There was an almost fall-like coolness to the air last night as we walked through Marcus Garvey Park and circled back to open our windows to cross-winds. This summer I’ve been buying Korean melons from the local H-Mart regularly. I spent some summers of my childhood on my maternal grandparents’ farm and in Seoul. My grandmother had a head of short, permed curly hair, and the crowns in her mouth gleamed when she smiled wide or laughed. I think her voice partly stands out in my mind because hers was an accent you won’t hear too often, and my food memories from those times are visceral. When we tried the baba ganoush one night at an Upper West Side Druze restaurant called Gazala’s, I had a Proustian madeleine moment because something about the eggplant’s smokiness enveloped me in a reverie of that tiny (now mostly empty) village. It’s a strange liminal state because the visceral memories are clearly imprinted, but my actual state of mind and feelings from the time are vague. Add to that my dad’s home movies on VHS tapes, and it’s a disorienting mixture of intimate closeness and decades-distant mirage.
Still, there’s a non-mystical feeling of ancestral presence about me. And I say non-mystical because it doesn’t feel extraordinary in any way but just as it should be. I do sort of feel like I should be lingering in it though—as if there’s something in it that I need to find.
4 days in Cape Cod. 4 miles to Race Point Light and back along low-tide-soaked sands, seal heads slipping through red algae waves to eye us with curiosity.
Gull’s bones, buzzard’s meal disrupted, our son’s sleeping mouth moving in his mother’s belly-diffused light.
Now bends the light of now that I can’t see from tomorrow’s now. Remains to be what remains. What will these memories become?
There isn’t much to say that hasn’t already been said about the recent protests and the fucked-up-ness we’re seeing and have been seeing by the militarized psychotic police against our fellow human beings who happen to be cursed and blessed by blackness. Maybe the inertia of immense sadness and anger (the electricity of which I could feel when we happened to pass by the above march) is finally uncontainable.
It’s a strange time but so has it always been. It only compounds as the years pass. But still the fragments of something remain at the fringes (or maybe ubiquitous/obivious but awareness always only at the fringes like Kierkegaard’s indirect communication), something barely understood, inchoate, a sound outside the field of vision, permeating, pulsing, and moving one from within but just beyond comprehension. Today I really sang for the first time in a while and was surprised to feel something that had been there the whole time, even without outward song.
The mother of my pre-born son (pictured above) is making me watch Back to the Future Part III, which I vaguely recall seeing in its theatrical release in the ancient year of 1990. It isn’t any better in this Covid era. Oh, and yes, voy a ser padre en Octubre. I’m trying to remember what 1990s me would’ve imagined about current me imagining 1990s me because that’s my eternal return. An early memory:
I’m 5. I’m in our first home in Jersey City after emigrating from South Korea. I’m reaching for something on top of the fridge. I become keenly aware of my physical growth. I project that growth to the future and try to imagine what it will be like to look back from that future self. It’s my first clear memory of experiencing recursion.
Another early memory:
I’m on the plane. It’s my first flight. We’ve just arrived from Korea. I’ve never heard a word of English in my entire life, and suddenly it’s everywhere. It’s my first experience of the oddness of a new language—the sound of language without sense.
Philosophy, language, and music—these are my archetypes. Where do I go now?
I learned recently to identify squirrel alarm calls:
So today walking after dinner I knew right at that sound that the park’s current resident hawk must be near. Every time we see the hawk I’m reminded of Bruce Wilshire, and the words I read in his book and the phrases he used to use in class come back to me. Tonight I read some passages where he talks of fugues appropriately (recursively? fractally?). This wildness is necessary to live. No soul without body.
For whatever reason I haven’t picked up my guitar in maybe a year or more. For some years I’d played for hours a day, but these last few… I’m not sure where that inertia has gone. What was driving it? Is it that these years of marriage have eased the loneliness that drove me to that musical impulse? Lately I’ve wanted to pick up things I’d put aside for some time.
Something about that red-bellied woodpecker’s call had stopped me during our walk. Reading Bruce Wilshire’s book has me attuned to new frequencies I guess.