MAPS FOLIO: HERE IS A STORY OF THERE Kevin Weidner
What I've brought with me, to Here, is residue. Is what should be only a thin dusting. What should be
only a thin dusting is a thick coat, like phlegm in a throat that changes the sound of a voice. What is said,
it seems, has no bearing, and no weight. Only how it's said.
There is the fact of residue, the object itself, and then there is how I slide my ﬁnger across it, how it ﬁlls in
the ridges of my ﬁngertips. There is its color, its tackiness like tar or liquid, viscous or thin, whether it
sticks or evaporates, its odor, and what it recalls.
The recollection, the re-gathering, the hoarding of chips from the table, though some are worth less than
none. Some are worthless. Much of this is involuntary.
Some ﬂuids will resist stress more than others. Some memory is more or less malleable. Some will ﬁll or ﬁt
more quickly whatever space it's poured or placed in.
To tap a tree, holding my ﬁnger just below the incision: To shoot a nail gun into a tree and see what comes
out: This is how I imagine the process of recollection.
To pierce the bark and split into the sapwood and, deeper, the heartwood. To reopen an old wound now
healed over from a similar action years ago.
What emerges depends on the length of the nail, the force propelling the injection, the type of tree and
how many years deep into the rings it punctures.
The weight of an object, weight being the result of the force of gravity on an object, that object having a
deﬁnite and quantiﬁable mass, is the burden. It is what must be borne by each of us. The implication is that
weight is a force.
The weight of an object, in this case, say, a memory, depends wholly upon the gravitational ﬁeld it ﬁnds
itself in. (This is perhaps accidental in the act of recollection.) Or the purposeful ﬁeld in which I set it.
Maybe, here, I put Emma Lee in the ﬁeld at dusk, the whole heavy mass of redwing blackbirds emerging
weightless and light like sparklers from reeds in the runoff pond by the road.
Memory is heavy.
(Everything in relation.)
Maybe I put Emma Lee on the cliffs above the Atlantic, the clouds above loud with thunder, the thick
color of black cormorants taken to higher ground and Emma Lee among them.
I notice now the way the weight changes when I remember Emma Lee in different places. Her gravity
wavers. I care more, or less. Lately, it is much less.
I notice the weather, too, shifting patterns. I notice now the recurrence of birds, though I'm not sure what
Where I set the object of recollection is crucial. The setting determines the gravity. The gravity of setting
is determinative. There is no remembering without setting. The fact needs location and context. There is
no weight without place.
Recollection requires a present event to spark the act. A thought, an object, a sound, a scent. (A river, a
range, a reservoir.) Tinder that readily takes a spark and erupts into ﬂame.
William James calls recollection a "psycho-physical phenomenon." The act of remembering. The act of
memory. The excitement of pathways between nerve centres, allowing recall of an event.
The act takes a spark on tinder (M). A present event to instigate the action. But if I can't recall the setting
(O) along with the remembered event (N), then the memory seems to me a construction, an entirely
No recollection is so simple, though. No memory, either, for sheer number of associations. One memory
means an entire web. When I think of Emma Lee, I think also of every place I've seen her. I think
especially of Newport. And later, when I returned to Newport, it was impossible to walk Thames without
thinking of her and, also, all the events in Newport, all of which are, again, associated with Emma Lee.
But once there without Emma Lee, I made circles with variables unrelated to her. This is what I would like
to think. But, probably, even these new circles will connect to Emma Lee through Newport. We are always
inadvertently adding to our webs. We are constantly tapping trees with different tools and different results.
And what of the memories retained, but which pathways have been ruined? There are circles detached
like unmoored ships and ﬂoating freely through my brain, memories I can never recall that will sink or
ﬂoat endlessly on the waves. Memories I can never re-gather, can never remember. There are some ships
And so here is the web and Here is an addition to the web. Where I have been is obituaried and Here is
kindling and tinder and only a spark is needed to start a ﬂame. To excite the pathways. To recall. The
residue from There.
Though it is an historical and obsolete deﬁnition, still, by deﬁnition place is a battleﬁeld. Place is contested
ground, contested by opposing forces.
The ﬁrst force: Gravity. What determines weight. What assigns the signiﬁcance of the burden to carry.
The second force: The body of the burden carrier, upright, or attempting to be so.