Silience

This is part 2 of The Retro Bar at The End of the Universe’s conceptual writing project. It follows on from Kenopsia, some days later.

Report

Item details…

Silience- the unnoticed ghost of a Japanese Maple tree

Go to the item's page

Being confined to a small section of East Leeds for an undetermined time-frame has produced a psychological schism. The silience of this place has become a flood.

Add a note

Report

late in the afternoon, during the time between the evening and the night, I stepped out into the middle of the decked area my the garden. Unusually, I was looking at the surface of the decking, I made a mental note that it needed cleaning. It was at this moment that I felt a stillness in the atmosphere that could only occur at this time of day, when diurnal creatures disappear and sound of humans dulls.

It was in this moment that I noticed something, a leaf, that I had never really seen before. What I mean by this, is a sense of looking, because it is possible to glance at something but never really contemplate it. I was looking at a fallen leaf from a Japanese Maple tree. Although, this might not appear to be anything out of the ordinary, in this place the leaf held multiple meanings which became a mixture of both personal and broader significations. These heady thoughts mushroomed in my mind in an instant.

JB_LEDGER — 2 months ago

Suspended.... I respond from an initially very literal trees/leaves association. https://retrobarattheendofuniverse.wordpress.com/2020/03/30/suspense/ These leaves in the image in the link were from the fall of 2003, yet they still exist, pressed tightly within a book about 'remarkable' trees that my sister bought me in January 2004. If they hadn't had been suspended from their decomposition, who knows what they would have fed and in turn been part of, through becoming compost.

JB_LEDGER — 2 months ago

Observing something suspended from it's otherwise inevitable decline, inscribed into it's very life in the first place, has always been point from which signals of pain are received - at least in myself. For it is within the ruminations it causes that all of one's desires to see progress, and species success (our own species, of course), are suddenly challenged, deeply challenged, to the point where such desires can begin to seem futile.

JB_LEDGER — 2 months ago

It's funny (not 'haha funny' - to quote the Eels) to see so many people, perhaps for their first time, genuinely becoming aware of the fragility of society, whilst also, not for separate reasons, developing what some of us may call obsessive personal disorders (at least many will no doubt have such issues, once, or if, we do return to 'normality'). In late 2003, I was recovering from an eating disorder, which in itself was a product of wishing to suspend 2 things: 1, the inevitable ageing, 'fattening', and loss of youth that would eventually beset a body I clearly didn't like the 'inner' contents of, and 2: a chain reaction caused by the 9/11 terror spectacle, that made me all too aware of the fragility of civilisation, which I dealt with, emotionally, really poorly.

JB_LEDGER — 2 months ago

It makes no surprise I chose to preserve two leaves. Trees somewhat seemed then to be the compromise with decomposition and collapse; they could work for us, keeping things going. Everyone, I thought, perhaps naively, just needed to be kinder and more aware, and we could hold this whole thing in suspense. It was a case of wanting 'reality' to carry on, because I would have no idea how I would manage if 'reality' changed.

JB_LEDGER — 2 months ago

How will the rest of us, the social systems, cope, with a reality alteration? We are used to not even looking at reality, because we are in a culture that is always looking both in front of ourselves, in a case of where we feel we need to be, and at the back of ourselves, lamenting our past. 'Reality' is literally the gear-sticks that allow us to look back and forwards. But when the gear-sticks fail, what do we do? I used to day-dream about how we could better use our technologies to fire threatening asteroids away from earth, to turn all of energy production to the sun's solar rays, and much more. But I dealt with this by becoming desensitised; very much becoming depending on the convenience stores, the trains running, and the pubs being open, all the while upkeeping critical thought, dealing with abstractions rather than physically engaging with what they all relied upon.

JB_LEDGER — 2 months ago

Yet this thread isn't as simple as a binary between action and passivity, it's also about asking how we deal with the fact that nothing lasts forever, on a macro level, on the level of our entire civilisation. Do we find a way to exist in the moment, to deal with our existential fears, whilst still striving for the future? Is this even a question, or just a description of the human spirit? When not depressed and apathetic, we are slaves to improvement, even if the boulder we have been pushing up the hill has rolled all way back to the bottom, to refer to a famous story.

Report

I was compelled to capture this leaf, and so, I reached for my phone. The photograph could never do this leaf justice as it could not capture the sense of place brought about by my experience in this landscape. However, it was a trace, a visual sign from which I could attempt to deconstruct a set of thoughts which were knotted in a flash.

Add a note

Report

This was a complex knot of dialectically unified oppositions- a fancy term for contradictions- that swirled through the significations of the image of the leaf. Yes, I say the image because the moment I photographed the leaf it became a sign of the leaf.

As I write this I am not looking at the leaf in its environment but on a screen in my living room. This image of a leaf is a suddenly not a leaf but part of an utterance chain of language which is translated infinitum. Of course, this was a 'dead leaf' separated from its parent plant because it had fulfilled its job for the year. Its decomposition had resulted in a paper-like quality which had exposed the intricate nature of its internal structure. Yet, it had taken on the imprint or trace of the wooden surface it had landed upon. The leaf was a trace of a trace. A ghost of a previous time/life that existed in that moment, on the decking , as I observed its delicate natural architecture. In that sense the leaf was both dead and alive. It was part of a wider ecological system always changing and ephemeral.

The leaf was also a trace of both the natural and the human. It was now part of a system and an interrelationship with the manufactured wooden surface of the decking, a form of natural tracing paper, that inscribed an image of the decking.

Add a note

Report

I leave you, the reader, with these thoughts that I have begun to trace out into language chains. This translation is not complete. Indeed, it could be infinite, just as the silience of the silent artistry goes unnoticed in our usually busy lives.

Add a note