All These Remainders

“The creation of legend is never known at the time of its genesis. Only displacement can imbue the past with the aura of sentimentality. Oh, to yearn, to stretch back with every fiber! To feel again that desire; the shrouded figures that play still on those lost, faded shores. Seeing ever so faintly the afternoon sunlight through old windows and recalling the impression of newfound knowledge in those dusty old books. Oh, to squeeze the eyes tightly, if only to glimpse for one moment that gone-ness – to feel it in the pit, to be in that pit, to stay: impossible. Knowing that it all exists only because I can’t stay there. Oh, to regress into my own idealization, to see myself again as I did then…”

“All these remainders have a keening tonality, a tinnitus of sounds, which we are unable to hear outwardly but which our hearts intuit. They are the silent sirens of what has gone before, and they call to us with accolades and accusations.” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

So ends my remembrance of Ox-Bow, ten years after. So much more could be said, be shown. I’ll leave it at this for now. The text I have shared in these posts is, perhaps (if only to me), my best artwork. It evokes for me the feeling of remembering and the instances that remembrance serves equally well. The words I’ve shared are as present to me as the times they transform and recreate. In turning them over, reading and re-reading them again and again, I sense anew so many true things. In them I know again the many secrets I held all those years ago. The creaking of the Inn, the internal affects of grasses and trees, and the whispers of the wind – which even now (this VERY second!) are stealing across the Lagoon and through the meadow, past the Mary K and over the dunes – are all as true now in these mnemonic words as they were when I wrote those words down. And they rest in me, speaking in me as to one who has glimpsed a deep but unnameable majesty. Darkness sits near (deathly close to) light.

- Matt Ballou, September 1, 2011.

Images from digital photos taken between May and August 2001.

It was a record, that flaming consumer…

“And the fire was always there with us as well; its cast of gray ash strewn about as a memory of the night past. Here and there on the ground lay also the print of a known foot, the circumference of a bottle, the twisted remains of a cigarette butt. It was a record, that flaming consumer: constantly fed and ever needing more, never totally gone out.”

“The bricks keep it contained, except on those special, pagan nights. Over the years they have become fragile, having seen the fierce flames that flash for three months and then fade for nine many times. The dune now cradles the fire pit in its sandy palm; nature allows us to knead that surface and turn it over with toes and rakes for another day. All the while smoke signals the call over the waters and the trees…” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

Images from digital photos taken between May and August 2001.

A Poetry of Moments

“Time there flowed with poetic speech, allowing for the most alien peace, and yet… there was an intensity of desire present. It was leaden and thick to me, though still disembodied. And really, in light of that most heinous form of yearning, it must be noted that the peace was not the peace of knowing that all things will be well. It was rather a peace of no knowledge, of un-knowledge; mistaken, the misstep.” – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

“Those trees and grasses root into a series of dunes, which are phenomena both ancient and youthful, responding to the world, examples of the physics of particulate flow and erosion. From upon them they seem like simple hills, sinuous and open, breaking easily apart. They are basic structures, with the normal number of flora and fauna. From space they seem to make more sense, a domino-set of waveforms dotting the edge of that glacier lake. They are there in the old photographs on the porch of the Inn, as old as the first land deed, as old as America, as old as the continent. There is a comfort in that continuity, in that destiny of place and time; you feel as if it could always remain or always was. – from A Mnemonic of Longing, an unpublished essay, 2002-2009.

Both images above are from digital photos taken between May and August 2001.