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November 02, 2002
All Souls

I had mentioned in the last post that that I did not know of Cemeteries here in Manhattan. (You can find out more about the cemeteries of New York in Permanent New Yorkers: A Biographical Guide to Cemeteries in New York.) There are many cemeteries in Manhattan of course and the entire island can probably be seen as a somehow “sacred ground” as well. I had also just remembered the innocently looking picture of dust. It is a photograph of the windowsill of the woolworth building overlooking city hall park. The dust on the windowsill is from the September 11th events. This is the dust that powdered the entire city. This is the dust that carries particles of all those never found, never identified in the events. I just now remembered the moment again when I entered a subway car yesterday that must have not been used for several months. There was this smell in it. It was the smell that somehow had crept into everything a year ago. It was this smell of burned metal and rock and something else. We smell things because particles carrying the information enter our body. The subway car was still sharing its memory.
The park of City Hall in New York City, the little green triangle in the “dust” photograph, used to be a “Cemetery for Blacks”. I am not sure if there is any mention of it anywhere around there. There are some plaques in the grass around city hall, but some of them turned out to be memorials, not really graves anymore.
It might not have been very obvious in my last post, but my understanding of how our “ancestors” are part of everything around us is very inclusive. The expression “ashes to ashes”, “dust to dust” includes the presence of little particles of the dead and the living in everything around us. The planet has been taking back generations after generations for thousands of years. And if we expand the idea of ancestry to all living things then suddenly all organic matter becomes somehow one large system that lives by transforming the generations before. There is no such thing as “new life”. All of the life surrounding us is somehow recycled from the matter that has been on this planet for quite a while. And the spirals of life and matter will continue, even long after what we see as human is gone. Burning candles, or incents or feeding a flame to remember ancestors is an illustration of this idea that has been incorporated into so many religions. It is somehow comforting to know that we will never really leave the universe. We will always be part of it.


well said. the dead and the living, inextricably bound -- as are the past and present.

good to see you blogging away, witold. hope you're doing well and enjoying your break. talk to you again soon.

Posted by: b on November 4, 2002 02:07 AM

so beautifully put and true. it also seems that every living being also radiates/interrupts/transforms so many incalculable energies around us ... so that not only our matter scatters and persists but also echoes of every interaction we have--everything and everyone we come in contact with. beyond the memories we cherish of people lost to us, there are ways they continue to affect our world that we can't begin to understand.

Posted by: rob on November 4, 2002 10:55 AM
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