Sunday, January 9, 2011
The Arity of the Hearth
When Toto had returned after a stint in the army, struck by the change in his home-town, he had wandered aimlessly across the once-familiar streets, disappointed to see the ravages of time at play with the images he had called “home”. Later, Alfredo had told Toto (in a defining moment which would seal his way to finally become ‘Salvatore’),
“Living here day by day, you think it's the center of the world. You believe nothing will ever change. Then you leave: a year, two years. When you come back, everything's changed. The thread's broken. What you came to find isn't there. What was yours is gone. You have to go away for a long time... many years... before you can come back and find your people. The land where you were born. But now, no. It's not possible. Right now you're blinder than I am.” (Cinema Paradiso -1988)
It is perhaps necessary to find the courage to move away and watch oneself change for the better (or for the worse), alongside one’s past crumbling into dust. Salvatore had never come back, never written, never inquired, until thirty years later, to attend the funeral of his beloved Alfredo. It was then, as he flâneured the streets of his childhood, could he reconcile the change with the constant. In travelling the newly-built bridges and witnessing the razing to the ground of the Cinema Paradiso, did he meet the people from the life left behind.
This post on a rather warm and sunny winter morning, takes me back to my last post on the constructs of home. In the problematic relativity of the term and in the necessity to carry it within oneself, lies the sad truth that what we leave behind ceases to remain in stasis -- until one is ready to come back and find it as it was, and as it should have been. Salvatore came back only after many years to reclaim the hypostatic abstraction of the lost corners. Till we all reach that stage of what Fredric Jameson would call 'nostalgic postmodernism', to incorporate within us the 'pragmaticism' (as Pierce called it), and poignancy of the temps perdu (that Salvatore had carefully inculcated), we are as blind as Alfredo.