Disperate fragments | Reflections on looking

The man sells church candles from a small stall.
“ I can order you anything you like” He pulls out many catalogues
“Any statue of any saint you like”

Staring at the piles of old mattress springs waiting to be recycled, the life of a mattress.

There is a sense of endless displacement as I wander the streets, piecing together the endless worlds which clash and collide, entwine and entangle. fragments are left of such entanglments.

Tensions held in moments collected, emotions held in snatches of over heard conversations, still somehow all loosely in a greater narrative to which I do not know the the thread.

Walking the city, walking through space, place and all of the spaces between places attempting some long term defragmentation process to achieve a sense of understanding as to how it all might become some totalising narrative of sorts.

There are shop windows crammed full of second hand objects faded in the bleak sun, all with neat price tags on, awaiting to be attached to someone who might provide a sense of meaning for their fading gloss façade.

Each day I see the same man doing his exercises on the bench by the flats I always pass, I would feel anxious if he ever disappeared, some how he forms a central part of my narrative of some sense of belonging to this heaving shifting masses of concrete form, not that we need to share, but simply an acknowledgment we are seeing the same sights each morning, somehow allows loneliness to be less solid in the endless scenes of faded net curtains.

Yet each curtained window cannot help but leak narrative; in its form and assemblage; a person is presented vaguely through their curation of objects. The china dolls seem as guard dogs, pride of place, awaiting the passing voyeur.

Transplanted briefly from one set of scenes to another; I watch the lady sell her flowers, completing a complex part in a matrix which allows the farm markets to stay mobile. Fruits of the soil, dried and seeking 6 euro for a home, to complete hers, an economy of scale which seems removed from the absurdities of ‘The City’.

I stop at a stall which sells bit of rocks, the old man explains some of them are ‘really very old’. Those ones are much more expensive. He offers me a small piece of granite for free as he is not sure anymore where it came from, now it is on my dressing table, somehow it has become ‘special’ to me. I can hold it and in some way feel connected to the absurdities of the earth which I struggle to put together.

I place next to it some seaweed collected from the beach which I cycled often this summer, somehow a mini place has formed in South London, a refuge for the imagination from the endless streams of asphalt which seem at times to choke my mind in their forceful solidity.

Yet walking again through the concrete streams, there is an endless continuum of possession, dispossession and consumption. A lady told me; “The doors are open as the baylifts are coming tomorrow, take what you like, give me what you can” Her flat was on the bottom floor, a man was carrying the sofa out and passed her £50. Looking through the window, the flat was nearly empty, somehow she was making a profit.
Then there are the shoes, the joys of contemplating the life of second hand shoes and the journeys they may have come to pass. A wonderance as to the terrain they have partially collected and departed, who they have carried and for how long?

To walk then, is to collect such fragments of detail and continue the weaving of some story which is yet to form any conclusion. The city cannot be summarized by a totalising narrative, neither can a fleeting glimpse into a life world provide anything more than a flutter of some understanding which may be a misunderstanding. A total narrative of a city is context and subject dependant : the social focus and positioning of current trends become influential and critical to the perspective of the narrative. The degree of cultural control by which the narrator is socially bound creates shapes all narratives; any narrative strand will be an artificial construct, forming both a reflection and a product of its society and context. But because a narrative requires a narrator it is also projection of the personal subject to time and space and the formulations and fluctuations of the narrator’s lifeworld. In some ways perhaps we are all endlessly constructing platforms for the mythology of modernity; each fleeting disparate fragment pieces together into some whole that no one will ever be able to completely understand.

” We can see other peoples’ behaviour but not their experience’(R. D Laing. The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise 1967)

All text and images copyright to Beatrice Jarvis © Reproduction on permission only.

~ by beatricejarvis on September 6, 2011.

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