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This is from a longer poem by my historian/museum curator brother:

"The thinking earth squeezes to the surface only bits of death and stone.

We pocket what we can, imagine the rest."


He follows this with the last two lines of the poem:

"But what frightened us back there is this:

In real life nothing is lost."


I'm with him in the first two lines, which come at the end of a poem called "A Meditation on Time (with a group of fossil hunters in the McCullough Peaks Badlands)". But - and I will have to ask him about this - that final line. The poem cracks along from truth to truth, and then...real life?

Unless 'nothing' here is Sartre's, in which case, wow. An invisible comma: a grammatical pause between life and nothing. An abyss of transition, visible in the spoken word but unheard in the written.


I wonder:

"In real life


is lost."


 (Listen to the knelling bell of that structure.)


« L'homme est l'être par qui le néant arrive au monde »




"One of the things we recognised quite some time ago in the Archive, and one of the things an archive can help to do is, is build in a reparative function, re-establishing relationships, creating new communication..."


I'm proof-reading Helen Moore's excellent transcript of the recordings of the day-long "Celebrating Us" event with which the Planned Environment Therapy Trust marked its ending back on November 24, 2018.

There is a specific context for this comment - a former child from a children's therapeutic community speaking about how damaging it was to leave the community, to be severed from it and all the deeply-built relationships he had developed there. So I responded "Can I just say, that's one of the things we recognised...."

I was emotional and not at my most articulate, but I went on to say, with editing, "We have people here who can speak better about this.... And we need to go to lunch, I know; we also probably need to get warm [quiet laughter][it was a cold day, in a cold marquee] ...but there are people here who, who have found this place ("Yes"), and I’ve learned from them that has a reparative function." And ended  "one of the things that I discovered, and discovered precisely what you've said, that that severance is really incapacitating …



[In the process of sorting masses of personal papers and digital files, I occasionally come across odd notes and memos to myself. This is one from September 28, 2004]


But I would also like to challenge anyone to tell me what the past is, if it isn't the Present; and what there is left of the Present when you whip off the future. I'll go further. It is so difficult to get therapeutic community people to talk about the present precisely because they are so consumed by the present; and will continue to be blown away by the present until they have control of their past, and an enthusiastic (or do I simply mean active?) relationship with the future.


Dear Martin,

If I were to say that the essential quality of Being is memory, and that, from this, that Dasein's Being in the World can also be said as Memory in the World ('characterised as' sounding too concrete); what would the next step be?

Holding, and seeing what happens?


[Originally published January 8, 2013]