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art of memoir

The Art of Memoir: Outside is Trouble

The news is they are coming.

We shall leave failed rooms, perversely furnished, stinking of teleprompters and cheap sculptures of angels with poor architectural detail. No matter how far we bury our face in our hands, no matter how wet with tears the palms become, those monsters catch our eyes.

Call the media to the balcony to announce the dead. But the shape of memorial relies on our sense of partition — whether supporting or ornamental — to extract the critical, cathartic moment, paradoxically universal and personal.

We descended the stairs. We might become a little band bound to a carpeted purgatory, leaving behind the genitive rituals that ushered us out. They take us lower until there occurs the landing, which leads us nowhere further.

The audience is there to listen, but listen actively, to witness the grandiosity of an elevated person, at an elevated height, producing elevated speech. At a civic function, the platform blooming out of a building, fastened by supports and opened onto by something grand (door, curtains, figured windows).

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The Art of Memoir (1)


I am, in large measure, the selfsame prose I write. I unroll myself in sentences and paragraphs, I punctuate myself. In my arranging and rearranging of images I’m like a child using newspaper to dress up as a king, and in the way I create rhythm with a series of words I’m like a lunatic adorning my hair with dried flowers that are still alive in my dreams. And above all I’m calm, like a rag doll that has become conscious of itself and occasionally shakes its head to make the tiny bell on top of its pointed cap (a component part of the same head) produce a sound, the jingling life of a dead man, a feeble notice to Fate.

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