Past-time

Miranda Lehman [film still]



I found these pages which were written this past summer, after reading Virginia Woolf's The Years:

And she has done it again -- again taken this most ephemeral of subjects -- the interior of the mind, the shrouded labyrinthine mind, and she has lit it up -- not with spangles or brilliance, but with a liquid, amber light. It's Rembrandt light, de la Tour light -- it illumines one corner, one aspect, yet leaves all else in shadow. And what do we find? Not tragedy, not comedy, not even what one would consider the stuff of greatness -- but that's the effort -- to show the impetus of life -- the unceasing forward motion of a life -- a streaming, flowing current of moments -- it is propelled just as much, if not more, by those surprising, fleeting snowglobe moments. It's not necessarily the death of a patent, nor a war, it's the memory of nameless bare shoulders, of a discarded flower of paint, of an old walrus. It's the memory of a youth with wood shavings in his hair, or a foreigner on a cold night.

I find it amazing how exact these vague people are -- I can hardly keep track of them, yet I know them as I know my own self -- my own sometimes-blurred outline -- hard to collect and reassemble. Like the moment upon waking, which Proust describes so well, when everything must be brought back into focus and cohesion -- all those parts of a person's life restored to some whole. Her characters are people who have formed sentences in their heads which they will never be able to speak -- there will always be a divide between the inner and the outer -- but only where those two 'worlds' are even an issue.

It's the moments of solitude, those drops of purity, where the fusion can occur, the settling, the restoration of a core. This sort of fusion can occur in company, but it will not be remembered beyond the bookends of thought -- the moment of solitude will be like a smooth stone, polished with the wear of memory till shining and a treasure.