When I was a child I heard a funny saying about dusty floors under beds and the like: “There’s somebody under there either coming or going.” This, of course, was a reference to verses in Genesis and Ecclesiastes, e.g., “…till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:19)
I think about this a lot these days – or at least what it points to. What is life but a nested hierarchy of cycles in and out of death? In and out of the purported inertness of matter, constituted, dissolved and reconstituted with energy, life goes on.
When I wander the streets of an attractive old town I am drawn to those places within it in which time seems to have been let off its leash. Places like the corner of a garden that is left as an offering to Pan, a concession to chaos, an allotment that allows for regeneration.
Finding these places in a quiet old town gives me a small sense of what finding Shakespeare’s Cardenio might be like for a bibliophile, particularly if such a play is found buried beneath later layers in a palimpsest. There are layers of history to read in these places, endless stories that will no longer be told aloud, but which can be read by the practiced eye, and which invite the curious viewer to imagine and explore.
This old place – is it coming or going? I know it’s not a very clear image – my pinhole lens affords little in the way of crispness. I still can’t quite make out what this sign used to say, but it might be easier to do so through this representation than while standing and looking directly at it from the other side of the street. Sometimes the introduction of noise on top of signal can actually make it easier to decipher meaning.
Regardless of what this building once was, what it was home to, it has clearly seen better days. It is in an obvious state of disrepair. And yet, walking around the corner to the right, to the side facing US 501 Business not far from the center of town, there are clear indications that there is one in the oven – the yeast has risen behind this dilapidated grey wall, and soon enough a bakery will be born.
This scene then is just another case of small town enantiodromia, the process whereby things at their extremes become their opposites. This is a real dynamic that is all around us.
Soon enough it will be autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, and we will turn the corner of the fall equinox toward the winter solstice, the point at which summer begins its inexorable return. Funny how that happens right at the very outset of winter, isn’t it?
The seed of one polarity is contained in the fullness of the other. Flow is what happens as we cycle back and forth through the cycle – life and death, death and rebirth. Hard to tell if it’s coming or going.