Tourist traps of the mind

When not flying around the world incessantly in private jets hectoring people to use less fossil fuels, Al Gore and his ilk may see themselves as trying to preserve the “pristine” places of the world, but even the most audaciously tall mountain or reprehensibly tick-filled forest is fenced in–by expectations, ideology and idées reçues. They are, in short, big clichés. Me, I dream not of saving points in space but moments in time that haven’t yet been cut and plowed and mowed over, but which my imminent employment severly endangers with regimentation. Like the pre-dawn, that dark Scandinavia-like continent where the wind blows and the sun refuses to shine. Or the period before a summer afternoon thunderstorm, when color shines from the plants particularly luridly, as if they were going to explode from within before getting swept away from without. These moments come and go so quickly, whereas the seeing eye unimaginatively remains, that I think perhaps the mind, like most other things that are able to last a long time, is the most insensitive rather than the most sensitive part of its environment, like the skull that endures after the eyes and nose and tongue and brain have vanished. Maybe these little moments of the day can only survive there, in the memory by transforming into a harder, lifeless form, like petrified wood, in which mineral deposits fill up the cell walls, replacing the meat of the tree with stone.

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