[Transfer, 06.08.11 – Florence]
1. Leaving a place you’ve spent any good degree of time in is always an interesting phenomenon. I think on a fundamental level this is because of a simple math equation. What I mean by this is that psychologically it is always (and sometimes cruelly) a reminder of beginnings. In a way that is almost cyclical, human memory starts from the beginning, starting over, playing back again from the moment of arrival, I believe. If you’ve spent enough time in a given place, you remember who you were upon getting there. The simple math is subtracting this from the person you are upon leaving. What’s left over is that place intensified and concentrated, visible clearly, starkly, almost empirically in a way that only you can see.
2. On more than a fundamental level this cannot ever be completely explained so easily. Provided that you love something enough, a person, a pet, a place, whatever- you set down roots into it, whether or not you know it as it occurs. You invest and grow within it, deriving sustenance from being in continual contact, communion with it. The more time, the more exposure, the more investment, the deeper the rooting. In a removed way, I don’t know that there is a limit to how deep these emotional root structures can extend, just as I believe that we would be amazed at this literally if we could see through the soil around us. How deep is a marriage, a motherhood, a nationalism?
3. Leaving, subtracting, having something die then is on par with an uprooting. if you’ve ever seen a tree fall over in a wood, or pulled a weed out of a garden, I don’t have to explain how this works. It never comes clean. The roots take with it part of the surrounding of where it was, and there is an ugly gash marking it’s old location. A transaction has no choice but to take place in which part of these two elements remain altered (perhaps permanently), by the other. I believe to a degree, it is an intrinsically human thing to be able to relate in some way to this.
4. At the risk of sounding sentimental, I took a final walk in the earliest hours of the morning of my departure, paying last respects to a place that I know (as I write this), will be uprooted in this way so violently that I cannot adequately explain it. I was walking along the Arno, stopping before getting to the Ponte Vecchio. The river water was still, reflecting the rhythmic repetition of the streetlights illuminating it with a startling clarity. Given the nature of water though, of course it was still incomplete- shimmering, quivering slightly, in a way that was almost painterly. I thought then that this would be perhaps most closely how I will remember being here. It will be incomplete, delineated, moving and fragmented, only a reflection of its source. This is the spirit of place, it is present in the reality of being there, you can feel it- but it takes on a new life and lives again in memory. It is a transplantation that within which, I for now, will have to be content to reside, to invest within, to derive sustenance from.
5. Every continent has its own great spirit of place. Every people is polarized in some particular locality, which is home, the homeland. Different places on the face of the earth have different vital effluence, different vibration, different chemical exhalation, different polarity with different stars: call it what you like, but the spirit of place is a great reality. – D.H. Lawrence