Prose

The best bit of Brooklyn Bridge isn’t

Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt;   

Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd…

What is it, then, between us?

What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?   

Walt Whitman, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry

The best bit of Brooklyn Bridge isn’t the walk across it at sunset. 

It isn’t the sparkling Manhattan skyline stretched out before you.

It isn’t the endless East Coast sky; beckoning, forever beckoning.

And it isn’t the quiet ships plying the dark waters of the Atlantic beneath you.

The best bit of Brooklyn Bridge is reading the little letters to tomorrow carved into the walkway by thousands of travellers.

Like the Lascaux cave paintings, they speak to a deep and profound human need to say:

I was here. 

I existed. 

Remember me.

Remember me

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Prose

(Why I Love) the Nostalgia of the Infinite

Strangers leave us poems to tell of those

they loved, how the heart broke, to whisper

of the religion upstairs in the dark,

sometimes in the parlor amid blazing sunlight,

and under trees with rain coming down

in August on the bare, unaccustomed bodies.

Jack Gilbert, Relative Pitch

The Nostalgia of the Infinite has been my favourite piece of art for as long as I can remember. 

I don’t know when I first saw it — perhaps it had something to do with the indie game, Ico — but none of that truly matters. What matters is this:

That there is a deep and yearning nostalgia within Man’s heart. He feels it flutter when he looks upon the endless sea. He feels it tighten when he gazes up at the beckoning stars. He feels it even when he is with the one he loves most in the world. 

The heart yearns to mingle itself with the object of its desire and it can not and so it yearns to be whole. It has yearned since the dawn of consciousness and it yearns still with each (lub dub) and every (lub dub) beat. 

For there was once a time when it was not so — the heart was whole and it knew no sorrow. But that time has long since passed and is but a half-remembered dream from a childhood siesta for ever ago. But men will do strange things to appease their half-remembered dreams. Alexander led his armies to the very edge of the world. Thousands died in the impenetrable rainforests of the Amazon searching for El Dorado. And in a town called Babylon, a man built the greatest tower ever built to look upon the Face of God. It has always been so. 

But look closer. 

There they are, in plain sight. 

(two)

And, as they lean closer in the empty piazza, for a moment, their shadows become…

(one)

Giorgio de Chirico, The Nostalgia of the Infinite (Paris, 1911)

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