave. (c: So, onwards. :D

Barbara Martin said...

Time changes everything. I moved to Toronto over 18 years ago, and there have been many changes since then. And my home town of Edmonton has radically changed its appearance since I left there. We, too, change.

It's good to get writing again, I agree with you Steve. My own trilogy has been setting a little too long, collecting dust, and needs resurrecting.

Not to worry, the historical posts will continue.

Miladysa said...

I tend to see things from the other side. All around me are old buildings and I am amazed that they live on although the many generations no longer do so.

Thank heavens we do not have such severe weather... not at the moment anyway.

25,200? Wow! Full throttle indeed :-D

Anonymous said...


I get this post and I like it.

My mother is dying (in a terrible way). My dad is already gone. I had to sell our childhood home to pay for Mom's care (health insurance only goes so far - unfortunately).

I used to work on cars in the garage with Dad. The jerks that bought the house tore down half of the house (including the sacred garage) and turned it into a "McMansion". This has been happening a lot in my city - it's not the same place anymore.

At first I felt untethered by the confluence of *these* events. Then I said, "Hey, when it's all over and Mom is gone, I can move past the pain and just start all over - somewhere else if need be."

Everyone responds differently to events like these, but for me, the only way to move past the pain is to move on and make something fresh and new - of myself and my life - and my writing. I think that's a healthy approach. Full throttle, Steve!


Steve Malley said...

Riss, I think no matter which way you choose to go, there'll be moments when the other grass looks greener.

Of course, we're taking a road less traveled, and that does make all the difference! ;-)

Barbara, the change always comes, but when you stay with the town, you stay with the changes.

Keep us posted on how you go with Trilogy: the Resurrection!

Miladysa, that was one freaky thing about Egypt: those folks had a groove that lasted a couple of thousand years. And it was so long ago that windblown monuments and tumbled statues are all that remains...

J.F., thanks for de-cloaking, and for sharing that experience. And it's true, it's never too late to start fresh.

ANNA-LYS said...

Hi Steve our wordarter,

Just to wish You a lovely (silent?) weekend ;-))

Lana Gramlich said...

It's ironic that such a big deal was made out of New Orleans, when Baton Rouge got it much worse than we did, but as you say--Katrina sensationalism was in effect. Of course, it's not ironic that Gustav hit so close to Katrina's anniversary--this is the high point of the Hurricane season, after all.
I feel you on the moving & changes, having moved from one country to another, then back to the first. I used to think about visiting my original hometown in NY, but I doubt I ever will, because I know the beautiful places I used to love will have been converted to uber-chic, overpriced condos & strip malls. Damned gold coast. <:(