A month after a tree fell on my house, a tree fell on my neighbor’s house, as if this were now a commonplace thing, trees falling down on people’s houses.
It’s disconcerting to confront a thing that is where it ought not be. Something that was once one way is now another, and the sense of discontinuity is like falling in a dream, knowing you are falling, knowing that the ground both is and is not somewhere down below.
There is something in us that resists the evidence of the altered now, even when what used to be was not at all what we wanted, was indeed far less lovely than a tree that no longer shades the house. I am at my desk and look up to see a man standing at the bottom of the stairs. There is no man at the bottom of the stairs. What I see is an after-image, a ghost. And yet I steel myself for whatever interaction is coming, before realizing I am still dreaming. Still falling.
Also: I don’t believe in ghosts.
Also: I know the ghosts are everywhere.
The map of the world shows a world on fire, but it can’t be on fire because we need to go to work, and so the world is not on fire.
Still dreaming, still falling.
Yesterday I spent time on the Abandoned America website, scrolling through images of places that are no longer one thing but are not yet something else. Shopping malls and amusement parks and roadside attractions re-absorbing into the body of the world. I’ve heard people denigrate these images as ruins porn. Yet nobody calls it ruins porn when we visit the Roman Coliseum. We call that cultural enrichment.
Maybe we’re too close, maybe it’s too soon. We walked through those malls. We worked in those factories. It wasn’t great. It’s just what was, and now it isn’t anymore.
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