The city is tired today. It’s Seattle, so I’m used to the grey and cold that sidle up to you each and every winter. They whisper sweet nothings in your ear and promise afternoons of caffeine and contemplation, otherwise known as self-medication and mild depression. But today the city isn’t even putting forth an effort. These are the most depressing days of all; no agency, no personality, the city feels dead.
But, I tell myself, these are the best times of all. If you’ve got the guts to savor the dregs, you end up in interesting places. That’s what I tell myself. I begin to wonder how much of the city is in me. The concrete and glass, the contours of its hills and shoreline, the rhythm and the pulse its traffic. And then I wonder how much of me is in the city. Is there an iteration present here? Like Rilke says, does the world want to resurrect invisibly within me? Is that why it turns to us, “the most perishable,” as Rilke calls us?
There’s the desert of the real for Baudrillard, the map of the hyperreal. We’re responsible for the divorce of substance and symbol in the progression of our ontology. But aren’t we also responsible for its resurrection? What happens if we enervate the world with our presence? Is that just crazy talk? The metaphor of some romantic poet?
I don’t know. All I can say is that I hope its not crazy. The hope that we can repopulate Baudrillard’s desert of the real with symbol is a tangible hope for me. I’m still trying to work out what that all means. But I think it starts with preference given to the unconscious, to symbol, and to what has been called the ‘dark side’ of human being. To transform the contours of the world invisibly within, to marry act to symbol, and replace the simulacrum of the desert of the real with an existential map of that same real. In short I think the resurrection of our ontology begins by paying careful attention to what Heidegger called the essence of a thing. And that, in short, starts by paying careful attention to what a thing means, not just what a thing is.
Seattle is concrete and steel and noise. It means something entirely other than that. At least, it means something other when I’m willing to savor the dregs.