Stills

by Feng

on Nox by Anne Carson:

Carson, whose quite faithful rendering this is, wants to memorialize the dead, but she also wonders why she does—why we feel the need, as Catullus says, to speak to silent ashes, to assemble trivial remnants of a lost presence. Nox is also the Roman goddess of night—perhaps the oldest of the Roman deities, the mother, by many accounts, of sleep, fate, and death—and in Carson’s elegy Night becomes a kind of elusive character, with whom the mourner repeatedly attempts to engage. It’s as if to look Night in the eye would be to understand the tangled relationship between character, fate, and memory…Read more

I had a vague feeling today that reminded me of the brain-damaged woman who could not perceive motion. Instead, she sees a series of stills, not unlike the rectangular stills of a movie in a film reel, unable to string and fit them together in the way she should. Things do not flow. When she pours a drink, the liquid is suspended as if frozen. People appear and disappear, never moving through.

Sometimes I feel like being human means being constantly stuck between imprints. Memory/past, and Projection/future. We try to blend the stills of the past together, and have to keep doing it even when someone is lost. We’re not good at understanding rifts. Or maybe we do, but we simply don’t like to accept them. We live with the anxiety of Gisela Lebold. Suddenly the cup overflows because I can’t tell when to stop pouring. The brain squirts chemicals and images of someone long after they are gone. Babies have to learn that covering something with a sheet does not mean that the object is gone. But as adults, we have to realize the reverse. We are always fighting with Nox.

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image by ~miemo

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