This month, I’m writing words and posting images relating to the landscape of memory. I hope to write poems most days and also share photos, quotes, and more prosaic thoughts related in some way to memory, nostalgia, longing for place, remembering and forgetting, landscape, dreamscape, landscape’s memory and memory’s landscape, the intersection of the layered historical physical world with personal memory, the frames that both landscape and memory use to contain and order our focus, the landscape of childhood, the landscape of devastation, how memories lie and tell the truth, the fragmentation of memory, how landscapes shape us and our memories, and so on. All the posts will be linked to the Introductory Page as they are posted. Thanks for visiting.
“Alone in the car with my social life all before and behind me, I was suspended in the beautiful solitude of the open road, in a kind of introspection that only outdoor space generates, for inside and outside are more intertwined than the usual distinctions allow. The emotion stirred by the landscape is piercing, a joy close to pain when the blue is deepest on the horizon or the clouds are doing those spectacular fleeting things so much easier to recall than to describe.” ― Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking
I know what Solnit means. On road trips alone, I frequently experience introspection and an emotional tenderness, brought about by the mind wandering back and forth through time, an absence of other distractions, a sense of dislocation, sometimes the nostalgic cues of music, perhaps the rather unvarying and soothing motion of a vehicle travelling at speed, and something more: Italo Calvino, in Invisible Cities, says that “an invisible landscape conditions the visible one,” and I think the reverse is true too, that the visible physical landscape transforms the invisible inner one. As the scenery passes me by, or passes over me, or as I pass through it, self and landscape converge in a way that’s not usually conscious but always felt.
I’ve written previously about a similar experience when travelling on the train, a sort of suspended time and nowhereness: Clock and calendar time loses meaning for me when I’m on the train, a bit odd since timetables and hurried connections can be key. But as the scenery goes by, and the sense of place is blurred and no-where, so my sense of time is predominantly of being out-of-time, timeless, both timeless and placeless, existing only here, and “here” is moving at 60 mph, and now, which is moving at some speed of its own, too. Usually the outside is moving fast enough alongside the train window that it’s unfocused, and as I stare out the window, my mind unfocuses along with the placeless place my eyes record as a smudge, a blur, always the present moment.
Featured image: I-95 South near Dortches, North Carolina, Nov. 2018