Sunday, July 17, 2011

Frozen Space

My recent short visit to Kochi convinced me of one thing – that in my mind I am returning to a space and time, frozen when I left the shores more than a decade ago. Even when I can acknowledge the reminders of time's passage, I am looking for the remains of a frozen time. It is heart breaking to see that the remnants are withering fast. How long would the debris remain, before I will have nothing left to go back to?

While this narrative is unfair to the people living their unfrozen lives yonder, long distance travel can afford a few thoughts on the dynamic between space and memory. On the flight heading back to New York, Georges Perec (*Species of Spaces) offered a little more to the thought. I will leave you with Perec to mull over a bit more:

I would like there to exist places that are stable, unmoving, intangible, untouched and almost untouchable, unchanging, deep-rooted; places that might be points of reference, of departure, of origin:

My birthplace, the cradle of my family, the house where I may have been born, the tree I may have seen grow, the attic of my childhood filled with intact memories...

Such places don't exist, and it's because they don't exist that space becomes a question, ceases to be self-evident, ceases to be incorporated, ceases to appropriated. Space is a doubt: I have constantly to mark it, to designate it. It's never mine, never given to me, I have to conquer it.

My spaces are fragile: time is going to wear them away, to destroy them. Nothing will any longer resemble what was, my memories will betray me, oblivion will infiltrate my memory, I shall look at a few old yellowing photographs with broken edges without recognizing them.

Space melts like sand running through one's fingers. Time bears it away and leaves me only shapeless shreds:

To write: to try meticulously to retain something, to cause something to survive, to wrest a few precise scraps from the void as it grows, to leave somewhere a furrow, a trace, a mark or a few signs.

* Species of Spaces and Other Pieces: Georges Perec

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